Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Three Ways to Combat Division in Marriage

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“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

When God said that nothing should separate a husband and wife, He did it for a reason. He knew that the world would present ample devices for creating a wedge between a man and his wife and that it was important to be aware. These devices come in many forms. Sometimes it is people from the outside, the girl making eyes at your husband at the workplace or your best friend who tries to encourage you to talk bad about your husband behind his back. Maybe it’s a family member who is always stirring up trouble and planting seeds of contention in your marriage. The devices could be idols in your life such as an over-indulgence or an unhealthy focus on television, sports, hobbies (especially those hobbies that require money), or even ministry. Division can come from our own selfishness or self-focus. There are many tools that the world, and the enemy of our souls, uses to try and divide a husband and wife. The following are just three of the ways you can combat division in marriage and keep your home in peace and unity:

1. Communicate Freely

Whether it’s Christian-based counseling or secular counsel, most people agree that communication is key in marriage. The fact is, when it comes to combating division, the most successful weapon is communication. Now, this tends to come easier to us than to the men. We ladies are usually talkers. We are more than happy to discuss our day, our feelings, our dreams and our concerns. We could discuss them all day! Men, on the other hand, usually don’t need that kind of sharing on a daily basis. Still, it is so important that husband and wife communicate freely in order to stay united. What does that look like practically speaking? I don’t keep secrets from my husband and he doesn’t keep them from me. We do not withhold information from each other. If you want to share something with me, know that I won’t tell anyone else about what you share, except for my husband. We communicate freely about our concerns, our feelings, our challenges, our sin, our goals, our fears, etc. We communicate about those things that could bring division into our home so that we can deal with them. Most importantly, we communicate about the Word of God and what the Lord is doing in our hearts. We talk about His plans for us as a family. We pray together. We encourage each other as we talk about the ways of God. This communication shines a bright light that expels darkness and division from the home.

2. Make Tough Choices

Keeping a family united sometimes means making hard choices. Making those choices could cause hurt in other relationships, but it’s important to remember that the marriage and family relationships are top priority. If someone or something is coming between you and your husband, it must be dealt with. Sometimes it must be removed from the home. For example, if you and your husband argue often about a certain television show, then perhaps the best choice is to stop watching it altogether. That’s an easy one, of course. What if there is a certain friend who always seems to try to stir you up to anger against your husband? Once you have searched out your own behavior for issues where you may have encouraged the intrusion, and confessed, then it may be necessary to share with this friend, in love and gentleness, that this is becoming a problem and must stop. If the friend does not stop, it may be necessary at that point to stop that relationship. Sound extreme? What if it’s an extended family member? Same plan? You know, many marriages have crumbled and burned because of people from the outside bringing division. Sometimes it’s an obvious agenda and other times it is more subtle. Just remember that God said nothing should come between a man and wife. Nothing. No one. Nada. You may need to make some tough choices to purge your home and marriage of division and division-makers.

3. Be a Team.

Sounds easy enough, right? Just like with anything else, it’s easy until it’s not so easy anymore. Why is being a team important? When you are a team, you forfeit personal preferences and desires for the victory of the team as a whole. It’s no longer about what I want, but what we want. We are willing to compromise, to work together, to communicate freely and to give in for the good of the family. A team is united. Strong. Dedicated. A team member does not betray another member or defame his character, but rather lifts him up in encouragement and edification. Cheer for one another! Fight for one another! Stand with one another! That’s a team that will not be divided.

Your marriage is important. It is the most important ministry of your life. It is absolutely vital that you beware devices of division. Get rid of division. Make those hard choices. Be your husband’s best friend and teammate. Communicate freely and do not let the sun go down upon your anger. God will bless the home that stands united on the Rock, that is Jesus Christ. He will keep your home standing while others around you are blown away by the storms of life and the attacks of the devil. May the Lord who created marriage keep you united as one for as long as you both shall live.

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Division – A Disease in the Church

There is a disease that makes its way through churches around the world, bringing pain, suffering, heartbreak and ugliness. It turns church families into splintered fragments and transforms friends into enemies. It causes people within the church to leave, and curious unbelievers to flee the other direction. It is not profitable, nor is it pleasing to the Lord God of the Bible. Strangely enough, it is often welcomed into the church as a sort of antidote, but the truth is this disease is a cunning tool of the enemy to attack God’s people. This disease is called Division.

 

Before you start writing your rebuttal comments, pray listen to all of what I’m sharing. I know that there are times when division is necessary, Biblical and just. I am not one to say we should overlook primary doctrinal falsehoods or ignore issues of ongoing sin within the church. Not at all. There is a time for division. The problem is, unnecessary division is running rampant in the church and it is causing God’s people to be unable to even recognize the kind of unity Jesus Christ wanted for us. We are missing out on that brethren! We are forfeiting one of His greatest gifts to His church and we are grieving the heart of the Father by attacking one another needlessly.

 

Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23….

 

“20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

 

Oh the loving heart of Jesus! How He loved and loves us…ALL OF US! God says that when a man and a woman are joined together in marriage, they become one flesh (both spiritually and physically). Well God has also knit His church together to become “perfectly one”. If a husband and wife divide it is called divorce, and we know God hates divorce. Division in the church amongst brothers and sisters is a type of divorce. We should be perfectly one, as our precious Savior prayed.

 

Division is Usually Wrong

 

“1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:1-11

 

Here is a breakdown of just some of the commandments God gives here. Now keep in mind that these are instructions from our Lord, so going against them is therefore sin.

 

1. Speak evil of no one. Wait…no one? That’s right. We are to speak evil of no human being. The original Greek word for “evil” is “blasphēmeō” which translates to “to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme”. So we are not to speak evil of, speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate or blaspheme anyone. Ouch…I’m guilty. Repenting.

 

2. Avoid quarreling. Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” Again…guilty.

 

3. Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Wow. So all of the controversies I have spent countless hours debating people over….they are worthless? Unprofitable? That’s what God says. Again, I’m convicted. Repenting. Lord change my heart! I ask here, what is foolish? We’ll get into that a bit later, but right off we can see that, unless God is contradicting Himself (which He is not) there are foolish reasons for division and there are necessary reasons. The necessary are those that pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

4. Do not STIR UP DIVISION. I bolded that for emphasis. The word for divisive here is one that means “able to choose, causing division, factious, a follower of false doctrine, schismatic.” Interestingly, the root word is “hairetizō” which is to choose a sect. Basically this is a person who finds it easy and acceptable to choose a side, reject others, cause a schism in the body and essentially cause division. This person looks for occasions to stir up dissention and division. God says we are to be a people of unity, not division.

 

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

“Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:3-6

 

“But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” Luke 11:17

 

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Psalm 133:1

 

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” 1 John 2:9

 

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15

 

Who is the Church?

 

If division in the church is wrong, then who is the church? Who is my brother/sister? You may not like the answer. You may reject it, but remember that we are following God’s Word, not the logic of man. How does God say one becomes a saved, follower of Christ and a part of the church family?

 

Believes in Jesus! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

Confess Jesus! “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

 

If a man or woman believes in and confesses the Jesus Christ of the Bible (that He is God, born of a virgin, born to save the sons of man by His death and resurrection, etc), then he or she is saved. They receive salvation. The fruit of that new life salvation we see is repentance, good works, etc., but salvation was not earned by good works. They are merely the after effects and fruits of the free gift of salvation.

 

Does the Bible teach that a brother or sister in the Lord has to have all of their doctrine right to be counted as such? Absolutely not! In fact, we see instances in scripture, like in Romans, where God literally gives permission for there to be differences. One man eats meat and another does not, but they both do so in confidence unto the Lord. One esteems one day more than another and the other esteems them all the same, but do it as unto the Lord! Someone’s right ad someone’s wrong, but God says these things don’t matter. In the same way, divisions over minor issues in the church (predestination vs free will, styles of worship, gifts of the Spirit, etc) are wrong and evil in the sight of the Lord.

 

Be very careful my friends. Be very careful not to cast judgment based on your own logic. Be ever so careful not to call someone an unbeliever simply because you disagree with some of their doctrine. If that person has believed in and confessed Christ, he or she is saved and the bride of Christ. Christ does not take pleasure in His bride being attacked, bashed, despised, etc. He is a jealous God and He will deal with those who cause division and harm His bride.

 

Is there a reason for division? Sometimes.

 

There are sometimes needful divisions that occur. God is clear that we are not to embrace false teaching that perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a pastor/teacher claims that Jesus Christ is not enough, and you need something more to be saved, that is something to come against and expose. Expose anyone who claims to be a Christian and denies the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the all-sufficiency of Christ, the power of the triunity of God and the total forgiveness of sins by the washing of the blood of the Lamb. Reject teachings that we must change the gospel message or that we don’t need scripture. Also hold accountable those who have been given authority in the church. The scripture gives guidelines for how a pastor/elder must live.

 

Be Careful! Do not believe every rumor you hear!

 

“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:9

 

 

I share this message from God’s Word because I see the ugly disease of division and strife tearing through the church of God’s people. It’s no surprise. As we get closer to the end times, we expect it. Yet I am greatly disheartened by well know teachers, beloved friends and even myself, at times, seeing that we are so quick to cast out and tread down those who we find disagreement with. I encourage you brothers and sisters (and myself) to remember that, when it comes to minor issues of doctrinal difference, division is wrong. Do not speak evil but be graceful. Teachers, spend more time teaching God’s Word and less time pointing out where everyone else is doing it wrong. God’s Word is the truth that will set us free and inoculate us against bad teaching.

 

God is not pleased by those who stir up division, who delight in bringing down others or who hate under the masked disguise of “conviction”. Do not allow minor issues of doctrinal difference cause you to look at a brother or sister and see an unbeliever. You have no right to make that call. Only God knows the heart of that person. Pray. Be quiet. Love. Speak and live by truth. Focus on God’s Word. Focus on unity and peace within the church. Oh what a glorious light will shine forth, drawing the lost to the love of God! They will know us by our LOVE! And they will want it.

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Division vs Unity in the Church

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

Calvinism versus Arminianism. Cessation versus Continuationism. Hymns versus contemporary worship. Carpets versus hardwood and pews versus chairs. haha The possibilities for division within the church are endless, and these days it seems that there are people within the church, sometimes pastors themselves, whose very purpose is to incite division and to stir up wrath. So it brings to questions, is all division bad? What is the difference between good and bad division? How can people who disagree still have unity in Christ?

1. Necessary Division

The truth is, there will be times when division is unavoidable, necessary and even good. There are times when it is important to call out and stand against a false teacher/teaching and to call other believers to do the same. This is the case when people are teaching a false doctrine that is in direct violation to God’s Word.

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” 2 John 1:7

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” 2 Peter 2:1-3

“An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:20-24

““If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:1-4

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” 1 Timothy 1:3-4

“If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thess 3:14-15

These verses give us a good idea of where division is sometimes necessary and when we are called to confront a false teacher. If a false teacher is preaching a perverted form of the gospel, a different Jesus (perhaps one who is not God), a hypocrite practicing unrepented sin (according to what God’s Word clearly speaks of as sin), or teaching anything that is in direct contradiction to the Bible then there is a cause for rebuke, private and then public, and sometimes division. These are instances in which the truth of God’s Word will necessarily pierce to the joints and marrow and cause division in the body of Christ. These are the times when we need to speak out against a false teacher. Division is also made between believers and unbelievers. The goats and the sheep. That’s not a division we make but a natural division that occurs in the world. God makes the division. What has light to do with darkness?

2. Sinful Division

Why do I call it sinful to have division? Well, God makes it abundantly clear in the Word that He desires for His children, His body, to be united and knit together. He does not desire strife and contentions. He does not desire Christians to attack other Christians over issues that are not expressed above. He does NOT want Christians to attack their brothers and sisters for minor differences in interpretation of scripture that may be unclear, for differences in style of worship, for differences in apparel or food habits, etc. This is not God’s will for His church, and since He has made it very clear and commanded that we do not cause these divisions, those who do cause divisions for these reasons are in sin.

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” Romans 16:17-18

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:22

“1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

“1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Phil 2:1-3

“14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

Causing divisions and creating obstacles in the body that do not need to be there is wrong. It’s way more like the Pharisees than the way Jesus behaved. It’s like the Jews who tried to burden the gentiles with unnecessary bonds. In Romans, Paul tells us not to despise each other when we have differences in food or drink or sabbaths. We may have a personal conviction, but that doesn’t mean we are to cast that conviction on others and then judge them and attack them for not sharing it. This kind of judging happens often in the areas of: style of worship, clothing, food and health habits, lifestyles (as in whether or not Christians should have wealth), etc. God does not want us to divide over these issues, but to love one another so that the lost world will see and know we belong to the King.

My prayer is that God would continue to knit His church together. I pray that teachers and people who are busy seeking ways to cause division within the body of Christ would be convicted and repent. I pray that those who have been hurt by unnecessary division, accusation and judgement would find healing and reconciliation. Praying that God’s church would be united in our common Savior, our common commission and the mighty love of Jesus that connects us all through His Spirit. Amen.

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