III. SECTS BEING OF THE FLESH
1)“And the works of the flesh are manifest, which are…faction, divisions, parties, envyings” (Gal. 5:19-21).
In Greek, the word for party or sect (hairesis) is the same as the word for heresy (hairesis anglicized), which means to label something new in order to be different, resulting in a distinctive party—a sect.
The verses here tell us clearly that sects come from men’s flesh. They also show us that there are always factions and divisions before the formation of a sect, and envyings after its establishment. What a shame! Is this not the very condition among Christians today? Should we not refuse this work of the flesh by following the Holy Spirit in us who sanctifies us?
IV. REFUSING FACTIONS
1)“A factious man after a first and second admonition refuse” (Titus 3:10).
In confronting factions among the Christians, the Apostle Paul gave his younger co-worker a frank and bold charge, which is also a charge to us, to refuse a factious person after sufficient admonition in love. This is to reject factions without lenience or compromise according to God’s heart’s desire and the truth of the Bible that the Body of Christ may not suffer damage and that the truth of God may not be adulterated.
V. THE FACTORS CONSTITUTING SECTS
The following three key elements are the factors which cause the Christians (not counting the nominal ones) to be divided, to be constituted as sects.
A. Special Creeds
The common faith of true Christians is unique. It includes the Triune God, the person and work of Christ, that is, the being of Christ and the doings of Christ, and the divine authority of the Bible. Besides these truths of our fundamental faith, to consider other matters to be the Christian faith (such as the method of baptism of the Baptist denomination, the system of church administration of the Presbyterian denomination, the tongue-speaking of the Pentecostal denomination, the head covering and foot washing of other groups, or general doctrines such as the time and number of raptures, the interpretation of prophecies, and the understanding of certain parts of the Scriptures) and to make them special creeds is to label something new in order to be different and will result in sects.
B. Special Fellowships
With the existence of special creeds, Christians will be divided into different groups, having special fellowships in their different circles outside of the believers’ common fellowship. Such special fellowships cause those believers who practice them to be constituted as sects separate from the believers in general.
C. Special Names
Special creeds not only lead to special fellowships, but they also produce special names, such as the name of a certain denomination or a certain church. These special names, in a more tangible way, cause those who so label themselves to be constituted into named sects, resulting in denominations. A denomination is a named sect. Therefore, those who know the Body of Christ must never bear such special names. The believers should only possess the unique and honorable name of Jesus Christ, and not exalt any other name besides this preeminent name. It should not be a glorious thing for one to say that he is a believer of a certain denomination.
VI. ENDEAVORING TO KEEP THE ONENESS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
1)“I beseech you therefore, I, the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit [that is, the oneness of the Body of Christ] in the uniting bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).
The Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit who lives in us, causes us to be constituted into the Body of Christ with God’s life. Since there is one Body, there is also one Holy Spirit who lives in the Body. This one Holy Spirit is the oneness in the one Body. If we believers would live in this Spirit and walk according to this Spirit, the oneness of the Body of Christ would be kept. Otherwise, that oneness would be broken. In the status of one imprisoned because of the church, the Apostle Paul beseeched us in Ephesians 4:2-3 to keep this oneness with such virtues as lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, bearing in love, and the uniting bond of peace, that our walk may be worthy of our calling. God’s calling is that we would be members of the Body of Christ. If our walk damages and hurts the oneness of the Body of Christ, it is not worthy of God’s calling. Therefore, we must endeavor to live in the Body of Christ to keep the oneness of the Body, not participating in any divisions, sects, or denominations.
(Life Lessons, Vol. 2 (#13-24), Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)