Facing the Issues
Why You Don’t Understand Separation
by Dr. Dennis Corle
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” (John 7:17)
Frequently I hear people say, “I just don’t understand what’s so bad about... ” You could add ten thousand endings to that statement. “I don’t see what’s so bad about long hair on men.” “I don’t see why it’s so important to be separated.” “I don’t see what’s so bad about rock music. I don’t understand why you think women shouldn’t wear pants and shorts.” It seems that everybody is trying to justify something, but they really don’t understand or comprehend separation. There is a reason why they don’t.
John 7:17 says, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” I want you to notice that doing God’s will comes first; knowing the doctrine follows. The Bible says in Psalm 111:10, “Good understanding have all they that do his commandments.” Doing the commandment is the key to good understanding. God did not tell me, “When you understand separation, then obey.” No, God said, “When you obey My command to separate, understanding will follow. When you do My will in coming out from among them, then you’ll comprehend the doctrine of separation.”
If I’m ever going to understand, I must first obey. Someone is always saying, “Well, I just don’t see why it’s so bad to...” That’s because they have never obeyed the command to separate. They have never practiced the Bible directive, so they don’t understand the doctrine. They don’t know what sin is doing to them, and they do not know what they’re missing because they’ve never practiced separation.
In Psalm 34:8 the Bible says, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” You don’t know what something tastes like until you commit yourself and put it in your mouth.
Children come to the supper table and see something green, whether it’s green beans, broccoli, or turnip greens, whatever it may be. Immediately the average child says, “Ooh! Yuck! I don’t like that.”
“Well, have you ever tasted it?”
“No! I don’t like it!” How do you know? You don’t taste things with your eyes. You can’t tell what it tastes like by looking at it.
There have been times when I’ve gone to a church supper or dinner on the grounds, and you walk by those tables and boy, does it look good. A few times, I’ve looked at one thing, and boy, it looked good, so I put a whole bunch of it on my plate. I looked at something else and it did not really appeal to my eye when I looked at it, so I got a little bit of it, almost out of duty.
Once I sat down and started eating, when I committed myself and actually put it in my mouth, I sometimes found out that what did not appeal to the eye did appeal to the taste buds. I found out that what appealed to the eye in some cases was not as good as it looked, and the other thing was better than it looked. Then I’d go back up to where the food was and try to get some more of what I knew was really good. I wished I hadn’t gotten so much of the other thing. When I got back up to the table I’d find out the bowl was empty. Someone knew something I did not know. What I didn’t know did keep me from enjoying something good.
The only way to know how good it is is to commit yourself. A little kid says, “Ooh! Yuck! I don’t like turnip greens.” If he’s never tasted greens he doesn’t know if he likes them or not. You have to commit yourself to the point of tasting before you can comprehend. The Bible says, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”
When I separate myself unto God I get a taste of how good God is, a taste of what God made me for, a taste of fellowship with God -- if I ever get a taste of what God has for me, what the world has won’t look so appealing anymore.
The devil always has a substitute for whatever God has. Everything that God has, the devil has a substitute for. You have to understand that. The devil promises everything God promises; he just never delivers.
For everything in the will of God, the devil has something to compete with it. He promises that what he has is as good or better than what God has. Of course, he’s a liar, and the father of lies.
Many people have settled for the devil’s substitute, and have not even tasted the will of God. They turned their nose up to separation from sin unto God, but they never got a taste of it. If you haven’t tasted separation, you don’t know what it tastes like. If you’ve not committed yourself in this matter of Biblical separation, you don’t understand whether it’s good or not. You are making a judgment call based on how it looks to you, from your perception, and most of the time our perception is pretty distorted outside the will of God.
If you taste, you’ll see that the Lord is good. If you taste of separation from sin unto God, you’re going to find out that it’s good. It’s God’s plan.
Powdered milk is a substitute for the real thing. If you’ve ever had real farm milk with the cream on it, you’re going to turn your nose up to powdered milk. Do you know why? It doesn’t taste anything like the real thing.
I have a juicer. Since I have personally juiced oranges, grapefruits, and apples, I don’t have a taste for store-bought orange juice, grapefruit juice, or apple juice. I’ve had the real thing. It’s fresh. It tastes good. After that, the other stuff just doesn’t cut the mustard. It’s not even close.
If the only thing you ever had in your life was powdered milk, you might get to thinking it’s pretty good stuff. You could develop a taste for it. But if you ever get a taste of the real stuff with the cream on it, powdered milk will never suffice again.
When I was a small child we didn’t have much money, but my dad was working at the brick yard and doing pretty well. I had regular milk bought from Ritchey’s Dairy. They’d deliver it to the doorstep in glass bottles with paper plugs in the top. Every morning we got milk. I really liked milk.
But when my dad got laid off at the brick yard and we couldn’t afford to buy milk anymore, my mother got powdered milk. She used to mix that stuff up and try to trick me into believing it was the real thing. The only problem was, I had already tasted the real stuff. She mixed that powdered milk up and put it in a Ritchey’s Dairy bottle, put the paper plug in it, set it in the refrigerator, and tried to make it look to me like it was the real thing.
I could tell by looking at it. It had a darker color than real milk. It was kind of gray. When you popped the cap, it didn’t smell like milk. It smelled like some kind of chemical. She tried and tried to make me believe that was the real thing. But I was spoiled. I had already tasted the real thing. I couldn’t get content with a substitute.
It is my contention that if you and I ever practice and obey separation, and get a taste of what separation provides, if we get a taste of the goodness of God, we’ll never be able to get satisfied with the things the world has to offer.
The devil has some things to offer, the pleasures of sin for a season. But remember seed time and harvest. There is not only a season of sowing, there is a season of reaping. For a season, during the sowing time, people enjoy sin, but when it comes harvest time, they don’t enjoy sin anymore. It’s a grievous time for them.
“I just don’t understand separation.” If you’re making that statement it is because you have not obeyed separation. “I just don’t see what’s so bad about...”, or “What’s so important about...”, or “What’s the big deal about...”?
You’re telling on yourself. Because, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” “Good understanding have all they that do his commandments.” I have to do the commandments in order to get understanding. If you and I ever practice what God tells us to practice, we’re going to find out how good it is.
I can’t tell you how good a Cadillac drives if I’ve never been in one. If all I’ve ever had is a Volkswagen, I may think a Volkswagen drives good, because I don’t have anything to compare it with. If all I’ve ever had is powdered milk, and I’ve never had the real stuff with the cream on it, I might tell you how good powdered milk is. I may really believe that. I have nothing to compare it with. I don’t know the difference because I’ve never had the real stuff.
If all I’ve ever had is rice, I might not be able to tell you how good steak is. If I’ve never had anything but that, I can tell you how great it is and you can tell me, “But this is better. You have to have this.” I might say, “No, I like this. I’m satisfied with this.” The reason I’m satisfied with that is because I have nothing to compare it with. I don’t know what I’m missing.
When I was single, I thought I had it pretty good. I thought it was great to be single. I thought I was free. Then I got married, and I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world. I wouldn’t trade being married for being single again. When I was single I thought I had it pretty good, but now that I’m married I feel sorry for single guys. When I was single I didn’t know what I was missing. You don’t know what marriage is like until you commit yourself (to the right one) and get married.
The only way I’m going to understand the difference between a Volkswagen and a Cadillac is if I commit myself to getting in the Cadillac or purchase one. Then I’ll know the difference. The only way I’m going to know the difference between powdered milk and the real stuff is to commit myself and taste it. If I’ve never tasted the real stuff, I have no idea what I’m missing. I can get content with a substitute if I’ve never tasted the real stuff.
We have multitudes of saved people who are content with the substitute the devil gave them, and they turn their noses up at the real thing. If all you’ve ever had is the powdered milk of the world, the flesh, and the devil, you may develop a taste for it.
The danger is, when God commands you to come out and be separate, you cannot have the world and the blessing of God. It’s either this or this. If I’m not willing to commit myself to separate from the world to enjoy sweet fellowship with God, then I’m going to have one or the other.
Many people forfeit an opportunity to fellowship with God so they can hold onto the substitute that they’ve gotten used to, something they’ve developed a taste for, but it won’t hold a candle to what God has. Nevertheless, they are unwilling to commit themselves to this to find out what it’s like.
Somebody says, “Well, I don’t see what’s so bad about rock music.” The only way you’re ever going to find out what’s so bad about it is if you’re willing to obey the command to separate from it and enjoin yourself to psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. You’re not going to understand the blessing of good music unless you’re willing to part from the bad music so you can tell the difference. You’ll have something to compare it to.
A lost man grows up in sin, then gets saved. Your natural habit is to be attached to the wrong thing. What you have previously drawn all your enjoyment from is the wrong thing. So, when you get saved, the only way you’re ever going to understand the doctrine of separation is if you engage in the practice of separation, if you obey the command of separation. All of a sudden, you’re going to find out that you’re not only leaving something behind, but you’re gaining something better.
I’m trying to communicate the idea that if I don’t obey the command, I’m never going to understand the doctrine. That’s applicable to anything in Christianity, but especially true of the subject of separation.
There is a multitude of people who say, “I just don’t understand.” “I don’t see what’s so bad about...” They really can’t comprehend, and the reason is they have not obeyed John 7:17, Psalm 111:10, Psalm 34:8. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” They haven’t tasted, and the reason they haven’t tasted is that they’re not willing to commit themselves to part with this and receive that.
When I was a teenager I was anxious to get my driver’s license. When it was time for me to take the driver’s test, they gave me a big, thick book full of all these rules, and I started studying for my test. I thought, “This is ridiculous. Why do I need all of these dumb rules? Some of these rules don’t even make sense.” They didn’t make any sense to me.
I said, “I don’t understand this stuff. I know what a stop sign is. I know what yield means. I know what a red light is. I know which side of the road I’m supposed to be on. I can read a speed limit sign. I know when to put my brakes on. I have a general idea what the safe distance behind another car is. Why do I need to memorize all these dumb rules?” Honestly, I thought that all those driving rules were dumb. I didn’t really want to study and memorize all that stuff. But I was going to have to take a test, and if I didn’t pass the test I wouldn’t get a license. I wanted a license, so I decided I would memorize those dumb rules. I went in and took the test, and I passed. I got my license.
Even after I had memorized the rules, I still didn’t understand them. Even after I started driving and knew what the rules were, they still didn’t make sense to me. Why was I supposed to do this, and why was I not supposed to do that? Some of it seemed silly to me. But I decided I would obey those rules, because if you don’t obey, they have these guys that sit out there along the road in the bushes in specially painted cars with lights on the top. When they catch you disobeying the rules, they pull you off and take your money away. I didn’t have any money I wanted to give away. I didn’t want to lose my privilege to drive.
So I obeyed the rules strictly out of duty. I still thought they were dumb. I still didn’t understand the logic behind them. I still thought they really didn’t have any purpose except to manipulate you.
But through these almost 50 years of driving, many, many times I have been obeying one of those “dumb rules” that I did not understand, and something happened in front of me, or to my right or to my left, and all of a sudden a light came on in my head. I realized that if I had been violating that rule, I would have been in the middle of an accident. Suddenly I’d say, “Oh! I understand now.”
If I had waited until I understood the driving rules to obey them, I would certainly have been a casualty and maybe a fatality. By the time that light came on and I realized what the rule was for, I would have already been in an accident. It would have been too late to enjoy the benefits of the rule if I had stayed in violation until I understood it. The fact that I was obeying it allowed me to live long enough to understand it and enjoy what I was doing.
Too many people say, “When I understand, I’ll obey. I just don’t see what’s so bad about... I’m not doing this. If you can prove to me...” There is no problem in showing you what God said. But you’re never going to make it long enough as a Christian to understand separation if you’re not willing to practice separation by principle. If you’re not willing to obey the command you’ll never understand the doctrine. If you’re not willing to do the commandments you’ll never get good understanding.
In driving, many of those things that made no sense to me do make sense to me now. I didn’t learn everything at the same time. I didn’t understand everything at the same stage. I was not just in a close call one time and all of a sudden I understood all the reasons for all the rules. But every time I had a close call and wiped the sweat beads from my brow, I had learned another new reason why those rules were important.
In my Christian life I’ve had some close calls and scrapes with sin and temptation. When I was obeying one of these commands, I may not have understood all the details, but the very fact that I was obeying allowed me to survive long enough to understand why God said it, and to appreciate it and thank God that I was doing right and its saved me a lot of hurt and heartache.
I could name so many men who started out in the ministry around the same time I did, but they’re not in the ministry today. There were some things they really didn’t understand and they decided it probably wasn’t that important. They thought they could violate a Bible principle and it was no big deal. By the time they realized why God said it, and why it was so important, their lives were already wrecked and their ministries down the drain.
God gives me a command to come out and to separate. He commands me to touch not the unclean thing. He commands me to abstain from all appearance of evil. There are several commands that relate to the subject of separation. He says a man is not to put on a woman’s garment, neither is a woman to put on a man’s garment, and all that do are an abomination to the Lord. The Bible says that long hair on a man is a shame.
Whether I understand separation or not, I’m still supposed to obey it. Whether I know why God has a will for my life or not doesn’t change the fact that I’m supposed to do His will. And if I will do the will of God in separation, I’ll know the doctrine of separation. If I will obey separation, I’ll get good understanding of separation. If I taste of separation, I’ll see that it is good. All of a sudden I find out that the devil has been short changing me with his powdered milk. When I get a taste of the real stuff, then this other stuff loses its appeal.
When a person practices separation from sin and worldliness for awhile along with a genuine relationship with God, and gets a taste of what God has in store for him, when he looks back at the world and sin, it doesn’t look as good as it used to look. Why? Because I don’t care much for the substitute anymore. I want the real thing.
People who have never been separated don’t know what they’re missing. They don’t know how poorly it compares to the will of God and the blessing of God. Any joy that the devil gives is very temporary. Any peace or happiness he gives is very temporary.
The Bible says in Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” In verse two of the same chapter it says, “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” The blessings of the devil do have sorrow added to them. The devil will give you some earthly blessing or benefit, like the people in Hollywood have, and are still very miserable. Why are these people who have everything money can buy taking their own lives? Why can’t they find any peace or happiness or purpose to go on living? What is their problem? You think if you had what they have you’d be happy -- that’s what they thought, too. But they found out it didn’t. As a matter of fact, it created a lot of trouble.
I can have the treasures of wickedness. I can enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, but it profits nothing. Every time the devil gives me a blessing, there is sorrow attached to it. When God gives me blessing, there is no sorrow added or attached to it. The devil will bless you in sin, but there is sorrow attached. It’s going to catch up with you. There is a law of sowing and reaping, of seed time and harvest.
The Bible says in Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” In the life of a Christian, Jesus is the Boss. It’s that simple. I’m supposed to do what He says. It’s hypocritical for me to say, “Lord,” and then do my own will in place of His will. Lord means ‘Sovereign,’ the final authority in my life.
If my feelings are my final authority then I shouldn’t be so hypocritical as to call Jesus “Lord.” You don’t make Him Lord -- He is Lord. But you do acknowledge or recognize Him as Lord in your life. Nobody has ever given his life in total subjection to God, but we are to recognize Him for who He actually is and respond to Him with reverence and obedience because He is the final authority.
My dad was the boss at our house. When I was living at home, there were many things he told me to do or not to do. He had some rules about who I could travel with and who my friends could be. I didn’t understand it then, but some of the guys he wouldn’t let me run with ended up in jail.
My dad was not a Christian when I was young. But in spite of that, he was wise enough to have some rules that related to separation. There were some things my dad didn’t allow. I was not allowed to go across Route 220 on my bicycle. Later some kids were killed crossing there on their bicycles.
Can’t you see that my dad wasn’t trying to ruin my life. He was not trying to keep me from having fun and enjoying life. He was trying to preserve my life. He didn’t want me to run around with a certain crowd because he did not want me to end up in jail.
I wasn’t allowed to smoke. I wasn’t allowed to drink beer. I wasn’t allowed to cuss, though I would often sneak around and break some of these rules. He wasn’t trying to oppress me and keep me from enjoying something good; he was trying to protect me from something bad. He was trying to keep me from hurting myself.
I’ll be honest with you. When I was a kid I didn’t like those rules. I thought the things he expected of me were not fair. I just didn’t like the fact that he was telling me I couldn’t do this or that even though some of my friends could.
But he was my dad. He fed me, clothed me, and put a roof over my head. He took care of my needs, so he certainly had a right. But as a kid it bothered me.
People who don’t like standards and rules show their immaturity. I look back and thank God that my dad had some rules and standards. I’m glad he told me what was right and wrong. I didn’t always obey, but I’m glad he was tough on me. There are some things I understand about my dad now that I didn’t understand then because now I’m a dad.
My dad was the boss. So when he told me to do something or not to do something, it was my responsibility to obey. I did not have to understand why I wasn’t allowed to run around with certain fellas. I did not need a college class on why cigarettes are bad. I did not need a two hour lecture on why it’s dangerous to cross the highway on my bicycle. I didn’t need a study on why I shouldn’t play on the railroad tracks, or why I shouldn’t go up to that condemned building that they called “the tipple,” where they used to load railroad cars with brick. It was dangerous. I was not allowed to go swimming at the quarry. But some of my friends that swam at the quarry died there. My dad was not being mean to me. He was not oppressing me. He loved me. He was trying to protect me and keep me safe. He was trying to preserve my life.
When Dad told me what I was supposed to do, I did not have to understand why. There were many times he told me something that didn’t make any sense to me. But I obeyed because I didn’t want to get into trouble with him. Suppose I had crossed my arms and said, “When I understand, I’ll obey. When I figure out why, I’ll do it!” I wouldn’t have received an explanation. He would have given me an attitude adjustment.
We’re asking for an attitude adjustment from the chastening hand of God when we refuse to obey ‘just because He says so’. How can God’s children cross their arms and say, “When I understand I’ll obey.” Do you really think God owes you an explanation? He’s the One that gives you breath every moment of every day, the One who died to save you from hell. Everything good and perfect, every blessing comes down from Him. Do you really think God has to explain before you’re obligated to obey?
When my dad gave a command, it was my responsibility to obey, and if I didn’t obey I got in trouble. But after I was in obedience I might say, “Dad, why did you want me to do that?” Then he’d be glad to sit down and explain it to me step by step.
Do you know what I found out about my dad? He always had a good reason. It didn’t take me long to figure that out. There were many things that he told me that didn’t make a bit of sense to me at the time. But I learned that he always had a good reason, even though I did not understand what it was right away.
I learned several things. Number one, my dad loved me. Number two, I understood that my dad always had my best interest in mind. He would not tell me to do anything to hurt me. Number three, as much as I hated to admit it, I knew my dad was smarter than I was. He knew some things I did not know. Number four, my dad always had a good reason, even when I did not know what the reason was. Number five, when all was said and done, I always liked the outcome. At times I didn’t like doing what he said to do, but after I had done it, I liked the results or the response. I liked the outcome of obeying what he said. Now, I obeyed what he said without explanation because he was the boss, and he wouldn’t give me one anyway. But it was easy for me to obey him because I knew these things about him.
Let me ask you a few questions. Does God love you? Does God always have your best interest in mind? Is God smarter than you? Doesn’t He know what you need better than you know? Does God always have a good reason for what He says, even if you don’t understand His reasoning? Haven’t you been alive long enough as a child of God to enjoy the fact that when you do what He says you like the outcome? Don’t you like the way things turn out when you follow His plan, even when you didn’t enjoy doing what He said?
Remember this: Obedience comes first; understanding follows. “I just don’t understand what’s so bad about...” “I don’t see what’s so important about...” “I don’t see why it’s so wrong to...”
I believe you’re being honest -- you really don’t understand. But understanding does not precede obedience. Obedience is the key to understanding. Doing the will of God is the key to knowing the doctrine. Tasting is the key to knowing how good something is.
We turn our noses up to separation, and we won’t leave this behind in order to get this. If the devil’s offer was really better, I could always go back, couldn’t I? But if I’m ever going to find out what God has, I’m going to have to be willing to obey the command, separate unto God, get a taste of it, and commit myself to finding out what it really is. I promise you this. If you ever get a taste of God’s best, what the world, the flesh, and the devil have to offer you will lose its luster and attraction.
Peter and the disciples had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Jesus told Peter, “Let down your nets for a draught.” That’s a whole bunch of fish. I still remember reading that for the first time. Peter said, “Lord, we have toiled all the night and caught nothing.” Do you know what he was really saying to Jesus? He said, “Lord, we’ve been out all night. We’ve been to every good fishing spot on the lake. I know this lake like the back of my hand. I’ve been a fisherman all my life. Lord, I’ve done everything I know to do and caught nothing. What You’re saying doesn’t make sense at all.”
Still Jesus said, “Let down your nets for a draught.” Peter said, “Lord, what You’re saying doesn’t make any sense to me. This is not a good place. Nevertheless, when I know that the fish are here, I’ll drop the net.” Is that right? “When I see the fish jump, I’ll drop the net.” No. He said, “Nevertheless, at thy word we will let down the net.”
Jesus said, “Let down your nets.” Peter only let down one net because he didn’t have a lot of confidence. But he said to Jesus, “Nevertheless at Thy word, at thy command, whatever You say we’ll do. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m a fisherman. I’ve been to all the good fishing holes and caught nothing. I’m tired and weary from a whole night of fishing. I’ve been fruitless. Nevertheless, whatever You say, we’ll do.”
You can understand the things of God if you’ll obey the things of God. This can be applied to a thousand things. Nobody understands giving until they practice giving. Nobody understands how God can use them in soulwinning until they obey the command. Nobody understands salvation until they receive Jesus Christ and get born again. And nobody understands separation until they apply the principles and practice separation. Nobody understands how good it is to be separated from sin and worldliness while they’re unseparated.
The only way you’re ever going to understand how good it is to be separated is to practice separation. Obey the command. Do the will of God and you’ll know the doctrine. You obey the command, and good understanding will follow. You obey in advance, and because you obey, good understanding follows. You don’t look at it and know what it tastes like. You commit yourself to putting it in your mouth, then you find out what it tastes like.
You say, “I don’t understand.” I understand that you don’t understand, and I know why you don’t understand. The reason you don’t understand separation is because you have not obeyed the command to separate and get a taste of the blessings of God.
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This is from Dr. Corle’s book, The Chemistry of Separation.
You can order your copy today from revivalfires.online