Separation From the World

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
What does it really mean for a Christian to be separate from the world? I suppose that this subject has been one of first importance since the very beginning of Christianity, but at no time in the history of the Church has it had more significance than now. This should be, therefore, of vital interest to every believer.
Separation was the indispensable prerequisite for the survival and victory of the children of Israel. This divine principle has never changed.
We are told that God's people "mingled themselves"
(Ezra 9:22For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. (Ezra 9:2)) with the ungodly about them. The sad result was dishonor to God, defeat, and slavery. The Hebrew word for "mingled" means to braid. In braiding, various threads are woven together until they are intertwined into one pattern. This is what happened to Israel: they became so like the heathen surrounding them that they forfeited their true place of separation as God's people.
How great is the pressure today on young people—and on older ones also—to conform! Assaults come from all directions, designed to pull the Christian down to the low level of those who have their "portion in this life." There is not any aspect of our life, whether it be in deportment or habits, school or business, that does not come under the outright or insidious attacks of the world.
Are you and I distinguishable from all this, or have we too become part of the pattern? If the latter, our testimony is worthless, the salt has lost its savor, and there is also loss of blessing in our lives.
"Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you" (2 Cor. 6:17, 1817Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17‑18)). This is the clear voice of the Word of God. There is no thought here of the Christian retiring into a monastery, but a distinct affirmation that although we are in the world, we are not of it.
The question is, Do we have the heart to bow to the authority of the Scriptures? Or do we seek to dodge the issue and use for a pretext the truth that all is of grace, when the Scriptures condemn things that we allow in our lives?
In that wonderful chapter, John 14, there is no service mentioned beyond that of obedience as the proof of love. If I truly love, I obey. The more I delight in the Father's love to me, the more I shall reject what the world offers. No two affections can be more opposite than love for God and love of the world. They cannot both occupy the same throne in our hearts (see 1 John 2:15, 1615Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15‑16)).
The believer proves himself false to Christ to the very same degree that he seeks the friendship of the world.
The world—the system itself—may concede something to us if we, in turn, concede something to it, but it can never give what God values. When a Christian receives something from the world, it will be at the sacrifice of faithfulness.
One has said, We are never wiser than Scripture. We cannot "touch" the "unclean thing" without contracting defilement. If we consider in Scripture histories of some of its "strong" men, we discover that small beginnings lead to fearful consequences—some that cause injury to oneself, some to others who are witnessing, and some that stumble the unconverted.
There are those who would set rigid rules and boundaries as to exactly what we are to be separated from. Such cold distinctions are really of no value. Often too our natural hearts yearn for a book of rules to which we might refer for direction, without the necessity of exercise of heart to discern the path.
Is not simple obedience what is needed? The more that we, as believers, walk in the power of an ungrieved Spirit, the more accurate will become our judgment as to what is of the world. And, really, the answer is plain: whatever is "not of the Father." If we are grieving the Spirit of God in some open or secret way in our lives, we shall not have that freshness of affection and tender heart and conscience that loves His Word and delights to bow to it.
In the soon-coming "day of Christ" there will be no choices to make; the redeemed will be with and like Him. But there is conflict now—a time of testing our affections. Do we "declare plainly" that we seek another "country... that is, a heavenly"? What are our habits? With whom do we "mingle"?
In the day of His glory, our Lord will show His appreciation for the faithfulness of those who have lived and longed for Him, while others devoted themselves to other objects. May we then covet to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
In the brief time we have remaining to us, may we seek grace to be faithfully representing the "Man in the glory." And may our lives give moral weight to the words that we speak. "He giveth more grace" (Jas. 4:66But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)).