AGCC Sun. a.m. 9/2/2001
#7 (Proverbs Series - "7 Things God Hates")


TEXT:  Prov. 6:19b; 29:22; Psalm 133:1-3; Titus 3:9-11


Western culture is obsessed with individualism. Eastern culture is focused on community or team effort, hence why communism was able to get a foothold in the east while capitalism became the benchmark of western society. One of the drawbacks to our rugged individualism is the lack of unity it sometimes foster, elevating the individual as the supreme good. The early Church saw its best days when they were "in one accord" and some of its worst days when they were divided, such as in the Church at Corinth. The Corinthian Church was in danger of losing its witness, its worship, even its way because division had destroyed the unity in the Church. On the other hand, the Church in Acts though small made a huge impact because they were "all in one accord." There is great power in UNITY, and great destructiveness in DIVISION … and so God hates "… a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." The power of unity can even be seen in nature: ILLUS:Back at the turn of the century, there was a plague of locusts in the Plains of the United States. In a matter of a few days that swarm of locusts swept over the states of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. In less than a week, they did over five hundred million dollars' worth of damage (in the currency of that time). Locusts don't have a king to get them organized. They don't have a draft board to call them into ranks. By instinct the locust knows it has to be in community with other locusts. When that occurs, they are able to topple kingdoms. The wisdom of the locust is the wisdom that tells us we must have community. -- Haddon Robinson, "The Wisdom of Small Creatures," Preaching Today, Tape No. 93. God doesn't act alone … the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are ONE! Jesus said He did not act alone, but only what His Father willed, the Holy Spirit would not speak of Himself but only of the Son. The perfect unity of the Godhead is a demonstration of the power of unity in its ultimate sense. PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us that unity is God's design for His Church, we cannot accomplish His mission without unity in the Church, and we cannot grow personally when we are not in unity with God and His body.

I. GOD HATES DIVISION!     Prov. 6:19b; 29:22; Titus 3:9-11

A. Pathology     Prov. 29:22; Titus 3:9 1. Anger is often the foundation of disunity. a. It is what drives people to stir up dissension. b. It is the root of many sins as Solomon states here. c. We never accomplish God's purposes when we stir up dissension. 2. It is a bit discomforting to realize that in Prov. 6:19b it says that GOD HATES "A MAN who stirs up dissension." (emphasis mine) a. Stirring up dissension among brethren puts us outside of God's will! b. This seems a bit strong, but the God who is perfect unity cannot accept those who destroy unity within His body, He is opposed to them! 3. Usually people who stir up trouble set themselves up as the fount of all wisdom and knowledge … they are the one who is always right. a. It is a tragic place to be … and frustrating! ILLUS:You can't applaud with one hand. -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996). b. Many of the worst criminals were tagged as "loners?" c. When we act alone we are cut off from God and from the very people God can use to develop our spiritual life and giftedness. 4. We cannot afford to either be "out of fellowship" with the body of Christ, nor help stir up dissension in the body of God. a. Those who succeed at dividing a Church destroy their own witness and the witness of the Gospel. b. And for this God states He hates those who stir up such dissension! 5. The pathology of division is nothing less than sinful selfishness which breeds a large variety of attacks on the body of Christ, and damages the witness of the Gospel itself! a. Paul explains further the pathology of division in his letter to Titus … "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless." Titus 3:9 b. Arguing and quarreling becomes a way of life to the one who encourages dissension among others. c. Christians are NOT to develop these characteristics, these will quickly separate us from God's Spirit because they are contrary to God Himself! B. Pernicious     Titus 3:10-11 1. The habit of dissension tends to be very hard to turn around … a. Such habits are difficult to break once they become entrenched. b. The tragic side of being someone who stirs up dissension is that such a person actually looks for ways to create dissension. 2. Tragically, it is easy to fall into the trap of disunity, just focus on the less important stuff and miss the main purpose and mission of the Church! ILLUS:The ultimate questions people of our day are asking are these: What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose behind my life and my destiny? What questions are we evangelicals asking? Is dancing a sin? Should we immerse, sprinkle or pour? Who is the next logical candidate for Antichrist? While we are busy at conferences and conventions, talking with ourselves about the need for Christian aerobics, or coming up with four new and painless steps to victorious Christian living, the world is taking its business elsewhere--to merchants who apply their philosophy to the deep, essential questions of human life. -- Michael Scott Horton in Mission Accomplished. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 7. 3. Notice Paul tells Titus as a Pastor to "warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him." Titus 3:10 a. Paul seems to recognize that a single attempt to deal with a divisive person may not always be adequate. b. This is the pernicious nature of a troublemaker. c. For some it has become a way of life, and it not only makes their life miserable but everyone else around them too. 4. Paul explains the nature of a divisive person: Titus 3:11 "You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." a. This was a constant problem in the early Church … and it has been a problem throughout the ages within the Church. b. Most Churches are not destroyed from outside forces, but usually they succumb to forces that happen within the body of Christ itself! 5. God hates those who divide Churches, who divide the body of Christ. a. That sounds tough, but God hates what sin does to individuals and to His body … hence He uses strong language to make the point. b. In the Corinthian Church the failure to rightly discern the body of Christ through division and disunity had actually led to some in the Church dying and being sick … notice Paul's words here: 1 Cor 11:28-31 "A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment." c. We are quick to talk about the sins of the world, the immorality OUT THERE in the world, etc. … and miss the critical nature of unity in the body of Christ and the sins that occur WITHIN the body of Christ! d. God doesn't miss the importance of unity in His body, we need to pay attention to it also! II. GODLY HEALTHY DYNAMIC     Psalm 133:1-3 A. "Pleasant"     133:1 1. Unity is a theme throughout the entire Bible, from beginning to end. a. It was the basis of the first sin, Adam and Even broke their unity with each other, and with God! b. Satan stirred up dissension in the first couple, hence the fall of the human race. 2. God promised to send His own son however to restore our unity with God, and with each other as well. a. This healing comes through Jesus who unites us back to His father when we come in His name. b. Baptism shows our union with Christ … and thus our union with God. c. This is why Baptism is so important, and should never be considered an "option" for someone who expresses faith in Christ … it is a commandment!!! 3. Notice David's opening remark about unity, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" a. There is a genuine joy and blessing that comes when we are united! ILLUS:The Polish border town of Cieszyn (pronounced che-shin) has an interesting name. It's a contraction of a Polish sentence that means "I am happy." According to legend there were three brothers, long separated. They were reunited in this place and one said, "I am so happy," giving the town its name. It reminds us of Psalm 133:1: "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). b. It is PLEASANT to all, to God and to us. c. A Church that has REAL unity is a joy to attend, and those who visit it can sense the joy that exists within that body of believers! d. PEOPLE know REAL UNITY vs. just "talk" when they visit a Church … and if it is real they will want to be a part of it! 4. A divided Church is a miserable place to worship, but a united Church has a joy that is infectious and attractive. a. There is power in unity … the Church in Acts on the day of Pentecost saw over 3,000 get saved … they were "all in one accord" and what was a small group soon became a large group of loving and united people. b. Only when the Church had dissension in it did it see a decline in its witness and power. c. Is it any wonder that we have Churches that never do anything for Christ when they are too busy fighting among themselves all the time. 5. It is a PLEASANT thing to experience unity! B. Pervasive     133:2-3 1. Notice David's explanation of how unity touches everyone: "It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion…" a. Note that it ran from the head downward! b. No Church will have unity if it does not have unity in its leadership! c. It must begin with leaders, the head. 2. The oil may well be a symbol of the Holy Spirit here, and it will flow from the head to the body … all the way down to the very bottom. a. Perhaps this is why the priest was drenched with oil when consecrated, hence the term after being anointed as the "anointed one." b. The unity of those who lead can often make or break a Church's unity. 3. The power and beauty of a united body of Christians is awesome! ILLUS:Cooperation will solve many problems. Even freckles would be a nice tan if they would get together. -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996). 4. God actually "BESTOWS HIS BLESSINGS" on a united Church, note David's remarks: "For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore." 133:3b a. God hates division and dissension because it prevents Him from blessing His Church, something that God delights in doing! b. God genuinely wants to bless His people, but unity is required! 5. There is such great power in unity, such rewards, such refreshment … and such a wonderful witness to a world that is easily prone to disunity and deeply desires to be a part of something that is united. a. Why do you think people are attracted to cults … they don't allow any disunity, and while they hold to terrible things the unity is what people find attractive, being a part of something where there is strong unity. b. There is a longing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and God wants His Church to be healthy, loving, and united … so we can be all that we can be in Him! c. It is truly amazing how much we benefit from being part of a united Church, in so many ways we are made strong in this kind of unity. ILLUS:This "fall when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. (Christians who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.) Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. (If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.) When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. (It pays to take turns doing hard jobs -- with people at church or with geese flying south.) The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. (What do we say when we honk from behind?) Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their original group. (If people knew we would stand by them like that in church, they would push down these walls to get in.) You see, all we have to do in order to attract those who are missing back to church is to demonstrate to the world that we have as much sense as geese here at church. That seems little enough price to pay to win the lost and minister to one another. Even geese have sense enough to know it works every time." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 125-126. 6. What kind of believer are you? Do you foster unity or stir up dissension? a. It is always easier to tear down than build up, but after tearing things down all you have left is a dump! b. It takes a genuine love of others to build up the body of Christ, a love for Christ will engender a love for His bride too, when we find it difficult to love others we will find it difficult to love God too! c. And this is another reason God hates those who stir up dissension, it is an attack on God Himself! 7. We can choose blessings or curses … the Israelites discovered this too. What choice will you make? CONCLUSION:    One of the great characteristics of God is His "oneness." There is perfect unity in God, and before sin man enjoyed perfect unity with his spouse and God. God hates division and is against those who stir up disunity because it is contrary to His nature AND His plan for the Church. The body of Christ is called to be "one" -- to love each other deeply. Division hurts everyone -- even the name of Christ. Are you a uniter or a divider?