Summary: God built His church to be ONE... but Satan builds walls to divide that church. How do we identify what the Devil does so that we can unify our church and challenge the power of the evil one?
Once upon a time, there were three little pigs.
(You’ve heard this one, haven’t you?)
The first little piggy built his house of straw, and the big bad wolf came and huffed and puffed and blew that house down.
The second piggy built his house of sticks, and the big bad wolf came and huffed and puffed and blew that house down.
But the third built his house and bricks, and the big bad wolf came and huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed and could not bring down that house…
Because he had built with the right stuff.
God has built His church.
And when God built his church, he built it with the right stuff.
But, if you were to look at the building material He used for his church, you might wonder if He’d actually used the RIGHT stuff.
When Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he told them:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:1-5
Did you notice WHAT God built His church with?
That’s right – sinners!
We were dead in our sins and transgression.
We were objects of wrath.
God didn’t save us because we deserved to be saved but because He loved us.
So when God built His church, He built it with… losers.
ILLUS: In the 3rd-century there was a debate between a Pagan and a Christian,
The pagan (Celsus) declared "When most teachers go forth to teach, they cry, 'Come to me, you who are clean and worthy,' and they are followed by the highest caliber of people available.
But your silly master cries, 'Come to me, you who are down and beaten by life,' and so he accumulates around him the rag, tag and bobtail of humanity."
The Christian (Origen) replied: "Yes, they are the rag, tag and bobtail of humanity. But Jesus does not leave them that way. Out of material you would have thrown away as useless, he fashions men, giving them back their self-respect, enabling them to stand on their feet and look God in the eyes. They were cowed, cringing, broken things. But the Son has set them free."
And that’s me.
We were useless, we were broken, we were rejects.
Yet God built His church with people like us.
Now one of the problems with the church being made up of saved sinners is that saved sinners tend to bring into the church some of their old bad habits.
In the days of Paul, there was a division in the church.
For the first 3 or 4 years the only Christians were Jews who’d been baptized.
There were no Gentiles in the church during that time, just Jewish converts.
Just so we’re clear here: a Jew was a person born of the tribe of Judah (all the rest of Israel had been swept away by invading forces). You had to be born a Jew to be a Jew, everyone else was a Gentile.
Oh yeah. And then there was the matter of circumcision.
All Jewish men were circumcised. Gentile men generally were not.
Do I have to explain circumcision?
Good, because I’d rather not.
So basically, Gentiles consisted of everyone who wasn’t a Jew.
And for centuries Jews hated Gentiles.
They called them dogs.
They considered them offensive and unworthy of God.
They refused to eat with them and if they bought anything from a Gentile they washed the item with water to get rid of their filth.
Then God changed things.
God accepted Gentiles into His church and made it very plain to everyone in His church that the Gentiles didn’t have to be circumcised to become Christians.
That didn’t go down well with some of the Jewish believers. Many of them strenuously objected to the fact that these Gentiles weren’t circumcised and they began to go around to the different Gentile churches (like Ephesus) and told them God wouldn’t accept them if they weren’t circumcised.
And so Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians and he said:
“… remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.