A Wise Woman Separates (Romans 12: 1-2) 

Summary of a Message Spoken by Sister Shermaine Tan at Ladies’ Bible Fellowship

Biblical separation is a command from God. Though 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1 is often quoted as the classic supporting passage, it is really a command found throughout the Word of God. It is also a most needful command for us to take heed to, for our days of Christendom are filled with movements of falsehoods. In Kenya where we serve, we find that a country boasting to be ‘Christian’, has alarmingly more false churches and teachings than there are faithful ones! Thus, is the case that we must fight. As a Church, we must stand and contend for the Truth!  

 However, there also seems to be a misconception regarding the notion of ‘separation’ in the Church at large. Some may deem that it is a harsh topic, some may perceive that separation is the work of church leaders, a topic meant only for the ‘theologians’. Let the leaders go into battle, and let me just be an ordinary God-fearing, men-loving Christian! On the contrary,     Romans 12: 1-2 declares to us all, that the notion of ‘separation’ is really at the heart of our Christian living.   

 In Romans 12:1a, we find the Apostle Paul saying, “I beseech you”, “brethren”, exhorting the Christians in the Roman Church to a life of separation. This of course applies to believers today reading the epistle. Though without a commanding tone, it does not make the urge of the Apostle Paul any less demanding of our obedience. At such a juncture, he writes, “therefore”, pointing to all that he had previously penned regarding the doctrines of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. How it is only due to the abundant grace and love of God that all men as sinners may find redemption in the precious blood of Christ if they just but believe! On this remembrance, he adds that the exhortation to them is “by the mercies of God”. The basis of the call for separation is hence not any other, but the great compassion of God in saving us from eternal death and condemnation!  

Surely such a basis cannot be taken lightly, but for us to give the subsequent words of the Apostle Paul grave consideration. Firstly, he delineates that believers are to be separated unto God. How so? Our “bodies” are to be offered as a sacrifice on the altar consecrated, dedicated and given unto God. Not just a reference to the flesh and bones, but the entirety of the person. That is our whole selves, including all desires and thoughts, must be laid consecrated at the altar. Further, such a separation unto God is to be continuous (i.e. living), apart from evil and sin (i.e. holy) and well-pleasing in the sight of God, in accordance to His commandments (i.e. acceptable).  

Is that an unreasonable demand of us? Surely not, for the Apostle Paul declares it to be our “reasonable service”. Here, it is pertinent to note that the word for “service” is used in reference to the religious rites performed by the priests in the Tabernacle (c.f. Heb 9: 6). Thus, our consecration and separation unto God ought to be perceived as our necessary worship of Him! Do we deserved to be saved? Surely not! Is not then the giving of our lives to Christ, who gave His life for us, the reasonable little that we can do as our worship of God?  

Secondly, Apostle Paul emphasises that believers are to be separated from the world. How so? We are commanded to be “not conformed to this world” (Romans 12: 2a). That is, we are not to be patterned after the philosophies, methodologies, trends and schemes of the age in which we are living in. We are to be separated from all worldly thoughts, desires, conduct and even appearances! John 12: 31 tells us that Satan is “the prince of this world”. Let us hence as children of God flee far away from fashioning ourselves after the world, which really is in total rebellion against God! Remember the “mercies of God” in saving us, remember that we ought to stand for Him.   

Importantly, our loving Heavenly Father does not leave us helpless with this duty of separation. Apostle Paul goes on to command, “but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. We are to be changed by the new minds that we have been gifted. Take note, not new physical brains, but new frames of thinking! 1 Corinthians 2: 12-16 tells us that as believers we have “the mind of Christ”.  As our minds are filled with the words of God, it is the Holy Spirit indwelling within us, who enables our spiritual discernment in navigating life. God has given us the two perfect gifts which we need to live a life of separation – the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Would we do our part to fight the battle of mind over body? Remember the “mercies of God” in loving us, remember that we ought to stand for Him.    

Lastly, Apostle Paul declares that the result of our separation is that we “may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12: 2b). When we live a life of separation, unto God, and away from the world, it is the case that we will grow in experiential knowledge of the good and perfect will of God. How often do we allow life’s miseries and sorrows to hit at us because we fail to live out our Christian lives in true biblical separation? I speak for myself. I remember all so well an early time when even my hair started to fall under the stress of buying tickets for a rock concert when I know it is wrong according to the Scripture. Thank God for a loving sister in Christ whom guided me back towards the good and godly way.  May we all discover more and more, of the goodness of the Lord, as our lives grow in obedience to God and His Word.  

As Christians, saved by the grace of God alone, we ought really to recognise that separation is at the heart of our living. Our worship of our Saviour necessitates that we are to be separated unto God, and separated from the world. As we grow in our knowledge of God and His Word, with the help of the Spirit, our positions on this spectrum should likewise move towards God. As the years go by, we ought to find ourselves nearer and nearer to God, further and further from the world. If the reverse holds true for us, perhaps it is time for us to examine ourselves. Could it be that we have forgotten the great measure of God’s love for us? Or have our minds been filled with the world rather than the words of God? Remember dear sisters in Christ, remember that we ought to stand for God. Remember, it is our reasonable worship of Him. Amen.