The House of Confusion
First Published (September 2014)
Robert Wurtz II
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:16)
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:16 ESV)
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)
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 3:16-18)
You will notice in the passages that I have underlined three words. These words are translated from the same Greek word, akatastasia. The TDNT defines the word as “a disruption of the peace.” This makes sense as we apply that definition to each passage. To the Corinthian church, Paul writes that God does not author “disruptions of the peace,” but He authors peace itself. Peace is harmony and concord. Later, Paul wrote to the Corinthians again, saying he feared that when he came to them, he would discover many bad things, not the least of which was akatastasia (confusion/disruptions of their peace). In other words, there would be conflict.
James takes up the same subject in James 3:16. He then adds; where envying and strife are, 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 love and, therefore, the cohesive love holding the community of Saints together. Once the “glue” (love) is gone, all kinds of evils flood into the church.
What Spirit Are We Moving In?
By implication, Paul is clearly pointing to Satan as the author of confusion. He is behind the events that bring conflict into the churches. Once conflict begins, confusion and evil soon follow. I once heard of a congregation that was fighting among each other to the point that one of them tore the cross off the wall and threw it out the back door. Imagine that. I’m not superstitious. I know there is no power in a stick of wood made in the form of a cross. However, the conflict had become so sharp that nothing was sacred anymore, and everything was fair game. Once they started attacking one another as the true Church, it was a light thing to harm the church building.
James answers the question when he stated, This wisdom does not descend from above but is earthly, sensual, demonic. (James 3:15) This is shocking. Does this verse mean that people in the churches can move in demonic wisdom and unleash it on one another? That’s right. God didn’t author it. That leaves only one suspect. The church at Corinth was dealing with so much madness that it’s hard to imagine Paul referring to them as Saints. They were fornicating secretly and suing one another with the law in public! Paul was embarrassed on God’s behalf. Carnality overtook them. Should we be surprised? We know that where envying and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work.
The Devil’s Normandy Invasion
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”
(Ephesians 4:26–27 NKJV)
Place is from the Greek topos, which is the root of our word topography. When anger and wrath between Saints go un-dealt with, a feud develops. Out of that feud arises a beachhead or a landing strip, if you will. The Devil uses it to invade the churches. Like a scene from WWII, the enemy battles his way up the beach and into the assembly. He drops his demons on the tarmac, and scores of weapons pour in. Before we even know what happened, the enemy makes a mocking stock of the church until the name of God is blasphemed among the unbelievers. God intended us to be a light and an example in the community, but that can’t happen when there is hatred, envy, strife, and confusion.
There was so much compromise at Corinth that the environment was hostile. In these environments, everyone is suspicious of one another. Paul told them, For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults. Paul told the Corinthians to get their act together and fast. He tells them plainly, “I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again, I will not spare.” (2 Corinthians 13:2)
We do not know what kind of punishment Paul has in mind. He had already written to turn one man over to Satan and of others who were sick and had died for not discerning the Lord’s body. He smote a man with blindness in Acts 13:11. Why did it happen? Because it’s dangerous to be a threat or an encumbrance to the churches. Don’t allow yourself to be used by the devil to destroy the love and unity of the Saints. Think twice before you unleash destruction upon God’s people.
Selfish Ambition and Judgment
Satan filled Ananias and Sapphira’s hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit in Acts 5. If he can fill their hearts to do evil, he can fill any person’s heart who opens the door through vain glory or strife. Both husband and wife dropped dead on separate occasions. God wanted the people to know that He meant business. He is concerned about His churches. Jesus purchased them with His own blood, and we do well to put all of these things away and be always vigilant to guard against them.
Be careful regarding who or what you allow to influence you. You could be defiling yourself, causing your heart to close off toward people and become an agent of confusion among the saints. When we love one another with a pure heart in sincerity, we have the bond necessary to keep us in unity. Love is the bonding agent. The churches can withstand any attack from the enemy if love is binding them together. If the unity breaks, we have a love problem. We can blame the devil all we want, but a church or organization that is operating in love can withstand the gates of hell.
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