What is “Sectarian”?

We realize this is a natural tendency of human nature to distinguish between “us” and “them.” This is sectarian. It grows into a doctrine of sectarianism. From the first man, Adam—who wanted God to know that he wasn’t as bad as his wife (Genesis 3:12)—all the way to you and me, pride wants us to exalt ourselves by humbling other people. As usual God wants it to be the other way around.

According to one definition, is bigotrydiscrimination, or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religionclassregional or factions of a political movement.

3 Greek words, which form a progression: opinion, division, sectarian

Sow a thought and you reap an action;
sow an action and you reap a habit;
sow a habit and you reap a character;
sow a character and you reap a destiny.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson


1) The first word can be translated as “a self-chosen opinion”…

1 Corinthians 11:19 N-NFP
GRK: γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις ἐν ὑμῖν
NAS: also be factions among
KJV: be also heresies among you,
INT: indeed also factions among you

Galatians 5:20N-NFP
GRK: ἐριθείαι διχοστασίαι αἱρέσεις
NAS: disputes, dissensions, factions,
KJV: strife, seditions, heresies,
INT: contentions dissentions factions

2 Peter 2:1 N-AFP
GRK: οἵτινες παρεισάξουσιν αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας καὶ
NAS: destructive heresies, even
KJV: damnable heresies, even
INT: who will bring in stealthily heresies destructive and

hairesis: choice, opinion
haíresis (a feminine noun derived from138 /hairéomai, “personally select, choose”) – properly, a personal (decisive) choice.

139 /haíresis (“a strong, distinctive opinion”) is used in the NT of individual “parties (sects)” that operated within Judaism. The term stresses the personal aspect of choice– and hence how being a Sadducee (Ac 5:17) was sharply distinguished from being a Pharisee (Ac 15:5; 26:5).

[As a feminine noun, 139 (haíresis) highlights the subjective (individual) nature of a specific (divisive) opinion.]


2) This self-chosen opinion tends to lead to another word, which can be translated as “division” …

Romans 16:17 N-AFP
GRK: τοὺς τὰς διχοστασίας καὶ τὰ
NAS: who cause dissensions and hindrances
KJV: them which cause divisions and
INT: those who divisions and

Galatians 5:20 N-NFP
GRK: θυμοί ἐριθείαι διχοστασίαι αἱρέσεις
NAS: disputes, dissensions, factions,
KJV: wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
INT: fits of rage contentions dissentions factions

dichostasia: standing apart, dissension
(from dixa, “separately” and 4714 /stásis, “a standing, stance”) – properly, separate-standings (“standing apart”), used of divisions which wrongly separate people into pointless (groundless) factions.


3) This division, when it has finished it’s work, tends to lead to the final word, which can be translated “sectarian”, “heretick”, or “factious”, typical of warring enemies…

Titus 3:10 Adj-AMS
GRK: αἱρετικὸν ἄνθρωπον μετὰ
NAS: Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,
KJV: A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
INT: A factious man after one and a second admonition reject
YLT: A sectarian man, after a first and second admonition be rejecting,

(an adjective, derived from 138 /hairéomai, “to choose, have a distinctive opinion”) – a factious person, specializing in half-truths and misimpressions “to win others over” to their personal opinion (misguided zeal) – while creating harmful divisions (used only in Tit 3:10). See 139(hairesis). HELPS™ Word-studies


The result of the sectarian progression

Thus we see that sectarianism does not spring full grown from the ground. It is sown as a seed of a sectarian self-chosen opinion, which grows into a sectarian division, and ultimately reaps, a doctrine of sectarianism.

Collective narcissism
Collective narcissism (or group narcissism) is a type of narcissism where an individual has an inflated self-love of his or her own ingroup, where an “ingroup” is a group in which an individual is personally involved. While the classic definition of narcissism focuses on the individual, collective narcissism asserts that one can have a similar excessively high opinion of a group, and that a group can function as a narcissistic entity.

This sin of sectarianism is one of the worst sins. It goes against all of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. (101 Verses on Walking With One Another) Therefore, the Apostle Paul told us to “look at, regard attentively, take heed, beware, consider” those who behaved this way and “refuse, reject, decline, shun, avoid” them. This is serious! God hates pride.

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: (arrogant, proud) haughty eyes… (Proverbs 6:16-19)

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. (1 Peter 5:6)

But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

How to break the sectarian cycle

Sometimes I feel like Peter. Sometimes it takes a lot to get my attention. I have come to realize that I am not to be sectarian and call anything unclean if God has made it clean…

Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’ “‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’ “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.‘ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven. (Acts 11:4-10)

How can one newly-cleaned person treat another newly-cleaned person as unclean? Every saved Christian, no matter how spiritually mature, no matter how intellectually confused, no matter how physically stubborn, has been cleansed by the wonderful spiritual cleansing of joining with the Lord Jesus Christ and participating with him in his death, burial, and resurrection.

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7)

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

I have acknowledged my sin of being sectarian, I have asked the Lord to forgive my prideful heart, and I have apologized to people that I hurt. (7 Characteristics of a Real, Genuine, Sincere Apology) If you have allowed the Lord to help you be victorious over this sin, or are still struggling with the concept, please write to us or join the conversation below.

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8 Replies to “What is “Sectarian”?”

  1. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

    • Greetings Matthew,
      Thank you for your kind words. There actually is a “Donation” button way down at the very bottom of the page. It’s not a big deal because we don’t actively seek donations. http://www.bibletruths.org/donation/

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      May the Lord bless you,

  2. Greetings Dwight,

    Thank you for taking the time to write.

    I too have “known” of the sin of sectarianism, but a few years ago I was challenged with the thought that I was behaving as if I was somehow closer to God because I knew more doctrine and had better practices than other Christians. During that time in my life, I was challenged by some very close Christian friends to reexamine the way I treated other Christians who did not agree with me. They also challenged me to read The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, which moved me deeply. I realized that I was treating other Christians just like the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son.

    Yes, that sin has been paid for by Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. But, that doesn’t mean we should continue to live in sin when we realize what we’re doing does not please the Lord. What should I do when I realize that what I’m doing does not please my neighbor, or my wife, or my boss, or anyone else? If I care about them, I should change. I think it’s the same way with God. When I realize that what I’m doing does not please my heavenly father, I want to change—not because I have to in order to earn salvation—but, because I love him and want to please him.

    Our group did not have a name. We were a “Closed Separatist Fundamentalist Sect” who majored in telling others to stop because they weren’t in our group. Thank God I have seen the error of that line of thinking, and like Peter, I have had to realize that I am not to call anything unclean if God has made it clean. I think this particular sin is particularly pernicious because it falls into the category of things that God hates…

    There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
    haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,
    a heart that devises wicked schemes,
    feet that are quick to rush into evil,
    a false witness who pours out lies
    and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
    (Proverbs 6:16-19)

  3. I’ve known for years that sectarianism is sinful, but didn’t Christ die for ALL of my sins?

    Enlighten me about this, perhaps I should gain a lesson from this.

    By the way, what is your group called; and/or are you TOTALLY separated from the world?

    – Dwight