Overcoming Sin through Christ: Factions

  Overcoming Sin through Christ

A Comprehensive List of Sins

(Alphabetically Arranged)

Richard Hollerman

The plan of this study is simple.  We will look at a large number of sins, one by one, alphabetically.  We will define the sin, describe it, and comment on it, along with noticing Scripture references on the particular entry.  Some illustrations will be offered along with the description.

Faction

Are you a factionalist? Do you fall under the condemnation of one who actively pursues a faction and promotes factionalism?  We must examine this carefully lest we fail in this area. Further, we must distinguish between certain attitudes and actions that could be wrongly interpreted as factionalism.

Faction comes from the Greek erithia, meaning “ambition, self-seeking, rivalry.”  It means “party-making.”[1] Vine says that it comes from erithos, a “hireling,” thus it denotes “seeking to win followers.”[2]  In light of the conflict and strife in the Corinthian assembly, Paul is concerned that they may have “sinned in the past and not repented” of their sins.  He mentions “disputes” in a list of these sins (2 Corinthians 12:20). 

This is the word eritheiai and may be translated “hostility” (ESV) or “selfish ambition” (NET Bible).  Vine says that it must mean “rivalries” or “base ambitions” here,[3] and Richards renders it “selfish ambition.”[4]  Barclay adds that it “denotes the spirit of personal ambition and rivalry which issues in a partisanship which sets a party above the Church.”[5]

Selfish ambition or factionalism is serious.  Paul says that “those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” will receive God’s “wrath and indignation” and will experience “tribulation and distress” (Romans 2:8-9).  James also speaks of selfish ambition: “If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (3:14).  He also said, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (v. 16). This selfish ambition that promotes a factious spirit is a deed or work of the flesh. 

Paul says that “disputes” (NASB) or “rivalries” (ESV) (eritheiai) is a “deed of the flesh” that will prevent one from entering the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21).  This leads Richards to say, “The word portrays partisanship or intrigue that is not motivated by love for God or others but by a fierce passion for self-advancement.”[6]

As we look around at churches and denominations in our day, we must conclude that selfish ambition and factionalism is very common.  The very existence of denominationalism and sectarianism is proof that this sin is prevalent and must be addressed.  Paul admonishes believers, “Do nothing from selfishness [eritheian] or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).  The ESV renders this as “rivalry.”  If we have true humility and unselfishness, we will be able to conquer this sin by the power of love.

(See also “Disunity and Division”)

 



[1] W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Richards, Expository Dictionary.

[5] William Barclay, Flesh and Spirit, p. 55.

[6] Richards, Expository Dictionary.

 

 

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