by Mike Ratliff
1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες, (Philippians 2:1-2 NA28)
1 Therefore, since there is encouragement in Christ, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection, and compassions, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, the same love, as ones joined in soul and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The exercise of true discernment is not divisiveness regardless of that very charge by those who like to throw around the label “hater” against those who obey God by revealing the truth about their ministries to the Body of Christ. In fact, those who are being divisive are the very ones who are corrupting the truth through their false teachings, leading people astray and by not leading people to become God-focused in their life and worship rather than self-focused. Yes, that is truly divisive and their exposure to the discerning by those being obedient to God is both painful and necessary.
There are others who are divisive of whom we are warned in God’s Word.
8 Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος· καὶ περὶ τούτων βούλομαί σε διαβεβαιοῦσθαι, ἵνα φροντίζωσιν καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι οἱ πεπιστευκότες θεῷ· ταῦτά ἐστιν καλὰ καὶ ὠφέλιμα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. 9 μωρὰς δὲ ζητήσεις καὶ γενεαλογίας καὶ ἔρεις καὶ μάχας νομικὰς περιΐστασο· εἰσὶν γὰρ ἀνωφελεῖς καὶ μάταιοι. 10 αἱρετικὸν ἄνθρωπον μετὰ μίαν καὶ δευτέραν νουθεσίαν παραιτοῦ, 11 εἰδὼς ὅτι ἐξέστραπται ὁ τοιοῦτος καὶ ἁμαρτάνει ὢν αὐτοκατάκριτος. (Titus 3:8-11 NA28)
8 Trustworthy is the Word and concerning these things, I counsel you to strongly affirm them, that the ones having believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are good and profitable to men. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, quarrels, and fights about the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. 10 Avoid a divisive man after warning him once then twice, 11 knowing that such a man has been perverted and is sinful being self-condemned. (Titus 2:8-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The word “divisive” in v10 translates αἱρετικὸν the Accusative, Singular of αἱρετικός or aihretikos, “one who creates or fosters factions.” This is where we get the English word “heretic.” Now, this is not talking about a person who is standing firm against heresy, but one who is trying to subvert the truth with false doctrine. What do these people do? They pick fights. They try to create controversies, quarrels, and fights. They do not have truth on their side so they use the tactics of the world, philosophies of men, and, of course, out right ad hominem attacks. I know all about this having been the target more times than I care to recount. They use Straw Man argumentation, which is fallacious and a huge time waster. What are we to do? We rebuke them then we rebuke them again. If they persist then we do whatever it takes to remove all possible access they may have to us and to those we care for. Why is this necessary? In v11 we are told that the person, man or woman, has been perverted and is sinful. In Greek this literally says, “knowing that has been perverted such a man and sins, being self condemned.” The word αὐτοκατάκριτος refers to one who is condemned by one’s own sentence meaning: passing sentence upon oneself. This is done either as a voluntarily cutting off of oneself from the church by an open revolt, or as rendering oneself incapable of the privileges and blessings that belong to the church by renouncing one’s faith. The result becomes judging or declaring oneself unworthy of the blessings tendered by the church.
Real Christians prove their salvation by not being like that. Instead their lives are examples of fulfilling Philippians 2:1-2, which I placed at the top of this post while resisting those who conform to Titus 3:10-11. Now, those in NAR, postmodernism, seeker-sensitive, WoF, et cetera stuff that is going on all around us point their fingers at those of us with discernment and say we are the ones in Titus 3:10-11, while that is not the case at all as we saw above. Those who pervert God’s Truth with lies and false doctrine are the ones being divisive and God has given discernment to those willing to stand up and tell the truth to the those who will listen. In doing this, we are not being divisive, but obedient in rebuking the αἱρετικός by contrasting what they are doing and saying with God’s Truth. Let us do so always ready to give an account of the hope that is within us with the Grace and demeanor of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!