First Published 5/13/15
Robert Wurtz II
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 NKJV)
It is hard to fathom how a group of saints could argue over who was the most spiritual and yet act as carnal as did the Corinthians. “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, etc.” were just a few of their symptoms of profound carnality. Add to that misuse of the gifts of the Spirit; taking each other to court, and fornication not even seen among sinners, and there was a recipe for a feud that threatened to make a total mockery of Christ.
Sin is the enemy of unity in the churches of God and carnality is its partner. Paul used the strongest of terms to plead with the Corinthians for unity of mind and of judgment. A cursory reading of the epistle demonstrates that though they believed they were spiritual, they were actually carnal. Carnal simply means “fleshly.” They act in discord of God’s will and word. They are moving in a different revelation than what we are taught of Christ. In fact, the Corinthians had backslidden to the point that Paul could not speak to them as spiritual people. (1 Cor. 3:1) He had to use carnal (non-spiritual) illustrations.
Sheep and Goats
Since a plea for unity was one of the first orders of business, it is essential that we understand why many churches will never be in unity. First, there can be no unity between sheep and goats or sheep and wolves. This is common sense. Can two walk together if they are not agreed? This is one of the greatest issues we face in modern times. Too many people who name the name of Christ are not truly born of God. They are still “in Adam” and are not “in Christ.” They are old creatures in which the old has not passed away. They are unregenerate and of their father the devil.
God’s children and Satan’s children simply do not see eye to eye. This means that they were never brought into a Spiritual state, to begin with. Many simply said a little prayer and were never changed. They are goats who believe they are sheep. They challenge the sheep’s perspective on issues bringing disunity of mind and judgment.
They who are still in Adam are operating under a different head than they who are in Christ. They walk according to the course of the world, according to the prince of the power of the air — with a spirit that wills and works disobedience to God. (Ephesians 2:2) They who have been born from above have had an experience in which they have been baptized into Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 12:13) The Holy Spirit works in them both to will and do what pleases God. This is why the scripture uses the qualifier “if” when it says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” The individual must have been born of the Spirit (John 3:3) or they are still in Adam and are subject to the carnal mind that is at enmity with God. Their heart must have been replaced and a new Spirit given to them or they are not a new creature. (Ezekiel 36:26) If they have not this experience they are not a “son” or “daughter” from which the Spirit cries within them ABBA Father. (Romans 8:15)
Sheep and Goats
The scripture uses many metaphors to demonstrate this transition from being “in” Adam to being “in” Christ. An important example is that of being “sheep”. Jesus stated, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27) This is not a Christian psychic. This is a person who does God’s will. They listen to the words of Christ and obey them. That is, they “hearken” (hear and obey) unto the voice of the Lord. It is ‘normal’ to them. This means that they are in subjection to His will and that subjection takes precedence over their own desires. Goats are not so. They do their own will.
By contrast, we can say that the sheep are ‘in’ Christ and the goats are “in” Adam. Those who are His sheep are they who respond rightly to God’s voice in genuine faith. Those that died in faith prior to Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3) responded to God as He drew them near to Himself according to the measure of the covenant possibilities that applied to them. The goats spent their lives resisting the Holy Ghost and living according to their own will. Taking these things into consideration we start to understand that sheep and goats can never truly be in unity. They may come into one accord in certain areas, but the core of their nature is different. They are dancing to different drummers.
Having Begun in the Spirit
It is important to understand that when we talk about unity among professors of Christ that the unity we desire is the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3). It is impossible to gather together two or more individuals and have them come into unity unless there is a common basis for that unity. For Christians, all parties involved must be submitted to God and His will or there will be division.
A basic point to make is that the Holy Spirit and the word of God agree. When that same Spirit dwells in us causing us to will and to do God’s good pleasure we are enabled to come into unity. But this can never happen if the individuals involved do not have the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:19) If a person does not have the Holy Spirit they by default have the spirit of the world. (1 Cor. 2:12) If they have the Holy Spirit God works in them both to will and to do His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) This is essential. Paul uses the language of having begun in the Spirit… (Galatians 3:3) That is the beginning point. If an individual has not begun in the Spirit then they are operating under the spirit of disobedience and can never be spiritual while in that state. This makes any kind of unity between them and the children of God almost impossible. They are going in totally different directions.
That they May Be One
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are[…]” (John 17:20-21)
God is a plural unity. The Jews learned this in the Shema. Deut. 6:4 reads literally, Shmai Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Echad. That translated means, Hear O’ Israel the Lord your God is ONE. The Hebrew language has two words that can be translated “ONE”: echad and yachid. Whereas yachid (yah-keed) refers to the number one (i.e., absolute one), echad (ek-kawd) refers to a composite or a plural unity (like the Trinity). God is three persons and one substance. Jesus teaches us that His desire is that believers be as the Hebrew term ‘echad’ (plural unity) even as He and the Father are ‘one’ (plural unity).
In the prayer of John 17, Jesus prayed. . . “that they may be one, as thou Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me.”(vs. 21) This is an awesome consideration. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in absolute unity of mind and purpose. Each one must contain an identical nature. Each one must be holy, righteous, just, love, etc. If not, unity would be impossible. So as we consider this we can understand that to be one with each other we must walk in the Spirit in absolute submission to God and His will. To do this we must walk in the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.
Carnality is the Enemy of Unity
It is ‘possible’ for those who are truly in Christ to live in a ‘state’ of carnality and bring disunity to a congregation. If we allow ourselves to be pressed into this world’s way of thinking we can function as if we were carnal (as mere men Romans 12:2, I Cor. 3:3). This is when division begins. Yet the cure is always the same — repentance. God has big plans for His churches. These plans must be born in heaven and revealed in the earth. Each individual must be sold out to God’s plan and purposes.
There is no place for self-seeking in the Kingdom of God. Self-seeking will cause division. Anything that does not promote the unity of the Spirit is a source of division. One may find a means of bringing a group of fully carnal men and women into unity and yet we may know that a group of Spirit filled men and women may be in unity- but it is impossible to bring a mixture of carnal and spiritual men and women into genuine unity. They are operating under different spirits. The two cannot walk together because they are not agreed. (Amos 3:3) This is why any two must gather together ‘in His name.’ If they gather together in their own name there cannot be a unity of the Spirit and Christ will not be present. But any place where there exists a conscious dependence on Christ and a willingness to surrender to His absolute headship- unity is possible.
Unity Begins with the Word of Repentance
Until the carnal mind is dealt with there can be no unity. So unity must be regained through a call to return to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in all walks of our lives. This is the only hope. The alternative is complete discord. As men gather together in the name of Christ may they consciously lay aside all for His will. Until men and women get in step with the Spirit they are nothing more than a loose band of individuals. They are an orchestra or choir with no director — each playing and singing their own tune in their own key. But as we fully surrender to Him — those who have begun in the Spirit are enabled to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of perfectness.