Biblical Separation2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1Theme: Purity.This week’s lessons teach us the cost of holiness.
LessonBiblical separation also occurs in matters of business. The principle of intimacy also enters into our workplaces. Say, for example, you work for an insurance company. I do not know how you could practice separation there in a radical way because you have all kinds of people with whom you must interact. You have Christians, those of other faiths, atheists, all together. If you separate there, you will not be able to work. But suppose you want to enter into a partnership with somebody. You will share a business with your partner. Here is the point at which this principle would enter.
You must ask yourself, “Do I want to enter into a partnership in a business with somebody who is not a Christian?” I am not saying in every case that a partnership with an unbeliever must necessarily be excluded. I think in life with all its complexity and with its thousands and thousands of variables, these are situations that have to be faced one by one, on an individual case basis. But the principle I am seeking to establish is that the more intimate the relationship is – that is, the closer the people are to each other – the more radically the principle must be applied.
The fourth and final principle is this: separation is not merely a once-for-all need, but it must be a continuous state. Chapter 7, verse 1, says, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” Can anything be clearer in that verse than the fact that separation is to characterize the Christian life? We are to purify ourselves. The Greek text has the sense of, “keep on purifying ourselves, grow in grace.” As it says in the last phrase, “perfecting holiness,” that is, we must keep working on it throughout all the days of our lives.
As long as we think separation involves a particular situation, especially a secondary one, we get the idea that if we have separated from problem people or no longer practice bad habits then we have it made. We have moved to a higher level of Christianity, one where all the saints dwell, and, as a result, we do not have to worry about separation anymore.
But, that is not the way the Apostle Paul is thinking. He is not thinking of the great big crises in life, but rather of simple growth as we try increasingly to be God’s people. How do we do that? We do that by looking to Jesus, trying to be like him, trying to please him, trying to serve him. As we do that, then these other things begin to fall into their place. And if in a particular situation we err, if in a particular situation we get into a relationship that we should not be in, if we really want to please the Lord, even at the time we make mistakes, then God has a marvelous way of overriding the errors that we make at that point.
Now, I am not speaking about willful errors. A person who enters into a marriage with an unbeliever, knowing that he or she ought not to do it, has neither promise nor assurance that God will bless him or her and redeem the situation. But if we really wanted to please him and it was just a question of a mistake or a misjudgment, God has a marvelous way of overriding our mistakes and working them in our lives for good.
I think this great principle of separation is what we find in the opening verses of the twelfth chapter of Hebrews. The author of that book says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
What is the fourth principle of biblical separation?
ReflectionHow can you be “separate unto God” in your particular work place?
Scripture MemoryMemorize Hebrews 12:1.