Should churches teach separation from the world?
This question stirs up a host of answers and often great feeling. To what extent should a church teach doctrine? And if the Church should teach doctrine what should that doctrine consist of? And if the Church does teach doctrine to what extent should it be concerned about the application in the lives of the people who attended that church?
Today, many church is don’t teach or preach a great deal of doctrine. The people who attend the church are left to interpret the broad strokes of the Bible for themselves and their lifestyle is in accordance with their own beliefs and culture. Many churches concentrate on building faith with a positive mental attitude. The interpretation into individual lifestyles is left to the people themselves.
How much interference and doctrine is allowed into the individual lives of people before that church is classed as legalistic? Is it anybody’s business how people who worship together interpret the instructions of the Bible? Indeed the question could be asked does the Bible contain instructions for Godly living?
The Bible instructs us right from the beginning that God calls his people to be separate from other people and the Bible continually challenges us to be separate from other people.
Here are a few Scripture references:
[KJV] [Leviticus 20:24] But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.
2CO 6:14 – 18 [KJV]
2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
ROM 12:1 – 2 [KJV]
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
What does the term “be not conformed to this world” actually mean? How are we going to interpret this in our everyday lives? To what extent or what level does this nonconformist attitude go to?
Preachers are ordained to preach the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is why the Bible is used as a standard of truth within our Court systems. Whether people like the truth or not is immaterial. If people do not accept the truth and so vote with their feet then that is their decision. People, especially those who confess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, should hear what the Bible has to say about our standard of living.
The Bible clearly tells us that we are to be separate and to have a standard of living that complies with the truth of the word of God. Separation from the ways of the world is called for throughout the word of God for all people who will follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Suggesting that “Christians” adopt a lifestyle that is not separate from the ways of the world in order to attract people towards Christianity is definitely not supported in the word of God.
The way that people are to be drawn towards following the Lord Jesus Christ is to have their conscience and faith stirred. The way that our conscience and faith are stirred is by hearing the truth of the word of God. This is the truth about who Jesus is, what he has done and what he is doing. The gospel is not so much good news rather it is God’s news. Unless people turn from sin and, in faith, ask God for forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ then they will be separated from the life that God has for them.
Christians are called to live a life that is separate from the ways of the world. We are left to decide to what degree our separation should be? This is the vital question. Should people in the world be able to clearly see our separation? Should we are clearly no to what degree our separation takes us? Should we hear from the pulpit a clear definition of our separation? Should our separation be a matter of church doctrine? To what level or degree does the word of God mark our separation boundaries?
We need to develop our conscience. Our conscience is developed by the word of God. Should we be left to discern the word of God for ourselves or should we be able to hear the word of God clearly ministered over our pulpits?
We really need to understand what the ways of the world are and how the ways of the world affect our behaviour.
What are the ways of the world? The ways of the world affect our 1 motivation, 2 guiding principles and 3 our common acts and activities.
How do we present ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ? Does the Bible have a clear definition of what worldliness is?
Surely we should be getting direction from the pulpits of our churches today. The living Church needs to know how to live. Surely this is more than just learning about “self-esteem” and material prosperity. The church needs direction. Christians need to know the boundaries that determine their behaviour. Gospel preachers need to clearly set out what is not accepted as Christian behaviour.
It is interesting that are legal system of laws follows the biblical principles. We live in a society of the rule of law. The law is famous for establishing the boundaries of what is not allowed in our society and culture rather than what is allowed. Are we going to say that the new Testament is all about establishing what is allowed and the rewards for what is called a living faith? If the State is going to establish laws that restrict our behaviour rather than laws that reward our behaviour, then shouldn’t our pulpits give us the same general guidance.
The Lord Jesus clearly said over and over that his interpretation of disallowed behaviour was tighter than the old Testament law. For instance the old Testament law condemns murder but the Lord Jesus condemns hate. Unfortunately freedom today is seen as freedom from behaviour all restraints rather than freedom to follow the Lord Jesus Christ with all of our heart, with all of our mind and with all of our soul.
It is my hope that you will seek and desire biblical direction that is founded on the word of God and that will lead you to be separate from the people of the world. It is interesting to me that while the church, as a whole, seems to be encouraging unrestrained behaviour, the world is condemning any form of separation, difference or discrimination and is happy to call this “vilification”.
We are called to come out of the ways of the world be separate. We are expected and to separate ourselves and not to be conformed to the ways of the world. The Lord God is holy and he wants his people to be holy. This is absolutely clear from all parts of the word of God. 1PE 1:15 – 16 [KJV]
1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
So then how do you interpret “holy in all manner of conversation”? Do you think that you need to hear guidance and instruction on this subject from the material that is ministered as the word of God from the pulpits of our churches?