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Three Types of Separation
How Do We Practice Biblical Separation?
Why Practice Separation?
Bible separation is the practice of separating from sin and error unto truth and
Three types of separation
In the N.T. we find three basic areas of separation. The Christian is to practice Moral
Separation--separation from sin and worldliness; Doctrinal Separation--separation from
those whose teaching and practice is contrary to that of the apostles; and Practical
Separation--separation from brethren who are committed to disobedient paths.
There are many, many passages of Scripture which teach that the Christian is to
separate from sin. We are commanded to put sin out of our lives and to avoid fellowshiping
with the evil things of the world. Of the many passages we could consider, let us use but
one--Ephesians chapter five. Here God begins by telling His children to "walk in
love." And how is this done? The rest of the chapter tells us, and we see that much
of the chapter is devoted to instruction about separation from evil things. This is part
of godly love! Consider with me some simple lessons from this chapter, lessons about moral
separation, or separation from sin.
1. Moral separation is involved in true Christian love (Ep. 5:1-3).
2. Moral separation is a very careful, strict separation (Ep. 5:3-11). (See also 2 Co.
7:1; 1 Th. 5:22; 4:1-4).
3. The cause of moral separation: (1) We separate because we have a new position (Ep.
5:3,8), We don't separate in order to be saved, but because we have been saved! (2) We
separate because we have a new Spirit (Ep. 5:9). (3) We separate because we have a new
purpose (Ep. 5:10).
4. Moral separation involves rebuke of sin (Ep. 5:11). Separation from sin is active as
well as passive. It is not only a personal matter, but something I am to require of
others. God tells the Christian not to fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,
but the responsibility does not stop there. God even requires that the Christian "put
his nose in other people's business" and "reprove them" for their sinful
ways. This might very well be a major reason why so many refuse to practice biblical
5. Moral separation means being different--not avoiding sinners, but avoiding sin (Ep.
5:11). The Christian is not told to avoid the sinner, but the sinner's works. See also Ep.
4:17-29; 1 Pe. 4:1-4; 1 Jn. 2:15-17.
6. There are two aspects of this moral separation--negative and positive. We are to
SEPARATE FROM all evil (Ep. 5:3-8), and we are to SEPARATE UNTO all righteousness and
truth (Ep. 5:9). We must be careful not to exercise only one part of this separation. It
is important, in other words, to separate FROM sin, but it is equally important to
separate UNTO holiness. See also 1 Ti. 6:11; 1 Th. 1:9; and Tit. 2:15.
7. Moral separation means doing the perfect will of God (Ep. 5:10,17).
8. Moral separation, while negative, is an important testimony to those who are lost
(Ep. 5:13). Moral separation is light to those in darkness. This, of course, is exactly
the opposite of what many are teaching. Many are saying that the way to win the world to
Christ is to be more like the world. Hence we have strange things like
"Christian" rock bands, and "Christian" movie stars who perform in
wicked nightclubs, and "Christian" sports stars who frequently ignore the
assembly and dedicate themselves to playing and practicing their sport when they should be
in the house of God. God's Word says that His people are lights to the unbelievers by
BEING DIFFERENT, by being separated from the appearance of evil, not by BEING WORLDLY!
9. Moral separation is necessary for spiritual growth and clarity of spiritual
understanding (Ep. 5:14).
10. Moral separation is necessary for making one's Christian life count to the fullest
for God (Ep. 5:16-17).
11. Moral separation can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit (Ep. 5:18). God
commands that His people separate from sin, but He does not tell us to do this in our own
power. We are to conquer evil through the power of the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit, the
very same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Here is the power to overcome
every evil habit, to say no to the world's temptations and to the devil's enticements.
Through this mighty Power we who are born again can say confidently with the Apostle Paul,
"I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Ph. 4:13).
The second kind of separation God requires of the Christian is doctrinal separation.
Sound apostolic doctrine is to be preserved by the churches while false doctrine is to be
avoided. Doctrinal separation can be further divided into two aspects: First, we are to
separate from those who teach false doctrine. And secondly, we are to separate from the
entire apostate last-days Christianity.
Let us consider these forms of separation in more detail.
We are to separate from those who teach false doctrines. "Now I beseech you,
brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye
have learned; and avoid them" (Ro. 16:17). See also 2 Jn. 8-11; Re. 2:2.
In this passage we are plainly commanded to mark and avoid those who teach false
doctrine. A question arises here. Which doctrines are to be used as the basis for this
separation? The answer is that any apostolic doctrine clearly presented in the Bible is a
basis for fellowship and separation. To my knowledge, the N.T. never divides doctrine into
"essential" and "non-essential," or into "fundamental" and
"peripheral." Men do this today, but the Apostles did not. It is true that some
doctrines are more important than others, but nowhere in Scripture do we read that
portions of God's Word, rightly divided and properly understood, are of no significance
and can therefore be put aside as peripheral. I realize this is contrary to popular
thinking, but consider upon the following verses very carefully and I believe you will see
that this is correct: Ph. 3:17; 4:9; 2 Th. 2:15; 2 Ti. 1:13. In these references
Christians are not exhorted to follow only the major apostolic doctrines. All apostolic
doctrine and example is to be obeyed (Ac. 2:42).
Some speak of the "fundamentals of the faith," and use four, five, or six
doctrines as the basis for unity and separation. Others use as their basis for fellowship
a man-made creed such as the Nicene Creed or the so-called Apostles Creed, while others
use labels such as "evangelical," or "renewal." But nowhere in
Scripture are we told that our basis for unity and separation is to be limited only to a
few major doctrines and credal statements, or to any man-made label--particularly labels
which have become so watered-down and contaminated they have lost any scriptural meaning
they once carried.
How do we know what is major, anyway! Who are we, that we can pick and choose among
apostolic teachings, setting some teachings aside as non-essential and exalting others as
Following are some examples of doctrines which are important enough to be a basis for
1. Doctrine regarding Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and Salvation is to be a basis
for separation (2 Co. 11:3,4). Note that not only was Paul concerned that the churches
be right in regard to the Gospel and to Jesus Christ, but he fought to see that they were
right about the Holy Spirit. If this attitude were maintained today, we would see more
concern about the charismatic errors.
2. Doctrine regarding prophecy and future things, such as the resurrection and death
is to be a basis for separation (2 Ti. 2:16-18). The Holy Spirit identified Hymenaeus
and Philetus as false teachers. What was their error? Only one was mentioned, and that was
their error of saying the resurrection had passed already. This is a matter of prophecy,
of future events. Here, then, it is clear that the doctrines of prophetic matters are
important to the Holy Spirit. They are essential, fundamental doctrine. How different this
is to the many Christian leaders, even professedly fundamental men, who have placed
eschatology in the realm of tertiary doctrine.
3. Doctrine regarding the church is to be a basis for separation (1 Tim. 3:15;
6:13-14; 6:20-21). Much of the N.T. pertains to church doctrine and practice. We find the
Apostles giving a great deal of their attention to training the Christians and early
church leaders in the government, discipline, organization, and function of the assembly.
This is the purpose for the first epistle to Timothy; Paul was writing to instruct Timothy
in church business (1 Ti. 3:15). He concluded the epistle with the exhortation that these
church things are to be kept in detail until the coming of Christ. This is what the Holy
Spirit thinks of church doctrine. There are more than 100 references to the church in the
Bible, and even in the epistles not directly written to local assemblies, the church
remains in view (Tit. 1:5; He. 10:25; 13:7,17; Jam. 2:2; 5:14; 1 Pe. 5:1-4; 2 Jn. 9). The
glorified Christ is standing in the midst of the churches (Re. 2-3), and seven times the
phrase is used, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the
churches." I do not understand how men can look at such a staggering amount of
teaching--more than is given on many other Bible doctrines--then put church doctrine in a
non-essential category, a mere matter of personal preference.
4. Doctrine regarding holy living is to be a basis for separation (1 Ti. 6:3-5).
The passage teaches plainly that Christians are to withdraw themselves from those who deny
the doctrine according to godliness. What a tremendously accurate prophesy of our day!
There are multitudes of Christian leaders in practically every sphere of Christendom who
literally scoff at those who still preach against worldliness and maintain strict
standards for Christian morality. Divorce and adultery are rampant in many denominations.
Homosexuality is widely accepted as an alternate lifestyle. Some denominations have
ordained homosexual preachers. In fact, one entire denomination, the Metropolitan
Community Churches, is composed of homosexuals. The world's vile theater, cinema, and
music are reviewed in Christian publications, and brought into the churches, not to speak
of the homes, lives, hearts, and minds of professing Christians. Yes, many deny the
doctrine of godliness. The Holy Spirit commanded "from such withdraw thyself."
In light of these conditions, I don't find it odd that modern translations would handily
delete this phrase!
Actually, though, the doctrine of godliness is an essential, a fundamental doctrine
according to the teaching of the Word of God.
These references show that the true apostolic basis for separation is much broader than
a few major doctrines. If you are a Christian worker, you surely know that it has become
popular to select certain doctrines such as the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, Inspiration
of Scripture, and Salvation by Grace and make these the only or primary basis for
fellowship and separation. In other words, if a professing Christian claims to hold these
doctrines, he is to be accepted as a true brother in good standing no matter what
unbiblical thinking or practices he holds apart from these major doctrines.
Certainly this is the philosophy which holds together such the hodgepodge of doctrinal
confusion that we find at many large ecumenical meetings. An illustration of this
philosophy is found in a book on cults entitled Whom Then Can We Believe? by supposedly
evangelical authors Maurice Burrell and J. Stafford Wright. The authors say, "We are
not concerned about peripheral beliefs but with the fundamental issues of the nature of
God and His movement to save fallen mankind. OUR POSITION IS THAT WHICH ALL THE CHURCHES,
CATHOLIC, ORTHODOX, AND PROTESTANT, INCLUDING THE DENOMINATIONAL CHURCHES, HAVE ALWAYS
REGARDED AS TRUTH." To say that the only essential doctrines are those held in
common by all Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox
churches, might sound reasonable to many in this mixed-up hour, but this is utterly
contrary to the type of separation taught and practiced by the Lord's Apostles.
Let us follow the apostles' exhortations and example, using their basis of separation,
rather than that of Protestantism, evangelicalism, popular Christianity, or some man's
systematic theology. The Psalmist said, "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have
respect unto ALL thy commandments" (Ps. 119:6).
We are to separate from apostate last-days Christianity. "Having a form of
godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Ti. 3:5). See also
He. 13:9-13; Re. 18:4.
The Apostles warned that conditions within professing Christendom would grow
increasingly apostate as the time of Christ's return draws nearer. This, of course, is
exactly what we observe in church history. This is what we see in the Christian world
today. Most Christian groups do not follow the Word of God. What are we told to do to
protest this apostasy (falling away from the Bible faith)? How are we to protect ourselves
and those for whom we are responsible--our families, our friends, our churches?
God's command is to separate. Come out! Mark and avoid all of the ecumenical,
doctrinally corrupt world councils and national councils. Shun the denominations and
organizations that glory in their so-called "unity in diversity." That is simply
a fancy phrase for their rebellion to the Bible. Have nothing whatsoever to do with the
local ecumenical clergy associations. Touch not those Charismatic and Third-wave movements
which are bringing together truth with error and which are intermingled with many
Will we follow the way of man, or will we hear and heed the cry of God from Heaven?
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye
be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4).
The Bible commands Christians to separate even from those who give evidence of having
been born again, yet who refuse to follow the teachings of the Apostles in matters of
practice and Christian living. Yes, there is a time when we are to separate even from our
own brethren (1 Co. 5:11; 2 Th. 3:6; 1 Ti. 6:5; Mt. 18:15-18).
In all of these passages the writer is speaking of a separation from true brethren.
This type of separation refers primarily to discipline within one particular local church,
but the principle goes far beyond this. Not only are we bound to keep the letter of the
Word of God, but also its spirit, its principles.
Take 2 Th. 3:6 for an example. Immediately after giving the command to separate from a
disorderly brother, the Apostle Paul gives an illustration of such. He mentions some who
were walking "disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies" (2 Th.
3:11-12). In v. 14, he repeats the command to separate from such. Is this command to be
limited only to those who are disobedient in the matter of employment? It would not be
reasonable to limit the passage in such a way. The Holy Spirit is giving a principle
regarding fellowship and separation. We are to separate from any brother who walks
disorderly and who refuses to repent of his disobedience. The matter of employment is one
example. The command would apply to our relationship with a brother who is persistently
disobedient to any apostolic teaching. Would God tell us to separate from a brother who is
disobedient in the matter of employment but not require that we separate from a brother
who is disobedient in the matter of baptism, or in following the N.T. pattern for church
government, or any number of other commands which are at least as important as whether or
not one is employed? We believe these commands to separate from unrepentant, disorderly
brethren are principles which cover disobedience to all apostolic instruction.
The Bible makes a distinction between conscious, willful rebellion toward Scripture and
the imperfection of striving to obey yet falling short because of the old Adamic nature.
It is one thing for a Christian to fail, yet to be continually aiming for the mark of
perfect obedience to all of God's commands. It is quite another matter for a Christian to
set his heart against obeying some portion of God's Word. Herein lies the distinction we
are to look for among Christians. The one who has set his heart in a conscious, willful
way to ignore or disobey some plain teaching of the Scriptures is to be avoided, separated
This would apply to groups as well as to individual Christians. There are Christian
denominations and organizations which have determined that they will not rebuke sin, that
they will not separate from evil and false teaching, that they will not earnestly contend
for the faith, that they will not be concerned for certain portions of apostolic
instruction. God has told us what to do toward such rebellion. We are to separate from
those involved in it. To fellowship with those who have determined not to obey God's Word
in certain matters is to sin against God.
How do we practice biblical separation?
l. Be discerning (I Th. 5:21). Biblical separation begins with spiritual and
doctrinal discernment. I cannot separate from that which is false if I do not know truth
from error! See also I Col. 1:9; 3:16; Ph. 1:9; He. 5:12-14. This is where separation
begins. Each child of God is to study the Scriptures intently and prayerfully that he
might know sound doctrine. He is to exercise CAREFUL discernment that he might know truth
from error, good from evil, fidelity from compromise.
2. Maintain an earnest proclamation and defense of the faith (Jude 3).
Jude exhorts his readers to contend for the faith, not because he loved contention, but
because it is necessary to preserve the faith from corruption. He indicates that he would
rather write concerning the common salvation but it had become necessary to take up the
sword. Here is a picture of the well-balanced Christian: he loves to proclaim the gospel,
but when necessary he will take up the sword in defense of the gospel.
Jude did not say, as some say today who wish to avoid the reproach of a liberal
ecclesiasticism, that all one has to do is to preach the gospel, or the Word of God is its
own defense. The real Christian has to contend for the faith in these times. Jude would
have had scant sympathy for that type of ministerial self-righteousness which often says,
"I preach the Gospel and let these issues alone." This convinces some people
that he is not a "wicked" separatist, but it also convinces a compromising
ecclesiasticism that they have nothing to fear from this ex-Gidionite, who has a number of
reasons for not serving in Gideon's army.
The prophets contended for the faith within the structure of religious Israel, often to
their own death. John the Baptist contended for the faith, incurred the enmity of the
religious leadership and was beheaded for denouncing sin by name in high places. Jesus
contended for the faith, that the Messianic hope and promise was fulfilled in Himself and
was murdered. Stephen contended for the faith that Christianity was the fulfillment of the
Old Testament faith and was stoned to death. The evangelical inclusivists of our day,
though, seem to be alive and doing fairly well! [`Inclusivist' refers to those who promote
ecumenical union and disregard doctrinal and moral purity.]
The greatest weapon against theological corruption and the moral rot of society would
be a vigorous, decisive contention for the faith by every evangelical. The indecisive
contention for the faith so common with evangelical inclusivists, a contention which does
not press for a real decision, is not an adequate substitution for separation. Real,
vigorous, decisive contention for the faith within the liberal denominations has been
reduced to a polite, pious murmur which they love to call `witnessing.' THE NEW
TESTAMENT NOT ONLY CALLS FOR WITNESSING TO THE FAITH, BUT CALLS FOR CONTENTION FOR THE
FAITH" (Chester Tulga, The Case For Separation In These Times).
3. Mark those who err (Ro. 16:17). Not only are we to know the truth and to be
discerning, not only are we to aggressively contend for the truth, but we are to identify
false teachers and apostate Christian groups by name. In this way we protect ourselves and
others. This was Paul's custom. Consider the following examples: 1 Ti. 1:19-20; 2 Ti.
2:16-18; 4:14-15. In these passages the Apostle warned Timothy of several false teachers
and disobedient men, and he identified these men by name. This was also the custom of the
Lord Jesus Christ (Lk. 20:45-47; 12:1; Re. 2:6,15,20). Following the example of the Lord
Jesus Christ and of His Apostles, we must identify and label those who are false,
apostate, or disobedient. To fail to do so is rebellion to the Bible's command. It is also
the mark of an unfaithful, careless shepherd. A good shepherd protects the sheep from
4. Avoid fellowship. Once we have discerned false doctrine or practice, what
then? God's command at this point is very clear--separation. The following expressions are
used in the N.T. to describe separation: "Avoid" (Ro. 16:17). "Shun"
(2 Ti. 2:16). "Turn away from" (2 Ti. 3:5). "Purge oneself from" (2
Ti. 2:21). "Come out from among" (2 Co. 6:17; Re. 18:4). "Have no
fellowship or communion with" (2 Co. 6:14). "Receive them not into your house
neither bid them Godspeed" (2 Jn. 10). One does not need a Ph.D. to understand the
meaning of these exhortations. God is telling His people to stay away from those who teach
or practice false things!
5. Avoid yoking together in ministry, organization, etc. (2 Co. 6:14-18). This
command does not allow a Christian to be in the same denomination, Christian organization,
fellowship, or church with those who are committed to unbelief.
6. Avoid their doctrine (2 Ti. 2:14-18). In this passage Christians are warned
to avoid the Words of the false teachers. Let us not be deceived. False teachings have
been very successful. Christendom is permeated with false doctrine. Wherein comes this
success? The Bible reveals to us that there is a supernatural power behind false teaching.
That power is Satan (2 Co. 11:13-15; 1 Ti. 4:1). It is for this reason that Christians are
warned not to become involved in any way with false doctrine. Rather we are taught to
"shun" it, for "they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word
will eat as doth a canker."
This means the Christian is not to attend a church in which false doctrine is being
proclaimed. We are not to attend Bible studies, or meetings, or prayer groups in which
false doctrine is involved. When those involved with false doctrine ask permission to sit
with us to "explain their beliefs more clearly," we must wisely refuse. The
only exception is an occasion in which we ourselves teach the one who is in bondage to the
false belief. And this is only when that one is willing to listen with an open heart and
not argue and resist the truth. See 2 Ti. 2:23-26. Apart from our own ministry to try to
help the deceived, we must avoid all false instruction.
7. Rebuke them openly, publicly, and plainly (Mt. 23:13-33; Ac. 13:8-10). God's
Word commands us to rebuke false teachers openly, publicly, and plainly, and the faithful
servant of God will do just that. Christians who dislike biblical separation often protest
that we cannot help the erring person if we separate. This is not true. One reason for
separating is to help those who err see the seriousness of their error, to make a clear
distinction between true and false doctrine. Many excuse their refusal to obey biblical
separation by saying they are ministering to the false and disobedient. This is wrong. The
Bible warns that a little evil leavens the whole body (1 Co. 5:6; Ga. 5:9). The ecumenist
is confused. He apparently thinks a little good leavens the whole body!
8. Try to convince them of the truth (2 Ti. 2:24-26). We are to try to help those
who are involved in false doctrine, but we are to do this from a separated position.
It is our separation which shows them that we do indeed believe false doctrine to be evil.
It impresses them that we take the Word of God seriously. And though we must refuse to
have close fellowship with those involved in false doctrine, and though we must not allow
them to be members in our churches and organizations, we are to try to teach them the
truth if they will listen.
Notice in 2 Ti. 2:26 that the false teacher's root problem is revealed. They are in
"the snare of the devil." False doctrine is not a problem of ignorance; it is a
spiritual problem. Only a great miracle can rescue a person out of the grasp of false
doctrine once he has fallen prey to it.
9. Maintain a spiritual demeanor (Jam. 3:13-18). Last, but not least, we see that the
ministry of discernment, judgment, contention for the truth, and separation from error are
to be carried out in a spiritual manner.
One thing which has confused many people regarding the practice of separation is the
fact that many divisions among Christians have no biblical basis. It is definitely not
God's will that his people be divided over human traditions, or personality conflicts, or
other man-made or sin-made barriers. Sad to say, though, this has often occurred. Speaking
of those who are truly born again and who love and obey the Scriptures, God's Word says:
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in
unity" (Ps. 133:1).While we seek to obey God in the matter of separation for the
purpose of maintaining doctrinal and moral purity, let us not be guilty of causing
unnecessary divisions among God's people. Some examples are--
1. Divisions based on personalities of men rather than truth (1 Co. 1:12). Many,
many of the divisions within Christianity have been caused by the human tendency to exalt
one man above another. The Word of God condemns such divisions.
2. Divisions in matters of Christian liberty (Ro. 14:1-5). If the N.T. gives no
clear word on a particular matter, Christians have liberty to follow their own preference.
Two examples given in Romans 14 are in the areas of diet and holy days. In such things God
has given Christians freedom of individual preference. It has often been the case, though,
that Christians have separated on the basis of personal preferences, refusing to allow
liberty in such matters. There is no liberty to ignore or slight clear apostolic teaching,
but beyond this we have no right to make our own personal preferences and ideas a basis of
division. It has been well stated that the church has judicial powers, but it has no
lawmaking powers. Let's be careful not to take away freedoms God has given.
3. Divisions because of human conflicts (Ph. 4:2). Countless divisions among
Christians are caused not by concern for doctrinal fidelity, but by self-centered human
squabbles and confusion. There have always been Euodiases and Syntyches among the
brethren, and it is not surprising, considering the fact that God's people still have the
old Adamic nature which is self-centered and rebellious. There have always been leaders of
churches, organizations, and movements divided from others simply because they cannot get
along spiritually with some of God's people.
4. Divisions based on man-made names and terminologies. Another type of division
among Christians which lacks a proper biblical basis is division based on names and
terminologies which have been devised by men. Often there is nothing wrong with the name
or terminology itself. It is devised in an attempt to identify a certain teaching or
trait. The problem lies in exalting that name to a place of dogma and infallibility and
then making it a basis for separation. Manmade terms are not sufficient basis for
separation. Bible terms can be defined in an absolute, dogmatic way, for the very fact
that they are contained in the pages of the unchanging Word of God. Manmade terms, such as
fundamental or evangelical, cannot be so defined. They can often be used with profit, but
they cannot be made a permanent, absolute basis of fellowship.
Why practice separation?
Contrary to popular opinion, the practice of biblical separation brings great blessing.
It is not a practice motivated simply by a love for contention. It is not separation just
for the sake of avoiding people we don't like, or fighting just for the sake of fighting.
Let us consider the reasons given in the Bible for this practice:
1. Separation is obedience to God (Ro. 16:17; Jude 3; 2 Ti. 4:2). God does not
ask His people to separate if they feel inclined toward such a practice. God simply
COMMANDS separation! To be discerning of truth and error and to avoid all error is
2. Separation is spiritual. "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning
all things to be right; and I hate every false way" (Ps. 119:128). In this verse we
see the attitude of the godly Psalmist toward the Word of God and toward every false
doctrine and practice. This is the attitude of all truly spiritual people.
3. Separation is fidelity to truth and God. "O Timothy, keep that which is
committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science
falsely so called" (1 Ti. 6:20). See also 1 Ti. 6:14-15; 2 Ti. 1:13; 2:2; 2 Pe.
3:1-2. Paul exhorted Timothy that sound apostolic doctrine was a solemn trust from God,
which he was to be faithful to and which he was to contend for and separate over. This is
the solemn trust every Christian has received from God, and especially Christian leaders
such as Timothy was. A trust is something placed into a person's hands for safekeeping.
The dictionary tells us that one who betrays a trust is a "traitor." A traitor
commits what is called "treason." The definition of this frightening word is
"betrayal of allegiance or of obedience toward one's sovereign." Those who fail
to contend earnestly for the whole counsel of God and who fail to mark, avoid, and rebuke
those who are disobedient to this counsel are traitors to the God and truth they profess
to serve. They have betrayed His trust. They are treasonous men. Is God not our Sovereign?
Have we not vowed allegiance to Him and to His Word?
How sobering this should be to those who have adopted the new-evangelical philosophy
with its careless "live and let live" attitude toward Bible doctrine.
4. Separation is honoring to Christ (He. 13:12,13). This passage teaches that
since the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified outside of the apostate religion of that day,
and since He remains apart from such, we are to honor Him by doing the same.
5. Separation is love for Christ (Jn. 14:23,24).
6. Separation is pleasing to Jesus Christ (Re. 2:2,6,14-16).
Here we see Christ's attitude toward those who practice discernment and separation and
toward those who do not. He commended the church at Ephesus for practicing this ministry;
He rebuked the church at Pergamos for not doing so.
7. Separation is the way of protection (2 Ti. 2:16). First, separation protects
me (1 Co. 15:33). Second, separation protects the weaker ones who are with me (Ro.
16:17,18). We must separate from those who do not obey the Word of God for the benefit of
those under our watchcare who are less mature and discerning than we are. Third,
separation protects a church or group from complete leavening (Ga. 5:9; 1 Co. 5:6,7).
Yes, some acknowledge, "I realize there are those who teach and practice false
things, but let us remain in fellowship with them so we can help them see the truth. If we
abandon this organization [or denomination, or church], what will become of it? It is
better to associate than separate." How common this thinking is! Yet Paul's wisdom
totally disproves this philosophy. A little false teaching, or a little unrepentant sin,
becomes a leaven to permeate the entire church, organization, or denomination. History
proves the truth of this, as if the Word of God had to be proven! Church after church,
group after group, denomination after denomination, organization after organization have
weakened, then been entirely destroyed by the leaven of error and sin.
8. Separation is a qualification for Christian ministry, and one way to be fully
prepared for such ministry. "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught,
that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers"
(Tit. 1:9). See also 1 Ti. 4:1,6; 2 Ti. 2:21,22. In these passages we learn that
contention for the faith and separation from error is not only a good thing, but it is
actually a divine qualification for the ministry. It is also the means whereby the man of
God prepares himself for God's service (2 Ti. 2:21-22). How contrary this is to popular
thinking in Christendom today! According to popular thinking, the man who is dogmatic over
doctrinal matters, who fights for doctrinal purity, and who separates from those who
refuse to obey the truth--is a carnal trouble-maker. Contrariwise, according to 1 Ti. 4:6,
such practice is a mark of a good minister of Jesus Christ!
9. Separation is essential for full reward (2 Jn. 8-11). Here we find a close
connection between separation from apostasy and rewards for service. It is possible to
lose the full reward God desires to give His servants, and one way to do so, according to
this passage, is to fail to avoid those who teach false things.
10. Separation is love for men (Col. 1:28). Paul's love for men moved him to
preach to them the whole counsel of God and to attempt to prepare them to be whole and
entire, lacking nothing, ready for Christ's return.
11. Separation goes hand in hand with the message of salvation (Jude 3). Many
say they will concern themselves with preaching the Gospel and not be concerned for
doctrinal matters, separation, and such things. This idea does not come from the Bible!
Jude tells us that the ministry of earnestly contending for the faith is closely connected
with the ministry of preaching salvation. The two cannot be separated.
12. Separation is the way of blessing and fruitfulness (Ps. 1:1-3). Separation
is put forth in the very first Psalm as the way of blessing and fruitfulness. The teaching
of separation is woven into the very fiber of the Scriptures from beginning to end. It is
simply inexcusable for a Christian leader to fail to know, understand, and practice
13. Separation is wisdom (Pr. 14:15; 22:3). To exercise doctrinal discernment,
and to avoid error is a mark of wisdom. The prudent Christian tests everything by the Word
of God. He considers the principles and direction of Christian movements and hides himself
from those which are headed toward an unbiblical direction. Only a fool boards a ship
which is sailing toward destruction, even if the ship itself is seaworthy. Wise Christians
who see the sad end of the ecumenical and charismatic movements, for example, refuse to
set foot on board ship from the beginning!
14. Separation is the way of delight (Pr. 24:24,25). Don't fear man and his
threats; don't follow popular philosophy. Obey God's Word, Christian. Fight apostasy,
error, and compromise. Separate from those involved in these things. God promises to bless
you for it just as he did Phinehas of old (Nu. 25:5-13). [See Anger, Apostasy, Apostate,
Church, Doctrine, Ecumenical Movement, Fable, False Teaching, False Prophet, Foolish
Questions, Fundamentalism, God Speed, Heresy, Micaiah, Revelation, Unity.]
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