Unity Between Believers And Hypocrites


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A common modern view is that God never wants His people divided into different groups. It is argued He hates the division into denominations and wants all Protestants, Roman Catholics and Orthodox to unite in one organisation.

It is true that born-again Christians in various Christian denominations must appreciate their spiritual unity with true believers from other denominations. In Ephesians 4:3, Paul emphasised the spiritual unity of all believers. But it is wrong to say God always wants all churchgoers on Earth in one religious organisation.


Does God command unity between believers and religious hypocrites?


The New Testament does not teach that real believers should be in union with churchgoers who are living continuously very wicked lives. In 1 Corinthians 11:18-21, Paul says: “For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.”

Here Paul is not contradicting what he said earlier in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 and 3:3-4. In these earlier passages, Paul attacked the Corinthian factions for primarily following various church leaders instead of Jesus Christ and for being envious and fighting in relation to this.

But in 1 Corinthians 11:18-21, Paul said there needed to be divisions in the Corinthian church so that those who were approved by God may be recognized by the fruit of their behaviour. Because the Corinthian church experienced very liberal pitiful church discipline some time after Paul left, he stated here that there needed to be divisions among them so that those who were getting drunk and so on could be recognized as being not approved by God.

God is not interested in outward organizational unity that merely looks good to humans. Such false unity involves the joining of true believers with religious hypocrites who hold the form of true Christianity but who deny the power of it (see 2 Timothy 3:5) and those who claim to know God but their actions prove otherwise (see Titus 1:16).

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, Paul opposed any spiritual union of believers and unbelievers, regardless of whether the latter were outwardly “Christian” or not: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”

In 1 Corinthians 5:11, Paul taught that true believers in Christ should “not keep company with anyone named a brother” who is a churchgoing hypocrite who refuses to turn from their sins: “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.”

It is impossible to obey this command of God if we as true believers join in one church organization with others who are like the types of Christians-in-name-only which Paul writes about in this verse.

God desires real unity between true believers in all Christian denominations. There are precious believers who have received Christ as Lord and Saviour in all Christian denominations. These are the people with whom we have a true spiritual union through Jesus Christ.

But the present push for a united one-world church is not from God. This drive was begun by compromising worldly liberal Protestants many decades ago. Evangelicals, Charismatics and Pentecostals have always believed to varying degrees in a spiritual union of true believers from all denominations, but in recent times the former are being increasingly pressured to accept this compromising external organisational union.

The worldly Western secular press constantly supports this false unity. But note in Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus Christ said He would create division and not unity among humans: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes will be those of his own household.” In context, Christ was referring to families. But the same principle applies to other human institutions.


“Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins”


In 1997, the majority of voting members of the 60 churches who belong to one of the Presbyteries of the Uniting Church in Melbourne in Australia voted that being a homosexual should not be a barrier to a person being ordained as a Uniting Church minister.

I believe that God’s Words to the members of these 60 churches are Revelation 18:4: “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’”

God wants us to be spiritually united with true believers from all denominations but not to belong to groups who have made up their own “gospel” and own “Jesus” to suit the evils of others.

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 still apply to all churches today. In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13: “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or  extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a extortioner – not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore put away from yourselves that wicked person.”


Unity but not uniformity


God’s call for unity is not a call for uniformity. In Psalm 133:1-3, there is an oft-quoted call through David for unity among God’s people: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing – Life forevermore.” Note this verse in context refers to the one nation of Israel with its twelve separate tribes.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the following two things for His people – Israel:


·           He wanted them to remain divided into tribes which had their own characteristics (see Exodus 24:4, 28:21, Numbers 1:16, 2:1-34, 10:1-6, 24:2, Deuteronomy 33:1-25, Joshua 4:5-8, 11:23, 12:7, 13:6-19:51, Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30 and Revelation 21:12).

·           He wanted the separate tribes to worship Him in unity (see Psalm 122:4) and operate in unity also.


Unity, great worship, zeal and effort without obedience


In 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 Paul stresses that divisions and fighting in a local church is usually a sign of great fleshliness or carnality. Psalm 133:1-3 and Ephesians 4:3 reveal how important it is to have unity among true believers. But such unity is of little use unless God’s people are doing what He commands in His written Word.

1 Chronicles 13:1-4 records David consulted with all the leaders and people of Israel about bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. All the people came into unity with David about this seemingly good goal or “vision”. So they brought the Ark back. David and the Israelites had a great Charismatic worship time while bringing the Ark back. 1 Chronicles 13:8 refers to them playing their music with great zeal.

But despite all the above, God’s anger was aroused because the men carrying the Ark were not Levites. One of these men touched the Ark and was struck down by the Lord as a result. Despite their unity, Charismatic worship, enthusiasm, Pentecostal zeal and effort, they did not please God. They disobeyed His clear instruction in Deuteronomy 10:8: “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day.”

1 Chronicles 15:1-28 records God was pleased when the Israelites later brought the Ark to Jerusalem in ways He commanded in the Scriptures. 1 Chronicles 15:12-13 record David’s words about their previous great mistake: “Then he said to them, ‘You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.’”

It is right to have unity among born-again believers, great worship, Pentecostal zeal and hard effort. But without obedience to God’s Word, these things are useless.

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