The Root of Strife and Dissension
Part 1 By Ps. Daniel Ho
Quarrels, fights and dissensions among believers merely reveal what is in our souls.
When there is strife or conflict, it delays the promises and advancement of God in your life. The apostle James, writing to a young church or to young Christians in James 4:1-7,mentions the three causes of dissension, strife and quarrel. The first is the flesh, the second is worldliness and the third is the enemy or the devil.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:1 – 7)
Quarrels, fights and dissensions among believers are flesh related and merely reveal what is in our souls. The flesh is often described as the carnal nature in the Bible. The reason why the flesh is described as the carnal nature is because we are born in sin. In other words, we inherit the sin that comes from Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned, they were then called sinners and because of this, we are all born sinners. Even though we are a new creation in Christ and are born again andbaptized, the “old man” or the sinful nature is still very much alive. This is one thing that you really need to understand so that you would walk humbly before God and before man.
That is why Jesus tells us in the three synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke, to take up our cross daily and follow Him. When the Bible repeats itself, it is pointing to the importance of it.
Some people seem to think that the cross is a burden; my invalid mother that I look after – that is my cross. That is not your cross. You cross is not some problem that you have or that you have to carry in your life. For Jesus, the cross was the most painful, humiliating death in full view of the world. He hung there naked on the main highway from Jerusalem for the whole world to see. And there is a reason for it. God was telling the world that sin is really, really deadly. So what does the cross mean for us? The cross means dying to self. Dying to self means dying to our ego, dying to the “old man” anddying to our old, sinful nature. We need to crucify our flesh daily. It is not something that you will overcome once and for all because the “old man” is still very much alive. Therefore, you need absolute surrender to God.
When life goes smoothly, it is easy to commit to and follow Jesus. However, our true commitment is revealed during times of trial and discipleship actually demands sacrifice. Discipleship is not a word people like to hear because it demands giving up some things or even giving up our rights. So, commitment to Christ means taking up your cross daily, giving up your hopes, your dreams, your possessions, even your very life, if need be, just like some believers in Syria and Iraq.
Luke 14:27 says, And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. It is only if you are willing take up your cross that you may be called His disciples. The reward is worth the price. Jesus followed the call of death to self with the gift of life in Christ. He said, For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25) Sometimes, we are very concerned about our physical life and death. People are afraid of death. It is a fact that we all will die, sooner or later. When your mission on earth is complete, you will die.
Galatians 5:16-18, I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. If you feed your flesh with all kinds of junk that you get from the world and you don’t read the Word or pray, your spirit will be weak. What did Jesus say? If you follow Him, He will meet all your needs. We are to focus on Him. If you walk by the Spirit, He will lead you into the truth and the truth will set you free.
The main point that Paul was writing about in Galatians is that keeping God’s law doesn’t make you righteous. You are righteous because you have trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. When you realize that you are righteous, the Word becomes alive, you realize how much God has done in you, how much He has forgiven you and so you love Him by loving others.