God gets a great deal of “credit” for strange guidance. It never ceases to amaze me how people justify “weird” decisions with the caveat, “the Lord led me to…..” How do they know it was the Lord? Could it have been their own “instinct” or “visionary” perspective that prompted them to take this decision? How about “leaders” who in direct contradiction to Scripture engender division?
Jude continues his description of false teachers as “the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” (Jude v.19)
Division within the body of Christ is evidence of “natural” instincts driving the congregation. Witness the Corinthian church, polarized into parties centred around Paul, Apollos, Peter, even Christ!
If we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3) then divisiveness must certainly reflect rebellion. God does not call us to blindly accept every difference, but honestly, why are there so many divisions within the “ONE” body of Christ. Were these also Spirit-led? Impossible! Were they always a result of primary issues? Hardly!
Jude is reminding the first century Christ-followers, that false teachers were dividing Christians from remaining together. Prompted by their own “impulses” and “ideas” their conduct demonstrated that the Spirit of God was not simply grieved, but was absent from their lives, since they were never regenerated.
So how do we handle division? Should leaders rush to establish a new “pure” group, a separate church or group of churches that “finally” will stand for something? Scripture calls us to a radically different approach. Consider Paul’s admonition to the leader in whom he was investing pastoral training….. “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:25-26) This follows v.24 where “the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”
So what would happen if this portion of Scripture was received as God’s word and actually obeyed? Could church history be rewritten with humbled, repentant, divisive leaders seeking restoration from God and from those with whom they have unnecessarily broken fellowship? Imagine the headlines – “Church leaders lead in reconciliation!” “Fractured relationships restored in Spirit-led repentance.”