- Bonus Article -
What does separation do? What function does it perform? What does it really accomplish?
I think if you and I can grasp its importance and the role it plays in our Christianity, what it does for others and for the cause of Christ, and what it does for our ability to serve Him, we might see the subject differently. Maybe we’d get a little more excited about it if we really comprehended what separation does.
The topic of separation is not just something that preachers preach because they’re trying to ruin your fun or trying to lord over you and tell you what to do. It’s something that the Bible teaches, and it performs a tremendous function in our lives in several areas.
“But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” (Acts 19:9-12)
Notice it tells us the character of some of the people to whom Paul was talking. It said that some of them were hardened and believed not, but spake evil of that way. Notice Paul’s response. He departed from them and separated the disciples. Paul was a Separatist. Every fundamental Baptist in history, if they were true to the fundamentals of Christianity, knew there are some things from which you are to be separated. There was a crowd you don’t run with as your friends and companions. They understood that separation was to be practiced by the people of God.
Separation is not just negative. It is not just separation from some thing, but unto Someone. The reason I separate from sin and worldliness is so that I can fellowship with a holy God. If I don’t separate, I can’t have both. I can’t straddle the fence and have all that the world and sin has to offer, and have communion and fellowship and the blessing of God at the same time. God has made it so that I have to choose one or the other. I either separate from God unto sin and worldliness, or I separate from the world unto a holy God. It’s not just a matter of quitting this and that. It’s a matter of putting myself in a position that enables me to walk with and fellowship with a holy, just, righteous God and experience His power.
The Bible says, “Some were hardened.” Paul practiced separation from the hard-hearted crowd. They were unbelievers; he separated from them. That does not mean that Paul was not a witness to the unbelievers. It doesn’t mean that he was not a soulwinner. Separation does not interfere with me telling people about Christ. It just keeps me from yoking up with them. Separation prevents an unequal yoke, but it does not prevent me telling them how to get born again. Some folks get the idea that if you’re a Separatist, you’re an isolationist. You must think you’re better than everybody else and you mistreat people and won’t speak to anybody, but if I’m going to help somebody, I must be separated so that I have the ability to help them.
Then notice that he separated from those that spoke evil of the truth and that way. The Bible says that he departed from them himself. Not only did he do that personally, he separated the disciples, those who followed his leadership. The Bible does say, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17, 18)
The Bible clearly teaches separation. I’m not supposed to stay in and try to change things, I’m supposed to come out. Check history. Some of the great men who were in some of these denominations and movements could not change them. They had to come out. If men like them couldn’t change it, you might as well forget about it. J. Frank Norris was smart enough to know he had to come out. Now there may have been some great preachers in history who could deliver a powerful sermon, were of eloquent speech, but they could not change the corrupted movement that they were in and they would not come out. If they couldn’t change it, you and I are not going to change it. That’s for sure.
The Bible said in Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,...” He’s talking about separation. Counsel is anything that would influence me in a certain direction. It could be counsel by way of music. It could be counsel by way of friendship, and you don’t have any friends who don’t volunteer advice and opinion. They may not do it with any authority, or try to ram it down your throat, but everybody tries to influence everybody to some degree, great or small, and they’ll say things even in passing that will influence each other. The Bible says that I’m supposed to be careful about what kind of counsel I get, the books I read, the programming I watch, the music I listen to, the crowd I travel with, and the preaching I hear. I’m supposed to be careful about that.
“Blessed is the man...” That word ‘blessed’ means three things.
#1 It means happy. You’re probably not interested in that, are you?
#2 It means approved of God. What meets God’s approval is what makes man happy. What does not meet God’s approval cannot and will not make man happy. We’re always trying to make ourselves happy, but it won’t work.
#3 It means supernaturally prospered. God pours out His blessing.
God said, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Do you understand that there is a progression there? It’s impossible for you to walk in the counsel of the ungodly without taking this downward progression and getting worse off as time passes. The first thing you do is walk in the counsel of the ungodly and allow them to influence you. The next thing you do is take your stand in the way of sinners. Pretty soon you’re feeling sorry for rebels when the preacher gets up and preaches against somebody’s sin, because you’ve been consorting with the wrong crowd and spending your time with them. You have a sympathy for them instead of a conviction against the wrong that they are doing. You are offended for that person. Soon you start taking your stand with sinners and feeling sorry for them and thinking somebody has no compassion because they’re preaching the Bible.
Do you know what happens next? “...nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Suppose you’re doing right, but you start listening to the wrong crowd. Then it won’t be long till you take your stand with them. Anybody that says anything against what they’re doing, you’ll feel sorry for them and be mad at those taking a Bible stand on an issue. Then you will ultimately get to the place where you become a scoffer and a scorner and start mocking people that are trying to do right. “There’s old Holy Joe and Billy Bible and Susie Soulwinner. Don’t they think they’re something?” That’s a scorner, a scoffer. That’s somebody who mocks people who are doing the will of God, doing right. Instead of them trying to do better, they try to pull that crowd down to their level.
God said if I want to be blessed, then separation is the way to blessing. God commanded me to come out from among that crowd and He’ll receive me. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” This is not talking about salvation. God becomes your Father when you receive Christ and are born again. He said, “And will be a Father unto you,...” Every person alive has been fathered by someone. But isn’t it true that there are some people who have been fathered by someone, and still do not have the benefit of a father in their lives? Maybe he passed away, maybe he has been estranged. But even though they have been fathered, they do not enjoy the benefits and blessings of a father in their life. The function of a father is to provide, protect and lead.
At the point of salvation I have a Father, when I am spiritually born into the family of God. At the point of separation I can begin to enjoy the benefits of having a Heavenly Father and a relationship with Him. I will have a reception with Him, and not be estranged from Him, and He will perform the functions of a Father in my life, that of protection, provision and leadership.
Now I want you to recognize that when people practice Biblical separation, it is not Phariseeism. It’s not a ‘holier than thou’ thing, that you’re just too wonderful and perfect to associate with them. I don’t separate because I think I’m so holy and perfect. I need to separate because my flesh is just as wicked as their flesh. Biblical separation has to do with humility, not pride. It’s the fact that you realize your own vulnerability and weakness, and you separate for the sake of keeping yourself in a position that makes it possible for you to reach their soul.
Separation identifies you with the disciples. Did you notice in verse 9 it said, “He separated the disciples.” He did not want those who were true disciples of Jesus Christ to become part of the mixed multitude and lose their identity. He talks about people of “that way,” a term frequently used in the book of Acts. It refers to the way they believed, or their doctrine. It also refers to the way that they lived, and that was a separated, holy life.
Nehemiah 13:3 speaks of the mixed multitude, a crowd that’s generic. It’s a little bit of everything and nobody has a definite identity. It sounds like New Evangelicalism to me. It sounds like this Promise Keepers crowd to me. It sounds like this non-denominational stuff to me. “Let’s do away with the name tags and labels and let’s all join together and become generic.” God never intended for me to be generic. He intended for folks to know Who I belong to, that I was one of the people of that way, and I mean the Bible way. I mean sound doctrine. I mean a separated, godly life, the people of that way. I don’t want to lose my identity. Paul separated those disciples so they would not lose their identity as true disciples of Jesus Christ. They would be identified as people of that way.
James 1:27 speaks of pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” He said, “Number one is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.” The fatherless and widows would be folks who were suffering heartache and emotional hurt as well as financial need. So the first thing necessary to pure religion is to get concerned about the souls and needs of people, especially those that cannot remunerate my efforts.
The Bible has quite a bit to say about our treatment of others, and especially those in need. Not only are we commanded to consider the poor, but we are promised blessing from God for what we do for others, when we do it for His glory. Jesus talked about going after those that could do nothing for you, and could not pay back, and could not contribute; doing it to the glory of God and to meet the need. God said, “Thou shalt be blessed. You let Me take care of it.” He said, “Pure religion doesn’t have a motive to be exalting itself. Pure religion has a desire to meet the need of somebody that can’t do anything in return.”
When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well in John 4, the disciples said among themselves, (though they never said it to Him) “I wonder what He wants with her. What’s He seeking in her? What does she have to offer?” Buddy, if that’s the way you look at your soulwinning and visiting, there is something wrong. We are supposed to be trying to meet their need, not trying to get them to meet our need. We’re not supposed to have an ulterior motive. It’s okay if people who have been blessed by the ministry decide to be a blessing. The money is in the fish’s mouth. God knows which one it’s in, so you just get out there as a fisher of men and do what you’re supposed to do; God will see to it that the needs are met. God wants me to have pure religion, a pure heart. He does not want me to have some self-serving motive in what I’m doing.
Concerning pure religion, it goes on and says, “...and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Not just unspotted from sin and wickedness, but unspotted from the world. There is a difference between out-and-out sin and worldliness. Our churches have a bunch of Dalmatian Christians that are spotted up just like the world. You can’t tell them apart from the world. On the outside, they look the same as the heathen world. Their standards are the same; just about zero.
One particular verse is frequently quoted to try to justify a lack of standards. People try to tell everybody that God is not interested in the outside appearance. In l Samuel 16:7 it says, “...for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” Do you understand what was going on here? Here’s Samuel, the man of God. God sent him to Jesse’s household and said, “There’s young man here I’m going to have you anoint to be king.” He started with the eldest and went down through them. Samuel assumed this fellow must be tall, dark, and handsome. He’s big and strong and looks like a leader. He must be the one. God said, “No, that’s not him.” He went through all of them. Finally they found out that it was David, the youngest, who was out watching the sheep. That’s who God had chosen to anoint as king over Israel, the most unassuming character, seemingly the least likely. First Samuel 16:7 does not teach that God is disinterested in the outside. It simply says that God looks beyond the outside and also sees what’s in the heart.
Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:...” So what God sees on the inside is going to show up on the outside, sooner or later. You can put some veneer on there and be a pretender, but that does not fool God. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about standards. If He didn’t, then the Bible wouldn’t have anything to say about how to dress and how a man is to cut his hair. I don’t have time to quote all the verses that talk about how a woman ought to adorn herself in a godly manner. It talks about modest apparel -- that’s a katastole -- let down, long, flowing robe. He tells men that it’s a shame for them to have long hair. If it’s a shame to have long hair, it might be a shame to have purple hair and green hair. It might be a shame to shave your head on both sides and have a pile of green stuff sticking up in the middle, looking like unmowed grass. (Watch it! Somebody is liable to run over you with a lawn mower!)
Yes, God is concerned about the outside, but He’s not fooled by the outside. If I have everything looking right on the outside, but my heart is full of hidden sin, God knows. The only thing the prophet could see was the outside. God said, “Yes, I know. He looks good from your perspective, but that’s not the one.” The only thing that man can see is what’s on the outside. If that be true and I’m going to have a testimony, then the outward appearance is pretty important. If I’m not going to lose my identity and become generic, become part of the mixed multitude just like everybody else in the world, then the outside has got to change and be in agreement with the Word of God. My testimony is not for God to see. He sees the heart. My testimony is for man. It’s for them to be able to identify me as a Christian, figure out that I am a child of God.
I know a dog is a dog by how it looks. I know a sheep is a sheep by how it looks. I hunt all the time. I know the difference between a deer and a goat, though there are some people that don’t. (I won’t mention any names but his initials are Kevin Wynne!) I know a goat is a goat by what it looks like. I know a deer is a deer. I know a hog is a hog because of what it looks like. If you don’t want folks to think you’re a hog, don’t be out there wallowing in the quagmire, oinking and rooting dirt with your nose, eating slop.
You’re supposed to be able to see the difference in the appearance and conduct of the animal. You’re supposed to be able to see the difference in what they look like and how they act, in what they do and don’t do, and in their appetites and desires. There is supposed to be a difference. If you don’t want to be identified with the wrong crowd, then you probably ought to go ahead and separate from them and not be generically mixed with them. Have an identity of holiness and cleanness.
I can tell what branch of the military a fellow is in by what uniform he wears. It’s an indicator. It tells you something. I can tell a police officer, when he’s on duty at least, by the uniform he wears. I can tell you what team a ball player plays for by the uniform he wears. You are supposed to be able to identify that. It’s not something they are trying to hide.
When I was in high school football, we always had two different jerseys, a dark one and a light one. If the other team had a uniform similar to ours, we’d wear our away jerseys at a home game, so it would be easier to identify our own players.
If I’m a disciple, it means I’m a disciplined pupil of the Lord Jesus. I’m one who is actively engaged in an apprenticeship and He’s my Tutor. He’s the One who is giving me on-the-job training. I ought to be wearing the uniform of a disciple of Jesus Christ. People ought to be able to look at me and say, “He’s of that way. Yes, he’s one of them.” They ought to be able to listen to what you say you believe and decide, “Yes, he’s one of those fundamentalists. He believes that Bible is literally true. He believes it’s inspired and preserved. He believes in that confrontational soulwinning. He believes in holy living.”
Folks, I’ve got news for you. Baptists were living separated, holy lives a long time before there ever was a Holiness or Pentecostal preacher. People will know that I am of that way. In Acts 11:26 the Bible said that they were called Christians first at Antioch. It didn’t say that they called themselves Christians. It said that those who observed their manner of life called them Christians in Antioch. This was 18 years after the day of Pentecost. Those folks had some time to grow in the grace of God. I want you to know, they had put themselves in a position where they were identified by the people who observed them. They were identified with Christ. They said, “Those people act like Jesus. They do what Christ did when He was on the face of the earth. They have the same kind of holy life.” Don’t misunderstand me. A Christian is a copy of the original Christ. A copy is never as good as the original, but you should be able to tell what it’s a copy of!
Separation will identify me as a disciple of Jesus Christ, as a follower of His. Now if you’re not interested in that, if you don’t want anybody to know who you’re following, who you belong to, where you’re headed, what you believe, then it wouldn’t be real important to you.
Let me go a step further and say that separation will enable us to evangelize our community and our city. You see the Bible says, “...all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus...” They didn’t all get saved. Evangelizing and soulwinning are not one and the same. When you go soulwinning, you’re evangelizing, but everybody doesn’t get saved. I want you to know that everybody heard the Gospel. Everybody had the opportunity to get saved. To evangelize is to give a clear message of the Gospel to all.
A Gospel appeal coming from an unseparated Christian is like a distorted message with an uncertain sound. In l Corinthians 14:8, He said, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” He said, “You’re supposed to have a clear message, and it’s supposed to be an identity that goes along with it.” In other words, what I’m saying and what I am ought to match. If I had a watch dog and a prowler came and the dog mooed, I think I’d probably be amused and confused and be more vulnerable instead of less vulnerable. A lot of us are putting out an uncertain sound. We look like one thing, and what we’re saying is something else, and everybody is confused and scratching their head and saying, “Huh, I can’t imagine him saying that.”
Do you want an example? When Lot went back to his sons-in-law and talked to them, it said, “...he seemed as one that mocked...” Why did he seem as one that mocked? Because he was giving them a message of coming out, yet he’s the guy that moved in there and set up camp. He’s the guy that was unseparated and sitting in the gate with all the Sodomites, and now he was saying, “You’ve got to deliver yourself. You’ve got to come out.” All this time he’d been indulging and joining in with the ungodly and probably making excuses, and now he was trying to warn his family to come out, and nobody took him seriously. He seemed to them as one that mocked. Some of you have the right message, but you seem as one that mocks because people are looking at how you live, how you dress, the music you listen to, how infrequently you go to church, how disenchanted you are with the Word of God, and how little concern you have for being holy and separated.
When Paul was in the midst of the mock trial, he unknowingly rebuked the high priest. Do you know why? He later came back and apologized because the Scripture said, “Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler,” talking about the religious leaders of Israel. So he came back and apologized. He said, “I wist not that thou art the high priest.” How is it that the fellow could be the high priest and Paul not know it?
First of all, he wasn’t dressed in his high priestly apparel. You couldn’t tell. He wasn’t dressed like a high priest. That’s not all. He was not carrying himself and acting like the high priest and thirdly, he was not following the Bible like the high priest. Paul didn’t think he was the high priest since he wasn’t dressed like one, he wasn’t carrying himself like one, and he didn’t have any more reverence for the Bible than anyone else had. Paul didn’t know he was the high priest. Could I tell you that we have been made kings and priests according to Revelation 1:5? But to many people, we are as hard to identify as the high priest was to Paul.
Unseparated people don’t make good soulwinners even when they try. I don’t mean that it’s impossible for them ever to get anybody saved. I just mean they never can be what they should be, what God intended for them to be. When Paul looked at the high priest, he was confused. I’m going to tell you that many of us when we start telling people what they need, they look at us and scratch their head in confusion. “What is this guy or this gal doing, telling me what I need?” I guarantee you that everybody in this room at some time or another, if you are a witness for Christ, if you are a soulwinner, you’ve heard somebody say, “Well, if so and so is a Christian...”. Now don’t misunderstand me, that person will go to hell because he is a sinner, and he is without excuse no matter who does what. But those whose bad example and testimony have caused lost people to reject the Gospel and stay lost, aren’t they going to give an answer to God?
The Bible says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) I’m not giving an account of all the hypocrites I knew, and the preachers and leaders who disappointed me, and all the people that did me wrong. I’m going to give account of me. If I’m going to give account of me, that means I’m responsible for me, no matter what you do. I’m not writing off an individual’s responsibility to come to Jesus Christ, repent, and receive Him as Saviour. I’m not erasing that, but I’d hate to be the stumbling block over which they stumbled into hell. I’d hate to be the instrument of Satan to confuse somebody because they heard what I said and saw how I lived and decided, “It doesn’t make any sense to me.” I can’t convert anyone, nor can I convince them of their need for conversion while I’m yoked up with them and part of that mixed multitude. If I’m going to show them there is something they need, I’ve got to get over in that place where God can bless, and say, “It’s better here than it is over there.”
In Nehemiah 13:3, He talks about the mixed multitude. Where you have a mixed multitude, you always have an unequal yoke. You have people bound and joined, and if you come to the latter part of the book, once they had revival, then they had reform. They had to take care of some business for God to bless them. “Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.” They separated the ecumenical crowd, and the charismatic crowd, and the protestant crowd, and the promise keepers crowd, and the worldly crowd, and the rebellious crowd, and the sinful crowd. They separated from them so they would no longer be part of the mixed multitude. I want you to know that revival broke out. Don’t take my word for it. Just read the later chapters of the book of Nehemiah.
Hosea 7:8 says, “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.” He is only half baked. Now the truth is, God wants me to turn all the way, not half way. He doesn’t want me half a Christian. He wants me to be a whole Christian. He doesn’t want me to turn half way from evil and be half Christian and half worldly, half done and half undone. He wants me to be turned all the way.
Jesus did not die just so I could escape hell myself, but also so I could deliver others. In Galatians 1:4 it said, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world,...” Can I tell you that He not only wanted to save me from sin and from the penalty of sin in eternity, but also from this present evil world? So the first work of Calvary is salvation and the finished work. If we get everything done that God intended with Calvary then we’re going to go ahead and teach them to be a soulwinner, and get them separated unto God.
Separation from the world and the winning of the souls have always gone hand in hand. There is a logical reason for that. I can’t turn them from darkness to light like I’m supposed to, like I’m commanded to, like God said I would in the book of Acts. I cannot turn them from darkness to light while I have a bushel over my light, the bushel of worldliness. How am I going to turn them to light when my light is not visible? You say, “Well, I’ve got it in my heart.” That’s really good. When is the last time they looked inside your carcass? I cannot convince them that they need what I have, if what I have is not visible.
Now this is really amazing considering to whom happened! Brother Vineyard and I were in Arkansas. He was driving his vehicle, and pulled up to a gas pump. We no more than got out and started walking around the truck and a fellow came to pump the gas. He said, “Are you guys preachers?” I was amazed. That doesn’t happen very often, but he said, “Are you preachers?” I don’t know what we were talking about, probably hunting, or I always get him to tell war stories. But it wasn’t something we instigated. I mean almost instantaneously we got out and walked around the truck and he said, “Are you preachers?” We got to witness to him and win him to Christ. That doesn’t happen to me every day! Maybe that’s the only time it ever happened to either one of us. I don’t even know for sure why the fellow said it. We didn’t have a sticker on the vehicle that said, “Pastor, Preacher, Reverend or Clergy.” It didn’t have a Jesus bumper sticker on. I’m not against any of that stuff. I’m just saying that’s not what did it. I wish I could figure out what did it because I’d like it to happen again!
I’m simply telling you that folks ought to be able to tell at least that there’s something that’s different than the status quo, something different than the average, something out of the ordinary.
We are supposed to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works. We get the idea that we’re going to deliver them by jumping in with them. Okay, let’s just check that out. Suppose I’m coming down a path in the woods and I see the preacher up to his neck in quicksand, just about to go under, saying, “Hey, I need help.”
I say, “Hang on! I’ll be right in.” A big help I am once I jump in there with him. Now I’m in the same mess he’s in. Since I didn’t stay separated on solid ground, I forfeited the opportunity to help him. Now I’m in danger and needing help, too.
I’m here to tell you that when you and I indulge in worldliness and become part of the mixed multitude, we’ve jumped in the quicksand with the perishing and we can no longer help them, we’ve forfeited the opportunity. If I’m in the same mess they’re in, they’re not going to listen to my solution. I’m going to have to be on safe, solid ground if they’re going to listen to what I have to say. If it’s going to hold any water, if it’s going to be credible, if I’m going to get a positive response, there’s got to be something real about what I have, something stable, something that enables me to help them. One of the reasons that the world is going to hell is because those of us who are supposed to evangelize and give the Gospel message have become part of the mixed multitude. We’re unseparated people. Even if we’re getting the message out, nobody is paying any attention to it because what they hear from us doesn’t match what they see. They are scratching their head in confusion.
Do you know what tickles me? This crowd that doesn’t even believe in confrontational evangelism or soulwinning, they are going to beam them in through lifestyle evangelism. They think if they stand there everybody is going to want to get saved because they looked at them. Now I believe God commands a verbal witness, but there ought to be a lifestyle to back it up. The funny thing is this crowd that thinks they’re going to beam them in are the ones who look just like the crowd they’re trying to reach. There’s nothing different -- they’re just like the world.
I have to tell this story. Years ago a pastor in Canada told me about a man in his church that didn’t believe in soulwinning. This fellow worked at a factory for nearly 15 years. He never witnessed to anybody or handed out a tract. He just believed in lifestyle evangelism and was going to beam them in. I believe in a lifestyle that adds credence and credibility to my message. I’m not saying it’s not important. I’m saying a lot of folks that believe in lifestyle evangelism don’t have a lifestyle that is any different than the unsaved. This fellow was thinking, “Boy, surely, sooner or later somebody is going to ask me.”
One day a fellow came to him and said, “Look. I noticed something different about you. Could I talk to you at lunch time?”
The fellow said, “Oh yes, sure.” He went back to his machine and was all excited. He said, “Boy, this is great. All these years now. This lifestyle evangelism paid off.”
So they went up to the break room at lunch time and the fellow said, “Look. I noticed something different about you. Don’t tell me! Let me guess. Are you a vegetarian?”
I mean, after 15 years of beaming them in, the guy thought he was a carrot or a tomato. I’m for living a lifestyle that’s holy, and separated, and clean. But if we’re going to get the job done, we’ve got to speak the message AND have a life that is separated unto God if we’re going to be effective.
Salvation is a choice, a decision, and we can’t make it for them. We just have to make sure that they hear the truth -- that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sin, was buried, and rose again the third day. Some people act like talking loud and fast and refusing to take no for an answer is the way to win a soul to Christ. No, you don’t trick anybody or pressure anybody into salvation. They have to choose to turn from sin and receive Christ. The only reason they heard what you said is because they’re more polite than you are. It doesn’t hold any water with them. They didn’t appreciate it, they didn’t receive it, they did not give you a hearing, it didn’t bear any fruit, and it won’t affect them. So separation will enable us to evangelize our city. It’s going to keep us from being part of the mixed multitude and give us an identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is going to enable us to evangelize our city, our community, for us to give them a credible warning.
Separation will supply us with miracle working power. Notice what it says in Acts 19:11, “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:” We need to see the miracles of God today, and they’re still available. God is not out of business. The greatest miracle that takes place is the new birth to start with, but we need some miracle working power. We don’t need to find out what flesh can do. We need to find out what God can do. Separation is not just from sin. It is unto God. It puts me in a position where I am yoked with God and enjoying the power of God.
Miracle working power is in a Person, Jesus. A miracle is something that is humanly impossible. It requires deity. Salvation is accomplished by the only God who can, the true and living God, the God of heaven. The Bible says, “...For there is no power but of God:...” (Romans 13:1) So if I’m going to have any power and be able to see God do any miracles, I’m going to have to get yoked up with God. It’s not only that I’m going to have a credible testimony so that they’ll listen when I try to evangelize, but I’ve got to have power with God to see Him do a supernatural miracle in the lives of people that I couldn’t have just by living clean.
Separation is not just a list of don’ts and things that I don’t do. It’s the fact that I separate unto God from sin and worldliness. If you don’t separate unto God, you’re just a Pharisee. If all you do is quit doing the wrong stuff, but you do not separate unto God and get yoked with God, then you missed the whole point of separation. Separation wasn’t so you could dot every fundamental ‘i’, cross every fundamental ‘t’, and tell everybody how wonderful and spiritual you are. It was so you could have a relationship and communion with God.
Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day until sin entered in and that severed their relationship. They separated from God unto sin. But there was a time when they were separated from sin unto God and enjoyed that sweet communion and fellowship with God.
Here’s the promise that the Lord Jesus gave in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:...” Did you notice what kind of Spirit or Ghost He is? The exclusive Holy Ghost of God. The Holy Ghost of God is not going to come upon me while my life is saturated with worldliness, sin, and carnality. You know, I’m worried about things that are going on today because we have carnal people out there racking up statistical reports that wouldn’t know God if they fell over Him. They haven’t spent five minutes in prayer. They haven’t read their Bible. They have a bad spirit and a bad attitude. They don’t have a spiritual bone in their body. I’m glad for anybody to go out and knock on doors, and I wouldn’t want to slow them down. I’d rather have them out there doing it when they’re not as spiritual as they ought to be than to have folks that don’t go at all. I’m not trying to put a damper on the ‘go’ in soulwinning. I’m saying, “Why don’t you get some power to get the job done.” If you’re going to spend the time out there, you might as well have power to get it done.
You know this crowd that got the power of God in the book of Acts, they separated from sin into an upper room, but not to stay for good. They went in there for ten days, prayed, and the power of God fell. Then they went out where the mixed multitude was. They went out with some power. They went out with a testimony. They went out with an identity.
If I go out in the mixed multitude and I’m trying to win them to Christ and I’ve lost my identity, I don’t have any power. I don’t have any credibility to my message. I’m probably not going to accomplish a whole lot. You’ll find out when they came out of that room, they went down to where the crowd was. Acts 2:4 said, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,...” In Acts 2:41 it said that 3,000 people got saved. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1,2)
What I’m trying to tell you is that we need a clean connection with God. Several years ago I was in Raleigh, North Carolina, holding a revival meeting. I parked my truck and trailer and got it set up. I got back in my truck and turned the key, and it wouldn’t start. Now I’ve had some starter trouble in the past, and burned some starters out probably because of heat coming off the exhaust on long trips and melting things inside there. So my natural assumption is automatically, “I have a starter problem.” So when I clicked it and it wouldn’t start, immediately I crawled under, and it took me about five or ten minutes. I unhooked the battery wire, and unhooked several things. I took those few wires off and unbolted it from the bell housing and pulled it out. I went down to a NAPA store and traded it in and got a brand new starter. I came back, put it in, hooked everything up, got in and hit the key and it did nothing. I went to all that work and it wasn’t a starter problem. So I decided to check the battery. The battery had plenty of juice in it. There wasn’t anything wrong with the battery.
Then I found the real problem. I pulled the battery terminals off where they connect. I took a knife and started scraping in there. I saw there was a very thin crust, and one of the cables was not as tight as it should have been. I started scraping, and I scraped it, and cleaned it. I got a wire brush that was made for that and I got it in there and reamed it out. I cleaned the post off, put the thing back on, tightened it down, got in, and hit the key and it started right up. My problem was not that the battery was shot. There was plenty of power available. My problem was not that the equipment would not work. The equipment was in good working order. My problem was, I did not have a clean connection and the power couldn’t get through to where it had to go, to get the job done.
There is nothing wrong with soulwinning. The equipment still works. The program still works. There is nothing wrong with God and His power. There is still plenty there. The problem is that many of us do not have a clean connection with God. We are not separated from sin unto God. There is a thin film of worldliness preventing the power of God from getting to where it needs to be to get the job done. To be clean and disconnected won’t get the job done. To be connected and be unclean, where you’re trying to get as close as you can, but you have sin there, it’s going to prevent the power from getting through. We need to be separated from sin unto God, connected.
What will separation do for you? Why do you need to get separated? “Why are you always preaching standards? Why are you always trying to tell me how to live?” Maybe it’s because we don’t want you to lose your identity and become part of the mixed multitude. Maybe we want folks to know that you are of ‘that way,’ the way Jesus lived and believed, the right doctrinal position. You’re following the way of holiness in your living. Maybe we don’t want you to lose your ability to evangelize your family and your city. Maybe we don’t want you live without the power to get the job done when you do make the effort. I’m here to tell you that separation will do those three things for you. It will give you an identity with Jesus Christ as His disciple. It will enable you to evangelize and make your message credible, and it will supply you with power to see the lives of people changed when you get the message out.
Folks, we need to be a separated people. God commands it. We’re living in a day when that’s not a popular message, not even in fundamentalism. I could not begin to tell you how many men I have known that were separated 10 or 15 years ago that have allowed Bible standards to escape them, and they’ve lost their identity. The people have lost their identity. They’ve lost the ability to affect their city. They have lost the power to get the job done.
Separatist preachers are trying to do those three things for their people, but there is a problem. He can only tell you what the Bible says you ought to do. He can’t make you do it or do it for you. Somewhere along the line, you have to get interested in having the right identity. Somewhere along the line, you have to get interested in your message being credible to people when you speak. Somewhere along the line, you have to get interested in the mighty power of God on your personal life to get the job done. I can tell you, “That’s what separation will do for you,” but I can’t separate for you. You’re going to have to make some decisions and changes.
What I’m saying is not a brand new issue. Some of you need to get your identity back. Some of you need to add credence to your message, and some of you need to put yourself in a position where you have a clean connection with God, so the mighty power of God can flow through you and get the job done.
That’s what separation does.