Don Styles
Principles of Ecclesial Life

Dividing the Body is Sin

The sin of dichostasia

The Greek word dichostasia ("divisions, seditions") is used only three times in the New Testament. A consideration of the passages where it occurs stresses the importance of conforming to God's design of the unity of the body.

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:17-18).

Those who fragment the ecclesial community:

"For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?" (I Cor. 3:3)

Note the repetition of the word "carnal" in vs. 1-4. Actions which cause divisions are not spiritual, they are carnal. True, the guilty parties may be actively involved in ecclesial affairs and may be enthusiastic about a given aspect of scripture. But if they are divisive in their effects, they are acting according to the flesh and not the spirit.

Note as well that those causing divisions are condemned for defacing the temple of God (vs. 9,17).

"Now the works of the flesh are ...seditions ... they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:20).

Significantly, of the 17 works of the flesh listed in these verses, 8 of them relate to attitudes that prevail when ecclesial turmoil exits. They are: (definitions from Liddell-Scott Greek Lexicon)

"hatred, enmity."
"strife, quarrel, debate, rivalry, contention, discord, jealousy."
"any strong passion, especially jealousy: zeal or emulous desire for a thing (such as the respect of others)."
"wrath, anger."
"intriguing, party-spirit, faction."
"a standing apart, quarrel, dispute: dissension. "
"a taking'for oneself, a choice, a sect or school of philosophy."
"ill-will, envy, jealousy at the good fortune of another. "

Actions causing dichostasia

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