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Diabolical Doctrine: Family Unity – A Hallmark of True Christianity

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“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household.”
(Matthew 10:34-36 MKJV)

“Anything that divides is not of God,” the saying goes, in churches. But where does that saying come from? Does it come from God, or does it come from the realm of darkness, from men jealously preserving their kingdoms? It comes from Satan, who savors the things of men, not of God (Matthew 16:23).

We all want peace and unity; the whole world wants it. The problem is that the world would have it on its own terms, independent of God. But can there be lasting and meaningful unity without Truth and the Law of God established as the foundation in the hearts of all concerned?

While the flesh seeks to be comforted and assured, the Kingdom of God comes to notify all flesh that unity for unity’s sake and peace for peace’ sake won’t last or please God. Truly, unity for unity’s sake, or anything for its own sake, is idolatry. Wasn’t the ambition of unity the problem at the tower of Babel?

Genesis 11:1-9 MKJV
(1) And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.
(2) And it happened, as they traveled from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar. And they lived there.
(3) And they said to one another, “Come, let us make brick and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.
(4) And they said, “Come, let us build us a city and a tower, and its top in the heavens. And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.”
(5) And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of Adam had built.
(6) And the LORD said, “Behold! The people is one and they all have one language. And this they begin to do. And now nothing which they have imagined to do will be restrained from them.
(7) Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they cannot understand one another’s speech.”
(8) So the LORD scattered them abroad from that place upon the face of all the earth. And they quit building the city.
(9) Therefore the name of it is called Babel; because the LORD confused the language of all the earth there. And from there the LORD scattered them abroad on the face of all the earth.

Wow! Isn’t that a dart in the heart of the notion that unity is so important to God?

What about family unity? There isn’t one testimony in Scripture that promotes it; quite the contrary. Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 10:34-39 MKJV
(34) Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword.
(35) For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
(36) And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household.
(37) He [or she] who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he [or she] who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
(38) And he [or she] who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.
(39) He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.

Can it be any plainer than that? The fact is that when Truth is introduced into the midst of any group of people, and those people are divided thereby, it is because they have had a visitation by the Lord. Truth comes only from Him, for He alone is the Truth (John 14:6).

It was the Lord Who disunited the people at Babel (Genesis 11).

It was the Lord Who called Abraham out from his kinfolk (Genesis 12:1).

It was the Lord Who divided his family: Hagar and Ishmael, from Sarah and Isaac (Galatians 4:29-30).

It was the Lord Who divided Isaac’s sons, when still in the womb (Romans 9:10-13).

It was the Lord Who set conflict in Jacob’s house between Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 50:15-20).

On the other hand, we have the Pharisees, whom the Lord described as children of the Devil, having unity. How else could they have agreed to be Pharisees, members in common of a sect? They were a family of sorts, as are many groups. So while division isn’t necessarily an evil thing, unity isn’t necessarily a virtue.

When the Lord calls a soul out of the world to Himself, those from whose company that person is called are suddenly about to lose their loved one, friend, or companion. It’s not only a moment of decision for the called-out one, but a moment of division for the other side.

Those of us the Lord has called and separated have often wished that those who had been with us might come with us. But where, then, would be the test of the quality of our obedience? Where would be the proof of our sincerity? Where would be the forsaking of all things for the Lord? Where would be the cross?

As Jesus said:

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple…. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27, 33).

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

There are exceptions in the Scriptures to the rule of people being called alone. In Acts 10, we have Cornelius’ household believing. In Acts 16, we have the jailer’s household believing. Paul makes reference to having baptized the household of Stephanas. However, this isn’t the norm. Jesus Himself was divided from His own household. It says that even His brothers didn’t believe Him (John 7:5).

When the Lord lays His hand on someone, it’s to call that one out of an earthly family, into a Heavenly one, from a carnal one to a spiritual one. Jesus is calling one to life. He’s serving notice to mankind that it’s not about this world.

He notifies us that the Kingdom of God isn’t about the things of this world. The fixation upon, or the salvation of, that which is transitory isn’t where it’s at. Earthly families are transitory.

How about the example of Jesus and His family?

Mark 3:31-35 MKJV
(31) Then His brothers and His mother came. And standing outside, they sent to Him, calling Him.
(32) And the crowd sat about Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking for You.”
(33) And He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?”
(34) And He looked around on those who sat about Him, and said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!
(35) For whoever does the will of God, the same is My brother and My sister and My mother.”

While they were mending their fishing nets with their father, Jesus called James and John to follow Him. They immediately left the boat and their father. How did their father feel? There he was, suddenly without sons to help him. If their father agreed, such an occasion wouldn’t be so difficult. But what if their parents didn’t agree? What if they didn’t understand, or weren’t willing to accept, what was happening?

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

What could have appeared more reasonable than for those sons to have remained with, and served, their parents dutifully?

There was a man whom the Lord bade to follow Him. The man replied, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” The Lord responded, “Let the dead bury the dead.” Apparently, this man’s parents didn’t have faith. To the Kingdom of God, they were dead. But the man was being called out from them to live and serve to bring life to others.

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

Another man asked to first bid farewell to his family. A noble request, right? What did the Lord say in response? “No one who has put his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-62)

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

What could be more proper, necessary, and noble than to take care of one’s parents in their old age? After all, the Fifth Commandment says we are to honor father and mother. But that wasn’t the Lord’s priority for His disciples.

Were the ones called to discipleship truly concerned about their parents, or were they struggling with having to part with them? The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

The Lord’s command may sound coldhearted to many. Yes, we are to honor father and mother, as much as we’re able, but when the Lord calls one to service and fellowship with Him, His call is the priority, above His general commandments.

Not that He calls you to break the Law – God forbid. Sometimes, however, in testing one’s obedience, it will appear to be so, even as when Abraham was called upon by the Lord to offer up as a burnt offering his son Isaac, his promised miracle son (Genesis 22:1-3).

Curiously, the command to Abraham even seemed to call for an abominable act the heathen idolaters practised – “passing their sons through the fire” – sacrificing their children. Furthermore, it seemed to come against God’s own Word in Genesis 9:6, “Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”

But Abraham knew God was speaking to him, and he obeyed. Nevertheless, Isaac was spared. So with parents, wives, children, and siblings forsaken; there will come a time when they will also be spared. God will take care of them.

Eventually, those forsaken will know their loved one was called of God and was faithful to that call. It may not be in this life that they know so, but know it they will. My father didn’t know I was called of God until he entered the next world, and then he marveled.

But what if the called-out one fails to come out, succumbing instead to the pleas of the loved ones to be forsaken? Such is a disaster, a tragedy in all certainty. One of the reasons one is called out is because that one is called upon to be a sacrificial lamb on behalf of those he leaves behind. The family will ultimately be affected by his response. In the called one’s unbelieving attempt to spare his family sorrow, the family will perish instead, as well as the one who declined the call.

Not that God is ever limited by any persons’ lack of obedience. The grip of the flesh is indeed formidable, the power of family blood and bond awesome, but where sin abounds, grace abounds more. Where the power of family blood is great, the power of the blood of Jesus is greater. Where the earthly father tugs at one’s heart strings, the Heavenly Father creates a new heart.

If family togetherness in this world was so important, why did God use family division and strife to separate Joseph from his brothers and father for many years? While Joseph’s brothers meant it for evil, and it was evil, God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20).

Why did Joseph’s father not have the allowance of at least knowing his son was alive? Why was he subjected to mourning many years over his son’s alleged death while his beloved son was yet alive?

God does things no man can understand. The Creator doesn’t answer to His creature, and no creature can prevent Him. Wasn’t it for good that Joseph was taken captive into Egypt? Not only was his family saved, it was formed into a nation! Egypt and other nations were also spared in the famine because of what God did with Joseph. There was a mighty parable at work in Joseph’s life, telling us of the reconciliation of all things by the Seed of Abraham.

Once Jacob’s family became a nation and cried out in pain because of bondage in Egypt, there was a child born and severed from his family, destined for that day when the Lord would deliver Israel. When he was forty, Moses had to flee Egypt for his life, leaving his family behind for forty years; it is likely there were some he never saw in this world again.

Did Moses and his family grieve? Certainly, even if they believed. There’s always sorrow in parting with loved ones. But these are God’s ways, and who can argue with Him?

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

These things are impossible to accept by the flesh, but the flesh is called to be killed, not placated; it is to be denied and forsaken. That’s why it isn’t easy. Indeed, it’s impossible, as Jesus said (Matthew 19:26). The flesh will fight for its life. It will compromise, plead, reason, weep, threaten, promise, sacrifice, even “love” (more on that ahead), and do anything to preserve itself and its interests.

The last thing the flesh will accept is death on the cross of Christ, in whatever form it comes. While the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak, but His grace is sufficient, His strength made perfect in weakness. The impossible happens, and the called-out one becomes faithful to the call. The called-out one becomes a chosen one of God. Can anything more wonderful happen to any creature?

Can anything be more wonderful than to hear the Lord finally say, “Well done, called, chosen, and faithful one – enter into the joy of the Father”? Can there be anything better than to have the pleasure and approval of the Heavenly Father?

Yes, the price is great – life itself – but the price pales in comparison to the reward waiting for that faithful one who takes up the cross.

As Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Consider the sufferings Paul endured. Not only did he have to walk away from family and friends, appearing to them as a heretical traitor and fool, he endured great hardships, as the Lord forewarned or promised him by Ananias – “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake” (Acts 9:16).

When the Lord called me out, bringing division between my family and me, it was a painful battle. Blood and tears were shed on both sides of the sword. But today I can say it was far more than worth the cost. I’m so thankful the Lord didn’t give up on me when I faltered and failed. I’m so thankful it wasn’t up to me to gain the victory:

“Faithful is He Who called you, Who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 MKJV).

He’s faithful now. He’ll never leave you or forsake you in your trial (Hebrews 13:5), though at times it may appear He has. He’ll make your calling good even when you doubt. As it says:

“If we do not believe Him, yet He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13 MKJV).

But Paul also says: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12 MKJV).

It’s death to forsake loved ones; however, as Paul declares, “For faithful is the Word, for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him” (2 Timothy 2:11 MKJV).

Is family unity a Christian virtue, a mark of godliness? Not necessarily, and certainly not in and of itself, as many naming the Name of Christ believe. When there is a call to walk with God and to separate oneself unto Him, family unity isn’t a virtue, but a vice. To preserve family ties and favors over God is idolatry; it is rebellion, which is as witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23).

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

The battle becomes complicated when those needing to be forsaken claim to love God and to believe in and worship Him. Surely, Saul of Tarsus had that very same battle. His family most likely provided him with that great theological education he was so privileged to have, even to study under the famous Gamaliel. And now he would “throw it all away for some cult”?!

(You can believe that Jesus and His followers were known as a divisive cult – that which doesn’t conform to the establishment or societal norm.)

Those who truly follow the Lord Jesus must necessarily bear the reproach of being different and excluded:

“For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the Holy of Holies by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, so that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:11-13 MKJV).

John 15:18-20 MKJV
(18) If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
(19) If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
(20) Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept My saying, they will also keep yours.

Paul declared:

Philippians 3:7-11 MKJV
(7) But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
(8) But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ
(9) and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith,
(10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;
(11) if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Your family will insist they love you, but truly, as genuine and sincere as their love may seem to be, it isn’t the agape love of God, that ultimate spiritual love. It is, rather, a familial love, a protective, self-sacrificing, yet selfish kind of love.

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19 MKJV).

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax-collectors do so?” (Matthew 5:46-47 MKJV)

There is a love among men even animals possess in certain aspects. She-bears have a jealous love for their cubs, as do cows for their calves, female cats for their kittens, and birds for their young. It is a fleshly, or brotherly, affectionate love, at best, that mankind has for one another.

Agape love is far above man’s love and comes only from God the Father. He is Agape Love. For the Love of God, we must heed the call away from family, and be prepared to be alone.

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

The father of our faith, Abraham, was called alone. As it says, “Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him” (Isaiah 51:2).

The Lord had first appeared to him, saying, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you…. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Was Abraham’s family heathen? It’s widely reported in nominal Christendom, and among Jews, that Abraham’s family were idolaters, believing in many gods, that God separated him from them for that reason, calling him to worship the One True God. But didn’t Abraham seek a wife for Isaac from among his own family? Did he not strictly warn his servant to be sure that Isaac married out of those from whom he had come out (Genesis 24)?

Why would Abraham desire Isaac’s contact with pagan worshippers? Even Isaac’s son, Jacob, was sent to receive a wife from Abraham’s family (Genesis 28:1-7). Jacob took two wives, in fact, sisters, Rachel and Leah, and their two handmaids; from these four women would come the twelve tribes of Israel. Who can understand the ways of God?

If family unity were such an issue, how is it Abraham had to expel his own firstborn son, Ishmael, with his mother, Hagar? Yes, we know the significance of that event, with hindsight and revelation from God through the apostle Paul (Galatians 4:22-31). But consider that it was family, and God worked His will at the cost of family unity.

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

If family unity were so important, why would God divide the brothers, Jacob and Esau, when yet in the womb, appointing them to conflict in the future (Genesis 5:22-26; Romans 9:10-14)?

When it came time for Jacob to receive the blessing, as predetermined by God, how is it that Rebekah, Isaac’s wife and Jacob’s mother, moved Jacob to deceive his own father? As a result, Esau sought to kill Jacob, who was then forced to flee. If family unity were so important, why would God do things this way, coming against the principle and essence of family unity?

If family unity were an issue, how is it Gideon came into conflict with his father when the call of God came on him? The conflict was so sharp, Gideon’s life was on the line (Judges 6:25-32). Consider that God could have appointed someone other than a man’s own son to tear down his father’s altar of Baal. He could have done it any number of ways. But He didn’t.

Was the Lord trying Gideon to see if he would forsake his father? Gideon certainly had to do so.

The sword of the Lord divides loved ones.

Family unity on earth isn’t what it’s all about. Peter and the apostles declared they had forsaken all for Christ:

Matthew 19:27-29 MKJV
(27) Then answering Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have forsaken all and have followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
(28) And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
(29) And everyone who left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

Obedience to God, walking with and worshipping Him in spirit and in truth, is what it’s all about. It’s not about having and treasuring even those good God-given gifts, but about worshipping God, loving Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength.

God is faithful. He’s a very generous rewarder and He walks the talk; He does what He expects of those He calls and chooses. He didn’t spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” asks Paul (Romans 8:32-33).

John 12:24-26 MKJV
(24) Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.
(25) He who loves his life shall lose it. And he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.
(26) If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there also My servant shall be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Read Choose This Day Between Family and God, The Cross: Only the Death Sentence Will Avail, and The False Promise of Man’s Unity.

Consider the alternative: Choose one way, and you lose everything; choose the other, and you gain everything. You can’t have it both ways.

 

 

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