“I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat.” - 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 (KJV)
In last week’s blog, we discussed the importance of practicing personal separation as sanctioned by scripture. Separating ourselves from the worldly attitudes, actions and affections of our culture reflects that we recognize that God has called born-again believers out of the world. We are called to a personal and corporate purity in the midst of culture that is prolific in impurity. In today’s blog we are going to continue this discussion, focusing on the challenge of balancing the call of separation and the need to navigate society’s negative impact on the church.
Unfortunately, unity in purity within a body of believers is oftentimes disrupted by those who decide to drape themselves with the depravity dished out by a culture. So how are we to respond to those in the body that have decided to deliberately dissent from the divine standard? In our opening passage, the Apostle Paul emphatically charges believers to separate from the world and to separate from sensual saints who have surrendered their sexual purity to a salacious culture. By becoming enveloped in a cloud of carnality, sensual saints have broken fellowship with God and with the body of Christ. As a result, we are mandated to separate ourselves from their influence in the same way we are to separate ourselves from the influence of nonbelievers.
Biblical separation is not stating a mandate or suggesting a standard that Christians should have no contact with unbelievers. Like our Lord, we should engage the unbeliever under the influence of the Holy Spirit. When we submit to the leading influence of the Holy Spirit we will be in a position to point the unbeliever to the person and power of Christ without partaking in sin. The Apostle Paul offers a balanced view of separatism in the opening passage. Simply put: we are in the world, but not of the world.
For understanding and application consider the example of a submarine. A submarine can travel on top of a vast body of water but can also be submerged and travel under the water. However, it would be extremely problematic if its integrity was compromised while under water. Water would begin to fill the submarine and place those inside in serious peril. In order to avoid this dangerous situation, the submarine remains sealed tight when submerged to prevent water from entering. The structure and seals of the submarine separates those inside from the influence of the surrounding water. Likewise, Saints, we are sanctified submarines, sealed by the Holy Ghost, that travel in the vast waters of the world. We cannot allow the water of the world to flood our hearts and minds! Again, we are in the world but not of the world. Our Lord also stated in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew that in this world we are salt and light. So, as a result, we purpose to be salty and bright!
In closing, consider this quote from the Apostle Paul.
“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 6:17-18 (KJV)
The Apostle Paul is citing a passage from Jeremiah 31:9 that reveals to us the blessing of separating from worldly influences. According to the Scriptures, when we practice personal separation as sanctioned by our Father God, it makes Him a proud Papa. He rewards us with a more intimate relationship with Himself. Notice he declares: “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.” What a personable and precious promise for those who practice the type of personal separation sanctioned by God!
Not a Sermon But a Thought,