The Author of Confusion
Robert Wurtz II
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33)
For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults. (2 Corinthians 2:20)
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:15-18)
In the texts above, I underlined three words translated from the same Greek word, akatastasia. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) defines the word as “a disruption of the peace.” It is translated as anarchy, disorder, and tumults. In 1 Corinthians 14:33, Paul reminded the Corinthian church that God does not author confusion, disruptions of the peace, anarchy, and disorder, but He authors peace itself. Peace is harmony and concord.
Confusion and anarchy (akatastasia) was a chronic problem at Corinth and was addressed again in 2 Corinthians 12:20, where Paul was afraid that when he visited again, he would discover akatastasia. In other words, there would be conflict in the church. Therefore, Paul warned the Corinthians that he would “not spare” the offenders (2 Corinthians 13:2), even though he had “spared” them already by not visiting them (2 Corinthians 1:23). Instead, he gave them a chance to mend their ways. Presumably, he would have turned every offender over to Satan as he had already ordered done of the fornicator in 1 Corinthians.
It seems reasonable to say that Paul was far more concerned for the condition at Corinth than we imagine and was willing to exercise Apostolic authority to bring order. He gave the professing believers at Corinth an opportunity to consider their ways and to ask themselves if they were guilty of quarreling, jealousy, wrath, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, impurity, sexual immorality, or sensuality. This is the true love of God in action; love for Christ, love for the churches, and love for the eternal souls of the people.
In an environment where leaders emphasize the supernatural, it’s easy to forget that true spirituality is Christ-like-ness. At Corinth, the people emphasized the gifts of the Spirit, especially tongues (glossolalia), but we’re too carnal to receive the meat of God’s word. Paul fed them with milk (as it were). Clearly, they didn’t understand God’s purpose for the church and behaved like unbelievers. Christ doesn’t author carnality and conflict because He is the Prince of Peace. We are called to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1f).
James takes up the same subject in James 3:15 revealing that these behaviors are actually demonic in nature. He then adds; where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. Where there is bitter jealousy and a party spirit (rivalry), there is both akatastasia (confusion/disruptions of their peace) and every evil practice. Rivalry and party spirit destroy the cohesiveness of the community of Saints, which is built on unity and love. Once the “glue” is destroyed, all kinds of evil flood into the church.
In modern times, bad behavior is tolerated because of an unscriptural emphasis on love and kindness. Paul, James, and Jesus understood love better than all of us and yet they confronted and condemned carnal and demonic behavior. Paul even turned people over to Satan. Ever been to a service where someone was turned over to Satan? Neither have I and it’s one of the reasons why evil runs wild in churches. We think we have a better way than God’s way never stopping to consider that it’s impossible to improve on God’s word or His methods.
Opportunity for Evil
The enemy will wait for decades for an opportunity to destroy a church. He will stir old lusts, envy, hatred, or bitterness until someone acts on them. Consider this Corinthian list once again:
- sexual immorality
These conflicts can reach a fever pitch where nothing is sacred. People wait for years for an opportunity to settle old scores. Imagine someone redecorating or removing the cross from the church out of strife and envy? It’s happened. Once people attack one another as the real Church — it’s a light thing to harm the church building. Paul got word from the house of Chloe that quarrels were going on and probably the names of those involved. Paul put his finger on the problem, carnality. He reasoned with them and called them back to their senses. He put the trouble makers on notice and called the congregation back to unity.