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Friday
Jun292007

Are We Getting Too Gray?

“Come out from among them, and be ye separate.” 2 Corinthians 6:17

image002[1].jpgThe accelerated graying of the church should stir great concern among Apostolics today. No, not the graying hair of elders, but the bleed between black and white, the confusion between right and wrong, and the blending of good and bad. It used to be easy to blame television and the movies for cultural degradation. Now, techies familiar with TXT , IM, PIX and FLIX, MySpace, iPods and dozens of other ways and means to share information—and exert influence—will tell you that the new electronics has skyrocketed the level of difficulty in staying separate from the world. But the toughening of the job shows us how serious Satan takes it. It’s time to fight back, and we must start with a refreshed understanding of why separation is so important.

Few principles find more backing in the scriptures yet encounter more resistance from the flesh than the doctrine of separation from the world. Even after years of teaching, preaching, writing, and explaining, separation continues to be a contentious, unrelenting battle between the flesh and the Spirit. The Ancient Hebrews had trouble with it as evidenced by their desire for a king. The early church dealt with it as a matter of course, as Paul confesses, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2 Timothy 4:10.) And God knows the trouble we have with it in the twenty-first century.

The aggregate of scriptures amasses too great a case for separation from the world for true Bible believers to ignore it. Abraham separated himself from Lot . Jacob separated certain lambs from others of Laban’s flock. The Israelites were commanded to separate themselves from their uncleanness (not that they always obeyed!) Nazarites were ordered to separate from wine and strong drink and other substances. The nation of Israel had to separate themselves from among all the people of the earth, even to the point of leaving heathen wives.

In the New Testament, Jesus said. “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company…for the Son of man’s sake.” Luke 6:22. Separating the sheep from the goats, as related in Matthew 25:32, is the very basis of end time judgment. Jesus himself is declared to be “separate from sinners.” Hebrews 7:26.

Separation manifests itself in practical aspects of holy living. God’s people were to look different than those from other nations. They held to a higher standard of behavior. They were to abstain from sin, from sinful associations and from sinful practices. Why? To make a difference between holiness and uncleanness. “Touch not the unclean thing.” But what does God consider unclean?

Swine, certain kinds of sea creatures, and other animals were ceremonially unclean to the Hebrews. Pork, shrimp and lobster may have been delicious to eat, but they were off limits. This prohibition had nothing to do with appearance, taste or nutrition. It had to do with ceremonial acceptance. While Paul in the book of Romans lifts the eating ban, the symbolism of these Old Testament prohibitions remains in force. This means that believers do not indiscriminately consume anything offered up by the world. We must not look at the spiritual foods of the world and judge whether they are beautiful, tasty, fun or socially acceptable. The operative questions are what does the Bible say about them and will indulging in them displease the Lord of our salvation?

Isaiah said, “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it.” Isaiah 35:8. The precedent was set: holiness eschews uncleanness. This principle reappears in the New Testament. “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7. Referencing the scriptures that relate holiness and uncleanness, we can piece together a background picture of the kind of life we ought to live.

In a crash course, the Bible teaches us to separate ourselves from uncleanness. Anything associated with sexual immorality is unclean. (Fornication, adultery, sexual perversion lust, etc.) Anything that promotes immorality is unclean. (Questionable dress, appearance, behavior, associations, use of media and blurring gender distinctions.) Anything associated with deceit, dishonesty and guile is unclean. (Lying, stealing, coveting, greed, etc.) Anything associated with defilement of the body is unclean. (Tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, drug abuse, mutilation of the body, tattoos, disfigurement). Anything associated with vulgar, base behavior is unclean. (Profanity, dirty jokes, obscenities.)

Does God care about these things? Absolutely! The Word says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Thank your pastor for preaching the separation principle!

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