April 29, 2017

Separation

Separation is a controversial word these days. There’s all this hubbub about being tolerant, and accepting people where they are. Everyone clamors for more love, more grace, more liberty. But God says something different.

Do you realize that His Word quite clearly tells us to separate from sin? That God commands us to distance ourselves from unholy pursuits and unrighteous people? That it labels those who are friends of the world as God’s enemies?

Scripture is quite clear on this, and anyone who disagrees is living in unbelief. Because if God’s Word is true, then all of it is true. It cannot contain both truth and falsehood. It cannot be both pure and impure. It is all true, and thus all to be obeyed. Not just what we feel like doing. Not just what sounds comfortable, or convenient – or what everyone else wants us to do.

With that in mind, read what God does want us to do – what He commands us to do. I’m purposely quoting from a different translation than normal, so that the unfamiliarity might make its meaning stand out a little more:

 

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.
How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?

How can light live with darkness?

What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?
How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?

For we are the temple of the living God.

As God said: ‘I will live in them and walk among them.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.'”

2 Corinthians 6:14-17, NLT

 

How can light be intertwined with darkness?  How can purity and impurity coexist? How can there be unity between the things of God, and the things of Satan?

There is no gray here. Either you are holy, or you are not holy.

Throughout Leviticus, as God instructs Israel how to worship and serve, He continually emphasizes that they are to be different, holy, set apart for God alone.

It is no different for Christians today. After all, we who walk by faith in Jesus Christ are the children of Abraham, and have been grafted into the chosen race of Israel. We have been adopted into their family. Though Gentiles by birth, we now receive all the benefits that have been promised to the Jewish nation.

And thus we also receive all the commands. We must obey, just as they were instructed to obey. We must be holy, as they were commanded to be holy.

No, we are no longer bound by the law. No, as Gentiles, we need not adhere to the dietary laws and various other laws specifically written for Old Testament times. But the same principles still apply.

The command to be holy, to be separate and different from the world, still applies today. {<–click to tweet}

Holy living might look a little different today than it did back in Moses’ day, but the heart attitude is the same. It still requires repentance, integrity, humility, wisdom, righteousness, courage, obedience…

Not only does Paul emphasize this, but Peter actually repeats the Old Testament command word-for-word in his first letter to the Gentile believers – who lived in the same church age that we live in today. And he tells them quite clearly that they must still strive for holiness:

 

“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.'”

1 Peter 1:14-16, NLT

 

So how can we say that adopting the world’s fashion, and enjoying the world’s entertainment, and practicing the world’s habits, are okay? More specifically, how does it further our holiness to:

-dress in a way that causes others to think sinful thoughts?
-regularly watch things with profanity, adultery, or sinful living?
-read Fifty Shades or watch Magic Mike?
-find humor in the same things that unsaved people do?
-not set boundaries or standards in everyday living so that others won’t feel uncomfortable? or so that we will feel comfortable?
-lurk on websites or peruse magazines that advertise “all about me” living?
-gossip about neighbors/church members/friends under the guise of “sharing prayer requests” when we should simply pray for them ourselves?
-seek a comfortable church “experience” rather than seeking to honor God the way HE wants to be worshiped?

 

And these are not just my own opinions. These are clear principles taken right from the pages of Scripture. They are what God wants us to do.

Who are we, to redefine separation and holy living? Who are we, to set the standard for what is acceptable and pleasing to our Creator?

He tells us to be separate from uncleanness, from whatever is not pure and right. He tells us to separate from that which reflects the old, sinful nature – and live completely according to what defines the new spiritual nature.

So, separation? It’s a good thing. Holy living? It’s hard, but it’s how obedience to God is defined.

And the flip side? Choosing to do what’s comfortable, rather than stand for what’s right? Choosing to define that “rightness” on our own, rather than by what God’s Word clearly tells us?

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
James 4:17 (ESV)

 

QUESTIONS for YOU: How are you striving for holiness in every day living? How are you separating yourself from un-holiness?

 

Linking up with these great sites:


Comments

  1. I had to learn this the hard way when two of my closest friends told me they were lesbians. I read and reread 1 Cor. 5, and I knew that God wasn’t joking around when He told us to not even have lunch with those who are walking in darkness. His holiness is more important than anything on earth.

    More recently, I was trying to be the cool aunt, and watch the cool and popular shows my nieces and nephew were watching. I wanted to be in the loop with them. But again I realized that God’s holiness is more important than anything on earth, and that I need to build my relationships based on my Biblical convictions and not on compromises.

    • Those are hard decisions to make, but praise God for the strength and courage He gave you, to stand firm in His truth. Thanks for the comment today; I wasn’t sure how people would take this post.

  2. I completely agree with you that we are to be separate, to be holy, to be different than unbelievers, but I struggle more with applying that concept of separation in terms of relationships. Here’s my question: We know that Jesus ate with “sinners” and tax collectors. We aren’t called to separate ourselves like the Amish do and have zero meaningful relationships with unbelievers. So how do we reconcile those two concepts?

    • You’re absolutely right – He DID associate with known sinners. And I don’t think we’re supposed to shut ourselves off from them today. I think this is more about standards we have in our own lives: how we spend our time, what we enjoy when people aren’t looking, our worldview and our priorities. We do need to be cautious about building CLOSE friendships with those who live in continual, unrepented sin (saved or unsaved) – but we must spend SOME time with them, loving them without getting involved in their sin. It’s the only way to show Christ, and share His gospel.

      It’s a difficult line to follow sometimes, and requires discernment and a heart tender to the Spirit’s guidance and conviction. Thanks so much for stopping to comment, Elizabeth.

  3. This is definitely something that we need to think about as Christians. Having children has actually made me more aware of the shows that I watch – whether I’d want to be watching this with my children and if not, then why not. I also strive for modesty and avoid books like Fifty Shades of Grey, but it is something that we need to examine on a regular basis in our lives and to keep ourselves humble about. Thanks for the reminder.