What is the most terrifying thing imaginable to Satan? Union. For the church to have a single mind, an allied charge to strengthen each member of its body, and the common bond to make disciples of every nation.The reaction to this very real and inevitable threat to evil is to spend every possible hour maneuvering, manipulating and prodding the church toward division. Pride, rebellion, disobedience and other sins and temptations are tactics to widen any conceivable fissure that could render the church dysfunctional and fractured. So if we know evil’s arsenal, can we be more mindful as a church, not to necessarily agree on each and every tradition or doctrine, but to manifest Christ and “make [each others] joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind?” (Philippians 2:2)
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” – Mark 3:24
In Genesis 3, mankind first experiences the “division commission” when the serpent deceives Eve. Just a few verses before the serpent arrives onto the scene, Adam and Eve lived in communion with God and even though they “were both naked, they felt no shame.” After eating from the tree, however, scripture makes it clear that things drastically change. Their “eyes were both opened, and they realized they were naked.” Becoming exposed and thus conscious that they were naked and shamed became real for the first time because of disobedience, and with it a lack of union with God that would only be mended with the coming of a Son. This dividing line, however, was erased when the Son came into His kingdom and redeemed mankind, thus “striking the serpent with his heel.” Satan would have us believe that this dividing line still exists today but in the timeline of our faith this isn’t so. Realizing his ploy and resisting it is the first step to crushing division and fostering union.
We know, with the help of scripture, that Satan relies on lies and half-truths to promote his gospel of division. If you, or elements of the church can be led astray, adopting his lies over the truth of the Word of God, territory that is rightfully yours/ours is forfeited. We’re able to combat this by truly knowing His Word and knowing Him. If God’s ways are written on our hearts and etched in our minds (Hebrews 10:16) we can destroy deceptive strongholds, take back our territory and ultimately, unify the body of Christ, one heart and mind at a time. Being firmly rooted and grounded in His written Word and in His presence is the only real way to avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of crafty and cunning deceit purposed to divide. (see Ephesians 4:14) With this posture comes maturity, the perfect defense of Satan’s lies.
Jealousy, Quarreling – WORLDLINESS
“You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” (1st Cor. 3:3)
Perhaps the greatest dividing tool leveraged by the enemy is to promote and circulate the wisdom or mindset of the “world.” With it, as 1st Corinthians 3:3 makes clear, comes quarreling and jealousy, both symptoms of self, or the flesh. Paul’s question in the text, “are you not acting like mere humans?” equates humanness with worldliness. The very ways and methods of the flesh (or the world) are the ways we as believers are called to abandon, choosing the way of the Spirit instead. In this paradox is a perfect example of the wiles of Satan: advertise the way of the world as if it were true. Jealousy and quarreling in this case (the 1st letter to the Corinthians) were the fruits of worldliness, and its symptoms were division. The Corinthian church acted in accordance to their flesh with their bickering and selfishness while Paul all the while was calling on them to be selfless and Spirit-led for the sake of the elect, or in other words, for the sake of the church.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (Ist Cor. 1:10-13)
The power of like-mindedness
There is power and authority in unification. That’s why some of the strongest and most powerful moments in church history came at a time of extreme persecution; it forced the church to come together. When all members of the body work in coalition with a single mind the church is a serious threat to the enemy. When the person of Jesus is the focal point (and not ourselves) for each member of the body, it’s hard to become divided. In 1st Corinthians 1: 10-13 (above), division came about through factions, where certain people sided with certain leaders and their teachings, abandoning the rest of the church in the process (we should seriously consider the context of this verse in the face of a world with thousands of ‘christian’ denominations). The point of the matter is this: if the church can put off the text-book, age-old lies that lead to division, the church will then, and only then, fully represent Christ and operate in power and authority.
Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel