Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Are we Separated or are we Divided?

Meditation for the week of January 31, 2009

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."

One of the first principles of Scripture is that God separated light from darkness (Genesis 1:4).  In the new testament there was always a clear distinction between light and darkness, between believers and unbelievers, between those who worshiped the Lord and those who worshiped idols.  As an example, in Acts 8 when Simon the Sorcerer made a profession of faith that was obviously not real, Peter told him in no uncertain terms, "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God (Acts 8:21).” 

In the auditing world there is a doctrine called “independence.”  An auditor cannot be independent and be “beholden” in some way to the company being audited.   I think Scriptural separation from unbelievers is like that.  We need to maintain our “independence” in our relationships with unbelievers so we can honestly preach the Gospel without compromise as the Lord gives us opportunity.

The doctrine of separation is really the doctrine of holiness since holiness involves being set apart wholly for God.  God wants us to be separated from unbelievers and united to believers.  Satan wants us to be divided from believers and united to unbelievers.  Satan’s way makes us friends with the world and weakens our testimony to the point where the unsaved can see no difference between those who are saved and those who are lost.

When the children of Israel were about to be delivered from the bondage of Egypt, Pharaoh first offered to let them sacrifice to the Lord if they would do it without “leaving” (Exodus 8:25).   I think the Lord is telling us that we cannot worship  the Lord in the places were one who “knows not the Lord (Exodus 5;2)” is in charge.  Neither can we worship with known unbelievers. This would be like continuing to “worship” in a place where the Gospel is not preached after a person comes to “know the Lord.”

Next Pharaoh was going to let only the men go and worship (Exodus 10:11).  The children and their mothers were to stay behind.  He knew that if he kept the young in Egypt, he would be able to indoctrinate them, and he knew that the children would bring the men back to Egypt.  How often we see parents following their children into places of worship today that at one time Christians had left because they weren’t hearing the simple Gospel there.

Then Pharaoh offered to let all the people go as long as they left their flocks and herds behind (Exodus 10:24).  Pharaoh figured that the people would come back to Egypt after offering to the Lord because they would need to provide for their families.  By keeping control of their livelihoods,  he would be keeping control of them. 

Scriptural separation often requires physical separation but not always.  Daniel separated himself totally to the Lord in Babylon by simply not participating in their idolatrous practices (Daniel 1:8).  He dedicated himself wholly to the Lord and instead of the Babylonian college of so-called wise men changing him, he was put in charge of the Babylonian college (Daniel 2:48).  The Lord tells us that we are not “of the world (John 17:6)” and we are not to be “friends of the world (James 4:4);” however, we are to serve in the world (John 17:18). 

In spite of Daniel’s experience, I believe that it is easier for us to be changed by the world that for us to change the world.  Only the Gospel can change the world and it does that one by one as people repent and believe.  We need to spend time with unbelievers so that we can befriend them with the Gospel.  While unbelievers can be our friends, if our relationship with them causes us to live in a way that we would not otherwise live then we are in an unequal yoke.   In order to live holy lives that the Lord can use, we need to maintain our “independence” from unbelievers and sometimes that can be hard to do.   Some people are more easily influenced by their friends than others and perhaps need to avoid relationships that others might be able to handle.  However, none of us who are Christians should be in a social, political, marriage or church relationship that allows the unsaved to control our thinking and our behavior.

Bruce Collins

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