Unfortunately, fighting and strife within the fellowship of Christ is becoming more prevalent with each passing day. As is usually the case, what’s true today was also true many generations ago:
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (James 4:1; Galatians 5:15).
Many people find the reality of true believers engaging in sin a very hard fact to swallow. Jealousy and slander are among the many sins festering throughout the Body of Christ today. It is very important to God that His children not fight amongst one another and that’s why His Word contains so many admonitions against it.
“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another” (James 4:11-12).
In the verses above, James was no doubt referring to the “law” of love, as first recorded in Leviticus 19:18 and repeated by the Lord Jesus:
“Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 29-31).
We who have been born in the Spirit have two natures: Our old nature through physical birth and our new nature through spiritual birth. This is a concept that many people find hard to fathom. Two very different natures reside within us.
Occasionally we are left dumbfounded when someone whom we thought to be a genuine believer behaves as if they are a warden sent from the pit of hell acting on orders from Satan himself to condemn us to an eternity of fire and brimstone.
Arguably Satan’s most damaging battle tactic is sowing discord among the brethren. No doubt one of his greatest pleasures it to cause as many of God’s children to act like hypocrites as he possibly can. That way there’s plenty of accusations to go around.
“For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10b).
Satan knows how to get the house of the Lord to fall and his own house to stand. Tragically, many wolves also walk among the true sheep of the Lord. These false believers who profess with their mouths but not with their hearts continuously badger and bully true believers. They seek their own glory and not that of Christ and His Bride.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward” (Matthew 6:1-2).
The evil passions of jealousy, slander, and pride are the pathways traveled by those who walk according to the flesh. Their journey usually ends with broken homes, broken families, broken fellowships, and broken lives. Nothing hinders the spread of the Gospel more than fighting and strife.
Satan knows that the more time God’s children spend on setting traps and getting trapped, the less time they will spend letting their lights humbly shine before this lost world.
“But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:25-26)
Unfortunately not just wolves can participate in hurtful attacks, the sheep can also. Even though the doctrine of the two natures of believers is denied by Satan, he still continues to exploit the weakness of our sin nature anyway.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).
Notice that even those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit are capable of being bitter, angry, and evil speaking. The Lord Jesus also referred to the difference between the flesh and the spirit:
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).
As Scofield said, our dilemma as true believers is how to keep the old tree barren and the new tree fruitful. We must sow unto the Spirit and not unto the flesh:
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8).
The primary obstacle we face when trying to remain humble toward our fellow brothers and sisters is pride. Even the apostle Paul struggled with pride:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Of course, when we do commit sins like pride and jealousy we must confess our sins and be forgiven:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
This, by the way, is the very “heart” of the difference between true Christianity and all false Christianity. God says that mankind is filled with sin and Satan says we are filled with good works. God says that our so-called good works cannot save us and Satan says that they can. God says be humble and Satan says stay proud.
False religions of all cultures tell men and women what they want to hear: That they can achieve righteousness through their own works and power. Whether through vengeful activism or bloody jihad, many are saving themselves by saving the planet, even if a trail of blood and tears is left in their wake.
Through strict diets and strict rules, you can supposedly save yourself if you follow the law of false religion. In contrast, if you follow the law of Christ only He can save you through your confession and humility, and WITHOUT your “good” works.
Jesus walked this earth with the flesh of a Man but He committed no sin. It is through the perfect and sinless nature of the Son of Man that our sinful nature is crucified:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
We no longer have to give in to the lust of the flesh. We no longer have to obey its commandments. We no longer have to work in its fields. We no longer have to harvest its fruit. We are completely free to obey the law of Christ.
We all know how filthy and vile the works of the flesh are. We have all read the Bible verses that describe the works of the flesh such as lies, hatred, jealousy, pride, adultery, etc. and we all know that the fruit of those works is death.
However, on the day of the Rapture of the true Church, the fleshly bodies of born- again believers will be transformed into spiritual bodies. Our natural bodies still have not yet been raised as spiritual bodies.
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42, 44).
Paul teaches that we believers have two different bodies and hence two different natures. One nature is the flesh that we were born with and the other is the spirit that we inherited from above when we obeyed the gospel.”
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17).
Until we are raised as a spiritual body in great power and glory, our spirit remains bound within our flesh while our flesh remains alive on earth. This epitomizes the struggle between our two natures.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18).
The walk of the Spirit toward life resists the pull of the flesh toward death. We believers have no excuse for walking in the flesh by engaging in nasty and hurtful actions.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:14-15, 12).
We are to stop acting like we did before we were born-again and start acting like new men and women in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-23). We should obey the commandments of Christ:
“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).