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It is important to be fitly joined together and compacted within the specific church body to which God has called us to be a part. Satan will go to great lengths to divide us or isolate us from that church.

Now I want to show you the five divisive influences the Word talks about that, if left to operate unhindered in your life, will open you up to being divided from your vital source of life - your own company of believers.

1: Pastor, Hireling or Wolf?
In John 10, Jesus makes some remarkable statements regarding the importance of a pastor. Look, for example, at verses 11-14:

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd.

From the Bible's standpoint, Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, and local pastors are under-shepherds. In fact, the Greek word translated shepherd here is also translated "pastor" in most of the other New Testament passages in which it appears.

That tells us some things about the office of pastor. There are three key words in this passage that will enhance your understanding of the truth I am trying to communicate. The first is the word wolf. Without fail, this word is used in the New Testament to refer to a person who is being used of the devil, sometimes unknowingly, to promote division in the Body of Christ. Typically, these people love God and don't intend any harm but are spiritual children who haven't grown up in the faith. They simply don't know any better.

The next key word is scatters. The person acting as a wolf always has the effect of scattering God's flock. The spirit to which the "wolf" has yielded invariably creates division within the local church.

The last key word is hireling. The Lord is telling us that it is possible for a person to stand in the office of pastor who isn't truly called and appointed by God to be there. When that is the case, that pastor will not be able to stop the wolf from scattering the flock.

All too often pastors are hired by a board of deacons or some other committee to do a job rather than being appointed and anointed by God to fulfill a calling. Such "hirelings" have no God-given ability to maintain unity or prevent turmoil and schism in their flocks. When a person truly stands in the office of the pastor, however, he carries an anointing from God to keep the wolf of division away.

Thus the first doorway to division I want to bring to your attention is having a pastor who is not called, appointed and anointed by God. Again, the most basic reason people become isolated from the Body of Christ - and ultimately devoured by Satan - is that they do not have the benefit of the pastoral anointing to supernaturally keep the wolf of division from cutting them off from the Body of Christ. Judge the tree by its fruit. If there is no good fruit, then the pastor is probably a hireling.

2: Hunger for Supernatural Manifestations
Matthew 7:15 reveals to us the second major doorway of division: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

First of all, the word prophet used here simply means "one who proclaims God's Word." It doesn't necessarily refer to the office of the prophet but rather more generally to somebody who proclaims or preaches the Word of God. Notice that though these people are "ravening wolves" - people who divide God's flock - they come in sheep's clothing. They don't look like devils. They don't look like bad people. They look good and sound good, but inwardly they have a divisive influence on the Body of Christ.

How can you tell if someone is a wolf? Jesus tells us in the next verse, "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16). What kind of fruit does a wolf produce? As I have already said, a wolf scatters and divides the flock.

3: Preach the Whole Counsel of God
Preach the whole counsel of God, not just the parts people want to hear. This is a major form of deception, because we all have favorite teachings from God's Word. For some it is the promises concerning healing. For others it is the portions outlining our covenant of increase, provision and prosperity. Still others are drawn to passages concerning the end times.

Whatever promises and passages are your favorites, you must not let your desire for a particular part of the Word, no matter how important it might be to you, bring you to a place of hearing nothing else.

If you are not happy with the Word being preached at the church in which God has set you, then, friend, your ear is beginning to itch! If you scratch it by going someplace where you can hear more of what you want to hear instead of the full counsel of God, then you can count on being drawn away, deceived and possibly damaged.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of churches that will tell you that you don't have to tithe, for example. But if you go looking to find a teacher who has a view of Scripture that accommodates your flesh or your biases, you will leave yourself wide open to deception. So don't allow yourself to be drawn away from the place in the Body of Christ in which God has set you.

4: Becoming Offended
Probably the most common way people are separated from the church to which God has called them is by becoming offended at another individual in the church.

Paul, speaking by the Holy Ghost in Acts 24:16, says of this, "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men. You see, to have such a conscience is to never allow yourself to feel justified in being offended. You have to be sure you understand just how deadly this tendency is and make a decision not to be offended at anybody, no matter what people say or do."

The reasons people become offended in church are many and varied, but I frequently come across some that are absolutely ridiculous. Many people get offended because the pastor "steps on their toes" in his preaching. As a pastor myself, I can tell you that your pastor is charged by God to preach the uncompromised Word in such a way as to leave you no "wiggle room" at all - he is not to leave you any way to sneak around the truth.

But if you take that personally instead of receiving it as the operation of the pastoral office, you may get offended at your pastor for not being more sensitive to where you are in your walk with God.

If you become offended at your pastor, then as we have already learned, you are in danger of being cut off from the pastoral anointing that will keep the wolf of division away. Offense allows division and Satan's access into your life.

The tendency to become offended is actually rooted in pride. That is why it is so dangerous. So instead of getting offended, deal with the pride issues that cause offense. And whatever you do, keep this door to division closed.

5: Is It Me?
Romans 16:17 says, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

Now, let me be blunt with you for just a moment: Are you causing divisions and offenses in your church? Have you allowed yourself, unwittingly, to be used by Satan to divide others from the Body of Christ? If you have, that is bad for those other church members, but it is much worse for you.

Such actions only isolate a person. And as an instrument in the hands of the enemy, a Christian can also encounter a kind of destruction that is hard to even describe. The most miserable, unhappy Christians I know are those who unknowingly fall into that trap of being used by the devil to divide a church.

The greatest indicator that Satan may try to use you this way is if you tend to be critical. Do you always seem to find fault with everything? Do you tend to see the negative side of things? These are warning signs of a potentially divisive personality. Basically, people with critical spirits never offer constructive solutions to problems; they just find fault.

The truth is, no one is immune from this disease. We all need to examine ourselves and be watchful. If you are finding it easier to speak negative reports instead of exhorting and promoting the positive, you can ask the Lord to make a change in you. Ask Him to help you see people through His eyes. Ask for the ability to see people with the compassion of Jesus. Ask God to give you ideas that will promote His purpose in the Church. Consciously work to promote unity in the Body.

When we are all perfectly joined together in the same mind in one accord and without divisions, then the power of God will fall and we will all realize the purpose of God in our lives both corporately and individually. This must be our goal in these last days!

Source: Doorways to Deception by Mac Hammond
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
 
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at winnersminute.com. He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.
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