Unity in the Body of Christ

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore, we also from the day which we heard, do not cease praying for you and asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, to walk worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God. (a direct translation of Colossians 1:9-10 from the NA27 Greek text)

It seems my life has become a continuous series of tests and trials, putting me into places of contention in which it is clearly apparent to me that the way I have gone before is not how God would have me go and be walking worthy of the Lord in every way pleasing to Him in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God. Of course, the reason this is clearly apparent to me is that the part of me that is under the spotlight is my pride. I can act like those around me in arrogant, self-protection or I can, in the power of the Holy Spirit, deny self and μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, seek to ἀνέχομαι, forebear with those with whom I in contention ἐν ἀγάπῃ, in love. Of course, I have paraphrased Ephesians 4:2, which is actually about unity within the Body of Christ. However, I am convinced that we must also apply the same forbearance to everyone while never compromising by unifying with those who are not true Christians. 

Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ ὁ δέσμιος ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως περιπατῆσαι τῆς κλήσεως ἧς ἐκλήθητε, μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος, μετὰ μακροθυμίας, ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ, σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης· Ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα, καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν· εἷς κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα, εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων, ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν. (Ephesians 4:1-6 from the NA27 Greek text)

Therefore, I encourage you, I the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthy of the calling by which you were called. With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. As there is one body and one Spirit, as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, the one over all and through all and in all. (a direct translation of Ephesians 4:1-6 from the NA27 Greek text)

What divides what should be unified in the Body of Christ? Pride being manifest instead of humility in relationships is the paramount problem. I know that some thought I was going to say doctrine, but that is an accusation by liberals who call themselves Christians, but who seek unity on what is not biblical. They say that doctrine divides. Well, it may divide the righteous from the unrighteous, but it most certainly does not divide the righteous from one another. However, within the true Body of Christ, as this passage makes clear, we have the responsibility to seek unity amongst our true brethren don’t we?

The word translated here as “lowliness” is the noun ταπεινοφροσύνης, which is the Genitive, Singular form of ταπεινοφροσύνη or tapeinophrosunē, which pictures modesty, humility, and lowliness of mind, having a humble opinion of oneself, a deep sense of one’s littleness. Those who have this sense of self know how little they really are. Of course, this is in light of who they are in the light of God, His mercy, His Grace, His Sovereignty, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His immutability, et cetera. When you add in the Gospel and the fact that we in no way are deserving of His mercy, His grace and eternal life then you begin to get the picture that we must take that sense of self and place it in effect in all our relationships.

I just thought I heard a pin drop. Yes, that is what this passage is saying and that is what we are commanded to do in all our relationships, especially those within the Body of Christ. In our day, how often do we hear Christianized messages replete with emphasis on self-esteem and self-glorification? My brethren, these are the exact opposite of what God’s Word is commanding us how to live and relate one to another.

What about those who are insistent in their attempts to infiltrate this ministry or your ministry with their “opinions” that are obviously unbiblical and are often heretical? These seem to be on the increase here. I block most of them and deal with them offline because I do not want to destroy the atmosphere here that is based on affirmation in the Word of God, not opinion. However, as I said, I get much input from those with “views” that are not based upon sound doctrine and are more often than not, just opinions. I also get “contact me” messages quite a bit from Roman Catholics or some other religious group trying to get me to move over to their side. It is so intriguing how they do it at times. My studies in Presuppositional Apologetics makes it very easy to spot where the root error is in their arguments or opinions, but these people are really blind to it themselves. How do we treat these people? Are we arrogant with them while being humble to those with whom we agree? No, we cannot do that.

The way we must do that is to never back away from the truth, but also to never fall into the trap of reasoning at their level. Instead, we give them a gentle rebuke. We tell them the truth and why it is the truth and why what they share is not the truth, but name-calling and falling into emotional, never-ending arguing is not the way. That is why I made the requirement for debate on this blog to be Biblical proof. Opinion is just that.

Be blessed in the Lord my brethren. Remember to pray for wisdom and discernment everyday.

Soli Deo Gloria!

21 thoughts on “Unity in the Body of Christ

  1. ..in meekness forbearing with those with whom I am in contention, in love…
    Something I need much, and covet your prayers for, Mike!


  2. Thank you for another fantastic article, Mike.

    In your opinion, what should our attitude be when we are confronted with false teachers and their followers? This is an area I am struggling in as I get downright angry when I hear people teaching and/or defending prosperity gospel and other rank heresies. I understand that false teachers are under greater condemnation and ultimately will have much to answer for when they meet the Lord but some days I get so tired of seeing how this type of man-centered theology has infiltrated the church. Their antics never seem to cease or amaze me.

    I guess my anger (as righteous as I would like to deem it) serves as a reminder of my own fallenness in some ways.


  3. How do you have unity with brothers and sisters who refuse to believe the clear word of God and treat you like an arrogant idiot attacking things like your motives, your career, and even your faith? They give you back handed advice that was never asked for, things such as “God just wants you…He doesn’t need your talents or help”, “Careful of being a legalist”…etc? Then you find these same people on other blogs asking for prayer for you? Telling people they fear you have fallen for doctrine from the pit of hell? While never once have they come to you about their disagreements?

    You know, blogs can be a very destructive thing. People feel free to write whatever they please, not realizing that it is a public comment and that people they never intended to see the comment…well they see it. Meanwhile, they know nothing about you, your trials, your lessons and how God took you just as you were, but didn’t intend to let you stay there. They call you a legalist because you believe in sanctification for every believer. They tell you that you are too narrow and intolerant in your beliefs. It doesn’t matter that you have explained over and over that it’s not sanctification in your own strength, but the work that God does as He lives in you. They have a comment for everything, usually negative and aggressive, but you notice, they didn’t read the article. They’ve been following your blog for years, and yet misrepresent you and your beliefs because they never took the time to read your thoughts or get to know you. Instead, they stick with their preconceived notions of what you are. You find this out because you post the article with a link, the link is never followed but they are the first with a comment of rebuke for you. Sometimes, they flat out tell you they won’t read the article but will pray about it???? Other times out of nowhere, they ask you questions that you have addressed weekly for years? Things that are the core of what you study??? And then say, wow, I didn’t know you thought that? It’s like they just want to see themselves comment or something.

    They chalk every disagreement up to…well, this is a secondary issue, as if to say that there are parts of scripture that don’t matter. That the Holy Spirit just likes to fill in space with fluff material or something. It seems as time goes on, the list of secondary issues grows in the body.

    Mike, I understand the pride thing you are talking about, but sometimes what we think is pride, is Satan throwing firery darts to make you think you are prideful and need to keep your mouth shut so that you won’t point out Biblical truths. And though pride is there, as it always is, that’s not the problem at the moment. The problem is that people are offended by the Word of God. Other times, it’s absolutely pride, but I think when everything you are saying is found in the word of God, and you are careful to present it in a way that is not personal and people still treat you this way or make these accusations, it’s not your own pride that’s the problem. See, pride goes both ways. If you ask God to reveal your motives, you will always see that pride is one of them. It’s part of who we are and our motives are never pure. God knows that and He works on us. But the fact is, there is always going to be people who bring out the worst in us, and I don’t know the answer to this one, other than the advice the scriptures give us on that…make every thought obedient to Christ and realize who we are and what we’ve done and who Jesus Christ is and what He’s done. But whether the truth is given out of pride or not, it’s still the truth. God’s Word doesn’t change just because your attitude stinks. And even if you are perfect, people are still going to accuse you of being an intolerant, prideful jerk. It’s just the way it is.


  4. Markus, what did Jesus do? What did Peter and the rest of the Apostles do? They had righteous indignation and confronted false teachers with the truth. They did not get bogged down into hateful, emotional, personal attacks. I would have really liked to have watched Jesus cleanse the Temple all by Himself with that scourge of cords…


  5. Dawn Marie, I have the same issues believe me. I have no control of others, but I can control my own motives. Am I responding from a base of pride or am I putting Christ first in all things? Just because we are obedient and humble does not mean we do not stand firm on God’s truth, never backing down, contending with whoever is attacking those truths. We must be careful to NOT ATTACK THEM PERSONALLY. They may attack us personally, but we can’t do that. When it gets to that point, its time to cut the relationship and move on if possible.


  6. “When it gets to that point, its time to cut the relationship and move on if possible”

    I was afraid you’d say that. I know it’s true. I do. It’s just so hard to cut off people you love.


  7. Mike thanks for another good post. I think another thing we are dealing with here is this: we are either suffering persecution or we will be. There are no two ways about this. I have been studying 1 Thessalonians. Paul points out to them that he suffered it and they have too. All true believers in Jesus Christ will. All those who desire to live godly in Christ WILL be persecuted. It is a promise. Paul says that we are “appointed” for afflictions, including persection (1 Thess 3:3). Our problem today is that so many Christians say, we aren’t persecuted like believers in other countries. True, I have not had my life threatened or my church burned down. BUT that is not the only type of persecution is it? Jesus Christ and paul the apostle were hounded and pursued by enemies from place to place throughout their ministries. It was not until years of this that they were both put to death. Prior to that they faced opposition, hatred, unbelief, mockery, false teachers, false converts, slander, physical threats, etc. Paul tells the thessalonians all this in order that they may not be unsettled by all of their trials. We need to know and believe the word of God so that we will not be unsettled by ours. For it has come. I have begun challenging the assertion about no persecution in the US whenever I hear it. People may still say it or believe it, but the word is the standard for it tells us the truth. I have been a Christian for 16 years and I have to say that in the last couple of years things have definitely heated up. People who I lived alongside for years with no problem have gotten in my face and shaken their fingers at me. Most everyone I know that is religious in some way has come to me to tell me that I am wrong about what I believe, and they are right because (fill in the blank with anything except the word of God). One loved one has told me that they have renounced their faith. One person close to me for years has had a change of heart but told me that once they “hated my Christianity.” I had no idea that they felt that way! Look, they hated Jesus Christ, and they are going to hate us. The closer we walk to Him, the more we share His gospel and His word, the more we love Him – the more opposition we will face. Thanks for the reminder to humble ourselves. Humility is always appropriate and Christ-like.


  8. Julie, when it’s your own children who are pointing and shaking their fingers at you – children who were brought up in the knowledge of Christ in a christian home – and as adults, one has turned to “buddhism and karma”, and our oldest son is dabbling with the theosophical foundation – and over a sunday lunch proceeds to tell you that christianity is not the ONLY way – and that yes he agrees with the principle that the “divine” took human form to show us how we should live – and yet adds concepts like “we can attain the lost secret power of the disciples in healing the sick”, that the spirit can “astral plane when you attain this higher knowledge” etc… and then you read the NT where it says …

    49“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

    I pondered this verse when our kids were young and always wondered how could that be? I know now…… BUT I continue to pray without ceasing and trust in my saviour…

    Mike, you said “We tell them the truth and why it is the truth and why what they share is not the truth, but name-calling and falling into emotional, never-ending arguing is not the way”… my husband and I know from first hand experience with our own children how true that statement is. We have not stopped loving our children – and with all “longsuffering” we pray daily for them……


  9. Dear Mike,

    Your posts are a blessing to me. I too, am in the fires of persecution and there seems to be no end to it. My former husband continues to drag our family thru countless mental and emotional wastelands and my sons are suffering such confusion. Yet I know the Lord will prevail. Just last Good Friday evening I had a car accident where my life WAS SPARED…Glory to the Risen Lamb!!! Yet great grief followed as David Wilkerson died in a horrible accident. satan is raging against believers, but I will trust in my Savior and friend, Yeshua!! We must embrace the afflictions as Christ embraced the cross for the JOY set before Him!! These times of severe testing will purify us…I pray blessing upon my former husband and realize this struggle is not against flesh and blood anyway. But OH! the pain of it all. Thru tears I will bless and not curse. Thru tears I cry out to the Lord to Deliver me from my enemies. Thru tears I will strike my arrows against the ground over and over and over again believing God is GOOD….His mercy endures forever…believing that His Sovereign will is what is best and that no matter what the enemy hurls at me through whatever cirsumstance or person it comes from…GOD IS WORKING ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD. Never give up on Jesus, saints!!


  10. “We tell them the truth and why it is the truth and why what they share is not the truth, but name-calling and falling into emotional, never-ending arguing is not the way.”

    Well, what frequently occurs is that the other side believes that they are telling you the truth and why it is it the truth and why what you share is not the truth.


  11. Truth Unites… That is why I have been stressing the need for presuppositional apologetics to address those very things. That is what we use to “tell them the truth and why it is the truth.” That way they are left with only their man-based presuppositions which are rooted in the fallen world system. Hence, this is why we must be firmly grounded in the Word of God and nothing but, which is what I attempt to make clear here.


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