Recently there were back and forth words online. Arguments. I went into prayer to learn more about why we argue. What is at stake? The short answer is pride. Both sides will claim to have the truth and both sides will claim that they are being faithful to Jesus to speak the truth. Can both be right? Can both we wrong? Arguments come from different sources and for different reasons. Paul the Apostle argued in the hall of Tyranus for 2 years. There are scriptures, “We destroy every proud argument to the knowledge of God.” “Knowing how to answer those…” God calls us to be workman having no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Bishops and deacons and elders are to promote sound doctrine and be apt teachers. There is scriptural support for being prepared to argue and win for the truth of the gospel.
But what about just plain arguing. Some brother brings something up and I disagree. The topic is not a benign one and I feel compelled to engage the brother and argue in favor of the scriptures I think debunk his doctrine or teaching. He believes he is right and will argue with scripture in defense of his position and against me. What is going on then? I think that if I am in the Spirit of God and the other brother is in the Spirit of God, then although we disagree, we can still find fellowship with each other. If all we have when we meet is doctrine, then what is at work here is not the wisdom from above and the Spirit of God the Spirit of truth, but our own pride.
I realize that if I am not walking by the Spirit then I am walking by the flesh. My arguments then come from pride, from a morbid craving for controversy, from all kinds of works of the flesh. This is why Christians can have terrible arguments and not recover from them. When there is pride, then humility cannot exist. If humility does not exist on both sides then the wisdom from above cannot enter in. If the combatants are in pride arguing their position then they are not serving the Spirit of Truth. Nothing can be gained or learned in this kind of argument. Each will argue for his ground and by the end of the argument that is all each will have gained.
I argue with brothers over doctrine. I cannot accept their doctrine because I think it is contrary to God’s word and a manipulation of God’s word. Can I have fellowship with them? Only in the Spirit of God. My opinion does not matter. My own intellect does not avail me. If the brother loves our God and worships Him, then I can unite with him in this. Whether I agree with Him over a doctrine matters not. I find though that those who are dedicated to a doctrine are not willing to fellowship in the Holy Spirit because their doctrine takes precedent in their walk with God and so although I extend the right hand of fellowship, it is not taken.
False teachers are different. The word tells us not to fellowship with such people. There are brethren who are right before god but wrong in some of what they believe. Apollos was a brother who was zealous for the Lord and needed to be taught more accurately the word by Priscilla and Aquila. There are brethren with clean hearts and wrong doctrine. I can have fellowship with them in the Holy Spirit because their heart is for God and when I walk by the Spirit, I can walk with them in fellowship.
The source of a lot of the online arguments is devotion to doctrine and/or devotion to a group or man verses devotion to God in the Spirit. Both sides can use scripture but the dissension is a spiritual one. Both believe they are right. The test is, after the arguing, can these two Christians go to the house of the Lord and worship together.