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Bible verses about Division, Causing
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Daniel 11:32-39

What the Beast is doing now (and he must be alive and climbing the political ladder today) is working his subtlety wherever he happens to be, using people to create loyalty to himself and to his cause. At the same time, he is gradually undermining—introducing leaven, as it were—to the present governments, causing disloyalty to them, while simultaneously stirring up social trouble through political, justice, educational, religious, and social systems.

There is nothing new about any of this. This is what Adolph Hitler did to subvert Germany to his cause. It is what Lenin and his cabal in Russia did to subvert the Czar and his government in Russia. This is what happened in the Cold War, as nation after nation fell to communism: infiltration through fifth column efforts, which took advantage of internal conditions, bitterness, and dissatisfaction with whoever was in power.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories


 

Romans 14:7-13

These verses give the proper perspective of our relationship and responsibilities to Christ and our brothers and sisters in the church. Paul wrote this to confront a problem, judging and scorn, that was dividing the church. The counsel he gives fits our circumstances, and if used, it can go a long way toward solving many of our problems. He reminds us first to remember to whom we belong, why we belong to Him, and what responsibility this gives us. We belong to Christ because He died for us, rose from the grave, and now sits at the right hand of God, judging those the Father has called into His church.

We should be acutely aware of this, knowing we are being judged according to what we do. We are to strive with all our being to please Him by living as He lived, not to serve ourselves, but to serve Him and the church. Judging each other does not fall into our area of responsibility. Living according to the Sermon on the Mount does. If we do this, we will not cause any brother to fall. We appear not to be striving hard enough to please Christ, which is why we continue to split.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part One: The Sermon on the Mount


 

Romans 16:17-20

This section begins with disfellowshipping because it is a biblical means of dealing with brethren who are trying to deceive others. We often speak of disfellowshipping those who cause division. Any kind of deception will cause division. After a while, deceived people do not believe the same things as the rest, and this difference causes separation.

Those who are disfellowshipped, who are causing divisions and offenses, are doing things contrary to true doctrine. So, Paul says we must avoid them. This is part of the effort, the diligence, that it takes to keep from being deceived ourselves. We must especially avoid them in situations where they have the opportunity to influence our beliefs.

Now, if we should meet them on the street, a polite, social "hello" would be fine. But we should avoid getting into a conversation, argument, or discussion about doctrine. We need to keep that away from ourselves because it is part of our effort to keep from being deceived. We should not let it even touch us, if we possibly can, because we are supposed to be keeping ourselves pure spiritually and physically. We especially do not want false ideas to get into our heads and begin doing their dangerous work.

Paul says that such deceptive people are serving, not God, but their own belly. This may sound like all they are doing is trying to get food or trying to "live off of" the saints. But what it means is that they are stoking their own desires. It is a symbol of a person doing something for his own gratification.

They were deceiving to please themselves in some way. They are not doing it to please God, obviously, because if they were, they would be telling the truth. But since they are telling falsehoods and lies, deceiving the brethren and causing divisions, they are obviously not pleasing God in any way. What they are gratifying in themselves could be anything.

Because what they are saying is contrary to what God teaches, he says that they have to use smooth words and flattering speech—or, we could say "plausible arguments" and "a neat turn of phrase." They use deceptive methods as in advertising. Some people can do this without even knowing that they are doing it. They couch things in such a "nice" way that it makes it sound good. And before we know it, we are thinking, "He could be right. He's such a nice guy. I had him over for dinner one time; and he just regaled us with stories. He always thanks you, and he compliments everything you do. He's just such a great person. And, you know, I can't understand how such a nice guy could be saying anything that is 'bad' because he's so 'good.'" Before long, we are taken in. He has used smooth or flattering speech. He comes across well. He dresses nicely, and his arguments seem plausible.

So, as it says here, the simple are taken in. Paul means the innocent, those who are not looking for evil. They are guileless, and they think everybody else is as guileless as they are. They are harmless, like doves, and unsophisticated. They do not see "bad" in anyone.

This is how we are supposed to be! A few of the qualities of love mentioned in I Corinthians 13 are concerned with this. Christians should be willing to believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. This is why we are so gullible at times because we do not have a core of steel in our beliefs. We have allowed it to soften into a core of marshmallow, so that we are easily bent in the wind. Remember, we need to be wise as serpents and simultaneously harmless as doves.

Paul's advice comes in verse 19: "Be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil." In practical terms, this means that we do what is right and have nothing to do with what is wrong. In doing so, we are "wise." Wisdom has to do with how we act. It is very practical. Knowledge is mental, and understanding is mental and spiritual. But wisdom is both of those things and physical. It is what we do. It is what we say. It is how we live life.

If we walk in wisdom, then we do not trip, and we should not be tripped by anything that comes along to make us stumble. Paul says that we should be wise in what is good, meaning that we do it! It is wisdom to do what is good.

But we are to be simple concerning evil. This is related to "simple" in verse 18, but it is not the same word. This "simple" in verse 19 means "pure, unadulterated, unmixed." If we mix a little evil with good, what do we get? Human nature. We will get what we have been all of our lives. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden. Eve took the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and it produced this world. Paul says, "We're not supposed to do that! We've had enough of that. What we need to do is to do what is good and have nothing to do with what is evil." In a sense, we are looking for the Tree of Life, which is all good and no evil.

His advice is very simple and easy to understand. It is how we keep from being deceived: Have nothing to do with evil! We must keep evil at arms length at all times.

So, in summary, do not dabble with questionable beliefs. Do not even consider them! Avoid them at all costs. "Stick to the trunk of the tree," as we have said many times in the past. Do not skitter out along the branches where only squirrels can safely go. If we hang from a twig, we will find ourselves fallen to the ground—not even on the tree any more.

Another way that we could put it is stay away from the edge of the cliff. If we get too close to the cliff, we might fall off. If there is an earthquake, it will shake us off! Some things are out of our control. If we are at the edge of the cliff and something big happens, we might not have a handhold. We would tumble over the edge and be lost. The smart thing is to stay as close to the side of the mountain as we can, hang on for dear life, and never let go. As much as lies within us, we should not even think about evil. Stay away from it. Avoid it.

Paul says to avoid even the appearance of evil. That is how far we are supposed to stay away from it. Not just if we are doing evil or thinking evil, but even if somebody might come along and think that what we are doing is evil.

Paul ends in verse 20 with the comfort that God will put away the evil—and the Deceiver—soon. So we only have to do this for so long. But as long as we have to do it, let us do it well. We need to have that "core of steel" for as long as we need it. Then we will be given strength—in the resurrection—to do it all the time, because we will be good. At that point, we will have developed the character to be that way all the time ourselves. This is how God is. He cannot be tempted by evil. That is what we are striving to become!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Preventing Deception


 

1 Corinthians 3:6-8

When we are doing God's will and yielding to Him in obedience, God adds a miraculous element to produce spiritual growth. Verse 8 adds that, even though we have different functions, we are united in submission to God, but we will be rewarded individually. This proves that God is watching each person's conduct. To Him, we are not a faceless blob in a sea of church members. How could we be rewarded accordingly if our labors were not being individually noted?

God's work involves many individuals with a variety of gifts. To God there are no superstars, only team members called and placed to perform their own special role for which He has prepared them. When we fail to do our part, a slow separation begins, and because a part is not functioning as it should, the body suffers. Paul begins this epistle asking, "Is Christ divided?" (I Corinthians 1:13), and proceeds to discuss a variety of sins that produce division. Later, he teaches the application of the body analogy to the church, and in chapter 13 he stresses the main function of every member: to love.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Little Things Count!


 

1 Corinthians 4:6-7

These people were using the gifts that God gave to them to divide the church. They were separating themselves into cliques, getting people in the congregation to say, "I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Peter," and so forth because "Peter represents this, Paul represents this other thing, and what Paul has is better," and "Peter is not teaching this, and Paul is teaching it," etc. They were using such arguments to divide the congregation.

In argument to this, the apostle is saying, "Look, we all have our gifts. There is not one of us that did not receive what we have." Consider this within the framework of I Corinthians 1:29-31. Paul is hammering away at them because they were so proud, so puffed up, about what God had given them, as if it belonged to themselves, as if they had acquired their gifts without God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

1 Corinthians 8:1-2

A cause of Corinth's divided congregation was that the members were flaunting their gifts, claiming they wanted to edify, but the fruits of division showed Paul the real motivation was intellectual vanity - pride.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Pride makes those who have it bold and rash. It renders them careless of the feelings of others. It leads them to ridicule and condemn others who do not believe exactly as they do. Pride is an aggressive self-confidence.

There is an old saying: "When people learn a little, they imagine a lot." We remember the tag-end of this saying most frequently: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Thus, proud people, using a little bit of knowledge, are often hair-splitting and hypercritical, setting people against each other, dividing congregations and families. Paul is asking, "Is this love?" No, it is certainly not. He is warning against dependence on simply knowing something, since a person never knows all that he ought to know about a given subject. Such an attitude exhibits a complete dependence on one's self-sufficient knowledge. He is "puffed up."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

1 Corinthians 11:2

The apostle Paul is writing to a church he raised up. His instruction to this badly divided church is "keep the doctrines as I delivered them"—not somebody else, but as Paul taught them to the church.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 1): God and HWA


 

Galatians 3:26-29

These verses pair groupings or concepts that separate people and keep them divided and sometimes at war with each other. Paul shows racial differences (Greek and Jew); religious differences (circumcised and uncircumcised); cultural differences (barbarian and Scythian); social differences (slave and free); and finally sexual difference (male and female).

These are in no way all the differences that divide humanity, but they give enough of a representation for God to make His point. He makes it clear that we cannot be united to Him and separated from our brother at the same time. To do something for or against a brother is to do it to Christ (Matthew 25:31-46). Because we, as brethren, are "in" Christ and He "in" us, we are one organism. John says if a man does not love his brother, he does not love God (I John 4:20)! This is serious business. We must be one with both.

The person who is truly converted is motivated, guided, inspired, led by, yielding to, and empowered by the radiant energy flowing from Christ, who lives and works in Him. It is almost as if Christ and His converted brethren are driven together because they share the same nature.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

Philippians 2:1-5

Philippians 2 is written to a congregation with a problem of division within it. Two ladies were having a fight or at least a strong disagreement. Paul, at least partially, writes what he does in Philippians to correct this problem. He advises in broad principles how division that exists between any two people can be healed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)


 

Philippians 2:1-2

Consolation is better as "encouragement." That you be likeminded is Paul's way of saying, "Resolve these differences." It is easy to see that this places the responsibility on each person to do what they need to do to heal the fractured relationship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)


 

Colossians 3:10-11

Considering these two verses in context, Paul is saying that because the Colossians had undergone the radical transformation of receiving the new nature and being renewed, they should work hard at making practical the salvation Christ made possible. They should do this by ceasing to do the things that separate and starting to do the things that bond. From chapter two, he carries over an underlying assumption that some measure of doctrinal difference is probably exacerbating the unity problem.

John W. Ritenbaugh
All in All


 

James 3:18

For the seed which one day produces the reward which righteousness brings can only be sown when personal relationships are right and by those whose conduct produces such relationships. (James 3:18; William Barclay's Daily Bible Study)

In this verse, James is talking about a social situation. God's purpose - the fruit that He wants from His way of life, the kind of character that He wants in us - has to be produced in peace. It cannot be produced in war.

Why it cannot be produced in war is obvious. When one is involved in war, he is thinking only of himself, which runs 180 degrees counter to God's nature. God's nature is outgoing. When one is engaged in war, all one is seeking to do is to preserve the self. For God's purpose to be fulfilled to the very best degree, peace is required.

The seed, which one day produces the reward that righteousness brings, can only be sown when personal relationships are right, and by those whose conduct will produce such relationships.

Jesus says that peacemakers will be the children of God, not those who butt others aside, aggressively trying to get to the top, asserting themselves, their will, and their ideas in every circumstance, angling to be the big shot. "Out of my way, buddy. That is my beat." Those people, by implication, will not see God.

This is why God will permit a divorce. Does He not say through Paul in I Corinthians 7:15, "If the unbeliever departs, let him depart"? The believer "is not under bondage in such cases" because "God has called us to peace." God will permit a divorce so that a person can be saved due to the subsequent peace. In a family in which a war rages between a husband and wife, it is possible that God may lose both of them.

When those who butt and disturb the flock are present, the flock will not prosper. The shepherd has to ensure that there is peace, freedom from fear from the outside, freedom from tension within, and freedom from aggravation. (We even use the term "bug," which is what insects do to sheep: They irritate them to no end so they cannot gain weight and are discontented.) The shepherd must also make sure there is freedom from hunger - a congregation, a flock, will prosper if it is being well-fed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 1)


 

Jude 1:15-19

Verse 15 emphasizes ungodliness. These false ministers are the total opposite of what God is, and if we know what God is—what godliness is—then we can identify and avoid them.

Jude then gives four more descriptors to help us identify false teachers: 1) They are discontented murmurers and complainers. They always have something to gripe about. Discontent with their lot in life, they find fault with everything. Nothing is ever right for them. 2) They live to satisfy their every desire, a trait Jude has already explained thoroughly. 3) They speak bombastic bragging words, and 4) they are respecters of persons, if it will benefit them. They will do anything to get ahead.

In verse 17, we were warned that such people will enter the church and try to ruin it, so we have no excuse. They are here already, and we need to make sure they do not stay here by keeping an eye out for them and giving no quarter to them when they begin their ungodly work.

Jude then gives three final descriptions of them in verse 19. He calls them 1) "sensual" or worldly. They are based totally in this world, in the realm of the five senses. They have no connection to the heavenly. 2) They "cause divisions," meaning when they appear, the congregation begins taking sides. 3) He ends his description with the opposite of his description of true church members in verse 1: False teachers do not have God's Spirit. They are not of us. They may be among us, but they are not God's spiritual children (Romans 8:9-17). We can see from their fruits that the spirit they have is not God's.

With these descriptions of false teachers, we can be more confident in testing the spirits (I John 3:24; 4:1-6).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

 




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