I wanna be like you!
God has always desired His people to be separate and distinct from the world.
Unfortunately, this has always been a struggle because man naturally strives for acceptance.
Because it’s easier to hide in the world of acceptance, whereas you may uncomfortably stick out if you’re distinct;
because Christians often fail to see ourselves for who we truly are – children of God, and;
because we sometimes place more importance on the here and now then our eternal future.
So, much like the ape in Jungle Book, we continue to wanna be like the world.
Scriptural references to being separate
In both the Old and New Testament, God consistently admonishes His people to be separated from the world.
Leviticus 20:24 “I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations.”
Deuteronomy 7:2-4 “and when the Lord your God has delivered them (many nations) over to you…then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry…for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you…”
So, what did God’s people do?
- Psalms 106:33-43 “for they rebelled against the Spirit of God…They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded…but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshiped their idols…They defiled themselves…Therefore the Lord was angry…He gave them into the hands of the nations and their foes ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them…Many times He delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin…”
Over and over again the same sequence occurs in the Old Testament:
- God commands His people to be separate,
- His people rebel,
- God punishes them,
- His people cry out,
- God restores them,
- and the cycle continues.
God continues to command His people to be separate, and sinful man continues to rebel against God.
James 4:4 “…don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God.”
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
What had changed?
God still wants His people separate but,
although in the Old Testament, His temple was in the midst of His chosen people Israel,
Now the temple of God, dwells inside His chosen people.
Two important points:
- Romans 9:6 “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you…You are not your own, you were bought at a price…”
Why are we to be separate?
- We need to obey what God commands,
- We need to avoid temptations of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of man prevalent in an unsaved world, and
- Because we are not our own, we were bought with a price – the blood of Jesus.
From what are we to be separate?
We are to be separate from:
- Sinful conduct:
- Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”
- False teachings:
- 2 John 9-11 “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.”
- Harmful influence and companions.
- 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?“
Examples of being separate
Introduction to A. W. Pink.
Arthur Walkington Pink (1 April 1886 – 15 July 1952) Born in Nottingham, England in 1886, Arthur Walkington Pink briefly attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, in 1910, before taking up his first pastorate at Silverton, Colorado. Little-known to the outside world, he pastored other churches in the United States and Australia before finally returning to his homeland in 1934. Settling in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, where he died almost unnoticed in 1952. By that date, however, the magazine he had started in 1922 – Studies in the Scriptures – was feeding several of the men who were leading a return to doctrinal Christianity, including Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Douglas Johnson (founder of Inter-Varsity) and, in book form after his death, his writings became very widely read across the world.
I have presented A. W. Pink’s “A call to separation” on my ForByFaith website here.
New Testament anthology
Pink gives an interesting anthology of the New Testament’s command to be separated as follows:
At the beginning of the New Testament we are shown the forerunner of Christ standing outside the organized Judaism of his day, calling on men to flee from the wrath to come. The Savior announced that, “He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” (John 10:3) On the day of Pentecost the word to believers was, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40) Later, to the Christian Hebrews Paul wrote, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp.” (13:13) God’s call to His people in Babylon is, “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)
He also gives several practical examples of how we are to be separated.
This applies first to our religious or ecclesiastical connections.
This applies to membership in Secret Orders.
This applies to marriage. There are but two families in this world: the children of God, and the children of the devil. (1 John 3:10)
This applies to business partnerships.
The point of Pink’s examples is that being separate applies to all areas of our lives – it needs to be comprehensive.
Does separation apply to business relationships that are not truly “partnerships?” For example limited partnerships, shareholder’s interests, employees, etc.?
What happens in a marriage where one of the spouses becomes saved? Should or can he or she divorce?
Malachi 2:16 – God hates
1 Corinthians 7:15-17 – departing unbeliever
Matthew 5:31-33 – unrepentant infidelity
1 Peter 3:1-2 – actions over words – win over
1 Corinthians 7:14 – God’s sanctification
How far can you go in the world to evangelize?
Matthew 7:6 – pearls to pigs