Division In The Church

Vernon Kerns

The Analytical Greek Lexicon defines dichostasia as follows: “a standing apart, a division, dissension.” Dichostasia is found in Romans 16:17, which says, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” Then, verse 18 says, “For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”

Dichostasia is also found in 1 Corinthians 3:3 which says, “…for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” Paul writes, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-8)

In a third scripture (Galatians 5:20), dichostasia is translated as “dissensions.” “idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies …” Paul says in verse 21, “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Instead of walking together and being subject to each other, dissenters oppose ideas from other members. They promote their own will. Forcing their own will on others (the congregation) is done by getting a majority of the members to support them. Instead of walking with the whole congregation, they use a majority faction to rule, thus building a power base. The minority is then dominated, and a faction or sect is promoted. One who promotes such action is a divisive person. Paul says, “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11)

Why is this sin? It goes against the will of God. Unity is a divine characteristic. The Godhead is united in their goals and efforts. Jesus said, “…I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). Again, in John 12:49, He said, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.”

Those who practice dichostasia do not fulfill the scriptures. “From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16) The body is to be fitly joined together. The body (church) is edified by what each joint (member) supplies. This edifying cannot occur when dichostasia (division, dissension, standing apart) is practiced.

As a defense against dichostasia, we are taught: 1. “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) 2. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Philippians 2:3) 3. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) 4. “Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our home with him.’ ” (John 14:23) 5. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time:” (1 Peter 5:6). -1440 Tanner Fork Road, Shock, WV 26638. kerns@valthon.net

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