Unity of the Spirit
(Eph 4:1-16. Jude, 1 Cor. 11:18-19)
As we go through this life, we have the true and genuine and we have counterfeits. I recently wrote about false prophets and false christs, or saviors. We do not want to focus on the counterfeit but on the genuine. No one compares to Christ Jesus. The more we see Him for who He truly is, the more we recognize the counterfeit. When we consider the church which Jesus is building, counterfeits also exist. In reformed theology which came out of the time of the reformation in Europe, it was expressed that the true church of Christ is invisible. I would rather say that we cannot define it as this or that group. The Lord has always had faithful ones. Today, they are scattered among groups, denominations, and local churches. The Lord, Christ, knows those who belong to Him. As we grow spiritually and interact with others, we learn to discern counterfeits. We know them by their fruit.
Over the last several years I digested the short message written from Jude. It is a very open letter addressed to a broad audience. He offers sharp warnings concerning some who have crept in among those who are called and sanctified. Jude contrasts two types of people. He is writing to those who are purifying themselves as He is pure. (See 1 John 3:1-3) He describes others with the strongest words. These are the tares that Jesus spoke about. Jude does not tell us to uproot them but to avoid them. As I write that, however, I recall that Paul warns Timothy concerning Hymenaeus and Alexander. (See 1 Tim, 1:20) If we read the context, Paul’s desire is for these individuals to learn a lesson and change. The same is true with Jude as he hopes for some to be plucked from the fire.
True unity requires correction. It requires recognizing and avoiding those who cause divisions. It requires us to be awake. Some at our gatherings are clouds without rain. Yet it is not for us to force separations. When lawlessness is plainly evident it must be confronted as Paul told those in Corinth. (See 1 Cor. 5) In mercy, we may want those living in immorality to feel welcome but that encourages compromise. The Lord is rich in mercy to the humble and broken. Some of us may struggle for years on the road to overcoming our self-loving selves but wrong choices corrupt us. We are defiling ourselves as dwelling places of the Spirit. The Lord has paid the price for our redemption. His grace is the most precious, costly gift available in the universe. Jesus Christ, offered Himself by the eternal Spirit, as the full sacrifice for all the failures of all men.
This gift of His life poured out as the human yet divine blood He carried. That work destroyed the separation between mankind and God who created us. When we receive the Spirit of Christ, our spirit is made alive and one with His Spirit. That unity must be maintained. It must be cultivated. It must be strengthened. As is the natural growth of a child, so our inner man, our spirit, grows. We mature and are given more and more responsibility in the Lord’s household, His eternal family. With spiritual maturity we gain approval from our Father and are given more responsibility in His house. Understanding this, Paul addresses divisions in the body of Christ in his first letter to the Corinthians. Keep in mind we call it the first but he may have written others which we do not have. In addressing the supper of the Lord, he scolds them and admits that heresies exist that those who are mature would be evident.
Heresies? Yes, that is the Greek word in the refenced verse 19. We think heresy is the worst thing that happens among believers. Heresy simply means a lie, something that is untrue. Heresies are related to immaturity and carnal living. They have been happening for 2000 years, and before. We think we know God and yet walk in ways inconsistent with who He is. We are self-loving and self-exalting. And that shows up in our poor treatment of others. We separate from others thinking we are better than they. If we are mature, we may find separation but that is often the Lord’s way of moving us into new relationships and responsibilities. A mature walk includes the ability to avoid those who are causing divisions while maintaining right relationships. May we speak the truth in love to everyone we meet so that we all may grow up into Christ.
Read the referenced passages and the Holy Spirit will impart the truth to you that you might grow. So we will grow together into that house that brings joy to His heart.