2 Ki. 18:4 π Mt. 13:36-43 π Mt. 13:41 π Mt. 19:6 π Mt. 22:37 π Jn. 14:15 π Jn. 16:13 π Rom. 14:17; 2nd π Rom. 16:17; 2nd π Rom. 16:17- 18 π 1 Cor. 3:1-4 π 1 Cor. 3:3 π 1 Cor. 11:3 π 2 Cor. 3:17 π 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1 π Gal. 5:19-20 π Gal. 5:20-21 π Gal. 6:1 π Eph. 5:23 π Col. 2:8 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Tim. 3:5; 2nd; 3rd π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π 2 Pet. 3:16 π 1 Jn. 2:21 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π 1 Jn. 5:3
One of the things this author has heard quite often in relation to whether a particular individual should leave the "church" or not is: "But God hasn't told me to go yet." While God may indeed call upon a few maturing saints to remain in or return to a "church" for a season, God has already commanded us to leave the "church" so that we might become His ekklesia - and He has done so in His word, the Bible. But most turn a deaf ear to this command because it would require leaving the comfort zone of the "church" and comfortable "church" society circles. And those who are led by the Spirit to return or remain for a time within a "church" environment are quite likely to be led into doing and saying things that will make them most unpopular and even unwelcome in most "churches." If you are well-loved and welcomed in the "churches," especially by the leaders, chances are very good that you have compromised the truth in some fashion or another.
If you are unfamiliar with my usage of the words "church" and ekklesia, let me give you a very brief clarification. "Church" is the English word that I use in connection with any of the man-made religious traditions of Christianity which have no support or foundation in the New Testament but which are now the sacred traditions and core practices of most of modern "Christianity." "Church" is equivalent to the great falling away from the faith that will occur just before the return of Christ ( 2 Ths. 2:3 ) and is the form of godliness that has no genuine power from God. ( 2 Tim. 3:5; top ) Ekklesia, on the other hand, is the original Greek word that is used in the New Testament and I use it to refer to the true body of Christ, the genuine remnant of those who truly have been born again and are following after the Spirit of God. I have written many things on this subject and could go on at length here - but that would distract us from the point at hand. Let us simply use that as a springboard and go on.
I read recently an excellent example of how we approach the things of the Spirit of God that I believe clearly illustrates the point. The story has some limitations, but it has great parallels as well. The story goes like this:
A man became stranded out on a Western range during a winter snowstorm. He knew that a rancher lived a short distance away and he knew that this rancher had trained horses, and especially the horse named "Counselor," to take riders into town, especially under adverse conditions like he was experiencing. He forged his way through the blizzard and, instead of going to the house and speaking to the owner, he went straight to the stables, called out "Here, Counselor. Come here, Counselor." And, sure enough, a large white horse, already saddled and ready to go, came to the man. The man swung up on the horse and rode off wherever the horse would take him. What the man didn't know was that the horse "Counselor" would only follow the directions of the owner - not a rider. The horse he was riding was not "Counselor" and the man was found dead a few days later, frozen after the horse had dumped him into a ravine.
This is precisely what the "church" does to most people - especially in charismatic, "Spirit-led" "churches." They think they are following the Holy Spirit of God but in truth they are led either by their souls or by deceiving, demonic spirits. This too is something which we could talk about at length but which would also distract us from the point at hand. Suffice it to say that most people recognize that such a thing does exist. What they are unwilling to admit is that their own "church" participates, to one degree or another, in this same abomination.
The nature of the "church" is such that, typically, there are literally hundreds of "churches" in every city. In contrast,.there is only one ekklesia, one body of Christ. It is in recognizing the divisions of the "church" that we will find we are already commanded to leave the "church" though we may indeed be called upon to remain in relationship with some of the people. Paul wrote, "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." ( Rom. 16:17- 18; top )
This is a verse that is very often misunderstood, misused and mis-applied - it is even used by the leaders of the "church" to speak against those who would expose the sins, errors and lies of the "church"! Such twisting of Scripture only shows that such false leaders are only headed toward their own destruction. ( 2 Pet. 3:16; top )
When Paul says, "Note those who cause divisions..." he is using the Greek word "dichostasia" . It is a compound word from "dicho" ("twice or again") and "stasia" ("stasis or condition of standing"). In English, it is rendered "dissensions" or "divisions," but, in the Greek, this word carries a much larger and much more precise picture in its meaning. To understand this word, we must first understand how the body of Christ works and how men with natural eyes distort with human reasoning and logic the spiritual things they see, measure and, especially, analyze.
The body of Christ, in Scripture, is not an analogy. Nowhere in Scripture do any of the writers say that the people of Christ are like a body. No, all the writers that use this terminology say that the people of Christ are His body. The Scriptures plainly state that Christ Himself is the Head of the body and that the members of His body are the called-out people of God, the ekklesia. ( 1 Cor. 11:3 ; Eph. 5:23; top ) With the human body as the explanation of a spiritual truth, we recognize that the Holy Spirit performs a similar function in the body of Christ to that of the human nervous system. He transmits the commands of the Head to all the various parts of the body.
"Stasia," and especially the English word which derives from it, "stasis," is a term associated with fluids, particularly bodily fluids like blood and waste products. When a fluid, like blood or urine, is measured, a "cross section" or sample is taken and the measurements applied to the whole, even though not every "cross section" or sample would necessarily be completely identical. "Stasis" is also associated with the idea of a person suspended in time, when everything comes to a condition of standing perfectly still.
When a leader in the body of Christ sets forth his understanding of what God is doing and that understanding is then used as the basis for gathering followers to that leader, "stasia" has occurred. A sample of the bodily fluids of the body of Christ have been captured and the findings are then applied to the whole, often with a margin of error (which becomes readily apparent when this sample, this "stasia," is compared with another sample, another "stasia.") A picture, a snapshot, of the way the body of Christ was at that moment in time has been taken and now men worship that picture as if it were God Himself. That is "stasia." This is the method by which all theological doctrines and denominational creeds are formed. The doctrines and creeds may contain a great deal of truth, but they are only a photograph of a living being - something is lost in the transaction. It is, in truth, much like the superstitions of the American Indians who feared that their spirit would be lost if their images were captured in the white man's picture box. The Spirit of God is simply not available to those who worship a "photograph" of God's past movements among men. The life is lost and a form of religion is embraced.
This Greek word, "dichostasia," goes one step further. It speaks of "twice standing." In slang English, we would call this the "double standard" whereby the ones teaching a certain code of behavior are exempt from having to actually live it out - in this case, they cry out against the sin of divisiveness, applying it to anyone who disagrees with their teachings, when, all the while, their whole position is only a "stasia," a lifeless photograph of God's past movements among men, a thing of their own creation, at best a "nehushtan," a thing of brass that has outlived its usage by God. (see 2 Ki. 18:4; top ) "Dichostasia" happens when someone forms and grasps onto, to one degree or another, a "stasia" of the body of Christ, that momentary snapshot in time of what God was doing, and then will not allow for anyone else to present their own snapshots. And, of course, those who don't agree with the leaders' understanding of the truth are expected to leave and go form yet another denomination based around that second snapshot of their own making.
And so long as you form yet another denomination but don't call into question the underlying fallacy of taking such snapshots in the first place, religion has absorbed you and you pose no threat to the spirit of antichrist who is raising up its own sons so that the true sons of the kingdom might never reach maturity.
Let me say that again with great deliberation and careful choice of words. "Stasia" is the taking of a snapshot in time of the body of Christ, a theological understanding of the body of Christ at a particular moment in time. "Dichostasia" is the separating of the body of Christ according to the dictates of a "stasia," that snapshot in time of the body of Christ. Thus you could have a Catholic "stasia," a Baptist "stasia," a Lutheran "stasia," a Methodist "stasia," an Episcopalian "stasia," a Presbyterian "stasia," a Charismatic "stasia," an Evangelical "stasia" and even a non-denominational "stasia." But each of these "stasias" are incomplete pictures of the body of Christ for they are man- made pictures frozen in time. The body of Christ is neither man-made nor frozen in time. It is not even of time. It is an eternal entity which has its existence throughout time. When we first create a "stasia," a denominational or doctrinal understanding of Christ and His body in the context of a certain culture or time, we have only attempted to put God in a box, to limit His abilities to fit within our understanding. It is no wonder the "church" of the end times has the form of godliness but no power. ( 2 Tim. 3:5; top ) The "church" is made up of multitudes of these "stasias" - and each "stasia" is only a graven image to what Christ was doing in times past that really has no connection to what the Spirit is doing in their own time, now.
"Dichostasia" happens when I take my own particular "stasia" of the body of Christ and force someone to leave my circles of influence so that they can seek God according to their own light - whether that light be true revelation from God or just their own "stasia." When someone is forced to leave my circle of fellowship because there exists differences of beliefs or opinions about the Lord Jesus Christ, the sin of division, "dichostasia," has occurred. And so long as the person I have forced to leave goes off and forms yet another "stasia," the spirit of antichrist has scored yet another victory and the religious "church" spirit will not antagonize this new movement too greatly - only enough to "verify" (at least in the minds of the adherents) that this new division, this new "dichostasia," is indeed a "new work of God."
But let anyone refuse to buy into the practice of taking snapshots in time of the body of Christ but rather insist that the Holy Spirit rule freely and completely in his or her life, and the religious "church" spirit will go to great lengths to silence and even crucify the one who so enters into the true liberty of the Spirit.
This word "dichostasia" appears only three times in the New Testament, but I think the precision of the meaning of this Greek word went a long way in uniting the believers of the first centuries. There were many disagreements and isolated instances of division (like Corinth), but it was not until the second and third centuries that people began to routinely divide into theological or ideological camps based on the intellectual teachings of leaders. By that time, the followers of Christ had lost the prophets and apostles and were embracing the intellectual, eloquent, rhetorical and scholarly methods of Greek thinking and philosophy and were reaping the consequences. (see Col. 2:8; top ) By the fourth century common Greek was falling into disuse, the Roman empire was falling and Europe was beginning its long decline toward the Dark Middle Ages.
The word appears first in Paul's warning about divisive men which we have already seen. "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions  and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." ( Rom. 16:17; top ) Note those who cause divisions and avoid them. The Senior Pastor who insists on his views and says, "If you don't agree with me, then you must leave," is the one who causes divisions, "dichostasia," and he is the one who is to be avoided. But don't you go off and start your own brand name either - for then you will be a partner in this Senior Pastor's divisiveness. "The doctrine which you learned," which Paul speaks of here, was not 3rd, 10th, 15th or 20th century theological constructs and creeds. The doctrine the Romans received was the original announcements about the Person and Spirit of Christ. When we downgrade the Person and/or Spirit of Christ to a list of doctrinal beliefs or theological creeds, we have created a "stasia." When we force other believers away because they don't recognize every point listed in our "stasia," we have committed "dichostasia," the double standard that, by its own nature, unnaturally divides the body of Christ. As Jesus said of marriage, "What God has joined together, let not man separate." ( Mt. 19:6; top ) God has chosen those whom He will receive into His body - with what arrogance we push away those whom He has chosen!
The word appears again in Paul's rebuke of the Corinthians' divisiveness. "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions  among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, 'I am of Paul,' and another, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not carnal?" ( 1 Cor. 3:1-4; top ) Paul could not speak to the Corinthians as being spiritual people but was forced to speak to them as fleshly, spiritually immature people. Why? Because they were dividing the body of Christ along lines of loyalty to men's differing "stasias" of the body of Christ. Anyone who embraces the "stasia" of any man prohibits himself from reaching the fullness of spiritual maturity that is found in the full measure of Christ. If your "church" is founded on the "stasia" of a man and you give your loyalty to your "church," you have no hope of ever being spiritually mature in Christ.
And it appears for the final time in Paul's list of the works of the flesh. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions , heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." ( Gal. 5:19-20; top ) If you are divisive, that is, practicing separation of true believers on the basis of your understanding of the Bible, you cannot participate in the kingdom of God, that righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ( Rom. 14:17 ) All you can be is religious, having a form of godliness but lacking the power. ( 2 Tim. 3:5; top )
This word, "dichostasia," with its specific definition and few usages, strikes at the roots of modern denominationalism with astonishing precision. "Dichostasia" is a work of the flesh that will keep you from inheriting the kingdom of God - a kingdom characterized by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit ( Gal. 5:20-21 ; Rom. 14:17 ) and it is a sin that will keep you from growing up spiritually ( 1 Cor. 3:3 ) and it makes you someone to be avoided. ( Rom. 16:17; top )
As is evident in the parable of the wheat and the tares ( Mt. 13:36-43; top ), it is not our responsibility to uproot the tares - that is the angels' responsibility. Indeed, the tares practice division based on their own understanding of Scripture - they are guilty of "dichostasia" and are to be exposed and avoided. Thus, as the Spirit leads you to do so, you may speak freely of these modern-day Pharisees and their hypocrisy. But if you are only obedient to an agenda of removing from public view anyone you believe to be a tare, you are taking far too much upon yourself and only making yourself another tare. The tares are to be left for the angels who will do far more to them than remove them from public view. They will remove them from the kingdom of Christ and take them to a fire where they will be burned.
It is our responsibility, however, to take care that in the rampant divisiveness of today's denominationalism, we do not get drawn into the same sin and form yet another "stasia" whereby we think it appropriate to disassociate ourselves from other true believers in Christ who subscribe to a different "stasia" than our own - even if our "stasia" is based on a more complete revelation of the current work and purposes of God. For, if we do that, then we are simply another tare, one who causes offense and commits lawlessness and we too will be removed from the kingdom along with all the other tares before the harvest at the end of the age. ( Mt. 13:41; top )
The point I would emphasize at this time is that we are already commanded to avoid a divisive man - and there are no men more inherently divisive than "church" "pastors" and denominational leaders. There are very few reasons God will call upon you to remain in a "church." Those reasons will not include supporting the "church" institution in any way. God will not ask you to participate in the divisiveness of any "church" organization or in supporting the work of any man over another. You will not be called by God to attend a "church" just to be "fed" by the sermonizing of the "pastor." If any of these are your reasons for remaining, there is yet a veil over your eyes.
Unless you are young in the faith and just being shown the errors of "church," God will call upon you to confront the sins that are rampant within a "church" and He will call upon you to rescue others from the rampant errors and sins within a "church." And, no matter how young or old you might be in the faith, know that God always expects you to feed yourself and not to rely on a teacher to be "fed." John wrote, "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him." ( 1 Jn. 2:27; top ) If the Holy Spirit truly lives in you, He is the teacher who will teach you to abide in Christ, the only "place" that is safe from deception and error. No man can teach you how to abide in Christ - they can only tell you that you must abide in Christ to be safe from the falling away from the faith that is occurring.
Please notice that we are to avoid the divisive men. If the followers of Christ would just obey this simple command, much of today's "church" empire would be exposed for what it is. But because many people still believe that the "church" is the same thing as the ekklesia of Christ, they feel duty-bound to continue to attend and support the false teachers and false shepherds. But even the guilt one feels when even thinking about leaving the "church" ought to tell us that the thing is not of God! God does not manipulate by guilt - He convicts of sin so as to lead us into all truth and liberty. (see Jn. 16:13 ; 2 Cor. 3:17; top )
Paul wrote, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.' Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. ( 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; top )
The "church" is a strange hybrid mixture of truth, error and lies. No lie is of the truth. ( 1 Jn. 2:21 ) No disobedience is of the love of God. ( 1 Jn. 5:3 ) The law of Moses said that we were to love the Lord our God with all of our soul and body. ( Mt. 22:37 ) Jesus said that the only way we could love Him was to obey His commands. ( Jn. 14:15; top ) If we will not obey the Scriptural command to avoid those who cause division among us - the denominational heads and leaders that wrongfully divide the body of Christ - then let us stop deceiving ourselves by saying that we love the Lord. Our "love" is a sham, a lie. True love for the Lord Jesus Christ is measured in terms of continuous obedience to His commands as given through His Holy Spirit. Anything else is a false religion.
For those denominational leaders and heads who are disobedient to the word of God only because they are deceived, then let us recall what Paul said to the Galatians: "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." ( Gal. 6:1; top ) These brothers are overtaken in a grave trespass - they are wrongfully dividing the body of Christ. If you are capable of recognizing the spiritual truth about their divisiveness, then you are called upon to seek the Lord as to how these divisive brothers might be restored to obedience to the faith and the body of Christ set free from the bondage these men inflict upon it.
Those brothers who consistently refuse to repent of their divisive nature are simply to be avoided. It is these who will be the teachers who tickle the apostasy's ears with fables about Christ and God ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top ) - and their judgment is well reserved for them. It is only your duty to seek the Lord Jesus Christ so that you may be certain you are not a blind follower who ultimately ends up at the bottom of the ravine because you rode the wrong horse.
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!