A couple of events caused me to ask this question recently. First, I attended a conference where several flawed men were honored. This was even acknowledged immediately after the presentation. Next, I have been studying Christian history intensely over the past few months. Many men of the past who are honored probably wouldn’t receive an invitation to preach at my church if they ministered in this age. Most leaders have had imperfections and faults, but we generally remember them based on their embrace of certain truths. So, does God honor flawed men?
Separation from Worldliness
According to John 15:19, the believer is IN the world, but ought not to be OF the world, because the Lord has chosen us OUT of the world. Separation does not mean we must move into a compound or hide from everyone who is unsaved! The Lord has set us free from our old masters (the world, the flesh, and the devil) and has given us the power to live a life of righteousness that honors and pleases Him. So why should we desire to remain attached to the world system from which we have been delivered? John commands us, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…” (1 John 2:15). The “world” is the ungodly world system in which we live. As citizens of heaven, we must not become attached to the things of the world nor gain affinity for the world’s ideas, philosophies, and programs that oppose God’s Word. John goes on to give three reasons for our separation from the world in 1 John 2:15-17.
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.