Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)
16 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that 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 make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Sowing discord. Our word “discord” means, “A contest or quarrel,” indicative of strife and contention. Consider Paul’s words.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (NKJV)
10 Now I plead with 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. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
It is apparent that even in Paul’s day there arose contentions among the believers due to the fact that some said, “I am of Paul,” while others, “I am of Apollos” or “Cephas” (Peter) or “Christ.” Paul’s response? “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” And what did Paul plead? “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.” A little further in his letter, Paul explains his concern.
1 Corinthians 3:1-7 (ESV)
1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not being merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Discord is fleshly, human, unspiritual, immature, and brings division; of this we can be certain, yet, the body of Christ is divided, just like so many other religions of the world. Ah, but the Word of God said we would be. It was prophesied before it happened because the Lord knows the hearts of men.
Is it any different today when we say, “I am of Martin Luther” (Lutheran), or “I am of John Wesley” (Methodist) or “I am of John Smyth (Baptist),” I am a “Pentecostal,” or “Charismatic”? No, it is not. Say what you will, but the division of the body of Christ testifies against us, showing that we are holding to our fleshly and immature ways instead of seeking the higher path to the kingdom of God.
One of the most ludicrous things to ever arise among Christendom is the idea that the Bible can be interpreted differently by each of us. We all seek the same Lord, don’t we? I’ll say it again. It’s ludicrous! Think about it! If this is true, then truth is not truth but simply opinions, for opinions can change. Truth cannot and does not change!
So why do so many think that there can be more than one interpretation? Because they do not recognize, as Paul did, that we are being “people in the flesh, as infants in Christ.” We’re “behaving in only a human way,” not in a spiritual capacity. Friend, our division and resulting disagreement in scripture is not a problem of scripture, but of fleshly arrogance, and it is in us where the problem lies. That’s why John called it a “spirit of error” (I John 4:6).
The essence of truth is that it stands on its own regardless of our own opinions or assumptions. It is not truth because we agree, it is truth whether we agree or not.
Do we wish to understand the truth? Then we must seek to be delivered from the spirit of error of which John wrote. And what defines the spirit of error? The same thing that defines the “spirit of the world” (I Cor. 2:12) and that is pride. For this reason, our attributes listed in Proverbs, Chapter 6, begins with “haughty eyes.”
Psalms 10:4 (NIV)
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
Proverbs 13:10 (NKJV)
10 By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.
As Proverbs shows, it is pride which brings strife (contention). What do we mean by pride? Paul tells us.
Romans 12:3 (NKJV)
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
The Bible definition of pride is to think more highly of ourselves than we should. This is not a one time act, but an ongoing attitude, a mindset of resistance that stands against the voice of spiritual reason. Jesus described this condition in the following.
Matthew 13:14-15 (NKJV)
14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.'
Pride issues from our heart or spirit, thus the reason we read that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). When left unchecked, pride becomes arrogance, a heightened sense of self-importance that can only end in calamity. It is the spirit behind so many of the collectives that exist in our time, the driving force that leads to their boldness in proclaiming their message, regardless of its effect on future generations. This, my friend, is what is meant by sowing discord.
Just like a seed which is planted in the ground, knowledge is sown into the mind, which is the pathway to the heart or spirit. Jesus taught this in the Parable of the Sower. Knowledge can be defined as anything we “know” or believe to be the truth, and it is here where error begins. “Bad fruit” contains bad seed and it will not be otherwise (Luke 6:43). Much of what we believe today is not a product of truth, but of long-standing mindsets that exist simply because of the ignorance of the collectives. This ignorance is often just that, a lack of knowledge, however, there is also a willful and forced ignorance that wins us over simply due to the fact that we are unwilling to question or challenge what is presented to us. We’ve thought and spoken this way for so long that no one takes time to think that it could be in error. This speaks to the naiveté of the worldly and religious collectives which surround us, of those whose allegiance to these collectives transcends the voice of reason because again, they are unwilling to examine their beliefs. At this point, they have “grown dull” (Matt. 13:15) and are incapable of hearing and seeing another point of view. And whether we like to admit it or not, Christianity is no exception, for this was the condition of most in Jesus’ time and the condition of the Laodicean church in Revelation. We “do not know” that we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). The spirit of error has been embraced as the Spirit of truth.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.” He also said, “Morality is the basis of things and truth is the substance of all morality.” This is what Jesus taught and exemplified in His life, and it is this to which we should aspire.
Remember, “fullness” speaks of the “fruit” of a tree wherein is found the “seeds” to start the process over again. Ah, but there isn’t just one seed like that which we started with, but many more seeds; we go from one to many. This is known as the exponential function which means to rise or expand at a steady and usually rapid rate. The result? One becomes a collective and the collective becomes the power of the one.
I found it interesting that the word “denomination” is taken from the word “denominate.” This simply means, “To give a name to; denote; designate.” And what is a denomination? It is a collective which has designated a particular person or persons and their beliefs as their own. This is not necessarily a bad thing until it leads to rejecting all others simply for the name’s sake. Sadly, many today belong to denominations, not because they understand the scriptures, but because they don’t. They are content with the status quo of their religion and have no desire to question what they have been taught to believe.
Paul told the Corinthian believers, “Now I plead with 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” (I Cor. 1:10). No doubt, Paul stressed unity for the Corinthian believers, but true unity can only be attained by a spirit of humility. Without it, truth will be sacrificed at the altar of ego.
Proverbs 16:19 (NKJV)
19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Micah 6:8 (ESV)
8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Let’s face it, brothers and sisters. We don’t know and understand nearly as much as we think we do. Due to the strength of tradition, we have strayed further and further from the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3; ESV). As a result, we have devised doctrines laced with arrogance and self-righteousness; teachings which demean the character of our Maker and His Son. We have “two horns like a lamb” but we speak “like a dragon” (Rev. 13:11), but rest assured that a separation will take place, for the Word has declared it.