The word 'separation' means different things to different people. The dictionary definition is simple to be set apart. The same word is translated elsewhere in the Scriptures as 'holy' and 'sanctify'. Now the concept of separation does not only include separating one's self from evil, but also involves the attitude of being set apart for service to God. Separation is not first and foremost an outward act, it is an inward attitude of the heart. There are many religious groups who are considered to be separated, because of things in which they do or do not participate. Example: the Amish. Example of young girl at a Christian school who considered herself more spiritual. Biblical separation is a very misunderstood subject by many.
I. Note Some Biblical Examples.
A. The Apostle Paul.
1. Paul's background is well documented in the Scripture.
2. He was a very religious man and was very careful to keep the letter of the Law.
3. But his religion was of the head not the heart...of the lips not the life.
4. When he met Christ all of that changed.
5. From that time on he separated himself from his old life and his old ways. 6. He began to serve a new Master.
B. The Prodigal Son.
1. We all know the story of how he went out into a life of sin and riotous living wasting all he had.
2. But he reached a point in his life where he came to himself and decided that he was through with that wicked way and would return to his father.
3. Now he is separated from all the old life.
4. He associates with different people, he eats at a different table, and lives in a different home.
5. That's the way it should be with every child of God.
C. The Maniac of Gadera.
1. He roamed naked through the tombs and lived as wild man that no one could control.
2. He met Christ and all of that changed.
3. We see him sitting, clothed and in his right mind...separated from his old life.
4. Jesus told him to go home to his friends and tell them what great things the Lord had done for him.
5. The Lord wanted everyone to see the change that had taken place in him.
II. What are we to be separated from?
A. Sinful companions.
1. Many an individual has started out right in their Christian life only to be dragged down because of their old friends.
2. The prophet Amos asked the question, "Can two walk together if they be not agreed?"
3. If we want to walk with the Lord, we will have to leave our old companions to do so.
4. That doesn't mean that we do not love them and want to see them saved; it is a matter of influence.
B. Sinful occupations.
1. If our jobs stand between us and the Lord, we ought to do something about it.
2. We should be willing to give up anything that will hinder us from being a good witness for the Lord.
C. Sinful places.
1. There are many places that we could go to as a lost sinner that we cannot go as a Christian.
2. The Spirit of God is to guide and direct us in our walk for the Lord, and He will not lead us back to the hog pen.
D. Sinful practices.
1. This is perhaps the greatest area of conflict for the believer.
2. We are in a constant battle with the "old man" or the flesh.
3. Anyone who says that it isn't a problem is not being honest with himself of with God.
4. Paul struggled with it. cf Ro. 7:18-21
III. Why should we be separated?
A. Because the Lord demands it. "...come out from among them and be ye separate..."
1. He knows what is best for our lives.
2. He knows that as long as we hold on to sin we are in danger.
3. He said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." cf Jn 14:15
B. Because our influence depends upon it.
1. Influence is one of the mightiest things in the Christian life.
2. All of us have an influence, either good or bad.
3. Jesus said that we were the salt of the earth, but salt that has lost its savour is worthless.
4. A man who had just been saved and joined a church was asked to give his testimony of salvation.
a. He said that he wanted to see if there was anything to this matter of being a Christian.
b. So he picked a man that he knew who went to this church and he watched him for a year.
c. His godly influence convinced the man that Christianity was real and he sought counsel on how to receive Christ.
5. If someone picked us out to observe for a year, what would be our influence upon them?
C. Because our power depends upon it.
1. Sin robs the child of God of his power.
2. Samson and his tragic life makes this very clear.
3. Oh how we need the power of God in our lives.
4. Peter who had denied Christ three times and was ready to go back to the old life of fishing was needed the power of God in his life.
5. A man was reading the Scriptures during a Bible study at his church.
a. He read from Acts 16:31, "What must I do to be saved?"
b. He repeated it several times for emphasis.
c. One of his neighbors spoke up, "Go and pay John Williams for that yoke of oxen."
d. This illustrates the fact that we may talk about spiritual things, but if we do not live separated before the Lord we will have no power.
Are we living a separated life? This is a mark of Christian. Not a pious holier-than-thou attitude, but a willingness to be set apart from sin and be set apart for God's service. Our Lord has commanded us, and if we are to have influence and power in our witness we must be separated.
How can we be separated for the Lord? By yielding ourselves to Him. By filling our lives with the Word of God and choosing to be what God wants us to be. We cannot do it on our own, but I can do all things through Christ.