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United We Stand Against Dissension Among Believers

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:9 ( NASB).

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you.  If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NASB).

“I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.”

John 17:20,21 (NASB).

     My husband is an avid sports fan and very loyal to his favorite teams.  He displays his commitment to his teams by wearing hats, shirts and sweat shirts with the teams’ names on them.  There is a special camaraderie that is felt when he meets someone who shares the same enthusiasm for those teams.

     When his teams face opposing teams, he displays his support along with the other like-minded fans.  In unison, they cheer for their team.  This comaraderie transcends all ethnic, political and religious boundaries.  They identify themselves with the team and cheer with one voice.

     As noble as this sounds, the benefit it offers the fan is purely vicarious.  They receive neither pay nor recognition.  In fact, it may even cost them money because of the purchase price of the tickets and the team paraphernalia.

     The above verses speak of a unified group that also rallies around a team.  It is a team that overcomes every opponent.  The difference is that those who identify themselves with this team also partake in the benefits of the victory. We know this team to be God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Spirit.  The group that was formed to rally around this Team in unity is called “The Church.”  It is a diverse yet unified group developed to bring attention to the Team and to represent the Team so that others may also be drawn into the group. 

God’s Temple Defined

     The above passages give us a glimpse of the nature and purpose of this group.  Paul describes the believers in Christ as “God’s building” whose foundation is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).  He goes on to further establish the worth of this “building” by calling it “the temple of God.”

     Because of our individualistic thinking many, me included, have misinterpreted 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.  We have personalized it to the point that we interpreted the “you” in the verses to refer to each individual believer. So, we would say, “I am the temple of the Holy Spirit.” There is truth in this statement in the sense that the Holy Spirit comes to live in our spirit upon salvation (2 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:13 and Romans 8:9,14-16).

     The Holy Spirit is the pledge or down payment that declares that we now belong to God and will spend eternity with Him. ( 2 Corinthians 5:8)  In the above passage in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, the word, “you” in the Greek is in the plural form not singular.  In other words, it is addressing the group not individuals.

     Observing the passage in its context reveals this fact, as well.  To understand the significance of this fact, re-read the passage with the understanding that he is referring to the collective group of believers. You will see how serious the unity of believers is to God.  As a building is destroyed by dismantling it, so is the Church, the body of believers, rendered ineffective when it yields to divisiveness. 

     In the context of this verse, Paul is addressing how the believers at Corinth got  caught up aligning themselves with different preachers saying their choice is better than the other person’s preference, thus causing division. Paul corrects them by saying that the preachers are all co-laborers each having a unique part in helping them to grow spiritually.

     In addition, tearing down one another is the equivalent of taking one’s house down brick by brick, for we are each a brick in God’s temple. The problem comes when we fail to distinguish discernment from judgment.

Discernment vs. Judgment

     Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:15 that the spiritual man appraises or discerns all things but is judged by no one.  The Spirit of God within us will enable us to discern the things that are of God and the things that are not.  The discernment is for intercession and correction, not for backbiting and complaining. 

     Galatians 6:1 tells us to correct those who are caught in a wrong with a spirit of gentleness watching ourselves so that we don’t make the same mistakes.  The judgment of individuals is reserved for God alone (Romans 14:10-12).  One day we must all give account for the deeds done in these physical bodies.

The Call to Unity

     In Jesus’ last recorded prayers before His arrest, He expressed His desire for believers to be one (unified) as He and His Father( God) are one (unified).  The use of the word “as” in John 17:20-21 indicates that a comparison is being made.  It is a comparison between the unity of believers and the unity that exists with Him and God.  At the end of that statement, the key to unity is given – “they in us.” 

     The degree to which we align ourselves with God and Christ is the degree to which we will experience and exhibit unity with one another.  Unity doesn’t mean we agree with everything but rather that we agree with the main things – “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself and He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation…therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ…” 2 Corinthians 5:19, 20 (NASB) 

Enemies to Unity

     There are several enemies to unity.  Many may find their root in pride, fear, ignorance, insecurity, low self-esteem and wounded souls.  These are issues of the heart that do not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit but rather the fruit of the flesh (Galatians 5:20, 21) none of which fosters unity.

     It is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23) that fosters unity.  The flesh badly wants to win and promote itself.  The Spirit of God badly wants to yield and promote healing and restoration in the other person.  It is easy to sacrifice unity on the altar of being “right.” 

     God has not called us to be “right” but to be holy.  It became evident when I got married that I always had to prove that my thoughts or perspectives were right.  Through my use of logic and the word of God, I would win the battle but lose the war because I would have alienated and belittled my husband.  God began to show me that I did not have to prove myself right.  “Right” proves itself.  The truth will always be manifested and I was not to gloat when it did.


     The body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the bride of Christ all refer to one unified group intent on one mission – “that the world may believe, that Thou (God) didst send Me (Christ).” (John 17:21c)  It is the job of the Holy Spirit to direct people to Christ (John 16:13-15). 

     The answer, therefore, is found in considering ourselves to be dead or unresponsive to the flesh and yielding to the Holy Spirit so that His qualities will be manifested in our lives and leave the judgments to God.

     Let us lock arms in the power of the Holy Spirit and stand united against our one true foe that is the devil and his cohorts.  Then and only then will we fulfill our mission to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” (Matthew 28:19, 20) and receive God’s commendation (Matthew 25:23). 

Let’s pray.


     “Father, I repent of the times I have sowed seeds of disunity and have judged other believers.  I repent of those times when I felt I had to win over others at all costs.  I humble myself before You as Your servant and yield to Your Holy Spirit.  “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me (Psalms 51:10 NASB).  Love through me and enable me to foster unity in the body of Christ and to leave the judging to You.  Thank You for forgiving me and filling me with Your Holy Spirit so that as a part of Your “temple,” I may take part in the fulfilling of Your mission in the earth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Copyright © 2008-2015 Shermaine Jones

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