Separation

Shannon Baptist Church
101 N.
Broad St
Shannon, Illinois 61078
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written by Pastor David Wood

SEPARATION

The discussion of Biblical Separation tends to scare people away. There are legitimate fears because some have found a way to emphasize their self-righteousness and foster pride in their "separated position." In so doing they've lost sight of our task at hand--letting the world know of the Savior. As Jerry Huffman writes in Frontline magazine, "It is important that we practice separation with a right disposition and neither neglect, abuse nor misuse this vital Bible doctrine."
However, separation is a Biblical doctrine. The doctrine of separation runs throughout the Bible. The children of Israel illustrate to us the principle of separation.

Exodus 33:16
For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
Leviticus 20:24
But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.
Nehemiah 10:28
And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;

"The idea of separation is central throughout Scripture. God chose the children of Israel to be a nation set apart from the surrounding paganism. When Israelites assimilated into the pagan culture instead of separating themselves, they were judged by God for their spiritual adultery. A good God gives principles of separation so that His people can maneuver through this fallen world..."(1)
The children of Israel were commanded to be different! There was a difference in what they ate, what they wore, how they worshipped, etc. Every time the Israelites tried to be more like those around them they fell. Dangerous is the path of the man who refuses the doctrine of separation.
We also see in the New Testament another clear application of the separation issue. The Apostle Paul knew that his life would be different as he followed the Lord.
Romans 1:1
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.

Scripture speaks specifically of three kinds of separation.

1. We are commanded to be separate from the world in LIFESTYLE and PURPOSE. This comes as a result of being separated "unto the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1, I John 2:15-17, Ephesians 5:11,II Corinthians 6:17-18, Romans 12:1-2). The goal and purpose of every Christian should be to be so much like Jesus Christ that others can't help but notice the difference. A Christian should not seek to be like the ungodly in order to reach the ungoldly.
Matthew 5:13
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

The more we're like the Savior the more different we'll be from the world.

Matthew 5:14
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Matthew 5:15
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
The problem for the Christian is the temptation to conform to the norm of the day.
Romans 12:2
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.

Conformity begins with outside influence, transformation begins with internal conviction. Conformity thrives on "likeness," however, change is demanded in transformation. That transformation will be obvious in our music, in our appearance, in our fellowship, in our language, and in every facet of life.

2. We have a definite command to separate from FALSE TEACHERS. These are the grievous wolves in sheep's clothing that Scripture speaks of. They include cults, the neo-orthodox, illogical contemporary theology, and liberals who reject the Bible as the Word of God. Separation in this regard is absolutely essential for the Christian. We must protect the young uninformed believer from confusion created by the religious garb of apostates (Matthew 7:15-20, II Corinthians 11:13-15, Acts 20:28-30, II Peter 2:1-3, Galatians 1:8-9, II John 9-11, Ephesians 5:11, I Timothy 1:3-7, I Timothy 6:3-5).
The word babel in scripture comes from a Hebrew verb which means "to pour together or mingle together."(2) Theologically it means to distort and pervert the truth by mixing or mingling truth with error. Beginning in Genesis 11 and throughout Scripture Babel or Babylon represents the religion of Satan. Though the pagans loved to call themselves Bab-ili" (gate of God) they were no more than Babel (confusion). Satan's attack has always been to dress his messengers in religious "sheep's clothing."(3)
Believers must take every measure to "separate" truth from error! We should not be mingling with those who do not stand for the truth. Be aware of those who are in "sheep's clothing" today.
Apostates, also called liberals or modernists, do not believe some or all of the fundamentals of the faith: innerancy and inspiration of Scripture, creation of man by direct act of God, virgin birth, deity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of the cross, the new birth, a literal heaven and hell. They usually deny the miracles of Scripture. They deny the absolute authority of the Bible in all matters of faith and practice. They emphasize a social agenda as the true gospel.
Some brethren hold to the basic fundamentals of the faith, yet are antagonistic toward those who stand against the liberal. Their's is a philosophy of cooperation and accommodation. They assume that the liberal can be won over if there is enough dialogue and association. The tragedy now appears with the second generation "New Evangelical." He has forsaken the inerrancy of Scripture saying (deceitfully) that "the Bible is trustworthy in the message conveyed." Another battleground among the compromisers comes with the issue of creation. Many are now accepting the idea of "progressive creation" also called "threshold evolution." Often, these people have a preoccupation with not being "legalistic." They become reactionary to Biblical convictions and to positions that seem to be unbending.
Spurgeon said, "Cost what it may, to separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God is not only our liberty, but our duty."

3. We are commanded to separate from DISOBEDIENT BRETHREN. The purpose of this separation is to bring the brother to obedience in an area where he has deliberately and persistently disobeyed Scripture. Failure to separate in this area shows a lack of love for the brother and a low view of sin. A difference in matters of interpretation is not a criterion for this separation; however, a disobedience to clear scriptural command is a criterion for separation (I Timothy 1:20; I Timothy 5:19-20; I Cor. 5:1-13; II Thess. 3: 6,14,15; Romans 16: 17-18; Titus 3:9-11).
We separate because of our love for the Lord, followed by our love for the brethren. We are commanded first to love God and His precepts with our whole being. Our first response of conscience should be on what reflection the name of Christ receives through our action. Our love for our Lord should be the guide for our love for the brethren (Matthew 22:37-39). Separation in this regard can in no way be defined as legalism.
Probably the best definition of a separated fundamentalist describes him as having a true Biblical love for God and a true Biblical love for God's people. His heart motivation for separation is a love for God and of love for God's people.

(1) Douglas R. Groothuis, Confronting the New Age (Downer's Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 49.
(2) Larry Pierce, Online Bible For Windows Version 6.2 (Elmira, Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995).
(3) R. Laird Harris (ed.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Volume 1 (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1980), 89.


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