THERE MAY BE A PROBLEM
Paul ends his letter to the Christians at
Though Paul had heard good things about the Christians at
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
He is concerned that those who start well may be led astray.
I want to consider Paul’s concern as it is recorded in this Scripture tonight.
If it is important enough that it is recorded in the Scripture then we must recognize its importance.
I. THE PROBLEM (vs 17-18)
There were those who would weaken the church and its effectiveness by dividing and some by placing stumbling blocks.
They both fall into the category of deceit.
The first thing that Paul mentions is division.
The Scripture teaches us to be united in our effort to win the lost and to battle wickedness.
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of
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.
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
1 Cor 1:10-11
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
1 Pet 3:8-10
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
The word “divisions” means disunity.
How can we be divided?
by differences of opinion
It is okay for us to have different opinions. God is not the author of confusion.
1 Cor 14:33
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
I firmly believe that what is wrong for one is wrong for all.
There is indeed a distinct line between all right and wrong.
But there are some things for which that young Christians have not yet been convicted.
There are some things for which that older Christians have not yet been convicted.
And some may never agree that something you or I believe to be wrong is wrong for them.
A difference in backgrounds, cultures, and past leadership has much to do with our opinions.
God will bless or chastise, use or not use us according to our compliance with His Word.
It is He who must deal with our convictions. He does so by means of the Holy Spirit.
We must not allow these differences to separate those who are bought with the blood of Christ and part of His family.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Conviction is a declaration of guilt. Only the Holy Spirit can declare a person guilty in his own mind.
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
We are not to be judges. Godly instruction and example are the tools that God can use by the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to a wrong doer.
1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
by false doctrine
My way doctrine.
They intend to do it their way no matter what God says.
12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
We must study the Word and know what we believe and why we believe it.
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by
the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
2 Tim 3:16-17
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Tim 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
by adding to or taking away from Scripture
The cults are good at this. They write books that they place on the same level of importance with the Holy Scripture.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
We are all unperfected this side of heaven. Let us labor together to reach the lost and encourage the growth that God would be pleased with in each of us.
God says another reason for deceit, is offenses.
The word translated offenses here is the same word translated stumbling block or occasion to stumble in:
Rom 11:9; 1 Cor 1:23; 1 John 2:10; Rev 2:14.
This comes from a Greek word meaning “trap stick or bent sapling”.
It is a trap set to cause a weaker brother to stumble and fall.
offenses come through gossip
offences com through backbiting
offenses come through selfish pride
The problem with divisions and offenses is recorded as deception.
Eve and Adam when led away by the flesh took of the forbidden fruit.
When we put more emphasis on how much more spiritual we are than our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are led away by the flesh.
We must keep the emphasis where God wants it.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in
It is neither my brother nor my sister standing in the need of prayer. It is me oh Lord.
If we could account for ourselves, we will do well.
And as for other Christians and their growth leave that to God and God sent pastors.
For the pastor must give account for his doctrine and the people must give account as to their putting it into action.
7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Each of us will give account to God for our service.
II. THE PRACTICE (vs 17)
What is the normal operating procedure for squelching these divisions and offenses that deceive the believer into getting into the flesh and leaving off the true responsibility to carry out the great commission?
The remedy is clear.
That is make a mental recognition of those who divide us and cause the young believers to stumble.
And have no part in their undertaking.
This means we must avoid them.
Realize they are serving their own belly, (the flesh).
They offer good words and fair speeches to the end of destroying our effectiveness for God.
The serpent used enticing word to bring Adam and Eve to their fall.
He catered to their flesh.
The practice is simple.
Not by judging, spreading gossip, or backbiting, but by simply avoiding we can continue our mission to reach the lost and edify the saint.
III. THE PROMISE
To those who will not be swayed by offenses and divisions there are promises.
Offenses will come.
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Offences will come. But only you and I can offend our conscience.
When we do wrong our conscience will be offended.
When we do right our conscience is not offended.
Paul wanted to have a conscience void of offence.
That he had been faithful to all that he knew about his Christian walk with God.
16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
If we remain faithful several things are promised.
Obedience is preserved. (19)
Victory is assured. (20,25)
God is pleased. (20)
Peace is prevalent. (20)
The Gospel is preached. (26)
God is honored. (27)