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God's Word on Conflict

Updated on January 18, 2010

Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit

Eph 4:30: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

Fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ is such a blessing. When people focus on the Lord, praise and pray, study and apply, love and edify each other, it's like heaven on earth. Unfortunately, because all people are sinful and struggle between flesh and Spirit, conflict can arise from time to time. When people don't know what God's Word says about resolving conflict, or if they do know, but don't obey, results can be devastating.

God has called us not to remain babes, but to grow in His Word and mature (Eph 4:15). Not everyone is at the same level of maturity in Christ. Indeed, we learn obedience by the things we suffer (Heb 5:8). All things do work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

Let's take a moment to look at some passages in the Word regarding conflict and then see why obedience to His Word is the best way to keep Satan in his place.

The Devil's Foothold

Jesus said in Mat 18:15-17:

  • If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

Now, this would be the ultimate scenario, wouldn’t it? The first thing one must do is to determine the worthiness of the sin committed. Is it a big enough sin to make it an issue? For example, if a brother feels you spoke disrespectfully to him and hurt his feelings, would that be a major issue? Not necessarily, but he might feel it can be addressed respectfully and hope you will be more conscious of this behavior in the future.

Where he could err, however, is if he lets the sun go down on his anger, waiting to address the issue with you, thus giving a foothold to the Devil (Eph 4:26-27). Furthermore, should he decide to talk to someone else first, this could add wood to the fire. Surely, we understand that each person has a close friend or confidante and may just need to seek advice as to whether to just pray about it or decide to make it an issue. Pro 26:20 tells us, “Without wood a fire goes out, and without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

However, a bigger err would then be for his confidante to take matters into his own hands, whereby he involves two more parties. God’s Word says in 1 Peter 3:9 that we are “not to return evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

In the meantime, the one you offended finally lets you know. You are grieved and apologize, asking for forgiveness. Surely, the issue should be resolved in love.

However, what do you feel when you find out that three more people know about this situation?! Now, it’s up to you to go to the offending party(ies).

Can you see where disobedience to God’s Word gives a foothold to the Devil?

  • But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.

If the offending party(ies) will not hear you, nor will they take accountability for their actions, take another with you. If you and you partner are ignored, it’s time to take it before the church.

  • If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.

While the word "church" is ekklésia: an assembly, a (religious) congregation, it's probably not wise to share the details of the offense with all church members; rather, the issue should be taken to an appropriate authority in the church. The responsibility of the church leadership is to bring the parties together and discuss the issues, addressing the sin and bringing reconciliation. However, if the church leader requests this gathering and the sinful party(ies) do not wish to communicate, this should not be forced.

More often than not, church leaders do not want to be a part of petty disputes. Unfortunately, the consequence of this avoidance is people leaving the fellowship.

  • If he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Should you be a part of a church that will heed the Word of God in such a case, the believer(s) in rebellion must be corrected by the leadership. And, all affected parties must then forgive each other and continue in fellowship. None of us are without sin, and just like we hold others accountable to us, we must be accountable to others, amen!


But, aren’t we just supposed to love each other unconditionally? Forgive as we’ve been forgiven? Do you not address behaviors with your children?  Why must we be accountable? Accountability is defined as having an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.

Let’s look at Luke 17:3-4: “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."

First of all, what does rebuke mean? Rebuke is the Greek word epitimao (ep-ee-tee-mah’-o) to ax upon, censure or admonish, forbid, straightly charge. Obviously, God’s Word gives us the directive to rebuke someone who sins against us. Again, we must consider whether the sin is even worth addressing in the first place.

If the one who offended you apologizes and asks your forgiveness, you must let them know you’ve forgiven them. Silence is also a sin. For you to leave that person in the dark is not to bring peace to the relationship.

What if the offender does not acknowledge the sin? What if you are treated with silence? That would be equally wrong.

Ponder Ps 32:3-5: "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’”

Based on Luke 17:34, it is the responsibility of the offender to not only acknowledge the sinful behavior to the Lord, but also to the one sinned against, verbalizing repentance. At that point, the one sinned against must also verbalize forgiveness. James 5:16 confirms that we are to "confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed."


Mat 15:17 clearly states that if the offender won’t listen to you, even one or two others, and ultimately the church, he is to be counted among the Gentiles (heathen/unbeliever) and tax collectors (dishonest/despised).

This type of thing is grievous to the Spirit of God. Those who call themselves Christians and yet rebel against submission to the Word of God and each other cause dissention in the body of Christ. More often than not, it’s the party sinned against that ends up leaving the fellowship, especially in the case where church leadership does not want to get involved.

How can anyone have peace worshiping our Lord when regarding iniquity in his/her heart? Ps 66:18 states, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear.” Mat 5:23-24 tell us, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

Truly, to have no conviction about these matters and continue worshiping God and doing all the religious works of the church is hypocrisy! Is God pleased? Pro 28:13 tells us, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."

For further study on hypocrisy, I invite you to read my hub Jesus Called Them Hypocrites!

Be Encouraged!

Satan’s purpose is to scatter the sheep. He can only attempt to do this through the wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s important the sheep not get discouraged, in any case. Sometimes, a fellowship is large enough that the sheep can just find others with which to fellowship; but in the case of a very small group, the hostilities waged against the sheep could pose as a stumbling block to those not involved. Be comforted, for the Lord does not call us to oppression, and will call His sheep out of a den of vipers to be used in blessing those who will receive another “baaaa-aaaaa!


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    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Hi Alice! Love and edification can actually happen both with positive words and with loving confrontation; we grow when we acknowledge our sin privately to the parties involved and we crush Satan's head when we forgive and press on in love! Some reconciliations take longer than they should, for each child of God must war against the flesh constantly. I so appreciate your love and friendship ~ but moreso, that you're my sister in Christ!

    • profile image

      Alice 8 years ago

      I always believe we are here to love and edify each other. Satan is always walking the grounds looking for ways to slither in and wreck his havoc. At times he suceeds, but I believe in the long run, God will always shelter and protect us if we allow Him to. I love your post!!!

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Hi Brother Unchained Grace and also Sister drpastorcarlotta :-)

      1 and 2 Timothy are good books to read when it comes to order, and two outstanding verses to ponder are here:

      1 Tim 3:5 "(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)"

      1 Tim 3:11 "Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things."

      Now, because we don't live with those who fall into sin when it comes to not obeying God's Word on conflict, it's unknown as to whether they have conflict in their homes. While it may appear outwardly they don't, God knows if they do. One thing I am sure of; unconfessed or unrealized sin will continue to infect one's own life first, then the lives of others, even when the obedient one(s) is(are) taken out of the way. That's the sad part. Only God can protect the sheep or move them out.

    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I just read Pastor Carlotta's comment and sincerely agree.

      Your core behavior at home is directly indicative of that which you exhibit on the outside. In short, show me one dysfunctional at home and that same one shall be dysfunctional in all other aspects. There are certain underlying traits which dictate and support this in each individual.

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      2besure, AMEN!! That pricking will not go away until we submit to the will of Him Who sends His Word amongst us to either be heeded or rejected. Those in disobedience will wrestle with God and guess Who wins? He Who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until He comes again, praise Him (Phil 1:6)! Be blessed! You are such a blessing to me and all who read!

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thanks God the the Holy Spirit, who pricks our hearts when we grieve Him.

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Hi brother Artin2010! Yes, virtue is defined in the Bible as "moral goodness or excellence". There's no doubt that someone who is caught in the act of gossip, and those who were involuntarily involved would also feel uncomfortable. To humble oneself to the Lord is to admit the stumbling and know that God commands the one offended to forgive. Hiding from the confrontation will not solve anything; nor, would owning up to it and then harboring resentment or fear.

      When I think of all the major issues God deals with on a day-to-day basis, even the major things He's forgiven us for, these things must be put in perspective. Satan is the god of pettiness and dissention and as a group, no one should allow him to be so destructive. We are all overcomers when we obey the Word of God and truly love Him and our brethren as we ought. When all obey, the experience can work for the good (a lesson in application) instead. God bless you, brother, and thank you for the compliment!

    • Artin2010 profile image

      Artin2010 8 years ago from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast

      Wisdom is found in practicing compassion and true foregiveness. Virtue must come before pride, if there is pride there is sin. You are incredible as a writer. Just reading the comments here is totally awesome. Another amazing hub Judah's Daughter, keep on bringing it. no way but Jesus Christ, God Bless over and over!!

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Hi Sister!!! I've heard it said, "Home is where the heart is", amen! We've got to keep our own house clean, then we can help others clean their houses, with love. But one cannot help if the help is not received ~~ I pray we all keep His house clean together as the family of God. Love you, my dear friend!!

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 8 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Forgiveness and compassion comes from the heart! Good practice at home of these attributes sure makes it more easier for an individual to forgive when faced in lifes situations. What you do at home of forgiving, will play an important part of forgiving outside of the home. GREAT HUB! As usual my love.

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Thank you, sister Royal Diadem! You're such a blessing ~

    • profile image

      Royal Diadem 8 years ago

      Great hub my sister

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Hi Sister DeBorrah! AMEN. I was thinking, after reading your comment, how comments left between believers on HubPages are a good example, in that each can confirm or reasonably and lovingly correct the writer who, in turn, responds reasonably and lovingly. I am thankful for how my brethren have helped me, and I am also joyful to see the growth of many here because of the sharing back and forth. Truly, there are some who falsely post (i.e. the hubber who stated Michael the Archangel caused the war in heaven, and when was corrected, still rejected the truth).

      I just appreciate this community in so many ways. I love you and may God continue to bless His ministry through you! I was blessed by your hub, "The Apostles' Creed", as well as all the others I've read.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 8 years ago

      Judah's Daughter, You have shed Light on a much needed subject! If and when there is or was a disagreement that these principles would be implemented we would have a lot less tension disharmony and dissenion in relationships. God was thorough in giving us instructions how to live life in a way that pleases HIM! We must seek to walk in obedience in all areas of our lives.

      Confrontation with Love is healthy and will bring marvelous results if only the parties concerned agree to do it God's WAY! Pride must always take a back seat in order for this to take place... Wonderful hub! Thank you sister for sharing, Blessings!

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Hi sister einron, yes indeed. It is easier to confess to God than acknowledge the wrong done to a brother/sister, due to either pride or shame. We seek to please God, and I don't know anyone in Christ that would not want to forgive and bring peace. In fact, I think it makes brethren closer if they follow these ordinances, resulting in trust. They can have confidence that should they stumble again, it will be alright. However, fear is the result, if a brother or sister does not follow these ordinances. To be on the wrong end of his/her wrath would push away anyone! Thank you for your great input. God bless you.

    • einron profile image

      einron 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      It is easier to confess to God and repent than to acknowledge wrong to a brother/sister. It is probably due to pride or shame that you fail to admit you are wrong to your brother/sister.

      When you do wrong to a brother, three people are involved, you, your brother and God. When you confess to God, God would forgive. When you do not ask for forgiveness, you still have not righted the wrong. But it is great you have made the first move, praying to God to give you the strength to take the next step, and completely wipe out the sin.


    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Brother Bob, I am grieved as the Lord would be if the church misuses the scripture for selfish gain. For instance, I don't know your situation, but I can only assume self got involved. If the pack is greater than the one sinned against and the church supports those in err due to how many he may lose as tithers, that's horrible. It would be time to go!!

      Yes, turning one's head to ignore the sinfulness of a brother who continually sins against him/her and merely forgiving him doesn't help the body at all. The person(s) needs to be corrected.

      I think it would be a great idea that churches choose a few that have the gift of wisom to be appointed over matters such as these, so as a panel they can consult God's Word and be accountable for the corrective action as well. Christians are not to sue each other in worldly courts, for instance, so why not have a court panel in church?

      Sometimes, it can be a very strong Christian sinned against that chooses to leave. The pack gangs up as a team, for individually they cannot stand alone. This is a sign of a wolf in sheep's clothing and the pack that engages in this type of sin. If the pastor or church sides with the majority in this case, their Body is going to fall apart eventually. This will definitely become a shaking to their church!! God bless you, and thank you for sharing.

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      In my own experience I have been hurt by the misuse of the passage that deals with church discipline. When the Bible is used correctly, there is healing. Love is tender and kind but it is also protective and watchful. It sees the people behind the sin but also sees the sin as a cancer that will fester in the Body. Forgiveness is one thing but that alone will not cut the rotteness out so that it will not spread causing more and more hurt or worse get in the way of anyone's eternity with Christ. A church contains some strong folks and some who can be effected by these type of issues gone unchecked. There are also new born babies in Christ and those are the most vulnerable. The paster as over shepherd must protect his flock from ravining wolves that love to pick up strays and weak sheep that are not watching or can use the word to protect themselves. Love the hub sister, Love you so much. Always.

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Brother Unchained Grace, Amen! 1 Cor 3:3 "For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?" Truly, if we claim the Holy Spirit in us, are we not to be obedient to the Spirit? In the flesh is nothing good ~ we were once in darkness and all the more we should not give into it when we walk in the Light!! Praise God!

    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      JD, when you do the math in the way you did, the demonic duplicity becomes the chasm Paul spoke to Corinth about.

      We cannot allow God's House to be Satan's Happy Hunting Ground.

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Amen, Unchained Grace! Considering in this example, the problem started with two, involved three others; then when the one who confessed the sin and asked forgiveness must take a second along to address the four, this brings the total involved to six! Three times the flame! If the church doesn't get involved, there is division and four who remain to continue dividing the body of Christ because they have not repented. If the body started out with 12, 50% have been affected. Oh Lord, take the reigns in the hearts of your people! AMEN!!

    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Since conflict is inevitable and God's Word provides directives as to how it should be resolved, the underlying theme is the rising amount of conflict which now occurs among God's People.

      Satan knows what time it is and how much time he has left. Therefore, it is now in his best interests to create or plant the seeds for as much confusion and antagonistic behavior as possible. It is why the above points in Judah's Daughter's Hub is so critical. Satan wants us fighting amongst ourselves because when we are, we cannot uniformly stand against him if we're playing his game.

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Such truth, peacenhim! Indeed, Jesus SEPARATES those that are walking in disobedience, harming the flock and practicing hypocrisy (doing all the religious deeds to be seen of men, but their hearts are set on self). Every man is accountable to God for his/her actions, and will be separated from genuine fellowship with Him and others until brought to repentance. He is gracious in forgiving, and those who love Him will also be. Praise God!

    • profile image

      peacenhim 8 years ago

      Great message!! Jesus said; "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardner. He cuts off every branch that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me."

      "Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned." John15:1,4,6,7

      The only way to produce good fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, is to stay in the Vine, Jesus Christ, and to stay in His Word. To Love Jesus means to obey Him, and follow His commandments, and only then will we experience True Love, Joy, and peace of mind and heart! ((Resist the devil and he will flee from you!))

      Thanks for sharing this good and true teaching! In His Love!

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Hi DiamondRN! Oh, if everyone thought about this before acting! Loving God is exhibited by obedience to His Word; loving your neighbor as yourself is to ask yourself, "Would I be offended if my neighbor behaved this way?" While some easily provoke others without thinking, when the accountability comes their way, they are blinded. I didn't even cover the scripture slinging that can happen in quarrels ~ oh, may we have the fruit of self-control and maturity in Christ.

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      godpreacher, yes ~ it is important to go to the one we've sinned against to acknowledge the wrong-doing and ask forgiveness. If that person chooses not to forgive, the offense is on them; for God's Word tells them to forgive. Not everyone will obey God, nor are we to force them to. While we forgive the offense, God now takes the responsibility to discipline those He loves. He has called his children to peace. Amen.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Remember to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. That's Christianity and the key to success in this and the next life in a nutshell.

    • profile image

      godpreacher 8 years ago


      The bible tells us that there is no temptation known to man, that God hasn't already made a way of escape. We are family, and we will not always agree. Yet, we should always remain respectful of others, and work out our issues in peace. As your hub says, if your brother sins against you seven times, and asks, forgive him.

      God Bless


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