Fighting the Works of the Flesh: Dissensions
In the 12th post in this series covering the works of the flesh, we look at several strategies we can use to combat dissensions in our lives.
Uprising. Sedition. Disunion. Division.
All of these words are associated with the Greek word dichostasia (and its derivatives), which is translated “dissensions” in the New King James Version of Galatians 5:20. Dissensions are a very real and ugly part of our modern society. They show up in many different ways: dissensions against authority, against social values and against other people.
In fact, all human dissensions have their root in the ultimate dissension: the separation between God and mankind. God’s goal is to bring mankind into a relationship with Him and unity with each other (Leviticus 26:12; Psalm 133:1).
Unfortunately, dissension has been around since before human history. It began with Lucifer dissenting against God’s authority and leading a third of the angels to rebel against God’s government. Satan has been influencing mankind to follow that same spirit for 6,000 years since he influenced Adam and Eve to dissent from God’s government in the Garden of Eden.
Lies about dissensions
Lie No. 1: Dissension is necessary when we are being oppressed. You shouldn’t do or think something just because someone says you should.
This lie is very devious because it cunningly mixes truth with error. God doesn’t want to see anybody oppressed, nor does He condone blind obedience without “testing all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). But all too often this reasoning is applied to God and His laws. People feel that the restrictions that God places on human conduct are repressive so they dissent.
Whenever we see pride and discontentment tempting us to slander leaders or employers, we should recognize the problem and walk away.But is God really oppressing people when He commands them, for example, not to kill? Or not to cheat on their spouse? Or to show love and kindness to others?
The biblical principle is that civil authorities are to be respected (Romans 13:1-7). When we respect the authority put over us, we respect God (because He allows those authorities to govern). Some people irrationally extend that principle to outrageous extremes to try to disprove the point: “You mean I have to respect ISIS when they behead people?” We should obey and respect whatever authority God has placed over us, as long as that authority doesn’t force us to compromise God’s law (Acts 5:29).
Lie No. 2: Dissent is a good thing. It is what makes democratic countries great!
When was the last time you heard someone say: “I just love partisan politics. It is so refreshing that leaders can’t put differences aside and work together for the good of their country.” For example, the two-party system in America has become so divided that to not show dissent would be out of the ordinary! The disrespectful rhetoric that is spoken on talk radio and by TV commentators only serves to emotionally inflame the already polarized political system. Though democracy is one of the better forms of government man has devised, it is still run by humans, and so it is flawed.
Dissension is a selfish dividing force that doesn’t seek resolution or reconciliation.
Strategies to combat dissension
1. Check your opinions and attitudes regarding authority to see if they are godly.
The Bible teaches that we are to “be subject to governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). Are we respectful and obedient to legitimate authorities over us? We might say yes, and then blast or mock our national leaders on Facebook. Does God like it when we call the leaders ruling over us “idiots”? Is it unifying to secretly trash and insult tenets of an organization or group we belong to? Do we mock and criticize our friends behind their back?
These are all important questions that, after honest and godly self-examination, might result in very humbling answers. If our attitudes and opinions on authority involve humble submission coupled with righteous discernment to make sure God approves, things are looking good. If they involve evil speaking and sowing discord, things are looking like a work of the flesh called dissension.
2. Dissension is contagious, so stay humble and steer clear.
Lucifer thought he was the smartest being in the room—and actually in the entire universe. He spread his rebellious dissent to one-third of the angels (Revelation 12:4, 7), and they followed him in an attempt to take over God’s throne. It is easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of uprising and sedition when our pride gets involved. Dissension is a lot less likely when our lives are based on humility.
True concerns about situations should involve no pride, personal attacks or gossip. Whenever we see pride and discontentment tempting us to slander leaders or employers, we should recognize the problem and walk away.
3. Learn to hate dissension.
Several Bible verses instruct us to hate evil—see, for example, Psalm 97:10 and Proverbs 8:13. Dissension produces evil. From Lucifer’s rebellion, which led to his becoming the father of lies and murder, to mankind’s rejection of God’s law and wisdom, the world has suffered greatly due to this work of the flesh. Dissension destroys order and threatens to plunge the world into chaos. Let’s pray for the day when Jesus Christ will replace the original dissenter (Revelation 20:1-3).