Is Separation Worth It?
By Mary E. Stephens
2 Corinthians 6:17 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.
Jeremiah 37:12-15 Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people. And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes. Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.
We are commanded to separate from the unclean thing and from people that are in league with the devil and his crowd. In this day and age we may be inclined to feel sorry for ourselves when we end up lonely and hurting for doing right and obeying God's word.
Persecution from those who are supposed to be God's people is not really a "sign of the times" as we might think. Notice that Jeremiah experienced this in his day in a very real and unpleasant way. Most of us have not been physically smitten and cast into prison for trying to separate. Also, if you read the book of Jeremiah you will find that he apparently only had about 2 (maybe 3) friends -- Baruch, his scribe; and Ebed-melech the Ethiopian eunuch. Separating unto the Lord and His word can be very lonesome at times.
One important thing that we see in Jeremiah's experience, though, is that the professing "people of God" will accuse us of going to the enemy's camp when we do separate. Don't be shocked when people who profess to be Christians not only cannot stand your convictions and standards, but also accuse you of being divisive, troublemakers, and even servants of Satan. After all, they did this to our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
If they would accuse our glorious Lord of such wickedness, dare we think they will not do so to us also when we do His work and obey His word? Remember, the Pharisees professed to believe and obey the word of God. They claimed to be believing Jews and were supposedly the spiritual elite of their day.
Jesus told us that this would be the case also with the world. John 15:18-23 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. [By the way, people who profess to be Christians and are not really born again are of the world.]
Another thing that we find in the book of Jeremiah is that he was repeatedly ignored. This is often our experience also, and it is exactly what the Bible said would happen in the last days, for it is to be as it was is the days Noah and Lot, Luke 17:26-29. Both of these men were ignored when they gave warning of what was to come. Noah actually preached for 120 years and his only converts were his wife, his sons and their wives! In fact, we are told in Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. So we see that not only our preaching condemns them, but also the way we live and what we do condemns them; yet, the most common response for us will be as it was for Noah and Jeremiah -- they will not believe, and we will be ignored. Sometimes they will revile us as they did Lot.
Yes, there is a price for separating from wrong things and people, and for trying to do what is right, but the promise to us from the Lord is, "...and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. " 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Strange as it may seem, we need to learn to love God by one of His names that is seldom noted -- Jealous. Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: If you read the context of this verse you will find that it is speaking about separating from evil! Verse 15 starts "Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land..."
This idea is carried over into the New Testament when Paul says, For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2 This is in the context of separating from people. Galatians 5:17 continues the idea in the context of separating from sin. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. The Spirit lusteth against the flesh! This is God by the name Jealous.
Being God's cherished possession that He guards is a blessing. It is good that He wants us to separate unto Him. It is part of His nature, and even name, to be jealous over us with such godly jealousy and care. As G.D. Watson points out in the devotional "Others May - You Cannot," "Now, when you are so possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this particular personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven." It should be sweet to us that God has such a strong desire to keep us wholly and holy to Himself.
The "...reproach of Christ" is "greater riches than the treasures in Egypt..." and there is a reward! Hebrews 11:26 We have Christ Himself as our example in this. Hebrews 13:12-15 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Is the price of separation worth it? Can we thank God for His careful jealousy to keep us faithful to Him? God help us if we cannot say "yes" to those questions. Better to take delight in Him and love Him by His name Jealous than to have Him teach us the blessedness of that name the hard way. It may be difficult and it may hurt, there may be tangled knots to undo in some cases, but when we separate from those things and people that we are to separate from according to God's word, we are going toward God and He will receive us! Psalm 91:1- 2 will become very real to us in a new way -- He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
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by Mary Stephens