The Attitude of Unity
I am always amazed at people who ignore the Spiritual Warfare as if they are in control. Look at the chart and see the wickedness and creativity of Satan. We are no match for this creature without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All Satan needs to derail any local church is to exploit our sin nature. It’s harder to do when a congregation has a laser focus on participating in God’s plan for a local church. The church at Corinth has a specific set of divisions based on personalities. Keep in mind these divisions in a church can be over different scenarios, but the results are the same — a derailed church.
Source: Clarence Larkin Charts.
Our passage in 1 Corinthians 1 begins with a strong appeal. Paul is saying, “don’t miss this point,” or “this is the thing to do.” What follows the call should carry much weight. The request is in the name of the Lord. Paul isn’t giving his opinion, but the appeal carries the authority of the Lord Jesus. Next is the three-part request.
First, Paul states that we should agree. The Greek here indicates that we “say” the same thing. NASB uses the word “agree.” Nobody is saying there shouldn’t be a debate on important decisions. However, Christians must get behind the final decision and move forward in unity.
The second point typifies this: “there be no divisions among you.” Emphasis on the idea of unity is in Eph. 4. Ephesians 4 uses the example of solidarity as:
“There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope at your calling — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4–6, CSB).
The verse closes by stating we are complete when we have the “same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10c, NASB). When we have unity in the Spirit, fill our roles appointed by the Lord, concentrate on building the Kingdom, the body of Christ grows. Paul states that failure to have unity in the Spirit means no difference exists between those Christians and “gentiles” at large. This situation should be an embarrassment, black eye to those believers.
Verses 11 and 12 show the nature of this discord. Understand that the sources of division and the speed they strike. Thom Rainer lists nine thoughts associated with church splits:
1. A church that has split is likely to die.
2. The negative community impact of a church split is significant and enduring.
3. The majority of church splits focus on the pastor.
4. Church splits typically originate from power groups in the church.
5. Some church members have been a part of several church splits.
6. Church splits are typically preceded by inactive church members becoming active members.
7. Church splits are more likely to occur in “country club” churches.
8. Some churches still split over doctrinal issues.
9. Some churches still split over financial issues.
As we said earlier, Nobody wins in this process, and Paul’s concern is certainly warranted. Author Emmitt Cornelius sites that in his forced retirement, the signs were there and became serious after five years. The signs were there and blew up before the problems could be solved. Satan was at work and crafted his attack in such a way that it would succeed if the participants continued to work in disunity. Again, we see why Paul is adamant speaking against divisions both in 1 Corinthians 1, Ephesians 4, and Rom 12.
Verses 13–17 have the same theme as in Ephesians 4 that Christ is NOT divided. We all have our roles assigned by Christ so that in unity, the church body achieves greatness in the Lord.
1. Christianity Today () Anatomy of a Church Split, Emmitt Cornelius Jr, https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2012/december-online-only/anatomy-of-church-split.html
2. Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Nelson’s quick reference topical Bible index (p. 274). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
3. Thom S. Rainer, Growing Healthy Churches; Nine Thoughts on Church Splits — Rainer on Leadership #525; https://thomrainer.com/2019/04/nine-thoughts-on-church-splits-rainer-on-leadership-525/3.