DIVISION

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

God sees division as a serious matter.  John records that the Lord Jesus repeatedly asked the Father that His followers, “may be one,” during His time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in John chapter 17.

There is a great call being made in the churches today for unity as has not been witnessed for centuries.  Christians of every type are being asked to unite in the cause of “Evangelisation”, in the cause of “Pro-Life” and in the cause of the preservation of “marriage”.

In the light of this I would like to discuss some of those things that cause division amongst Christians.

Truth causes division.

The truth of God’s Word divides;
For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

In fact the Lord Jesus, Himself, stated;

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law
.  (Matthew 10:34-35)

When the truth is spoken it acts as a light which exposes the darkness within.  Those that love the truth will come to the light; those that reject the truth will react against the light!  Such division is necessary:

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty
. (2 Corinthians 2: 17-18)

One  cause of division is the establishment of a priesthood and/or clergy to rule over the people.

Such a system places men in a separate class from the lay-person making the lay-person dependent upon an Ordained Priesthood for their relationship to God.  In those churches that rely upon sacraments as the basis for entering into God’s Grace only an ordained priest has the power through which God’s Grace is transmitted through the elements of these sacraments.

In The Roman Catholic system there are seven sacraments which are seen as essential through which people enter into God’s Grace; these seven are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion (via the Eucharist during the Mass), Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.  In other words, a sacrament is a saving act of Jesus Christ through which a person enters a “state of Grace”. Unless performed by an ordained priest of the church these sacraments are deemed invalid and cannot bring the participant into God’s Grace.   Unless a person partakes of these sacraments they are outside of God’s means of Grace and thus do not enter into salvation.

The Bible teaches no such thing.  The Bible is clear that a person is saved purely by faith, that is, by believing God’s record of His Son;

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
(Romans 5:1)

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)

Thus, rather than entering into God’s Grace, the person who places their hope in any (or all) of these sacraments is actually separated from God by them.  Thus any church that requires its people to submit to a system of sacraments actually separates the people from God, and divides the church into rulers and those who are ruled by them.

Then there are those churches that, whilst not submitting unto a sacramental system, do require of their people unwavering submission (and often subjection) to those in positions of leadership.  These leaders are often seen as an “inner core” which are somehow closer to God and thus must be obeyed in every way.  These people often assume titles such as “Prophet” or “Apostle”.  To challenge or even disagree with them is generally met with swift censure and dissenters are often forced out of the church (or life is made so intolerable for them amongst the other members that they will leave.

Both types of leadership styles are hated by God;
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:6)

So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate
.(Revelation 2:15)

Nicolaitanism means “Conquer the people”.  Its meaning comes from two Greek words; Νικο (Nico) to conquer and λαϊτῶν (Laitoun) people.  This is where the term Laity comes from.  Hence a church divided into Clergy and Laity is Nicolaitan in its practice.  Such leadership structures leave people prey to the excesses and abuses of their priests and pastors.  Throughout the history of the churches Nicolatanism has seen priests (greedy for power, lust and self-gratification) subject their flocks to financial exploitation, sexual abuses and idolatry;
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14)

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (Revelation 2:20)

Another common sin of Nicolaitanism is the financial exploitation of the masses.  Those churches that proclaim Word of Faith/Prosperity teachings demand either overtly (through constant harping on about Tithing and putting people under guilt for not Tithing) or covertly through peer pressure.  The Leaders of such churches generally use their people’s tithes to maintain wealthy lifestyles.

The Bible is clear concerning such:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. (Matthew 23:25)

…many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2Peter 2:2-3)

Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. (Titus 1:11)

Another cause of division is False Doctrine.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

Sound Doctrine keeps a person clearly focused upon Christ; false doctrine diverts the attention away from Christ upon secondary matters by leading people away from Him into things which are false.  Such doctrines find their root in the demonic and lead people to perdition:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
(1 Timothy 4:1)

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude vs. 3-4)

In fact those that promote false doctrine intimately lead people down the path to destruction:
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ:  Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.)(Philippians 3:18-19)

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (1 Timothy 4:3-4)

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.  For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.  (Titus 1:9-11)

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