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Worlds Apart

Christians are called to separate themselves from unbelievers.

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:  for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  and what communion hath light with darkness?  15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  16 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.   17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing;  and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

The reason God gives for this radical separation is that Christians are fundamentally different from unbelievers and have so little in common with them that they must not be “yoked together.” He says, it is unnatural for believers to have fellowship, communion, concord or agreement with unbelievers. He tells them that they are “the temple of the living God” that He will dwell and walk in. They must separate themselves from every form of evil so they can train to become His sons and daughters.

God, speaking to the Serpent immediately after the Fall, said:

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

We know that this is a reference to Christ’s defeat of Satan at the Cross but there is more; two seeds are mentioned. The “Serpents Seed” can only be those that believe Satan’s lie, all unbelievers. The Woman’s Seed is Christ but it also includes all that are in Christ, all believers. Christ’s defeat of Satan was through the creation of a Seed that was no longer under Satan’s dominion and would eventually displace Satan’s Seed. God separates these two major divisions of mankind by placing enmity between them. Believers and unbelievers are to be enemies!

What does all this mean? Are Christians to have nothing whatever to do with unbelievers? No, we are told that that would necessitate leaving the world (1 Cor. 5:10). Also, when in a marriage one person becomes a Christian, he or she should remain with the unbelieving spouse (1 Cor. 7:12-13). In addition, Christians are required to teach the nations (Matt. 28:18-20); this certainly necessitates some sort of contact.

What is forbidden are any relationships or entanglements that impede development and could lead to compromise, i.e. marriage, business partnerships, close friendships and other binding associations. Christians are called to a highly exalted status; they are to be sons and daughters, members of God’s royal family. They are destined to rule and need to develop the skills needed to do so justly. They have the Holy Spirit who leads them to God’s word but are still very immature and are burdened with old habits that need to be discarded. As God’s children, they must learn to live in accordance with the standards of the royal family. This they cannot do if they continue to play in the streets with the common children. These, though, are not cast aside and forsaken; Christianity is not a closed club; all are called to join; but there is a cost, it’s a major life-change (Phil. 3:7-14).

There are a great many fundamental differences that separate Christians from unbelievers; they have eternal life so death is not a specter to fear; death is the beginning of a new and glorious existence that they can look forward to. Their purpose in this life is not to get as much out of it as they can while it lasts; it is a life of service in obedience to God. All this and more is what the Christians in this world need to learn to live for and this they cannot do without separating themselves from the world and its distractions.

This separation from the world goes even further. Christians cannot pledge allegiance to any nation;* they are members and citizens of the kingdom of God, the kingdom Christ instituted with His coming (Matt. 3:2, 4:17,10:7, 12:28, 16:28; Mark 1:15, 9:1; Luke 9:27, 10:9, 11:20). Their allegiance is to the Lord and they obey Him and Him only. Their obedience to the nation’s laws is only a contingent obedience. They obey only where Christ requires and disobey the nation rather than disobey God (Acts 5:29; Rom 13:1-6). They constitute a kingdom within kingdoms (or nations). More, they work to bring the cultures and the laws of the nations into conformity with God’s righteousness (Matt. 6:33). The goal is that, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15).

The above is a picture of the mature Christian, one that has spent sufficient time in the study of Scripture and made much progress in sanctification. Most of today’s Christians are still babes in Christ; they need to separate themselves from the worldly connections that keep pulling them down so they can grow into the dynamic powerhouses for change that God designed them to be. They have much work to do; there is a broken world that needs mending.

Footnote:

* If the words “under God” in the U.S. pledge of allegiance are understood as a qualification of the powers of government, Christians may make this pledge in good conscience.

Some considerations:

  1. God placed enmity between believers and unbelievers (Gen. 3:15).
  2. Paul requires separation (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
  3. The Gospel message requires teaching (Matt. 28:18-20).
  4. How can we teach enemies that are separate from us?
    1. We treat them with kindness (love your enemies).
    2. We answer their questions.
    3. We explain our faith and why it makes us enemies.
  5. How do we protect our youth from their falsehoods?
    1. We sequester them in accordance with their lack of understanding and ability.
    2. We chaperone them when contact is unavoidable.
    3. We teach them the truth and explain the false.