Be Ye Separate
Cliff Jones, Cardiff, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
WHAT MUST I DO? Those of us who know the joy of sins forgiven and peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ have had, at some time in our lifetimes, certain fundamental questions raised in our minds by the Holy Spirit. These questions can take various forms, but. basically, the first question was. “what must I do to be saved?” and. by grace, the Holy Spirit gave us the answer, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ‘. Acts 16. 30–31. We were then led away from the wiles and snares of the devil, away from confusion and religious systems, ultimately to come “into the glorious liberty of the children of God”. Rom. 8. 21.
We enjoy liberty and freedom to worship and serve as led by the Holy Spirit. Liberty is not licence, arid if we are to be filled, led and used by the Holy Spirit, we need to be clean vessels fit for the Master’s use. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit raises other questions in the believer’s mind: “What does God require of me?”, and “How can I lead a life pleasing to God?”. What is it that God requires of a believer? Surely to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and to love his neighbour as himself. Matt. 22. 37. 39; Mark 12. 30, 31. God requires a humble and a contrite heart, with every thought, word and deed being under the control of the Holy Spirit. God requires that the Lord Jesus Christ should be Lord of every aspect of our lives, 2 Cor. 10. 5.
The “old man” in us rebels immediately and completely against allowing any but “self” to control our thoughts and actions, and yet God requires a complete surrender; for we are not our own, we are bought with a price, 1 Cor. 6. 19, 20. It follows, therefore, that our secular work, our recreation and rest, and our service for Him, must be regulated by Him and dedicated to Him. The command is “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord”, Col. 3. 23.
Separation. The Scriptures teach us that “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two–edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”, Heb. 4.12; it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, Psa. 119. 105. The Word of God contains divine wisdom, guidance, instruction, commands and prohibitions. We read in 2 Corinthians 6. 17, “be ye separate, saith the Lord”. When writing these words, Paul was writing out of love for the Corinthians, v. 11, with a deep concern for their spiritual wellbeing. The life which is pleasing to God is a life of separation. The life which is separated and guided by the Holy Spirit is a life full of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit: it is full of grace, love and a peace “which passeth all understanding”.
The separated believer, led by the Holy Spirit, possesses spiritual discernment. Such a believer experiences an increasing love of God and His written Word. Believers who lead unseparated lives do not grow spiritually and lack spiritual discernment, Heb. 5. 12–14.
The Lord Jesus Christ was the friend of sinners and won them to Himself, but He was at the same time holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, Heb. 7. 26. At no time did He compromise with evil. Separation is not from contact with evil, but from compromise, compliance and contamination with evil. The separated life involves avoiding permanent relationships with unbelievers, 2 Cor. 6. 14–16.
Sin separates and comes between us and a holy God. It hinders our prayers, Bible study, witnessing and spiritual growth. The believer must avoid all things which cause such hindrance, 2 Cor. 6. 15, 16.
The separated life demands a prayerful choice of companions, employment, places and situations: it does not permit compromise.
To those who lead lives separated from sin the promise is, “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters “, 2 Cor. 6. 17, 18. Separation promises a victorious Christian life in close fellowship with God and with separated fellow–believers.
In 2 Corinthians 7 .1, we are exhorted to cleanse ourselves from all hindrances that would militate against the filling of the Holy Spirit. We are told to cleanse ourselves from “all filthiness of flesh and spirit”. Such cleansing is only possible with the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Living in the constant expectation of the return of the Lord Jesus concentrates the believer’s mind and stimulates the desire for a separated life. Separation leads to the replacement of evil in our lives with practical holiness, that is, “perfecting holiness in the fear of God”, 2 Cor. 7. 1. We should be occupied increasingly with the Person, work and perfections of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the written Word of God, that we might be enabled to lead separated lives which exalt the Lord Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.