#S3-035: More of How to Overcome Racism in the Church [Podcast]

Overcoming the Spirit of Division

A visitor to a mental hospital was astonished to note that there were only three guards watching over a hundred dangerous inmates. He asked his guide, “Don’t you fear that these people will overpower the guards and escape?” “No,” was the reply. “Lunatics never unite.” 1 Lunatics never unite, did you hear that? Racism is strife. Racism is lunacy. Lunatics never unite. In last week’s podcast, we drilled down into the word strife and we looked at some of the companions of strife. One of these companions is the word ‘disorder’ in 2 Corinthians 12:20. We are going to take a look at that and more as we continue looking at overcoming racism in the church in this week’s Light on Life.

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Accept the Challenge

Each week’s podcast contains a call to action. The Word of God will not produce in your life unless you put into operation.
This week’s call is:

Racism, strife and division are evil works of the enemy which have no place in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Recognizing the enemy, pulling him out of the shadows into the light is one key to overcoming it.

Join the Conversation

Each week’s podcast also contains a question designed to encourage testimony. Testimony is vital to a believer’s life. We overcome by it (Rev. 12:11).
This week’s question is:

Question: How has the spirit of division impacted you or those around you? Did you recognize it? How did you overcome it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About Emery

Emery committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ over 40 years ago and has served as both a full-time pastor and an itinerant minister. Both he and his wife Sharon of 35 years emphasize personal growth and development through the Word of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is both the focus and the hallmark of their mission. Read more about them here.

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If you enjoyed the podcast, please rate it on Stitcher Radio and leave a review. If you have a suggestion for a Bible topic you would like to see taught, or if you have a question, please e-mail me at emery@emeryhorvath.com


Podcast Notes

1 Corinthians 3:3 (NKJV) 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

  • The Greek word ‘strife’ in this verse means a bitter disagreement between conflicting facts or claims or opinions.

2 Corinthians 12:20 (LEB) 20 For I am afraid lest somehow when I arrive, I will not find you as I want, and I may be found by you as you do not want. I am afraid lest somehow there will be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, pride, disorder.

  • What does the word disorder mean?
  • Disorder in the Greek means an upheaval. It’s a state of violent group disturbance especially as in politics or social conditions generally.
  • So, all the rioting we are seeing in the country today over various politically related areas is what this refers to.
  • It’s all ungodliness according to the Bible.
  • Last week when we talked about the companions of strife, we came across a companion named disorder.
  • If you remember, the Greek word disorder means an upheaval. It’s a state of violent group disturbance especially as in politics or social conditions generally.
  • Let’s drill down into this word a bit further as it relates to strife and division.

2 Corinthians 6:4-5 (ESV) 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;

  • Paul gives a list of problems which he faced in going forth into all the world and preaching the gospel.
  • One of the things Paul experienced on many occasions was riots.
  • The word ‘riots is the Greek word for disorder.

Luke 21:9 (ESV) And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

  • The word tumults, in this verse, is the Greek word for disorder, a violent group disturbance especially as in politics or social conditions.
  • So, what we can see from this verse is that Jesus prophesied that in the last days there would be tumults, disorder and violent upheavals especially in politics and social conditions.
  • All of this mess we are seeing in America and in other parts of the world is Bible Prophecy.
  • And, because Jesus prophesied it, it’s not going away.
  • It’s a sign of the end times.
  • The Bible gives us the root of what’s causing it.

1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV) For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,

  • The word ‘confusion’ is again, the Greek word for disorder.
  • So, tumults, disorder, and confusion are all the same Greek word.
  • God is not a God of disorder.
  • He is not a God of confusion.
  • He is a God of peace.
  • So, this mess we are seeing in America is of the enemy.
  • It’s strife.
  • It’s ungodliness.
  • Do your best to not get caught up in it.
  • Quit adding fuel to the fire.
  • Quit stirring up the pot on social media.
  • Stop with the Facebook posts.
  • While you think you’re expressing your opinion to try and get America back, all you are doing is adding to the spirit of disorder.
  • The Bible gives us the root cause of disorder.
  • You know you have to get to the root of things.

James 3:16 (ESV) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

  • Selfish ambition is a strong drive for personal success without moral inhibitions.
  • Pray for the President so he doesn’t contribute to disorder.
  • Pray for the Democrats, pray for the Republicans in this vein.
  • Because what’s going on in America right now is a spirit of strife, a spirit of division, a spirit of disorder and all three of these entities, the President and the two parties are unconsciously contributing.
  • They are fulfilling Jesus words.
  • We can’t stop it completely, in the world, because Jesus prophesied it, but we can sure slow it down in America if we pray.
  • So, that’s disorder and it’s connection to strife.
  • Again, let’s talk about what racism is.
  • Spiritually, racism is a demonic spirit of division who’s aim is to magnify the God-created differences between people.
  • Racism is a spirit of strife.
  • Racism is hatred.

1 Corinthians 3:3 (HCSB) 3 because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers?

  • The Corinthians were in strife with one another.
  • If you remember, we said in last week’s podcast that strife is a bitter disagreement between conflicting facts or claims or opinions.
  • They were fighting over ministers.
  • They were having bitter conflict and splitting up into camps.
  • One camp sided with Paul, another with Apollos
  • They weren’t just disagreeing.
  • They were over into being extremely disagreeable.

1 Corinthians 3:4–5 (HCSB) 4 For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.

  • At one point in his ministry, Paul got into strife with Barnabas over Mark.

Acts 15:36–40 (HCSB) 36 After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers in every town where we have preached the message of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. 40 Then Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers.

  • Notice the two words ‘sharp disagreement’ recorded by Luke in verse thirty-nine.
  • In the Greek, it’s one word.
  • The word means provocation or agitation.
  • It’s a state of intense, emotional turmoil; especially expressed in words.
  • The emotional turmoil created by the words these two men of God spoke to one another were so intense, they parted ways over it.
  • Each man clung to his own way.
  • Each man refused to budge.
  • Paul took his pick with him and Barnabas took his.

People of God Should Not Strive

2 Timothy 2:23–25 (KJV) 23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

  • Looking at several word meanings in this passage will help us to get the sense of what Paul is saying.


  • The word foolish means dull, devoid of wisdom, good sense or sound judgment.
  • For short, it means stupid.
  • Paul says servants of God must avoid stupid questions.
  • The question is, what is a stupid question?
  • Have you heard someone trying to encourage someone to ask about what they don’t understand say, “Ask anything you like because there are no stupid questions?”
  • In that context, that would be true but it’s not true in all contexts.
  • God says there are some questions that are plain stupid and not worthy of discussion.
  • They are not worthy of being answered because doing so would be useless and devoid of benefit.


  • The word unlearned means uninstructed, uneducated or lacking knowledge.
  • The positive form of this word is the one used in reference to training children to think.
  • These ‘foolish questions’ are questions generated from an ‘uninstructed how to think’ mind.
  • These questions were just flung out into an open forum maybe for attention sake or for the thrill of being able to stir the waters.
  • The bottom line to it all is that these were controversies stirred by those who really didn’t know what they were talking about in the first place.


  • The word ‘strifes’ is a contention or battle. It’s an open clash between two opposing groups.
  • The fighting and open battles were about issues that should have never been out in the open in the first place.
  • They were useless battles.
  • Battles fought for the sake of fighting.
  • Contending for the sake of contention.
  • Paul states that the ‘servant of the Lord’ must stay away from such battles.
  • Paul uses the word ‘avoid’ in Titus 3:9 to describe a believer’s actions.

Titus 3:9 (NASB95) 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

  • The word ‘avoid’ means to shun, to go around, to avoid and stay away from deliberately; conceived of as walking around something as to avoid it.
  • It’s like the maneuver one makes when they see a big traffic problem up ahead.
  • They turn around, they go around, they do everything they can to not be involved in the pile-up.
  • The servant of the Lord must not strive, period, end of discussion.
  • Stay out of strife.
  • Stay out of contentions.
  • Turn around, go around.
  • Do everything you can to stay clear of it.
  • Don’t spar and argue with people.
  • Quit fighting verbally.
  • Back to the issue of racism.
  • Back to the issue of strife generated by the spirit of division over God created differences between people.

Racism in Jesus Day

  • Jesus was born into an age where racism was the rule of the day.
  • Racism existed on many levels in the first century.

Social Racism

  • First, there was social racism which permeated New Testament times.
  • It mattered if you were a man or a woman.
  • It mattered if you were a slave or free.
  • It mattered if you were rich or poor.
  • James, in his epistle, addresses one of these forms of discrimination.
  • The group of believers James writes to were engaged in social prejudice.

James 2:1–5 (NKJV) 1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

  • The entire second chapter of James addresses the issue of the hypocrisy associated with prejudice.
  • James uses a real-life incident between a rich and poor man which occurred in the church.
  • A rich man with many rings came pompously through the front door of the church.
  • What do the saints do when they see money walk in?
  • Well, they fall all over themselves trying to make sure this man is catered to giving him the best seat in the house.
  • A few moment later a poor man comes in the same front door.
  • These same money catering saints fall all over themselves to not extend welcome to this man relegating his seating to the floor of the church.
  • James hears about this pandering and disassembles this sin of prejudice, as it existed among the congregation.
  • The church is off-track.
  • Pastor James aims to bring the congregation back into balance.
  • He does so with the corrective fervor of a parent.
  • Notice the word ‘partiality’ in verse one is a word we need to look at.
  1. Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 65.