True and False Unity


In our day, we hear much about unity. Some of this is good, but most of it is bad. The true, Biblical unity is something we Christians need to strive for, since Christians are all in one body, with Christ Jesus as the Head (1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 5:23). God wants "no division in the body" (1 Cor. 12:25). Christians are all on one team or body with a common goal, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (1 Cor. 12:26). The true, Biblical unity is also referred to in Eph. 4:3,13. Moreover, the Lord prayed for "unity" among those who are true followers:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (Jn. 17:20-23).
In contrast to all of this, there is also a counterfeit unity offered by the devil! The counterfeit would like to combine all who merely profess a belief in Jesus Christ under one banner. They seem to think we should unite on things like the Lord's prayer.

Also, they are forced to say, "Doctrine is not important." But that very statement, doctrine is not important, is in itself a doctrine! Therefore, such unity seekers really DO believe doctrine is important! In fact, that very doctrine seems to be their standard to judge and condemn all, who believe otherwise, as unloving and divisive, even though their judgment is NOT Biblical!

The truth is: doctrine is important. The Apostle Paul, who taught unity in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians, also commanded Titus:

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).
In fact, to qualify as an elder one must not only hold to sound doctrine, but also must be able to refute those who oppose it:
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach -- and that for the sake of dishonest gain (Titus 1:9-11).
Paul also taught a separation and division that few in our day seem to know of. He taught we should keep away from people who cause division and put spiritual obstacles in our way that are contrary to the apostle's doctrines:
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. KEEP AWAY FROM THEM. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people (Rom. 16:17,18).
Notice what else he taught about separation:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and BE SEPARATE, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
The Apostle John likewise exalted true doctrine (or teaching). Please note the spiritual harm that can be done:
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work (2 Jn. 10,11).
Doctrine is one of the reasons why the Bible was given (2 Tim. 3:16). Moreover, the loving Lord Jesus Himself exalted true doctrine and warned against false doctrine:
"Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees .... How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the TEACHING of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 16:6,11,12).
While it is true that Jesus ate and drank with sinners in an effort to evangelize them, He never shared the teaching platform with false teachers or joined an organization consisting of such! (Neither did the Apostles.) If Jesus would have done so, His followers could have misunderstood such acceptance as being an endorsement of the wrong. He then would have been lending to their credibility by not denouncing them. Christ was and is love incarnate, yet He is also the supreme example of uncompromising fidelity to the truth! No one publicly denounced the Pharisees like the loving Lord Jesus, who wanted unity among His true followers and prayed for such. See Matt. 23:1-33.

Similarly, Paul and Barnabas had a "sharp dispute and debate" with people teaching false doctrine regarding salvation (Acts 15:1,2). This conflict led to the Council at Jerusalem, which resulted in good. An inside look at Paul's conflict with them is cited in Gal. 2:5:

We did not give in to them [false brothers] for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
Their example shows that truth regarding the plan of salvation is pre-eminent over unity! Therefore, to unify at the expense of truth is NOT from God. Furthermore, Paul risked unity with Peter to maintain truth, when Peter was in error! See Gal. 2:11-21.

This reveals another problem. Why is the doctrine of the Trinity exalted over the plan of salvation? In 2 Cor. 11:4, we see that it is just as bad to preach a different gospel as it is to preach a different Jesus! (The Gospel is the plan of salvation, 1 Cor. 4:15; 15:1,2; Rom. 1:16,17.) How, then, can well-known speakers share a teaching platform with a Catholic priest or someone else, who represents a religious system that teaches a false plan of salvation which is leading multitudes to Hell?

Why aren't present-day Christian leaders following Jesus' example? Can't they see the spiritual harm that is being done? Such "unity" coming forth from the Ecumenical Movement, Charismatic Conference, Promise Keepers and other similar meetings is certainly not the kind that proceeds from the "Spirit of Truth," also known as the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:17; 15:26), which inspired the writings of the Scriptures! Instead, such a counterfeit unity leads to an amalgamation with the unholy and untrue and must, therefore, be avoided!

The Holy Spirit had Paul exalt the true plan of salvation and eternally condemn all who preached a false gospel. Why exalt the true gospel to this degree? Because it is the ONLY message that can bring forth salvation:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:8-10).
According to the aforementioned Scripture, Paul took such an uncompromised stand because he was trying to please God! Present-day servant of God, if you are trying to do the same, Beware: If you make such a Scriptural stand as Paul did, others will probably wrongly judge you as unloving and divisive. But remember, Paul spoke as a man approved by God and entrusted with the gospel. He wasn't trying to please any man:
On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts (1 Thess. 2:4).