The Root of Strife and Dissension
Part 2 By Ps. Daniel Ho
Disunity and strife make believers ineffective.
According to James 4:1-7, the causes of dissension, strife and quarrel is firstly, the flesh; secondly, worldliness and thirdly, the devil. Now, worldliness is connected to the flesh. Being worldly means that you keep the values of the world while attempting to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Worldliness sees a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit. If you feed the flesh, your spirit is weak. What we say, how we behave and what we value reflects our worldliness.
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul tells us that an immature believer is worldly – And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
The church of Corinth was immature because of their worldly behavior. They were quarreling among themselves because of their immature faith. An immature believer is one who does not know how to please God. If they knew how to please God, they would have chosen to forsake their worldliness. There are many advantages to pleasing God. Proverbs 16:7 says, When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Can you imagine that? You will always have enemies, because you carry the Spirit of Christ in you. So, when you carry the Spirit of Christ, you will meet people who will not like you for no apparent reason. That is why you always have people who are very spiteful towards you because you are a believer.
The third reason for strife and quarrels is of course, the devil. There is only thing that the devil wants from you. And that is to draw you away from God. That is the only thing that he wants you to do, so that you do not worship God. Unfortunately, there are many people who come to the Lord, and a short time later they go away from Him and no longer follow Christ. But if the enemy cannot draw you away from God, he will make you ineffective. How does he make you ineffective? He does so by creating disunity in families or even causing fights among believers. Quarrels and dissensions make believers ineffective.
Why do you think there are so many denominations? Everybody thinks that their interpretations and their practices are right and biblical. In fact, I was so surprised when I went to Korea, in 1990 and discovered that within the Methodist church and the Presbyterian church there are many different types of Methodists and Presbyterians. All these denominations exist because they have succumbed to the work of the enemy. How many denominations do you know that are actually engaged in reaching the lost? The most common word that we hear is sheep stealing. Even within denominations, there are fractions and divisions.
How does James tell us to deal with the enemy? James 4:7 says, Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. It is interesting that Peter said almost the same thing in 1 Peter 5:8-9, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
How do you resist the enemy? How did Jesus handle the temptation when the enemy came up to Him? He responded by using the Word of God against the enemy, saying, “It is written …” Jesus did not have any quarrel about it. The devil used scripture verses. He knows theology just as good as any one of us. But he twisted it, which is what a lot of people do. So, Jesus refused to budge and that means resisting. I am not going to listen to you. You are the enemy. I am not going to entertain you. That is how we resist the devil. Don’t give him two seconds of your time.
So, if we can do away with all these three causes, the flesh, the world, and the enemy; we will be at peace, our hearts will be at peace. Shalom does not just mean peace; absence from conflict, but an abundance and prosperity in all the other things. Since we know that these are the causes for quarrels, we should be on our guard and be at peace with all people. To grow spiritually, you need to connect with God. Walk in His ways, which is often costly. Because the Holy Spirit is rested in our hearts, he needs to fight with two other voices to be heard – the human spirit which is the flesh and the voice of the enemy.
So, how do we discern the three different voices? Let’s say for example, when someone hurts you, what does the Holy Spirit tell you? The Holy Spirit in your heart would tell you to forgive. What will the devil tell you? He will tell you to retaliate, fight back or to give it back to him. What will your human spirit tell you? You need to teach this guy a lesson, give it back to him so that he will not hurt you or others again. So, which voice do you want to hear? Of course, the voice that tells you to forgive is costly. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. The enemy wants to gratify your flesh. The flesh rationalized between the truth and your rights. That is how we know the voice. So, which voice do you want to hear.
Finally, you can never grow in the Lord if you do not read and study the Word of God and pray. You will always remain an infant in Christ if you do not read and study the Word and talk to God. You also need to act upon His Word. That means that you must be a doer of His Word.