“Contention” is of the Devil

The devil would have us believe it is contention to defend righteousness.

I just listened this morning to a terrific podcast by a recent convert who could teach us all a lesson or two. He started off by quoting scripture from Proverbs:

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Brother Miller then proceeded into the following monologue:

“If there is a clear scriptural example of rebuke… if there is a clear scriptural example of correction…I mean, you have to tear a lot of pages out of your Bible to be offended at correction…

“Paul was calling people out by name…If you don’t know that, or you don’t understand the context of that, that’s because you’re not studying, that’s because you’re not in your Bible.”

Now, after feeling convicted and determined to make the Bible a bigger part of my personal study, the life-long Latter-day Saint in me wondered why we were “nice on steroids” – putting it in Brother Miller’s words. It didn’t take long for my mind to go to 3 Nephi, a verse we all know well:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

This is a verse we learn and memorize in seminary. Christ had just appeared to the Nephites and was preaching His gospel. The context of the scripture by itself is misleading without the rest of the chapter. Jesus immediately chose His disciples and gave them authority to baptize. He then showed them definitively how to baptize. Take a look at the verse exactly before verse 29:

And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

To me, it seems pretty clear that Christ is addressing the disputations of false doctrine. That was of the devil. He made His Gospel clear so there would no longer be confusion. The devil loves confusion and he loves to sow discord. Is contending against false doctrine of the devil? Of course not! There are too many scriptural examples to the contrary. Preaching false doctrine is the contention Christ is teaching against, not the correction of it!

Paul taught the reason Christ called prophets and established a church:

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Following the prophet should bring unity, it should bring us together. There shouldn’t be disputations over doctrine, because it is all laid out for us. It is those who question the prophets, both past and present, who are sowing discord and contention. Even worse, they are using our scripture as a weapon against us that they may continue with their ministry unfettered. We can’t allow the devil take from us our boldness.

Supplemental Reading:

3 thoughts on ““Contention” is of the Devil

  1. This is such an important insight! Members think that the mandate to prevent contention is an embargo against standing for truth. The tone police want to put the onus of contention-avoidance on the faithful. But that’s not right. If we are following and defending the prophets, we are doing our part to avoid contention. The onus is on the apostate to get in line with the prophets’ program. THAT’S the kind of unity the Savior demands.

  2. This is such an important insight! Members think that the mandate to prevent contention is an embargo against standing for truth. The tone police want to put the onus of contention-avoidance on the faithful. But that’s not right. If we are following and defending the prophets, we are doing our part to avoid contention. The onus is on the apostate to get in line with the prophets’ program. THAT’S the kind of unity the Savior demands.

  3. Right before the pandemic, I was taking this Institute class, and the teacher spelled out the different between conflict and contention. He said that conflict is when two people have different ideas about how to reach the same goal. Conflict isn’t necessarily bad; it can bring about a greater unity between people because they can learn together.
    Contention is of the devil because instead of trying to reach a goal or reach unity through communication, it’s about building a wall between you and others, and no matter how hard you try, you can never reach someone caught in the trap of contention.
    The Book of Mormon makes it clear that sometimes, conflict – even bloody conflict – can have some positives . . . but contention never does, because it is a tool of the devil. Block communication, and you’ve successfully blocked any chance of unity.

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