The Tightrope of Separation: Four Contrasts

From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission. Read the series so far.

In that crucial New Testament passage on separation, 2 Corinthians 6:14, God gives us four areas of contrast. Note that there is nothing in common in any of these areas.

The first contrast is the matter of principles and standards. Verse 14 asks: “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness?” What possible fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? If it is righteous, it is not unrighteous; and if it is unrighteous, it is not righteous. These utterly contradict each other. It is just like light and darkness: if it is dark, it is not light, and if it is light, it is not dark. It is just the same thing as saying that God has learned to live in peaceful coexistence with Satan (which is impossible). Or that righteousness can stand unrighteousness—impossible. They cannot be together in any sense of the word.

The second contrast is the matter of allegiance. 2 Corinthians 6:15 asks: “What concord hath Christ with Belial?” Obviously He is saying that Christ and Satan have nothing in common; they have two opposing armies. Christ heads one army, Satan heads another, and they have nothing in common. They are at war with each other. A Christian cannot possibly be a friend of Jesus Christ and a friend of Satan at the same time. The moment you become a friend of Satan you are at enmity with Jesus Christ, who hates and despises everything that Satan is or stands for. He says in 1 Corinthians 10:21, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot be partaker of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” And in James 4:4 He says: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” It makes you an enemy of God; it puts you in the enemy camp. There should never be any question about our loyalty to Christ.

This second principle is extremely vital. We will have to make the decision regarding our allegiance to Jesus Christ. If we run around under the banner of Satan, are part of Satan’s crowd and our loyalties are to Satan, we will have to answer to God for disloyalty and treachery.

By way of illustration, I am a loyal American, and it disturbs me greatly when anyone is disloyal to our country. It hurts when people side with the enemy and run down our country. Likewise, stop to think how it hurts God when we side with and become a part of the enemy and look and act like the devil’s crowd. God is saying that our allegiance must be above question; our allegiance must be to God alone.

The third contrast is the matter of people and faith. 2 Corinthians 6:15 asks: “What part has a believer with an unbeliever?” A believer believes in God and trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior. That puts him in a whole new area of life, having been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13). An infidel says, “I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in Christ; I don’t need your Savior, I have nothing to do with your Savior.” That divides everyone into two camps: believers and unbelievers. So God says to us, “What part has a believer with an unbeliever?” The answer is, nothing. We have nothing whatsoever in common.

Don’t misunderstand. A believer is to seek contact with the world, love the people in this world, and seek to reach people for Jesus Christ. But he is never to go to the world for satisfaction or affirmation in his faith. Unbelievers have one basic need and that is to be born again. The only way we are going to help is to be concerned, to have our hearts burdened, and remain in a solid position as we seek to bring them out through Jesus Christ.

Someone recently asked, “Must we make the gospel relevant?” The preaching of the gospel has never seemed relevant to unbelievers, but it has to be proclaimed, not apologized for, or watered down, or twisted in the interests of immediate relevance, or half-altered to suit the spirit of the times, or disguised to get it past an unbeliever’s guard. It has to be preached in all its seeming irrelevance, above the cat calls and sneers of those who hate or despise it, in the face also of the amused contempt of those whose vanity leads them to feel superior to it. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” That is what God tells us to do.

The fourth contrast is in the matter of religion. 2 Corinthians 6:16 asks: “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” Matthew 13 talks about a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while he slept his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. What were those tares? They were religion embodied in teaching and the people who did the teaching. The Lord Jesus sowed the good seed of the Word of God, and immediately Satan came along and sowed his false religion in the midst, the purpose being to produce his false fruit and make that fruit look just as much like the true fruit of God as he possibly could. The devil has been doing that ever since. 2 Corinthians 11:14 also tells us, “And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.”

Believers who accept the Bible as the Word of God, believe in the blood of Christ, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, salvation through faith alone apart from good works, have absolutely nothing in common with an unbeliever who is religious but does not believe the same things. God never asked us to dialogue with them or see what we have in common, because we have nothing in common. He never asked us to get together in religious services with them so that we can show our good will. We should not hate them nor should we ever be discourteous, but we should hate the counterfeit religion of their belief. It is utterly false and is sending millions of people to hell because it rejects the biblical Christ.

Some may think that’s an awfully strong statement. Yes, it is strong, but it is true according to 2 Corinthians 6. There is only one true way to God, and that way is Jesus Christ and His shed blood. We cannot help anyone else unless we are sure of that, unless we make clear to them that this is the way, the only way. So as a consequence, Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:5 regarding men of the world, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; from such turn away.” And in 1 Timothy 6:5 he says, “From such withdraw yourself.” In 2 John 10-11 we read not to help them further their false teaching: “If there come any…into your house, neither bid him Godspeed; for he that bids him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

A change makes all the difference

In 2 Corinthian 6:16, Paul says, “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is the position from which we talk of separation.

We will never really believe in separation unless we believe that God has changed us, made us a new creation, and indwells us in the person of the Holy Spirit. We will never really believe in separation, never believe that we are to be given over completely to God, that our body is to be pure, clean and presented to the Lord, unless we really believe that we are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God indwells us. As a consequence, we are commanded in verse 17, “Therefore [referring back to what he has just said in verses 14-16], come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.” There is no doubt about the command, no doubt about why it is given.

Listen to the wonderful promises which follow: “I will receive you” (v. 17). If we have accepted the Lord Jesus as Savior, He has received us in salvation. If you have not been willing to identify your loyalty with Jesus Christ and Him alone, there is a sense in which you are not received. Jesus says in this passage of Scripture to come out from among them, be separate, realize the distinctions that are there, and He will receive us with blessing as His own, to teach us, instruct us, multiply us, make us fruitful for Him. Then He gives another promise in verse 18: “I will be a father unto you.”

Some of us in the middle of frustrations and problems say, “I have almost lost the concept that God is my loving heavenly father.” Let me say this, if we are not separate unto God, we won’t know much about God as our father. We won’t know much about God as our shepherd, our sustainer, the One Who feeds us, the One Who blesses us. If there was ever a time when we needed to know God as our Father, the One Who loves and cares for us, meets our every need, anticipates our problems before they ever come, it is today.

“Come out from among them and be separate…I will receive you and shall be a father unto you…you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord almighty.”

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Aaron Blumer's picture

Reflects well on the late John Miles that he is most passionate and most eloquent when he talks about the need for faithfully upholding the gospel regardless of the times and trends.

Interesting too that these words were originally written in the 1970s, I believe.

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