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What the Bible says about Spiritual Separation
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Peter 1:1-2

It is the life that is obedient to God and separated from the world that provides the proof of one's conversion. If the Christian is legally cleared of guilt before God and obedient to Him, he no longer "belongs" to the world; the Bible no longer perceives such a person as being "in the flesh."

Philippians 3:20 offers understanding of another separation from the world: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." His spiritual separation produces for the Christian a legal transfer of citizenship that he must recognize.

Colossians 1:12-13 confirms this: "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." As a result of these separations, the Christian must live his life as a stranger and pilgrim as if in a foreign land, obeying the laws of his new nation by placing higher priority in his activities as a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

This opens the door to another line of practical thought, conduct, and attitude: "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself the enemy of God" (James 4:4). We normally do whatever we can to avoid our enemies, even to the point of fleeing from them if necessary. This reality should help us to understand why God commands us:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? . . . Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:14, 17)

It is by means of conduct motivated by the Holy Spirit that we are to come out from among unbelievers and be separate. We cannot—we must not—straddle the fence; we cannot serve two masters. Once we are called, we must serve God, or we will have received God's grace in vain (II Corinthians 6:1).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Seven)

Revelation 18:4

When God separated Abraham and his family from his family and his country, and when God separated Israel from Egypt, their sanctification was also geographical. He literally moved them from one place on earth to another. His purpose was to establish a new community of people all involved in the same purpose.

With the church, our separation is not geographical but spiritual, moral, and ethical, while still living geographically within the system that we were born into. We must become separated from the way, from the manner, from the lifestyle, from the attitudes of the system that we were born into and moved (motivated) to make God's way, His manner, His system, His attitudes ours. That is how we "come out" of Babylon.

Abraham and Israel literally moved geographically. Some of us may move geographically, but that is not really what God has in mind. He desires a spiritual, moral, ethical, and attitudinal departure from our friends, neighbors, family, the gang we ran with, or whatever. We are called to be different.

The concept of God's separating, making holy, and establishing a new community, is not lost. The community aspect is merely reserved until a later time. Under the New Covenant, the community is the Kingdom of God. It is a goal we are moving toward as He prepares His set-apart people to enter that new community.

So where are we headed? To the Kingdom of God. Are we headed there geographically? No. We stay right where we are, but we still "come out" of Babylon in a spiritual sense. We are still sanctified by a change of attitude, of practice, and of conduct. Instead of immoral, we become moral. Instead of being unethical, we become ethical. Instead of being spiritually anti-God as Satan is, we become spiritual in the way God is spiritual.

That is how we "come out." We are set apart for that purpose. At this time, geography has little or no part in the sanctifcation of the overwhelming majority of God's people.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sanctification and Holiness (Part 1)


 




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