A. We know that the local body is to have no divisions (I Corinthians 1:10).
- We know we are to be likeminded through walking by the same rule (Philippians 2:2-3 and Philippians 3:16).
- At the same time, there are diversities that exist [more on that later], such as did in the N.T. though being in the same body (Galatians 3:26-29).
- Sometimes those differences led to divisions as people sought to be among those they were carnally similar to (Galatians 2:11-14).
- The concept of “heresies” [“a party… sect… body of men following their own tenets, dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims” (Strong’s # 139)] which is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).
- Such happened in Corinth (I Corinthians 11:16-19).
- There are Scriptural reasons brethren might do things apart from the congregation as a whole (Matthew 18:15-16, Acts 18:24-28, Acts 20:17-18, Romans 16:23, Titus 2:3-5, I Peter 4:8-9, etc.).
- We have to focus on how not to become cliquish.
II. Body: How can we protect the body from clique based divisions (Romans 12:16, Romans 15:5, and I Corinthians 12:25-27)?
A. There are possibly natural separations within congregations…
- Physical age (I Timothy 5:1-2).
- Spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5:12-14).
- Variations of consciences based on spiritual maturity (Romans 14:1-15:9).
- Levels of abilities (Matthew 25:14-30).
- Income variances (James 2:1-13).
- Different levels of strengths for various reasons (I Corinthians 12:12-24).
- Sexes, age, and responsibility differences (Titus 2:1-6).
- Interests; likemindedness (Philippians 2:19-24).
- Spouses and family members in the same congregation that you’re naturally closer with (Romans 16:3-5).
- What can arise from such (Proverbs 28:21)?
- What dangers arise when brethren are physically related or certain friendships are closer than others? Following Jesus’ example prevents this (Mark 3:31-35).
- We need to care. If we treat one another wrongly, that is as though we treated Jesus wrongly (Matthew 25:34-40, Acts 9:1-4, and I Corinthians 8:12).
- What lessons can be learned from II Timothy 3:1-9?
- As referenced earlier, what happened to Barnabas (Galatians 2:13)?
- Without impugning intentions, what can happen in studies with incapable people (I Timothy 1:3-7; cf. Matthew 15:14)?
- Think about how false teachers bring in heresies [defined above] (II Peter 2:1) and what happens as a result (II Peter 2:2).
- We are wrong if we are only concerned about what is taught in the public assembly (Titus 1:10-14).
- The fact that we know sects formed with specific beliefs that differed tells us to be on guard (Acts 23:8).
- Can being open prevent the formation of cliques (John 18:20 and Acts 26:22-26)? How about always???
- It is not always good to be open (again; i.e. Matthew 18:15).
- Some affairs are not open to respect the weak conscience of another (Romans 14:15).
- The opportunities will arise for brethren to be cliquish, you have to guard yourself from doing so (Proverbs 16:17).
- Think about your actions, how they appear, and what the long-term effect will be before you take those actions. That is the principle of counting the cost we should have all done before obeying the Gospel (Luke 14:25-33).
- Look out for each other, without making accusations, to help each other not fall into this easy trap (I Thessalonians 5:14).
- Remember that Jesus died to bring all saints together in one body, not into separate bodies within the body (Colossians 3:15).
III. Conclusion: Jesus didn’t die for there to be cliques of brethren, but rather for us all to be one (Ephesians 2:15-16).
© 1999-2021 Brian A. Yeager