Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 1, 1959


Lloyd Moyer, El Cerrito, California

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity; it is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard; that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." (Ps. 133.)

This is the only time the word "unity" appears in the Old Testament. It appears twice in the New Testament. The word means: "oneness, oneness of mind, concord, harmony, agreement, freedom from diversity, freedom from variety, or together in."

Although the word "unity" appears only three times in the Bible, the idea is taught throughout the scriptures. "Let there be no strife between me and thee for we be brethren." (Gen. 13:8.) God wants his people to be united. All of His people should desire unity and put forth every effort possible to bring about and maintain unity. "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3.) "Endeavour" suggests putting forth a great effort. Unity is, therefore, the result of effort expended by God's people. It does not just happen — it is brought about and maintained by our strict adherence to God's law. Wherever and whenever folk fail to follow God's word, there is division — unity cannot prevail.

That we may have a greater appreciation for unity, it might be well for us to define "division". "State of being divided, a marking off or arranging in parts, the separation by difference of opinion or feelings, section — schism." When we consider all the sorrow and pain and anguish caused by division among God's people we can appreciate the statement of our text. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

There are many things in life which are pleasant but which are not good for us. There are many things in life which are good for us but which are not pleasant. But unity among brethren is both good and pleasant. Those who have experienced trouble and division in the church can testify as to how awful division is and how good unity is.

For some twenty years I have worked with churches in the capacity as a gospel preacher. I now serve as an elder in God's church. There is nothing more pleasant than working with a church, either as a preacher or elder, where unity prevails.

I suppose the beauty and desirability of unity among brethren could not be pictured better than it is in the description given in our text. "It is like the precious ointment upon the head." We are told that in the hot, dry land of Palestine the sun and heat are terrible, playing havoc with the skin. Those who spent their time out in the heat would put an ointment on their head and it would run down the face, neck and body, thus preventing sunburn and being very soothing to the skin. The writer likens unity among brethren to such a experience. Yes, it is most soothing to work where brethren dwell together in unity. Then, he suggests that it is like or "as the dew of Hermon." In such dry, arid land the vegetation would wilt during the heat of the day, and were it not for the dew of the night all vegetation would die, thereby excluding all animal life from the land. But the dew would revive and give strength to plant life and sustenance to animal life.

Unity among brethren revives and gives strength, growth and spiritual life to the church. It is a heartrending experience to see a church wither and wilt, and lose its spiritual life because of division. On the other hand it is a heart warming experience to see brethren working together in unity. No faithful Christian would ever knowingly or willfully cause division among God's people.

God demands unity of his people (Jno. 17:20-21): "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: that they may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." Jesus knew that division among those professing to follow him would be a most prolific source of infidelity and therefore prayed that unity might prevail. He prayed, not just for union but for unity. He wants "oneness of mind, agreement, and harmony."

There is an idea extant today that as long as we do not meet in different buildings we are fulfilling Jesus' prayer for unity. Nothing could be farther from the truth — that is union and not unity, (Amos 3:3), "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Then hear the Spirit through the Apostle Paul: (1 Cor. 1:10) "Now I beseech you, brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no division among you: but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." The people of God must be of the same mind. In many congregations this is not the case. There is division even though a physical breech has not been effected. Some think that those who insist on a physical separation are guilty of causing division. This indicates how little they know about unity and division, or as some would express it, fellowship and dis-fellowship. A congregation may continue to meet in the same building for years and have no fellowship or unity. We shall have more to say on fellowship later in the lesson but now we emphasize the fact that unity — i.e. — oneness of mind is absolutely mandatory. Any congregation that is not "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" is not pleasing to the heavenly Father. This places the responsibility directly upon those who have the oversight to make every effort possible to bring about the oneness of mind. How is this to be done? We shall see before the lesson comes to a close.

Next, we see that division (absence of same mind and judgment) is condemned. (Matt. 12:25): "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation: and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." The church is the kingdom of Christ and the house of God. (Col. 1:13: 1 Tim. 3:15.) Therefore, any church which is divided cannot stand. That is why we have such commands as found in Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned: and avoid them." Hear Paul again II Thess. 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the traditions which ye received of us." A divided church does not please God. (1 Cor. 3:3) "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (Rom. 8:6) "For to be carnally minded is death . . . Yes, it is a sin for a congregation to continue in strife and division. There must be a "marking" and we must avoid or withdraw from "every brother that walks disorderly". Therefore, to plead for "unity of the spirit," one must plead for division. This may sound paradoxical, but we shall see the truth of the statement shortly.

Thus far we have learned how good and how pleasant unity is, and that God demands unity of his people, and that God condemns division. Now, let us raise the question, What or Who causes division or destroys unity? The proper answer to this question will be of untold value to God's people in this troubled time.

Unity is homogeneous. "Elements of the same kind blending together in a cohesive manner." This, added to what we have already learned, means that God demands of His people that their minds be blended together in a cohesive manner. There must be that "oneness of mind." But what will produce this fellowship, oneness or unity? The Bible teaches that the word of God alone can accomplish this feat. (II Cor. 10:3-5.) "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds:) casting imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Now, if every member of the church allows the word of God to bring his thoughts (mind) into captivity to the obedience of Christ; we have the same element being blended together in a cohesive manner — same mind and same judgment; agreement, concord and harmony.

(1 John 1:7) "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another... " Psalms 119:105,130) "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." "The entrance of thy words giveth light." Therefore, to walk in the light is to walk or live according to God's word.

If all live or walk as God's word directs, we will have that "oneness of mind", fellowship, or unity of the Spirit which God demands. This is the only basis of fellowship in the church. To plead for unity one must plead for all to walk or live in strict obedience to the word of God in all things. The word of God is that which blends the minds together. Wherever and whenever some turn from or disregard the word of God, there is an absence of that "oneness of mind," or unity, and fellowship cannot exist. This is a breaking of fellowship and it causes division. Now what causes division? We have answered: a failure to walk, act or live according to God's word. WHO causes division? It is quite obvious; those who fail to strictly follow God's word. This is very plainly set forth in (2nd John 9) "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God: He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." Note: whoever fails to abide in (live according to) the word of Christ breaks fellowship with God — he does not have God — no unity with God: he has brought about division. Verses 10-11 forbids the faithful child of God to fellowship those who have failed to "abide in the doctrine of Christ." If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine receive him not into your house, neither bid him god speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deeds." Since those who disregard and go beyond the word of God place themselves out of fellowship with God and make it impossible for faithful Christians to be of the "same mind" with them, it is obvious that they are the ones causing division.

Yet there are many today, in the church who practice things for which they admit there is no command, approved example or necessary inference: yea, they tell us there is "no pattern." Thereby admitting that they go beyond the word of God. II John v. 9 tells us that God is not with them and v. 10 and 11 makes it impossible for faithful members of the church to continue with them without forfeiting their fellowship with God. This is why there are so many new congregations being started. Those who are forced to withdraw themselves from those who walk disorderly (not according to the word of God) and meet elsewhere are accused by the digressives of being factionists and church dividers. However, we have learned in this lesson that the opposite is true. Those who fail to follow God's word cause the division! Those who insist on following God's word and withdraw themselves are "endeavouring to keep the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3.) This is what I meant when I said that in pleading for unity we must plead for division. It is impossible to "keep the unity of the spirit", have that "oneness of mind" in a congregation where some insist there is no pattern for the activities of the church in the New Testament. Therefore, those who reverence and respect God's word are forced to withdraw themselves in order to preserve the unity for which Jesus prayed and the apostles plead.

Actually it is apostasy on the part of some in the church which produces division. It was this division in the church which produced the first general departure and resulted in denominationalism.

Thus the many warnings against departures from the word of God. (Acts 20:28-30; 2 Peter 2:1-2; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 11 Thess. 2:3-7; 11 Tim. 2:16-18.) Now we see why those who have the oversight of congregations should do all in their power to preserve and promote the "unity of the Spirit". That is — the unity produced by the Spirit. The Spirit gave the word of God and that is what produces unity, oneness of mind or fellowship. (1 John 1:3) "That which we (apostles) have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Thus we see that the Spirit inspired the apostles to declare what they had seen and heard in order that fellowship be acquired. If we expect fellowship to prevail we must preach, teach, and practice only that which is taught in the scriptures. Where the fellowship has already been broken, the only way to restore it is for those who teach and practice things not authorized in the scriptures to forsake their evil ways and return to a "thus saith the Lord" for all they do: then unity and fellowship will prevail again. Our plea has ever been to lay aside all human creeds, theories and dogmas of men and take our stand on the sure foundation of God's word. If all brethren would do this, we could have fellowship once more. And thus united we could march triumphantly against the forces of Satan.