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by Richard Nichols

Originally published in
The Christian Informer
September, 1998

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Last updated:
August 27, 1998.

THE HOLY SPIRIT commands: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 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. 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. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).

Over fifty years ago there lived a beautiful, talented, seventeen-year-old high school girl in a small eastern community. She was reared in a good home and attended church services regularly. The congregation was known for their defense of "the faith." She had at an early age become a member and quickly became a leader among the young people. She became outspoken about her beliefs and didn't mind showing others "the right way." Everybody seemed to love her. She had plans to attend a small religious university when she graduated from high school.

Then something happened! Her love for the Lord cooled; her joy of salvation disappeared; her once positive influence became negative. One morning her parents went into her room and found a note saying she had run off with a twenty-four-year-old bartender. A short time later she returned home and announced to her bewildered parents that she was expecting a baby.

Gone was her devotion to Christ! Gone was her interest in spiritual things! She had no time to sing with the others. She had no time to study the word of God. Gone were her morals and her virtue! Satan had scored a knockout! Christ had been defeated in the battle for her life!

About thirty years ago a preacher moved up North to work with a congregation. He began preaching a number of sermons against sin and worldliness in the church. Generally the members seemed to appreciate the preaching, would compliment the preacher, and attendance each Lord's day remained very high. However, he must have been stepping on some toes, because one time, when the preacher was gone, the brethren met for a regular business meeting, and one brother suggested that the preacher needed to be told to "tone down the preaching because it's going to start running people off."

In a tract by denominational people there is a story told of a church member in Adelaide, Australia, who stormed into the preacher's study to insist that he stop preaching so plainly about sin. It was his contention that the young people of the congregation would be tempted to try for themselves the evils he described if they heard so much about them. He suggested that the preacher simply refer to various sins as "mistakes" and let it go at that. The preacher quickly stepped to a nearby closet shelf and took down a bottle of strychnine, marked "POISON."

Returning to the gentleman, he said, "I see what you mean. You want me to change the label. Suppose I take off this `POISON' label, and put one on it reading `ESSENCE OF PEPPERMINT.' Don't you see, the milder you make the label , the more deadly you make the poison!"

Sin is sin! But the devil is so clever; he knows that if he can get us to call sin, and wickedness, and transgressions by milder terms--"mistakes, oversights, failures, or maybe little bungles and bloopers", chances are people will not be as afraid of committing them. The milder you make the label, the more deceptive and damning you make the sin.

Sin is punishable by eternal death in an everlasting Hell! It is the most lethal poison on the human market. It is more deadly than a bacteria infection or nerve-gas blasted upon the enemy of a carnal nation. Certainly every preacher who is faithful to the trust of speaking for God, and who loves the souls of men should spend his time as a dying man warning dying men, women and young people of sin's dangerous, damning consequences.

God's servant of old was charged: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1). Dare we be politely silent?

This article began with a passage which commands the "dearly beloved" of God to separate themselves, being cautious and careful to touch no "unclean thing." But immediately the Deceiver, Satan himself, who snared Eve in the garden long ago will by the same means cause some disciple of Christ to raise doubts and questions..."Yea, God hath said?"

Friend, don't doubt it and question it; God simply commands you to do it. One asks, "Do you mean to say that God expects me to separate myself entirely and completely from the fun, the frolic and the fast life." The Christian who asks such a question usually means that they would like to sure miss Hell and really make Heaven, but they don't want to give up the pleasures of the world to do that.

A lady once said, "I want someone to tell me how I can be a Christian and still do the things that I want to do." In other words she is asking, "Can I be a Christian and not separate myself from the world?" A brother announced that his bunch were trying to "go to Heaven and have a good time on the way." No one believes that to be happy and satisfied in Christ Jesus is a sin, but most of the people who question the command to be separate from the world simply don't know what a truly good time is!

The child of God who loves the Lord with all his being and goes about living his life with a knowledge of who he wants to please and where he wants to live in eternity is not looking for a good time in "...the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," which the Scriptures say, "is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). The solution is a change of thinking and living, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16) .

However, there are those who will ask, "My friends go to church too. Why are they allowed to go to the beach, go swimming, wear mini-skirts, be cheerleaders and go dancing? Why are we not allowed to do that stuff?" It's sad but true but there are some churches and some preachers who endorse worldly sins, but the blessed book of God still reads: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20). Although there are those who would like for the Bible to become modern to fit a modern World, God's word never changes. It doesn't matter if a sin is endorsed by your favorite preacher and committed by your best friends, sin will damn your soul!

Maybe the prodigal son asked similar questions while he was still at home with his father. He, of course learned his answers the hard way; this is something we hope you are spared!

These questions -- such burning issues in the 1990s among Christians, especially young people -- and all kindred questions will find sane, sensible answers in a careful, prayerful, open-minded study of the doctrine of "separation from the world" taught in the word of God. All of us need to simply, "search the Scriptures!"

Does anyone question God's right to tell us what we can and what we cannot do? Do you wonder at the ground for God's sovereign authority in your life? First, that right is found in creation! His right is that of a Creator, a Maker, an Owner. We owe our lives, our very existence to God Jehovah. Can we, dare we, refuse to obey His every command? "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus?" (Romans 9:20).

The right God has of authority in your life is found also in revelation! Who dares to doubt the authority of a father over his son or daughter? Let every skeptic go to the courts of the land and find who is responsible for their offspring. As His sons and His daughters through the "new birth," the heavenly Father is to have control in the direction of our lives (Galatians 2:20).

God's right is further found in salvation! Surely a dog would be willingly subject to one who had done a portion as much for it as Jesus Christ had done for us at Calvary! He has saved us, now He is our LORD! As we are told in 1 Corinthians 6:20, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Jesus asks, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). On the ground of this creation-relation-salvation right in our lives, God demands separation and purity.

Just think about the many passages from God's word that demand holiness. We read 1 John 2:15-17, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

The weeping apostle by inspiration pleads: "I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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" (Romans 12:1,2).

First Thessalonians 5:22 even insists: "Abstain from all appearance of evil"! Christians are to stay clear of evil in whatever form it comes.

But the climactic challenge of all Scriptural exhortations is found in this biting, burning, blistering accusation of James to his "beloved brethren" who were being hindered in their Christian living: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that THE FRIENDSHIP OF THE WORLD IS ENMITY WITH GOD? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is THE ENEMY OF GOD" (James 4:4).

Just think of it! CHRISTIANS WHO ARE ENEMIES OF GOD! Blood-bought, redeemed, Heaven-bound(?), saved enemies of Christ?! How can this be? This is treason far lower than that of any Benedict Arnold. Don't be a traitor to Christ! Sin's pleasures are not worth it!

Accept the indisputable, unmistakable, unshakable, unchangeable authority of God, through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, found in the Sacred Scriptures which demand a full, complete, and absolute separation of evil in every form! Christian, if that is not your goal in your life.... you're wrong!