As believers, we are called to fellowship with God who “is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we separate from whatever is “darkness,” that is, whatever is in direct opposition to His nature and will for our lives. Separation from error and those walking in error is essential for our spiritual well-being and our usefulness in service for our Lord. “…Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:19b-22)
Although the doctrine of separation is prominent throughout the Scripture, difficulty arises when actually attempting practice this truth. In some cases, it is very easy. For example, to reject the false doctrines of the cults is not too difficult and does not usually involve any great sacrifice. However, many believers have difficulty understanding and obeying God’s command to separate from churches or ministries that have compromised or failed to follow God’s Word. Yet God’s directive concerning evil is the same whether the sin is found outside or inside the church.
The Basis of Separation
Separation sometime has a bad reputation. Some folks imagine a great list of “taboos.” Certainly the Scriptures label certain things as off limits for God’s people, but it is important for us to grasp the principles involved in determining what pleases the Lord. How should we decide what is “taboo” for us? Isn’t it unloving to shun people or things? Why should why separate from anything or any person?
The Holiness of God
Separation springs from the very nature of God. 1 Peter 1:15-16 affirms, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
The Reality of Conversion
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The Command of Scripture
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Four Related Words
“Separation”, “sanctification”, “holiness”, and “saints” all have the same basic meaning – set apart. When we say that God is holy, that means He is “set apart” from all other in His righteousness. When we say that the Bible is holy, we mean it is “set apart” from all other books. When we are taught to sanctify the Lord in our hearts, this means we are to set God apart from idols.
Separation necessarily involves two things – one to be left and one to be joined. For the believer, we are to separate from the ungodliness to the Lord. Paul clearly expresses this concept in Romans 12:1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
more to come….