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March 2, 2023

What Scripture Says About Division

By Chuck Hetzler, Ph.D.

 

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.  – Titus 3:10-11

The letter to Titus is another one of Paul’s pastoral epistles, along with 1 and 2 Timothy, containing some of the most necessary instructions for how to shepherd the flock of God. In today’s passage, Titus 3:10-11, the Spirit of God makes plain how grave the sin of divisiveness is and how it must be handled.

divisive people

The direction to Titus is quite practical, and this command applies to church leaders still today. If someone is causing division in the church, leadership needs to verbally warn the one creating controversy. That is all. No additional action should be taken at this point. The problem-maker needs to have space to change his actions and his attitudes. Hopefully, repentance follows. 

But if the troubler hardens his heart and continues wreaking havoc among the believers, church leaders must verbally rebuke him a second time. This second warning is the last chance for repentance. What follows is a severe consequence.

If after two verbal warnings there is still divisive behavior, then church leaders should “have nothing more to do with him.” That’s an astounding statement. How awful the sin of persistent divisiveness is! 

The Word of God goes on to explain that someone who willingly tears apart the Body of Christ and casts off sober warnings to stop is “warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” There is something fundamentally wrong with such a person’s current spiritual condition. 

A sincere believer might make a mistake by gossiping in the church, but he quickly repents when that sin is brought to his attention. The genuine Christian feels ashamed that he is confronted by his pastor for spreading disunity in the church; he immediately repents and makes amends for his hurtful actions. This kind of quickness to repent reveals that the contrite Christian has the Spirit of God and is a true believer. 

But someone who stiffens his neck and continues in his own rebellious ways reveals that he is not truly in the Lord. He cannot be helped and cannot be allowed to pollute the rest of the church. 

The Lord does not take Christian unity lightly. Throughout each devotional during this 14-day fast, it has become apparent how crucial unity of the Spirit is to the Lord and to the advancement of His kingdom. He does not tolerate division in the church and neither should we. 

Dear Lord, root out all causes for disunity from my heart and from Your people. Help church leaders today be committed to promote and protect the purity of Your Body. Give them the courage to confront divisive people and give repentance to those causing divisions. We want to please You and we long for Your presence and power in our midst, so remove all corruption and blockages from us, in Jesus’ name, amen.