Friday, September 5, 2014

Separation from the World

You’ve most likely noticed that oil and water do not mix.  If you pour some olive oil into a glass of water and leave it for a few minutes you’ll find that they separate distinctly like you see in this photo.  The inability of two fluids to mix is called immiscibility.

But there is a way to artificially force oil and water to mix together, either by using soap (surfactants) or by adding particles and then shaking up the mixture vigorously, which creates an emulsion. This kind of mixture is a mingling of two substances that normally remain separate from one another.

In the Old Testament they were supposed to destroy their enemies and be a holy people, but instead they mingled with the world. “They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them, But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, And served their idols, Which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood. Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds. “ (Psa 106:34-39)

As those under the New Testament, it is easy to think that separation was just for those in the Old Testament. We think about how Jesus was known as a friend of sinners, eating and drinking with them. The problem is that the Church has copied that part of Jesus' life without maintaining His standard of holiness and righteousness. As a result of this, the Church has gone astray and many have mingled with the world so much that they become just like the world and adopted their customs. They worship their idols, shed innocent blood, and defile themselves by what they do. By their deeds they have prostituted themselves.

John the Baptist was Separated from the World
Yet in the New Testament we do see a clear separation from the world, beginning with the life of Jesus and John the Baptist. John the Baptist lived in the desert. “And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” (Luk 1:80)

He preached repentance. “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. “ (Mar 1:4)

He wore primitive clothing. “John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.” (Mar 1:6).  I am not suggesting we all go around in sackcloth, but I am pointing out that John was certainly not caught up in modeling the latest clothing fashions.

Jesus Taught & Practiced Separation from the World
What about Jesus? Is there any example of separation from the world in His life?

He, too, came and preached repentance. "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" (Mat 4:17)

Before He began His public ministry, He spent forty days in the desert, separated from the world, fasting and praying, and overcame all the temptations that the devil presented to Him. One of those temptations was to give to Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor if Jesus would bow down and worship the devil. But Jesus refused to do so and overcame. “Then Jesus said to him, 'Go, Satan! For it is written, "YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY."'" (Mat 4:10)

Jesus was salt and light. He was different from the world. And He warned us against losing our saltiness.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Mt 5:13-16)

Jesus also taught us that we cannot serve both God and money. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Mat 6:24)

Jesus taught us that the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction and many enter through it. He taught us to enter through the narrow gate into life. "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. “ (Mat 7:13-14)

Jesus taught that when we follow Him, we even have to deny our basic desires like mourning the loss of a loved one. “Another of the disciples said to Him, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.'" (Mat 8:21-22)

Jesus fully approved of the ministry of John the Baptist, whom I have already mentioned was separated from the world. "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Mat 11:11)

Jesus warned us against the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mat 13:22)

Jesus warned against eating and drinking with drunkards. ''But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,' and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 24:48-51)

Today many Christians want to live at peace with the world and don't want to “make any waves.” But Jesus said, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luk 12:49-53)

These days it is unpopular to preach repentance, because it might offend people. But Jesus preached it boldly. "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luk 13:3)

Jesus taught the need for a forsaking of all others to follow Him, even our dearest loved ones. "Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.'” (Luk 14:25-26)

Jesus taught us to give our worldly possessions. "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” (Luk 14:33)

 In the parable of the lost son, we see an example of one who became like the world. "And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.” (Luk 15:13-16)

Becoming like the world will lead to a pigs pen.

Jesus taught how difficult it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom. "And Jesus looked at him and said, How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'" (Luk 18:24-25)

When the Jews allowed the world into the temple and He found them merchandising in God's house, He drove them out.

"The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, 'Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business.' His disciples remembered that it was written, 'ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.'" (Joh 2:13-17)

Bringing the world into the Church turns the Father's house into a place of business.

When Jesus' brothers tried to coax Him to show Himself to the world by going up to the Feast of Tabernacles with them, He refused to operate the way the world does. "So Jesus said to them, My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.' Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret.” (Joh 7:6-10)

Many Christians today hate rejection and want the world to accept them. Jesus said the world would hate us. "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (Joh 15:18-21)

Many Christians want to live a life of comfort and ease, but the Lord said we would have trouble. "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (Joh 16:33)

Early Church Practiced Separation from the World
In the book of Acts, we see the early disciples were not out mingling with the world. "These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” (Act 1:14)

They were devoted to a godly lifestyle. "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Act 2:42-47)

And many Christians today want their churches to be a place where non-believers can feel at ease. In order to make church seem relevant to the world, many churches adopt the world's customs, including dress, music, and holidays. But in the early Church, nobody dared to join the believers unless they had repented and put their faith in Christ.  There was no mingling of the world inside the Church.

"At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,” (Act 5:12-14)

In the early Church, The apostles were persecuted, because they were determined to obey God rather than men. “But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.” (Act 5:29) They were not men-pleasers and did not water down their message to satisfy the people's demands or to be popular.

When the apostles went into the homes of non-believers, it was not to drink with them and enjoy idle, leisurely conversation, or godless chatter. They went to preach the gospel and lead them to Christ, as Peter did at the home of Cornelius (Ac 10:34-40) and as Paul did in the home of the Philippian jailer. “They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.' And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.” (Act 16:31-34)

Paul Taught Separation from the World
The apostle Paul taught us to come out of the world and be separate. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "and do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you.” (2Co 6:17)

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Co 7:1)

He taught us not to be yoked with unbelievers. "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” (2Co 6:14-15)

Paul warned us against sitting down to eat and drink and indulge in pagan revelry. "Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.' Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” (1Co 10:6-10)

Paul taught us not to conform to the world. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)

Paul taught that we would be persecuted. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2Ti 3:12).  The reason godly Christians are persecuted is because the world hates us. If we were no different than them, they would not hate us, since we would be one of their own.

Paul taught that the Church should never tolerate sin. "Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1Co 5:13b)

He taught us to have nothing to do with wicked people in the Church.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2Ti 3:1-5)

He taught us not to be partners with immoral, impure, or greedy people.

"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them." (Eph 5:5-7)

We are not to associate with immoral people.

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.” (1Co 5:9-11)

I want to emphasize that Paul was not at all saying that we should not associate with the immoral people of this world.  Like Jesus, we are to be a friend of sinners.  But Paul warned us not to associate with anyone who calls himself a brother, who is an immoral person.  We are to be a light while we are in the world.  And if we pull back from all association with the world, it's impossible to be a Light for Christ.

Peter Taught Separation from the World
The apostle Peter taught that we are Strangers in the world. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1Pe 1:1-2)

"I appeal to you, my friends, as strangers and refugees in this world! Do not give in to bodily passions, which are always at war against the soul." (1Pe 2:11)

John Taught Separation from the World
And, of course, the apostle John taught that we must not love the world or anything in the world.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1Jn 2:15-17)

The apostle John also received the revelation, in which he heard the call to God's people to come out of Babylon.  He wrote:

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. " (Rev 18:4-5)

Putting it All Together
That call goes out to all of God's people today to come out from the midst of the world and be separate, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.  Don't touch anything unclean.  You are the salt of the earth. But be very careful you don't lose your saltiness, or else how can you be made salty again? Then you would no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Don't love the world or anything in the world.  Don't allow the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth to choke the Word of God that was sown in your heart, and make it unfruitful.  Stop making the Father's house a place of business. We are in the world, but we are not of the world.  Like oil and water, we cannot mix together, except by unnatural forces.  Don't associate with immoral people in the church, who claim to be brothers in Christ. Have nothing to do with such people.  Don't eat and drink with drunkards. Don't be bound together with unbelievers. Like Jesus, we are to be a friend of sinners.  But don't compromise yourself in doing so.  Don't have fellowship with darkness. Keep yourself from being polluted by the world. Cleanse yourself from all defilement.

When the early Church did this, continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the breaking of bread, and prayer, none of the rest in their community dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.  The Church did not concern itself with whether the world considered it irrelevant. There was a respect for the believers in the community, not a casual or indifferent attitude toward the Church. That is a picture of the type of response the world will have when they see the Church return to biblical holiness and separation once again.  It's high time we sought holiness and consecration to the Lord, so that we might once again see His Name held in high esteem, and His glory regarded with reverence and awe.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Come Out of Her, Garments of Godliness, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, Keeping Sundays HolyFaith Works!, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Two Divine Revelations, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, The Straight and Narrow Path, Ask for the Ancient Paths, and One Thing. I highly recommend reading, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you are going to comment and you want it to be published, do not write in ALL CAPS, and use clear English. All comments will be evaluated before publishing. If they are of a hateful, belligerent, or vicious nature, they will not be posted.