Musings – United We Stand Divided We Fall

Scripture declares that believers in Messiah are the House of God (1 Timothy 3:15-16; Hebrews 3:1-6; 1 Peter 2:4-5; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Corinthians 3:9-16). The desire of the Messiah is that His people/house would be unified (John 17:11, 21-23) in Him. Unification of His body is a major part of the preparation unto perfection of the bride to meet the Bridegroom (Matthew 5:48; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 13:9-13; Ephesians 4:11-13; Philippians 3:14-15; Colossians 1:28; 3:14; 4:12; Romans 10:4; Psalm 119:1).

This unification is accomplished through love (Colossians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 13:9-13; Romans 13:10; 1 John 4:10, 12, 16; 5:3).

The desire of the adversary is to keep the body of Messiah divided because a house divided cannot stand (Matthew 12:25; Mark 3:25; Luke 11:17).  God hates this discord amongst His people (Proverbs 6:19) as He desires us to stand, not fall (Ephesians 6:11-18).  There a number of methods the adversary/devil uses to keep the body of Messiah divided.  Let us look at some of this “methodology”.

Ephesians 6:11 speaks of the ‘wiles’ of the devil, this word in Greek is μεθοδεία ‘methodeia,’ the source of the word method.  In Ephesians 4:14, this word is translated as ‘lie in wait’ speaking of the deception of the wicked.  How is this deception overcome?  Through the edifying love of Messiah which unites His people (Ephesians 4:1-32).

The Hebrew word satan {סטן} literally means the accuser or adversary.  The one who stands as an accuser of mankind, pointing the finger in condemnation (Revelation 12:10-11; Zechariah 3:1-2).  Messiah Jesus on the other hand, is the Defender of mankind (Luke 22:31-32; Romans 8:31-34; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15-16; 1 John 2:2-2) in whom we have overcome the accusations of the devil (Revelation 12:11).

Psa 109:6  Set a wicked man over him; and let an adversary (סטן ‘satan’) stand at his right hand;
Psa 109:31  For He
(Messiah Jesus) shall stand at the right hand of the needy; to save from those judging his soul.

The Hebrew word for ‘discord’ is מדן ‘medan’ which has the meaning of an accuser in a court of law pointing the finger at the accused.  The divisions we see in the natural realm amongst men of ‘race,’ class, and religion is a consequence of man’s carnal nature which came forth when he partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  A mixture of good and evil, a divided house. The serpent brought forth a false accusation against God which divided man from His God.  He divided the house so that he might take dominion.

In Aramaic, the word for devil is אכלקרצא ‘akelqartsa’ which means an accuser or slanderer from the root אכל ‘akel’ which means to consume, to devour.  Scripture likens the devil to a lion who seeks to devour mankind.

1Pe 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
We are warned not to walk bite and devour one another lest we be consumed.
Gal 5:14  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Gal 5:15  But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not consumed by one another.

Those who accuse others and slander others are walking in the footsteps of the adversary.  In the New Testament, the word for devils is διάβολος ‘diabolos’ which is translated as false accusers (2 Timothy 3:3) and slanderers (1 Timothy 3:11).

Believers are called to walk in the footsteps of Messiah (1 John 2:6; Ephesians 5:1-2).  Putting on the breastplate of righteousness that we might stand together against the devil.  Defending one another, loving one another as love covers all sins (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 1 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Peter 4:8).

A breastplate is a tool of defense.  The breastplate of God is righteousness, faith and love (Ephesians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).  We are children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5), called to stand in His love, wearing His breastplate of love (1 Thessalonians 5:8).  We are not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9) for Messiah took our sins upon us that we might live together with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:10).  The accusations of the devil are powerless against us (Romans 8:1, 33-39).  As a result, we are to edify one another in love (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19), not tear down each other in condemnation (Ephesians 4:1-32).  We are called to forgive one another in love, that the adversary not get an advantage on us.

2Co 2:10  To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
2Co 2:11  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

The breastplate of the High Priest contained 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, the body of Messiah.  It was called the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:15) which the High Priest wore that he might bear the judgment of Israel before the LORD (Exodus 28:30).  Messiah  Jesus is THE High Priest who bears the judgment of His people before the Father (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14-15; 7:26-28; 8:1-13).  Through Him, His people are justified and cleared of any guilt (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:33).  In the heavenly courtroom, the accuser cannot make a sound (Isaiah 54:17).  Interestingly, the Hebrew word for breastplate is חושן ‘choshen’ which literally means something bound to the chest.  חושן ‘choshen’ comes from the root word חש ‘chush’ which means silence, as in a mouth that is bound.  The English word ‘hush’ comes from this Hebrew word.  If we feel the desire to condemn our fellow brothers, let us put our hand/finger to our mouth (Job 40:4; 29:9; Micah 7:16-20) and “hush” ourselves as there is no condemnation that we can rightfully bring against those who are justified in Messiah.

Another attribute of the devil is temptation or examination.  In Matthew 4:3, he is called the “tempter”.  This word in Greek is πειράζω ‘peirazō’ which means to test or examine.  The equivalent Hebrew word is נסא ‘nasa’ which means to lift up a burden.  This word was perfectly portrayed by the Messiah who was lifted up on the cross, carrying the burden of mankind’s sins (John 3:14).  A cognate of נסא ‘nasa’ is מסה ‘massah’ which means temptation or trial.  Again, the theme of the accuser vs. the Defender is seen.

Messiah took upon Himself our debts on the cross and commanded us to take up the cross as well and follow Him (Matthew 10:21; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23-25; 14:27).  We are now to be dead to sin and the debt it holds to walk in the freedom of His Righteousness (Galatians 2:20; 5:5:22-25; Romans 6:6-18; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:22-23).  As there is no longer any condemnation to those who have been forgiven their debt, we should no longer focus on condemning others (Romans 8:1-39).  Our focus should be
on the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) and
forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35).

The accuser of the brethren is always on the lookout for the sins/weaknesses of believers (Psalm 10:8-10).  The Defender is there for us, giving us grace and love to cover our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15-16).  We are not called to be on the constant lookout for the sins and weaknesses of our brethren (Romans 14:4; James 4:11-12), we are called to defend and love our brethren as Messiah does (Romans 15:1-3; 14:1; 1 Corinthians 12:22-27; Galatians 6:1-3).  Being on the watch for the sins of others is the job of the wicked (Psalm 17:8-15; 64:1-10).  Defending against these accusations is the role of the Lord (Psalm 5:5-12; 7:10; 62:1-8; 89:18) and His people (1 Peter 4:8).

We are to be vigilant against the devil, the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).  The Greek word for vigilant is γρηγορεύω ‘gregoreo’ which means to watch, to take heed.  This word is used to translate two Hebrew words in the Septuagint.  This first is is עמד ‘amad’ which means to stand.  The second is שקד ‘shaqad’ which means to watch and be alert.  שקד ‘shaqad’ is also translated as almond, as an almond looks like an open eye.  The menorah, which pictures the unified body of Messiah, was made with bowls which looked like almonds (Exodus 25:34).  The root word of שקד ‘shaqad’ is שע ‘sha’ which is the root of the word ישועה ‘Yeshuah’ which means salvation, the source of the Messiah’s name.

שע ‘sha’  literally pictures a shepherd watching over his flock, defending them by destroying any enemy that comes against them.  We are children of light, called to defend one another and love one another as the Good Shepherd defends and loves us (John 10:11-18; 1 Peter 5:1-11; John 13:34-35; 15:12-17).

Peter says that in order to be vigilant against the devil we must be sober (1 Peter 5:8).  Paul associates being sober with the breastplate of love.

1Th 5:8  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
1Th 5:9  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

1Th 5:14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

As mentioned before, the adversary used false accusations against God in the beginning causing discord between God and man.  He accompanied these false accusations against the Most High with the promise of giving man knowledge.  Ever since this time there has been two types of wisdom. Wisdom from above versus wisdom from below.

Jas 3:13  Who is wise and knowing among you? Let him show his works by his good behavior, in meekness of wisdom.
Jas 3:14  But if you have bitter jealousy and contention in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth.
Jas 3:15  This is not the wisdom coming down from above, but is earthly, beastly, devilish.
Jas 3:16  For where jealousy and contention are, there is confusion and every foul deed.
Jas 3:17  But the wisdom from above is firstly truly pure, then peaceable, forbearing, yielding, full of mercy and of good fruits, not partial and not pretended.
Jas 3:18  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for the ones making peace.

If knowledge causes contention and strife and leads us to point the finger of accusation and condemnation at our fellow man, we better examine ourselves because this is more than likely devilish knowledge.  Knowledge or doctrine should not cause us to divide from our brethren, this is carnal (1 Corinthians 3:3-4; Jude 1:19; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 5:19-20).  Those who walk in this manner cannot please God (Romans 8:6-8).  Messiah is not divided (1 Corinthians 1:12-13), His body is to be unified (John 17:11, 21-22; Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 6:15-17; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 4:5; Philippians 1:27; 2:2).

Unity comes only through Messiah and the New Covenant in Him (Psalm 50:5; Isaiah 49:3-9; Hebrews 13:20-21; Jeremiah 50:5; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 1:20; 2:1-11) and walking with Him (1John 1:3-7).  Unity does not mean we have to agree on every doctrine.  Messiah will correct any of our incorrect doctrine when He returns (Isaiah 52:8; Jeremiah 3:17-18; 31:8-13; 50:3-7; Micah 2:12)  when we will be resurrected into His Image (1 Corinthians 15:49; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Psalm 17:15; Romans 8:28-30; Galatians 3:26-29; Hebrews 13:21).  This is when believers will see ‘eye to eye’ (Isaiah 52:8).

“Unity in the body of Christ does not rest on uniformity, but on our common ‘blood,’ which is the blood of Christ.  We are now members of one family, and that identity cannot be taken from us, no matter how much we disagree or quarrel.” (The Gospel in Human Contexts – Paul Hiebert pg 193)

Division comes as a result of man’s carnal nature inherited from the first Adam when he partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Adam was given dominion over the earth, or headship (Genesis 1:26) but when he allowed the serpent to creep into the garden and partook of the fruit of which he was commanded not to, he forfeited this dominion (Luke 4:6).  Messiah Jesus overcame the dominion of the enemy (Colossians 2:15; Acts 2:23-36) and is now the only Head on this earth (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23; Psalm 18:43).  Today we see division amongst men because they put other men as their heads.   We must not submit to other men as Jesus alone is our head and we are all brethren (Matthew 23:8) called to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

We must stop appointing men as our heads and dividing into little cliques based upon the knowledge and doctrine of men.  We must stop accusing one another over doctrine and cutting off other members of the body of Messiah because they don’t agree with us in every doctrine.

1Co 1:12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
1Co 1:13  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
1Co 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
1Co 3:4  For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

The word for “envying” in 1 Corinthians 3:3 is ζῆλος ‘zēlos’ which also means zealousness.  Zealousness for God’s truth is great (Revelation 3:19; Titus 2:14), but we must be careful that this zealousness does not turn into carnal envy.  Although we have been given God’s Spirit, we still have sin dwelling in our carnal flesh (Romans 7:11, 17-18).  Carnality is carnality whether or not it is disguised as religion or not.  Sadly, many times our zealousness for God can be used by satan to lead us into persecution of one another in the guise of religious zeal (Acts 22:3-4; Philippians 3:6; Romans 10:2-4).

Jas 3:13  Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Jas 3:14  But if ye have bitter envying
{ζῆλος ‘zēlos’} and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
Jas 3:15  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
Jas 3:16  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Jas 3:17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Jas 3:18  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Love envies not
1Co 13:4  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

When we walk in God’s love we realize that we do not have the corner market on truth.  As a result we must be patient with one another focusing on faith, hope and love.  Recall that these three things constitute the armor of God, in specific His breastplate of righteousness (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9).  It is in this love that we can stand (Ephesians 6:11-18; Romans 5:1-2).

Knowledge puffs us up and leads to division.  Love does not puff us up, love edifies (1 Corinthians 4:4-7; 13:4; Colossians 2:18-19)

1Co 8:1  Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
1Co 8:2  And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
1Co 8:3  But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Eph 6:23  Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 6:24  Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

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