Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Have you ever wondered why there are so many different religions in the world today?  Have you ever thought about why there are so many different groups, classes or so called denominations in Christian religion?  Would not this be the same kind of schisms or differences that existed among the Pharisees, Sadducees and others that divided God’s nation Israel during the age that Jesus walked the earth?  If our Lord was not pleased with them, would He be any more pleased with the divisions that exist in His church today?   If there is only one God, and certainly there is only one, then why is there so much deep division among us?  Brothers and sisters these things ought not to be!!

In the beginning God created man in His image and breathed into Him His life giving Spirit and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). God’s Spirit was in man and God was one with man whom He had created. Man in God’s image was like God; he had all the attributes of God and man had free access to the mind of God through the Spirit of God within him (see 1st Corinthians 2:12); God and man were like-minded. God and man would fellowship and man would be a manifestation of all the glory of the invisible God.

Then God took from the side of man a rib and fashioned it into a woman and gave her back to man and she would be one with the man just as man was one with God. Man’s offspring would be one with their parents just as the woman was one with the man and the man was one with God: love would be the perfect bond of unity. Oneness through love and faith is the great principle of God from the beginning.

Then came God’s adversary on the scene; Satan, the destroyer, the one called the devil. Satan, using the serpent, approached man and overcame him through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (see 1st John 2:16 and Genesis 3). Man sinned against God and a schism or division occurred; man was separated from his Creator. Man’s fellowship with God was broken; he no longer was in the image of God; he had lost access to the mind of God. His soul became one with his flesh. Thus he was now dependent upon his five fleshly senses for guidance; he became earthy, fleshly or sin in the flesh. He complained about his wife; blamed God and the woman rather than accepting responsibility for his sin; therefore he neglected repentance; the spirit of enmity had overcame him. Man was a degenerate man of the soil or human; it was evident he now had a carnal, self-centered or fleshly mind.

The apostle Paul writes, “------- the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7 KJV).

The word “enmity” translated here by the KJV means, to have a warring or active hatred toward someone. The same verse in the New American Standard bible reads, “------- the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;” To complete the verse we read, for it {the carnal mind} is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7 KJV).

A carnal intellect or mind is dependent upon its own ability, or the ability of another to interpret, translate or otherwise understand the things of God---independent of the Spirit of God. Those who are depending upon the intellect of man understand all things from a human level and cannot properly discern the things of the Spirit. Therefore they have many differing understandings bringing about disagreements that lead to broken fellowships and divisions, which are hostile, enmity, or satanic warfare against the oneness of God and His people. A divided people are not one with each other and they certainly are not one with God.

The Apostle Paul was known by his Hebrew name Saul before he was called and converted by Jesus to be His apostle. The man Saul was very intelligent, highly educated and very zealous for the law of God. All of his intellectual knowledge he gained from other intellectual, carnal minded teachers of the law and the prophets. Because of his human level of intellectual understanding of the law and the writings of the prophets he was deceived into thinking he was doing God a favor when he went about persecuting the body of Christ. He thought he was doing good works for God when in fact he had a spirit of enmity against God. Saul understood the law and the prophets from a human level of understanding and not from the higher Spirit level because the carnal mind cannot properly appraise the things of the Spirit (see 1st Corinthians 2:14).

Paul, the now converted Saul, well understood the work of the deceptive spirit of enmity at work in the Corinthians.

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ. ” Has Christ been divided?   Paul was not crucified for you, was he?   Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1st Corinthians 1:10-13 NAS)

Like the former man named Saul, the Corinthians were depending upon their own intellect to understand the things of God; therefore they were not hearing and understanding the things of the Spirit; through carnality the spirit of enmity was working in them; thus a division was occurring. The signs of their carnality were disagreements, divisions, jealousy and strife; they were conducting themselves as mere men.

Is it not the same sin in the form of the deceptive spirit of enmity that divides us today?  Those of us who say, I am of the Methodist faith, I am of the Baptist faith, I am of the Catholic faith or any other of the many different denominations of today, should not we ask ourselves these questions?  Are there that many different true faiths in the world today?  Who in any of the denominational faiths was crucified for me?  Is Christ body divided?  Do we not need the same exhortation that Paul wrote to the Corinthians?   What does the Spirit through the Holy Scriptures teach us concerning these things? 

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NAS)

In the following Scripture the apostle tells us he has set his mind on the things of the Spirit in proclaiming the simplicity of the gospel. He has determined to speak nothing from a carnal mind.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (1st Corinthians 2:1-5 NAS)

A faith whose corner stone and foundation is the wisdom and knowledge of the intellect of man is enmity against God. Such faith is a deceptive faith and is, in fact, not faith at all. Such so called faith is actually the enmity, or the active warring spirit of hatred from Satan that brings about divisions among us; which is, in fact, working against or persecuting the body of Christ. Such was the deceptive spirit of persecution that was on Saul before he was converted; and such is the deceptive spirit of persecution that is upon many of the church membership of today.

When man is first born of the Spirit of God he is a “babe in Christ.”His mind is still carnal and the Spirit of God must teach him in the things of God. He cannot continue in conformity to carnal mindedness; but he must be transformed through the renewing of the mind into the likeness of God and restored in fellowship with God (see Romans 12:2; 2nd Corinthians 3:18). When Jesus called his disciples the anointing of the Spirit upon Him taught the disciples (see Matthew16:17). After they were fully trained they themselves were anointed with the Spirit that they too might teach (see Acts 2). Such was the anointing upon the apostle Paul.

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1st Corinthians 3:1-3)

Paul was teaching them from the wisdom of God through the Spirit, that the spirit of enmity might be broken and the unity of faith remains with them. It is evident that there is a great need today for men like the apostle Paul to teach according to the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of man; that God’s people may be reunited in one love and one faith. For man to have faith he must hear the word of God from the Spirit of God (see Romans 10:17); we must all drink from the same “spiritual Rock;” for this is the “Rock” upon which the church must be built (see Matthew 16:13-19); and this is the “Rock” from which flows the water of life (see 1st Corinthians 10:4); for the Rock is Christ Jesus, The Living Word of God from which all the benefits of God are derived.

Only those who have received the life giving Spirit through regeneration in Christ Jesus, and who have determined (set their mind) to be dependent upon the Spirit, are being taught and led by the Spirit, and their understanding is from God. Being led of the Spirit leads to a oneness of faith among God’s people and a oneness with God.

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 NAS)

James C Sanford

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