Proverbs 6:16-19 – “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” NASB
The Bible is filled with instructions as to the individual Christian life and the life of the Church of Jesus Christ. One of the areas in which God has chosen to devote a lot of focus is Unity. There are several key passages that relate to that I list them here and hope that you will take the time to read, examine, and study them:
Proverbs 13:10, 10:12; 26:21; 29:22; 17:14; Philippians 2:3; and 2 Timothy 2:24 are direct and provide an incredible understanding of this subject. There is nothing that the Enemy of our souls would like better than to destroy the local church. I believe that is a prime objective of the devil. He hates any local church that is impacting its community for God. He probably sees the potential of the local church more than the local church sees itself.
Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, MARK them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine you have learned; avoid them.” That is the kind of language and instruction that comes under fire from many facets of the world and the church today. It involves Church Discipline and engages in the idea of being separate, not isolationism but separation from sin and sinful lifestyles.
Paul says, Mark them that cause division among you. Before you say, “But Roy, that would be judgmental,” remember this is the Word of God and God never puts things in His word without purpose. This is a warning designed to preserve the unity and functionality of the local church. I am convinced that the only way any church can truly rise to greatness is they learn to dwell together in Unity. They have a common vision and become Christ-centered and Others-centered.
We are told in Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Unity is not, compromise but having a common vision and a common set of core values. In Acts 4:32, we read, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common.” That was not a plea for a lifestyle of communism or socialism but a plea for Unity.
Paul instructs believers in Romans 12:16, “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” Then in Romans 15:16, he prayed, “That you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then in 1 Corinthians 1:10, his plea and prayer were, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Unity is essential if we are going to become the Church that Jesus promised to build and the Church that will shake up its world for God. Unity is essential not just desirable. A house divided against itself cannot stand and it is critical that we have the same judgment and vision. We are enjoined by the apostle Paul through the Holy Spirit to “Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3).
He instructed believers, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see or else be absent, I hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27). A few verses later he urged them to walk by the same rule and have the same mind.
Back to the charge or instruction to Mark people. Although few pastors today and fewer Churches would be willing to engage in this practice it is a biblical concept and something we have abandoned to our hurt as local congregations. I do not mean nor suggest that we become like the Pharisees but follow the instructions of two passages considering the entire Bible.
In Romans 6:17 we are told to Mark a certain group of people and then in Philippians 3:17, we are told to Mark another group of people. Both are critical if we are going to be what God wants us to be and for the local church to impact its community as God desires and has designed.
I have laid a foundation that I wish to continue in the next devotional and identify both groups that we are charged to Mark and what we are to do once we have marked them. We want to discuss the importance and impact of this kind of action as a local church.
So, until next time, I pray that the LORD will be with you, guard you and guide you in all that you do.