"Giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace." Ephesians 4:3.
This unity is that which is resultant from the
indwelling and dominating control of the Holy Spirit.
The illustration is that of the head and the body.
Every limb or member, every faculty of the body is
controlled by the nervous system, and this nervous
system works from and to the head where it has its
In the Body of Christ the Holy Spirit is the great
nervous system, and only as there is an immediate
response to every intimation of the will of the Head,
and the life unbrokenly in correspondence with His
mind, can there be an expression of the unity of which
the New Testament speaks.
Three things must be clearly noticed.
1. We cannot "keep" what does not exist. The
admonition presupposes our having received the
Holy Spirit into our lives in a vital way and having
surrendered ourselves entirely to His control and
2. We cannot create this unity. It is essentially
spiritual. Creeds, organizations, the social spirit,
compromise on matters of interpretation and practice
can never achieve it.
3. There is the paradox of unity. "Peace" in the
scriptures means harmony. But while Christ is called "the Prince of peace" and while that harmony has
been created in many lives and spheres where He has
been enthroned, He clearly said that one result of His
coming would be not peace but a sword.
It is clear that wherever His Cross has been fully
presented, there has been trouble and upheaval. All
the things against which His Cross stands have at
once created a state of war. The world, the flesh, in all
their forms and expressions, make spiritual unity
impossible; and in so far as even Christians are
influenced in their judgments, their standards of
reckoning, their conceptions, as well as in their
motives, methods and means, by
the world-spirit or the Adam nature, these things
likewise make spiritual oneness impossible.
The fuller the presentation of the Cross, the greater
the arousing of the elements of the fallen nature and
therefore - on the one hand, the greater peril and
possibility of discord, and, on the other hand, the call
for a more complete capitulation to the life of the Spirit
as against the life in the flesh.
This work of separating will be carried out in
ourselves personally, in our homes, in our local
churches, and in Christendom at large.
On this basis of flesh and spirit the "house divided
against itself" will fall.
True unity has its birth at Calvary, where the world
and the flesh - with the Devil working through both to
maintain his discord in the universe - were dealt with
and forever ruled out of the new creation.
This unity which Calvary creates calls for our
diligence for its maintenance.
Certain things might well be borne in mind:
(1) The Holy Spirit is of one mind, and never
leads in two ways which contradict each other in
The Holy Spirit is unchanging in truth. With Him there is no variableness from time to time.
(3) Differences of degree should never be a
ground of division. The different ages and degrees of
maturity in our family need never throw the family into
(4) Basic contradictions or inconsistencies will
ever result in arrested fellowship, and be fruitful
ground for the satanic sower of seeds of discord.
(5) We must never act on a principle of
expediency, policy, or prejudice, in order to try to
advance the Lord's interests and safeguard the truth.
It is better to have a more limited sphere of usefulness - as men regard it -
than to keep doors open by compromise. This, at length, brings a breach with the
(6) Spiritual oneness is "in Christ," not in
ourselves. The ascendancy of Christ over self is the
only way to this oneness.
(7) Let it be ever recognised that in the Lord's
spiritual house there are His order and appointments.
To be out of our place, to assume a position or
ministry which is not ours, to interfere with others
who are the "Lord's anointed",
to mentally ignore, despise, or set aside such, to be
negligent of our own ministry, or in any other way to
disturb the Divine order is to upset "the unity of the
Spirit", and to throw the Body into a disturbed and conflicting state.
There are many things to be discerned in our "giving diligence to keep the
unity", but if the Cross has been truly applied to our own life, and we are
really walking after the Spirit, we shall know within ourselves what these
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, July 1927, Vol 5-7. Republished in Jan-Feb 1954, Vol 32-1