V. DIVISION BEING HERETICAL, SECTARIAN
Division is versus oneness. In order for us to practice the oneness of the Body of Christ, we need to realize that division is heretical, sectarian (Gal. 5:20b-21a). We need to see the real meaning of the word heresy in the Scriptures. Some of us may feel that heresy is anything against the truth revealed in the holy Word. Many Christians teach and practice differently in things such as foot-washing, baptism, and head covering. But the word heresy is used to refer to only two things. First, any teaching that denies the person of Christ in His divinity as God or in His humanity as man is heretical. Christ is the complete God and the perfect man. Second, the word heresy also refers to division. Galatians 5:19-21a says, "And the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, angers, faction, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, carousings..." In Galatians 5:20 the Greek word for "parties," hairesis, is literally heresies, which means schools of opinions (Darby’s New Translation), sects. A sect is a party, and a party is a division. Divisions and parties, sects, are works of the flesh, and "those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (v. 21b). Second Peter 2:1 uses the word hairesis in referring to false teachers who bring in destructive heresies, denying the Master who bought them. Titus 3:10 uses the same Greek word for heresy in its adjectival form, hairetikon, in referring to a factious man. This is a heretical, sectarian man who causes divisions by forming parties in the church according to his own opinions.
Denying the person of Christ in His divinity and humanity and division are the only two items that can be considered as heretical. Wrong teachings apart from division and heresy cannot be considered heretical. A wrong teaching, such as baptism by sprinkling instead of immersion, cannot be considered heretical. This is because such wrong teachings do not affect the seven factors of our Christian faith. Some who practice baptism in a different way than immersion still have God as their Father and Jesus Christ as their Lord. They still have the Spirit. They have the same hope and the genuine faith. They also believe that baptism separates people, so they have the significance of the one baptism. The forms that we practice may differ, but the significance remains the same.
Denying the person of Christ and division are the only two items that can be considered as heretical because they are damaging to the uttermost. Denying the person of Christ insults Christ as the Head and denies Him as the Head. Division dismembers the Body of Christ. One heresy damages the Head, and the other heresy damages the Body. These heresies are intolerable in the eyes of God and should be utterly rejected by us. Second John says that if anyone denies the Lord’s person in His divinity or humanity, we should not receive him into our home or even greet him (vv. 7, 9-11). If we either receive him into our home or greet him, we share in his evil works. Regarding the divisive ones, Paul strongly charges us to "turn away from them" (Rom. 16:17).
A. Dismembering the Body of Christ
As we have seen, division is so serious, condemned as being heretical, because it dismembers the Body of Christ.
B. Repulsive in the Eyes of the Apostles
Division is also repulsive in the eyes of the apostles (1 Cor. 1:10-13a; 3:3-4; 11:17-20). In 1 Corinthians 11:17-20 Paul condemned the Corinthians for coming together for the worse, because there were divisions and parties among them. Paul even said that because some were partaking of the Lord’s table in division and with a divisive spirit, they were weak and sick, and some had even died (vv. 27-30). This was God’s discipline and the Lord’s judgment upon them for meeting in division.
C. As Heresies Denying the Person of Christ
in His Divinity or in His Humanity
The apostles were also strong in condemning the heresies denying the person of Christ in His divinity or in His humanity (1 John 2:22; 4:2-4; 2 John 7, 9-11; 2 Pet. 2:1). In 1 John 2:22 John was fighting against the heresy of Cerinthus, who denied the divinity of Christ. Then in 1 John 4:2-4 he was warning against the heresy of the Docetists, who denied the Lord’s humanity.
(Messages to the Trainees in Fall 1990, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)