Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1960
NUMBER 24, PAGE 3,13c

The Sin Of Discord And Division: Are You Guilty?

Cecil B. Douthitt, Fort Smith, Arkansas

Discord and division in the body of Christ are sinful, I wherever either exists among believers somebody is guilty and must repent of that sin or perish.

"He that soweth discord among brethren" is one of the seven things "which are an abomination" unto Jehovah. (Prov. 6:16-19)

Christians are commanded to speak the same thing, to be of the same mind and judgment, and thereby make divisions impossible among them. (1 Cor. 1:10) They must endeavor to keep 'the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3) This is possible, because everything the Lord commands is possible; his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3)

That division does exist among many brethren and in many places is an undeniable fact. Therefore, in order for a child of God to make his calling and election sure, (2 Peter 1:10) he must make sure that he is not responsible for, and not guilty of, this sin. Am I guilty? Are you guilty? Who must answer in the judgment for the sin of division in the body of Christ? Do we really want to know? In our search for a correct answer to these vital questions, let us first observe a few undeniable facts.

1. The apostles of Christ were sent to preach the gospel to every creature in every nation in all the world regardless of consequences. Teachers of the word today must declare the whole counsel of God without compromise, addition to, or subtraction therefrom; otherwise they cannot be "pure from the blood of all men." (Acts 20:26,27; Ezk. 33:7-9) They must declare the whole counsel to churches and groups united in error, as well as to groups and churches divided by error.

2. He who teaches anything except the apostolic word, the gospel, is accursed in the sight of God. (Gal. 1:8, 9) Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to "charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine," and warned of the trouble they would cause by teaching or practicing anything "contrary to the sound doctrine." (1 Tim. 1:3-11) All must abide in the teaching of Christ," for "whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God." (2 John 9)

3. When a man teaches the truth of the gospel on any and every subject, he is only doing that which the Lord demands that he must do, When a man teaches anything other than that which the "truth of the gospel" authorizes, he is doing that which the Lord strictly forbids. When a nun or group teaches the truth on any Bible subject, and another man or group teaches on that same subject that which the truth of the gospel does not authorize, then division is certain. Under such circumstances, who must answer for the sin of discord and division? Who is guilty? Those who teach only that which the Lord demands they must teach, or those who teach that which the Lord does not authorize?

Teaching or practicing false doctrines — things for which there is no authority in God's word — has been the chief cause of division in religious circles since the establishment of the church on the day of Pentecost. He who advocates that which is not taught in the scriptures is the guilty party, and never the person who teaches the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth of the gospel.


In Jerusalem, in Antioch and in the churches of Galatia some taught that Gentiles must be "circumcised after the custom of Moses" to be saved. (Acts 15:1) Others taught that the Lord would receive uncircumcised Gentiles on the same terms that he received circumcised Jews. They were not united on this issue. Somebody sowed discord and caused trouble in the churches. Who? Paul, Barnabas and others who taught the truth, or the advocates of Judaism? Who were the trouble-makers: the Judaizers or the anti-Judaizers? Should Paul and Barnabas have remained silent lest there be division? Paul said of those advocates of Judaism, "To whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." (Gal. 2:5) Where would the "truth of the gospel" be today if the anti-Judaism teachers had chosen to be silent on that issue? Error prevails always and in every place where truth is not preached and defended without compromise. On the question of Judaism the "antis" were right and "pure from the blood of all men" because they fought like soldiers "that the truth of the gospel might continue with you."

A church, united in all its work and worship, used instrumental music in its worship. A preacher came with a tent from a church in an adjoining county and preached against instrumental music in worship and convinced several that such music is wrong in the worship of God. That church that had been united in the use of mechanical Instruments divided, and a new congregation was organized in that little town. Somebody was guilty of the sin of division. Who? If the Bible contains any authority whatever, either general or specific, for instrumental music in worship, then certainly the "anti-organ" folks are guilty of sowing discord among brethren, splitting the church, and they must answer in the judgment. If the instrumental music advocates have neither general nor specific authority in the scriptures for their kind of music, then they must bear the responsibility for the discord and division, and they must answer in the judgment. The advocates of the instruments in worship were asked to present either general or specific scriptural authority for such music, but their spokesman replied that they did not have to have authority for their organ music, and he named several other things for which he said we have no authority in God's word. But he was given the general authority in the scriptures for all these "other things" that he named. He ranted and raved and called his opponents "anti-organ," "non-progressive," "hobby riders," "church-splitters." But all this name-calling did not frighten the "anti-organ" folks; they fought on and "gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. (Gal. 2:5) Which side was guilty of division?

Some churches are supporting from their treasuries manmade benevolent, missionary, educational and recreational organizations. Other churches and preachers are teaching that church donations to all human organizations are wrong and sinful. Churches are being split wide open, and new congregations are being organized by both sides. Who is the cause of this division in the body of Christ, and who is guilty of this terrible sin? The guilty party can be discovered only by determining who is teaching the truth on the subject. The advocates of error are the sinners. If the New Testament contains either general or specific authority for church donations to human institutionalism, then those who are teaching and practicing such are not guilty of sowing discord and troubling the church, and all the responsibility falls on those who oppose the practice. If the scriptures do not authorize church donations to human organizations, either in a general or specific way, by command, approved example or necessary inference, then the opponents of the practice are not guilty of the discord and division so rampant among the churches. Each side accuses the other of dividing the churches.

Are you supporting the theory that church contributions to human benevolent, missionary, recreational, or educational institutions are right? Can you give the book, chapter and verse that authorizes the practice? By giving that passage that authorizes the practice under question, you can prove right quick that the opponents of your practice are the guilty parties. If that passage does not exist, then every time you accuse the opponents of your theory of dividing the church, you are justifying the wicked and condemning the righteous; you are committing a two-fold sin, and "both of them alike are an abomination unto Jehovah." (Prov. 17:15)