This is an urgent message! Unity is on Holy Spirit’s heart for the church of Jesus Christ. He is exhorting us to continue in unity; to keep the unity.
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (Eph 4:3 NLT)
For years I have been praying for unity and harmony among the body of Christ. Prayers and scriptures are in my journals, written on scrap pieces of paper and on napkins. After all these years, the Lord has instructed me to put down on paper those things He has shown me about unity. Over the years I have learned that I was praying for something we already have and have been praying differently now. I pray that you will be challenged and convicted. I pray that a spirit of repentance will come, so that the church of Jesus Christ will see the fullness of the manifestation of Holy Spirit in our lives, families, gatherings, prayer meetings, ministries, schools and workplaces.
Notice in Ephesians 4:3 Paul uses the phrases make every effort and to keep.
Make every effort means be eager, to exert oneself, give diligence, make haste, be zealous, strain every nerve and further the cause with great care & perseverance. The phrase combines thinking and acting, planning and producing. It sees a need and promptly does something about it. The phrase covers inception, action and follow-up. In other words, don’t just think about it, do it and don’t just do it once but continue in it!
To keep means to watch over, to guard.
Paul is exhorting the church to be eager, diligent and zealous with great care and perseverance to keep what we already have-unity. This takes much effort. We must take continuous action. In the early church spiritual unity was part of the life and teaching of the church. Spiritual unity was the norm within the church when its members lived under the control of Holy Spirit. Read the book of Acts and you will see what happens when Holy Spirit is not quenched but is LORD!
Is this true in the church today? Is spiritual unity part of the life and teaching of the church? Are members living under the control of Holy Spirit and witnessing the fruit and blessings of this? Is He LORD? I think that some of you would say no. Some of you may say in part but not fully. I believe though that all of you would like to see the fullness of the manifestation of the Spirit in every life, home, gathering, and prayer meeting. When we gather we sing a song with the words, Holy Spirit you are welcome here. I challenge you! Is He really?
Why is there not unity in the church? Why is Holy Spirit hindered as a result? I’m sure there are many reasons. I would like to share with you what Holy Spirit has revealed to me. Know that He has done, and continues to do, a work in my heart in this area. It has required humility, submission, asking the Lord to search my heart and show me if there is any wicked way in me (Ps 139:23-24). It has required repentance, choosing to die to myself, killing the flesh and allowing Holy Spirit to be Lord. As a result, I have experienced great fruit-freedom from unforgiveness and carrying heavy offences (even on behalf of others), love for the church of Jesus Christ, the blessing of working together with many brothers and sisters, joy in being together, seeing God move in many people lives and not running the other way when I see a brother or sister in the grocery store on the street-OK, be honest, tell me you have done this too!
Let’s look at the enemies of unity and harmony. What is the greatest enemy of unity in the Spirit? I think that most people would say satan, right? No, not satan. We need to not be so quick to blame the devil for everything. The biggest enemy of unity in the Spirit is the flesh! Paul exhorts us in Gal 1:16 to walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The works of the flesh are listed in Gal 5:19-21 among which are hatred (hostility), contentions (quarreling), jealousies, and outbursts of wrath (anger), selfish ambitions, dissensions (discord, strife, conflict, contention) and heresies. I think you will agree that these works of the flesh result in disunity and disharmony. The enemy then comes in on the flesh causing division and deception! Unforgiveness and offence are also huge hindrances to unity and harmony within the body of Christ.
2 Co 2:11 says, ‘lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.’ Read this in context. Read 2 Co 2:3-10 also. Paul is exhorting the Corinthian church to forgive and comfort and reaffirm their love for a brother who repented for offending and causing much grief to Paul and to the whole church. Paul mentions forgiveness 5 times in these verses. Paul is ready to forgive and comfort the offender and is exhorting the church to do the same. He is making them aware that to continue to punish him, after he has repented would damage not only the offender but the church and Paul’s own work because it would allow satan to take advantage of the discord in the church.
Here are a couple of other scriptures that come to mind:
- for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? (1 Co 3:3)
- For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Gal 5:13-15)
If you are being convicted at all, I encourage you to spend time with the Lord, humble yourself, repent and receive the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus with joy!
This is what the Word instructs us to do:
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Rom 13:14). Read Romans 13:11-14 NKJV
Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy (Eph 4:22-24). Read Eph 4:21-32.
Exhortations from scripture to continue in unity in Christ
You will notice in the scriptures that they gathered together with one accord and that Paul exhorts the church to have one mind, one purpose-this is unity.
With one accord, homothumadon means being unanimous, having mutual consent, being in agreement, having group unity, having one mind and purpose. Homothumadon shows a harmony leading to action.
- Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Co 1:10 NKJV)
- Only [be sure to] lead your lives in a manner [that will be] worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I do come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit [and one purpose], with one mind striving side by side [as if in combat] for the faith of the gospel. (Phil 1:27 AMP)
We are to behave in a manner befitting citizens of the kingdom of God-look like we belong to God. We are exhorted to persevere in unity for the faith of the gospel. We are to strive (contend, seek jointly) together for this. The Lord has work for us to do-together!
- fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, beingof one accord, of one mind. (Phil 2:2 NKJV)
- Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Phil 3:6 NKJV)
- I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. (Phil 4:2 NKJV)
I want to remind you of what Paul is referring to when he says, ‘same mind’-the mind of Christ!(1 Co 2:16)
What should be our response? Direction for the church
It’s time church! It’s time to agree and purpose in our hearts to make every effort to watch over, to guard, the unity in the Spirit. It’s time to repent! It’s time to ask Holy Spirit to show us how we operate in the flesh and allow Him to kill it. It’s time to forgive and put off all offences. It’s time to repent. It’s time to walk in the Spirit. So that, the love of God that has been put into our hearts by the Holy Spirit will be able to manifest fully towards one another. (Ro 5:5) So that, the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus. (Jn 13:34-35)
Read 2 Chron 20:1-30, Acts 2:1-4; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1-4 and see that when we seek the Lord together and praise God together; when we continue with one accord in prayer and supplication, Holy Spirit shows up! His fruit and character abounds! Enemies are defeated! We must be obedient to the Word in Heb 10:25 and continue to meet together & encourage one another!
- These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:14 NKJV)
- When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)
- not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as isthe manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:25 NKJV)
I will leave you with a scripture and a prayer.
- Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore. (Ps 133 NKJV)
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ro 15:5-6)
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:7 NKJV)