Monday, October 1, 2012

Print Page Separation in the Bible

The Bible has a lot to say about separation. Separation is important for our churches to remain pure (James 1:27) and for us to live Godly lives (1 Peter 1:15-16). It only takes a little leaven to leaveneth the whole lump (Galatians 5:9).

Separation needs to take place at both the church level and at a personal level. If a church doesn't practice separation is can become like the Laodiceans being spirituality lukewarm to the point where God wants to spue them out of his mouth (Revelation 3:14-16). Another danger for a church is they could become like the church in Pergamos who allowed false doctrine to come into their church (Revelation 2:14). As Jude wrote men can creep into a church and spread their false doctrine (Jude 1:4). If we are not careful our church can become like the Corinthian church where there is sinful behavior by one of it's members and instead of practicing church discipline they were puffed up and did nothing (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Many churches no longer practice church disciple. This hurts the person that should be disciplined and the church that should be executing the discipline.

A good example of a church that lacked separation is the late Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Around 2002 they adopted CCM music. Now in 2012 they have removed Baptist from their name and are called Church of the Highlands.

Separation From Sin

1 Peter 2:11 tells us to avoid fleshly lusts. In 1 Peter 1:14-16 we are told to be holy and to not fashion ourselves after our former lusts. As Christians we must avoid the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). The wicked should be avoided (Proverbs 4:14-15). We are told to even avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) and evil communication (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Separation From False Doctrine

Next there is Doctrinal Separation. Paul in Romans 16:17 tells us to avoid those causing divisions and offenses contrary to scripture (false doctrine). John told us in 2 John 7-11 to avoid those who deny Jesus came in the flesh. Paul tells us to keep all ordinances (1 Corinthians 11:2). 1 Timothy 1:3 warns against people teaching false doctrine. Not teaching Biblical doctrine is just as bad as teaching false doctrine (Matthew 28:20).

Separation From the World

The Bible makes it clear that as Christians we are in the world but not to be a part of it (Romans 12:2). The world is wicked (1 John 5:19). We are told not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17) or follow it's ways (1 Peter 4:1-4). We are to not even be friends with the world (James 4:4).Instead we are to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14). One sign that we are not part of the world is when the world rejects us (John 15:18-20). We are not to yoke with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). We must deny worldly lusts (Titus 2:12). There is even list of people to avoid in this world 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

Separation From Other Christians

As mentioned earlier a church is to disciple an unrepentant member and is to separate from him until he repents (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 gives us a list of people we should not even eat with. Romans 16:17 would apply to Christians that are teaching false doctrine.

Naming Names

Not only are we to separate from others and rebuke others sharply (Titus 1:13) but we are also to name names.Without the naming of names how are others to know who to avoid? There are a couple examples in the Bible of people being named. The first is where John rebukes Diotrephes and his self-centered attitude (3 John 9). Another place is where Paul rebukes Peter for his unwillingness to eat with Gentile Christians at the dinner table.(Galatians 2:11-21).

Conclusion

As we can see the Bible supports separation from from sin, false doctrine and the world. This separation should be done individually and at a church level. This should always be done in love (John 13:35 and Matthew 5:44) . Everyone practices some form of separation. It is who the separation is directed at that differs. In closing I would like to quote Charles Woodbridge.
New Evangelicalism advocates TOLERATION of error. It is following the downward path of ACCOMMODATION to error, COOPERATION with error, CONTAMINATION by error, and ultimate CAPITULATION to error!” (Charles Woodbridge, The New Evangelicalism, 1969).


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