Many Christians suffer persecutions in their daily walk with Christ. This should not be surprising. Jesus predicted it for those who believed in Him (John 15:20 ) and the Apostle Peter told the church that they should not be surprised when they suffer insults because of their faith in Christ (I Peter 4:14 ). What is surprising is that other Christians receive persecutions – and some of the fiercest at that – from other Christians. This ought not to be so.
We are told to put on the whole armor of God and to protect ourselves from spiritual attacks (Eph 6:10-18 ). The only offensive weapon mentioned is the sword which is the Word of God. This weapon is intended to fight off spiritual attacks from wicked spirits but all too often believers wield this weapon against other Christians, however this is not the intended use for this weapon. The last thing that Christ would have us to do is to attack other Christians using the Word of God (Bible). Yes, we should challenge false teachings and false gospels when we see them and the Bible tells us that there will be many of these in the last days, but we are not to attack each other over non-essentials. When Christians fight with each other over things that are not central to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Calvary, Jesus atoning sacrifice, etc.), then we send a strong message to unbelievers – that we can not even get along with each other. Where is Christ in that!
Some Christians go so far as to sue one another in a court of law. This grieves God greatly. The Corinthian church was so carnal that they were fighting and arguing over who had the best spiritual gifts, even though these gifts were from God and not gifts that they themselves had developed. The were suing each other too, as Paul angrily stated in I Corinthian 6:5-6, “I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!” By doing this in full view of non-believers, we shame the reputation of Christ. We are redeemed, but many times we don’t live like the redeemed and we don’t reflect the Redeemer. Gandhi once said that “I love your Christ…it is your Christians that I don’t like very much.” This is because he saw the two-faced nature of many believers.
Knowledge Puffs Up
I receive a lot of emails. I have people occasionally contact me and say, I am wrong. One person actually told me that I was going to hell  because of what I believed. Another told me that he went to Bible College and that he was wiser now being almost 60 years old and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. The point is that God anoints people, not degrees. The more a person learns about the Bible, the greater the danger that they can become puffed up by that knowledge. Knowledge can often make a person full of pride . I had a professor in my Master’s Degree course who said that “No one in my class can get an A…no one is that smart!” You could not tell this man anything I was sure. The day that we feel we can’t learn from another Christian is the day that we will stop growing in grace and knowledge. I love the acrostic F.A.T. which stands for being Faithful, Available, and Teachable. God must draw close to those who remain faithful, are available to be used by Him, and have a teachable nature. For me, the more I have learned about the Bible, the more I see just how much I don’t know yet. The Bible is an inexhaustible source of knowledge that in a hundred lifetimes I could never master.
Paul battled with the carnal Corinthians who felt superior to each other over gifts and over knowledge. Paul knew considerably more than they did but he did not flaunt it over them. Paul said “We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know” (I Cor 8:1-2). Pride was the cause of Satan’s fall. He was lifted up and wanted to be over God Himself. Pride is essentially at the root of all sin. God resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble. Literally, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6, Prov. 3:34).
He Who is Not Against Us is for Us
Jesus saw some petty jealousies even in His day. His disciples came and told Jesus that others were teaching and preaching in His name. They approached Jesus with the attitude of “How dare they!” Jesus said “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50). Aren’t we really on the same side? Don’t we all need to get along? Instead, we fight over peripheral issues that are not essential to salvation. I heard it put this way, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” That should be Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul boasted to know nothing else by Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Cor 2:2).
Some argue that unless you have spoken in tongues  you have not been truly filled with the spirit. Others believe that anyone who doesn’t believe in the rapture is wrong. Still others believe in healing ministries today while others disagree; some churches believe in tithing, others don’t; some believe it is wrong to eat pork, others disagree; some worship on Saturday while others worship on Sunday; some believe in the Millennium while others do not. I told a church I visited once that some are millennialist (believe in a thousand year reign), some are amillennialist (no Millennium), and so on. I told the congregation that I was a pan-millennialist; that it will all pan out in the end.
Love One Another
Jesus said that a house divided can not stand…and Christians are sometimes divided over issues that are not central to Calvary. The Body of Christ should not be divided against itself, yet many times we are attacking each other over beliefs or any belief that differs from ours. I love to quote the saying, “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.” This means that above all things should be love . We all have differences…yet these differences should not make us divided; they should make us complete.
Paul spoke about the gifts of the Spirit and said that the hand can not say to the foot that I have no need for you…or the eye can not tell the ear that you are not needed. No, we all need each other. We should be praying for one another. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:25 “that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.“ Jesus told us that the world would know us if we loved one another – not if we argued against each other (John 13:35). That is exactly what Satan must delight in. What would Christ say to us if He returned to see that we are fighting over issues that are not essential to our own salvation and to tell others about Christ for the Great Commission? I think He would honestly be ashamed of us or worse yet, angry that we can not get alone with each other. He expects that from those who don’t have the Holy Spirit – but for believers who have Christ in them?
The book of Romans has much to say about living with differences among Christians.
1 “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”
4 -6 “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.”
10 “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”
13 “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
22 “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.”
2 “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”
7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
The Apostle John spelled it out clearly, leaving no room for doubt about who are Christ’s: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (I John 4:20). If we are constantly attacking other believers, then the love of God is not indwelling in us…and if anyone hates their brother or sister for their beliefs, then God says that they are a liar if they say the love God. No one loves God and hates his brother or sister. That is totally inconsistent with Christianity. In I John 1:6, John is saying that we are living in duplicity or being a hypocrite if we say that we are in fellowship with God and yet do not live like it with other believers: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” Can it be any clearer? Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies; how much more should we be praying for other believers and loving one another?
I remember having sword fights as a boy. We were quite swashbuckling as we fended off the pirates, but when Christians wield the sword of the Word of God (Bible) against other Christians, then we are misusing the only offensive weapon in the armor of God at our disposal. Instead of fighting off the enemy, we are attacking each other and wielding our sword in a sense of superiority (pride) because of our knowledge (which puffs up and makes us vain). I hope I do not prove my point but I must wonder if this article initiates persecution. It truly would not surprise me….but may the love of God forbid it.
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