Text: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Biblical separation is God’s mandate for Christians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14-7:1), and to have no association with all that is sinful, wicked and false. This doctrine finds its basis in the holiness of God, as well as the purpose of the church. As Christians we separate from all sin and unbelief because it is God’s nature to do so. And as an assembly that has been called out from the world (ekklesia), and having been afforded the title as saints (literally holy ones), it is therefore also our duty to remain unspotted from the world.

Biblical separation involves two aspects:

Personal separation. This refers to the believer’s willing removal of one-self from all sin and uncleanness. He will make good effort to abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thess. 5:22), and not love the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). Positively speaking, he will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). His mind is on the things above and not on things of the earth (Col. 3:1-2).

Corporate Separation.
a. In the Old Testament, God commanded the nation of Israel to be separate from all idolatry, and from the rest of the heathen nations (see Deut. 7:1-11). They were to be a national spiritual witness to the nations around them for Jehovah. “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exod. 19:6a)
b. This could involve a disciplinary measure of a Christian or a church against another professing believer. See 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 14-15; 1 Corinthians.

The Scripture teaches not only separation from unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1) but also from unruly brethren. This involves a withdrawing of a Christian or church from any brother or church that is walking unseemly in the sight of God. For example: a church may dissociate herself from other churches that are involved in the ecumenical movement.

THOUGHT: What are the various aspects of biblical separation?
PRAYER: Lord, keep me unspotted from the world.

Text: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Deuteronomy 7:1-11

Separation is not an option but a command. This is evidenced by the five commands in the passage today:

  1. “Be ye not unequally yoked” (6:14)
  2. “Come out from among them” (6:17a)
  3. “Be ye separate” (6:17b)
  4. “Touch not the unclean thing” (6:17c)
  5. “Let us cleanse ourselves” (7:1)

The command to not be unequally yoked derives its picture from an Old Testament legislation. “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.” (Deut. 22:9-10)

Why did God forbid any mixing of seeds for sowing or animals for ploughing? The reason lies not in the seeds or the animals. Rather, the statutes serve as a pictorial lesson to the children of Israel that they must remain separate from the nations around them (c.f. Deut. 7:1-11). They are not to worship their gods, neither are they to engage in their ungodly ways. On the other hand, separation from unbelievers does not equate to isolationism. In John 17:15, Christ said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Christ was referring to how believers should be separate from the world’s system and philosophy, yet continue to witness to those who are in the world.

In application, a church must fulfil her evangelistic duty to reach out to the lost. On the other hand, she must also take care not to bring in any worldly philosophy or practice. The church which fails to separate from worldliness will surely die.

THOUGHT: A believer must not join in marriage with an unbeliever.
PRAYER: Lord, teach me what it means to be separated unto Thee.

Text: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19

The first reason for the need of separation between a believer and an unbeliever is communicated via five rhetorical questions from verses 14-16. In each question, a contrast is being made between two opposing groups:

  1. Righteousness versus Unrighteousness
  2. Light versus Darkness
  3. Christ versus Belial
  4. Believer versus Unbeliever
  5. Temple of God versus Idols

Observe how the two categories in each question simply do not mix. This highlights the point that there must be no unity between the believer and the unbeliever.

The second reason involves the sanctity of the saints. In verse 16, Paul describes the Corinthian Christians as the temple (naos) of the living God (v.16). The term naos refers to the inner sanctuary of the temple where the glory of God is supposed to dwell. Paul had earlier used this expression in 1 Corinthians to describe the church (1 Cor. 3:16) and the individual Christian (1 Cor. 6:19). Christians, collectively and individually, are expected to reflect the holiness and glory of God. If sin and worldliness is present, how can God be glorified?

Paul quotes from Leviticus 26:12 and Ezekiel 37:27 to elaborate his point. “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” As the temple of God, God is dwelling in the midst of his people and is presiding over their activities. Thus, the people of God must not be lax in their conduct and allow sin to dwell in the camp. Similarly, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer. It does behove us to be diligent not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Let us therefore take care to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (Jam. 1:27).

THOUGHT: My body is the temple of the living God.
PRAYER: Lord, let me be devoted to a life of holiness.