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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot
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.
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,
(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.