Sometimes I stumble across a piece that is so good I have to share it. Why do we have factions and divisions? Mike Ratliff attempts to answer this in “God’s Purpose in Divisions and Factions in the Church”.
You and I might disagree with him on some minor points, but he makes the case that there is theoretical heresy, believing differently than the standard doctrine, and then there is division, or practical heresy.
Those who are not genuine and who are unrepentant will naturally be separated from the genuine.
It is as if Paul was saying that this entire setup of divisions and factions in this church was a spiritual test. Factions revealed who passed the test of spiritual genuineness and purity. God was using this petty, selfish, self-centered, split to not only test the genuineness of His people (1 Thessalonians 2:4), but to split them away or remove them from those who were not genuine. While those remained who would continue in their drunkenness and gluttony revealing their Christian disingenuousness, the genuine Christians could gather and partake of the Lord’s Table correctly. Those who refused to repent would receive Paul’s rebuke personally when he arrived.
Of course, Paul is no longer around to personally arrive. However, Jesus will.
48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48-51, King James Version)