Summary: This lesson is about unity and division in the body of Christ, and the congregation itself. And then the medicine that cures division.
A House Divided Cannot Stand
Abe Lincoln; was elected to congress in 1847. The Mexican war was going on, and Lincoln opposed the war. His anti war speeches displeased his political supporters, and he knew they wouldn’t re-elect him.
So at the end of His term in 1849 he returned to Illinois to practice law. Then in 1858 He was nominated by the republican party for Illinois state senator.
Addressing the State convention at Springfield, he gave the first of his memorable speeches.
His huge hands tensely gripped the speaker’s stand, he declared slowly and firmly: “A house divided against it’s self cannot stand”
He’s talking about the country being divided on the issue of slavery, but where did he get that phrase? He got it from Jesus. And it’s recorded in 3 of the 4 gospels. Matthew 12:25, Mark 3:25, and Luke 11:17.
Jesus was being accused of driving out demons in the name of Beelzebub, in which the Pharisees said was the ruler of demons. Beelzebub was one of Satan’s cohorts.
Luke 11:17: Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined and a house divided against itself will fall. if Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.
Jesus brushes their accusation off with logic. They’re accusing him of being in league with the prince of demons because of his power over demons, and He’s saying Satan would not attack his own subjects, then his kingdom would be divided.
We live in a divided country. Certain events bring it together, united we stand, then it fades away to division. We live in this world, a world of division, and change, but we are not of this world.
We are separated from the world, by our belief in the word of God,and It will never change. And it will not fade away. Unity was apparent on the day of Pentecost when the Church was established. Acts 2:1; the apostles were all with one accord in one place. The church is a fellowship of faith, hope, and love that binds believers together.
In Eph. 4:3-6 the NIV translation says: Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit. Just as you were called to one hope when you were called. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all. Who is over all and through all and in all.
Yet we still see division in the nation, in families, and in the church. I’m going to talk about these divides, and then the medicine that will cure division.
We find a striking parallel to the things that cause division today, in the Bible, in the city of Corinth. And Paul tells us how to deal with these issues in His letters to the Corinthians, but first some history about this biblical city.
The city of Corinth was strategically located on a narrow neck of land that connected southern Greece to the mainland of Greece. And there were two natural seaports that fed into Corinth providing a natural stop over for people traveling between Rome and the East. Old Corinth was destroyed in 146 BC. Then reconstructed in 44 BC by Julius Ceasar, and the city was given the status of Roman colony.
This city was a melting pot of many nationalities. Old Corinth had been known for it’s imoralality and unrestrained self indulgence.
New Corinth ,took on the same characteristics. The city was intellectually proud, materially affluent, and morally corrupt. The philosophy in Corinth encouraged it’s people to indulge in their desires, greed, dishonesty, impurity, drunkenness, lust, and selfishness.
When Paul came to Corinth He worked as a tent maker and preached every Sunday, He remained there for about a year and half, and established a growing church. (Acts 18)
The congregation consisted of some Jews, but was mostly Gentile and ex-pagan in nature. Socially, the membership ranged from the very affluent city treasurer (Rom.16:23) to Jewish refugees(Ac.18:2) and former criminals(I Cor.6:9-11)
Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church was written about 55 years after the death of Jesus from Ephesus, and in it he answered questions about marriage and celibacy, food offered to idols, proper dress and responsibilities of women, public worship, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection of the dead.
Paul was also concerned about the growing division in the church, different groups were forming, they were quarrelling among themselves, and some had even taken other members to pagan courts to settle disputes.
Although Paul’s 1st letter to the church at Corinth was written to deal with specific needs within that church, it has a tremendous value for us also,
The hearts of people have not changed, and neither has the principles by which God works.