As churches stray from the biblical teachings, they will generally become more man centered and less God centered. This means that the purity of the church needs to be examined next to the unity of the church. Unity is God’s will for the church and this is a large way the gospel is displayed to the community. God calls us to seek for unity in both the visible local church and the invisible universal church. We can do this through being gracious to those in our church in understanding differences, as well as cooperating with like-minded churches to spread the gospel and serve the community.
But an important aspect of these two things (unity and purity) is how they relate to one another. Both purity and unity in the church are important, but there are clear situations where the need for purity must be placed ABOVE a desire for unity (See 1 Cor. 5 and 2 John). There does come a time where doctrinal differences, matters of conscience, and simple practical issues require people to split off from a church or churches to stop working together with certain things. Though Christians should seek to bring change within the church in biblical ways, leaving the church is sometimes the best option. There are many examples of this in Church history. For the first part of the early church, there was unity despite some need for the removal of false teaching. But, the protestant reformation was sparked when Luther raised issues with Catholic doctrine (as they were taking money from people in exchange for claimed forgiveness from God) and was excommunicated in 1521. Purity and Unity in the church are important and they relate in many parts of church life and as I talked about in the sermon, this unity is rooted in love.