The Purpose for Christian Separation5 min read
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore 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, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
We have considered the nature of Christian separation in what Paul provides as contrasts between us and the world. In this latter part of our passage (vs. 16-18), we will notice the purpose for Christian separation – and the reasons are quite convicting to the child of God.
Consider, first of all, that we collectively as an assembly make up the temple of God. It is stated as fact in Scripture, and this fact demands certain responsibilities and obligations of the people of God.
Firstly, understand the truth of God’s presence: this is what makes us His temple. It is not simply the presence of an idol made of wood or stone, but when in God’s assembly, we are in the presence of the living God! He dwells, showing the comfort and permanency He expresses in the midst of His people. He walks, showing a constant working in a through the hearts of His believers – you can make the parallel with the churches of Revelation. “But how is this a reason to uphold Christian separation?” you say. O how is this not a reason? What is missing in our fear of God that we do not think His living presence should prompt holy (set apart) living? How can we be so arrogant to think we can get away with an unequal yoke when in the presence of the living, dwelling, walking God of Heaven?
Closely linked with His presence are His people. Why would God dwell with those who were not identified with Him?
- Notice the mutuality of this relationship. He is not only our God, but we are His people. There is a closeness about this communion with God. Why would we ever consider an unequal yoke with unbelievers when we have a blessed fellowship with the eternal God of Heaven?
- If He is our God it means we have personally bowed to the Lordship of Christ, which means we are responsible to obey. Therefore, when it comes to an unequal yoke with the world, we must understand that we have already submitted ourselves to the yoke of Christ and have no part in any other allegiances. Also, why would we want any other yoke when His is graceful and light?
- If we are His people, it means we have a responsibility to uphold our identity as His people. You see, God has not called us unto Himself for no purpose. By our very salvation we are distinguished and made separate from those who cannot call themselves sons of God, because our identity and citizenship have been totally altered. It should be precious in our eyes to identify as God’s people, and therefore it should be precious to remain separate.
As for the commands of the Lord, for us as His people, there should be no question as to whether they should be obeyed or not. Therefore, when we see the words “saith the Lord” our fear of God should prompt immediate and thorough response. What does He command us to do? For one, He commands us “Come out from among them and be ye separate.” This is separation in our very fellowship and character. But He also commands us to “Touch not the unclean thing…” This is separation in our actions, and this normally would come after we have learned not to identify with the world. Now the question is for each of us: will I obey? This depends on our attitude toward the commands of the Lord and our attitude toward the authority of His Person. You see, if we truly claim Him Lord, we should not have a problem obeying, for as Lord He is our Master. One man has rightly said “You cannot say ‘No, Lord’ and mean both words.” Let us be separate – for Him.
1 John 5:3 says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.” This principles is seen in our passage, for we see that God’s commands are not left without promises following them. Notice, then, four things about His promise as reasons to be separate:
- “I will receive you.” This is a principle for Christian living. As Christians, understand that fruitfulness and fellowship are based on our level of separation. As we obey His call to act like a peculiar people, He will receive us – in fellowship, in blessing, in fruitfulness. Worldly intermingling only hinders godliness, dishonors the Lord Jesus, and quenches the Spirit.
- “And be a Father unto you.” Do those of the world have part in our heavenly relationship with God? By no means. Therefore, when we claim to be of God, there is no place for us in the world – not only since they are ungodly, but because we have a much better place to be. We have a tender Father to look unto as the great Supplier of our needs and Sustainer of our lives. Compared to what we have in Christ, the world lives in absolute poverty!
- “Sons and daughters.” Hopefully we understand that being a son denotes responsibility. As a Father He provides tender mercies: as sons and daughters, we are responsible to respond to those mercies and by them grow up into godliness.
- “Saith the Lord Almighty.” God gives His stamp of authority by saying after His commands “thus saith the Lord.” Here, after His promises, He assures us of His power to fulfill them in saying “[thus] saith the Lord ALMIGHTY.”
This serves as a good note to conclude on, and so in conclusion, consider the first verse of chapter seven, which actually belongs in this section. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness (separation) in the fear of God.” May God work this in our hearts!