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Christian Separation – A Neglected Truth! (Sabbath Mornings at Ballymacashon)

24/08/2013

Ballymacashon Congregational Church

 

Lord’s Day 25th August 2013

Service Theme: Separation – An Neglected Truth

Worship:  Psalm 65:1-4

(Tune:  Desert)

Praise waits for thee in Sion, Lord: / to thee vows paid shall be. / O thou that hearer art of pray’r, /  all flesh shall come to thee.

Iniquities, I must confess, / prevail against me do: / But as for our transgressions, / them purge away shalt thou.

Bless’d is the man whom thou dost choose, / and mak’st approach to thee, / That he within thy courts, O Lord, / may still a dweller be:

We surely shall be satisfy’d / with thy abundant grace, / And with the goodness of thy house, / ev’n of thy holy place.

(Scottish Metrical Psalms)

Text: 2 Corinthians 6:11-7:2a

Paul now turns from his teaching on the Christian’s duty to be a soul-winner, to a very strident, stern yet entirely consistent call for separation unto the Lord.

1. Don’t be Driven by Emotions and Feelings!

There have always been Christians who will put feelings or experience, or emotion before truth.  Biblical truth, and biblical exegesis sometimes seems so cold, and is such hard work, that Christians prefer just to do what they ‘feel’ is right, rather than what the Bible says is right. Paul says:-

  1. Heartfelt, emotional religion is necessary and good! O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open Paul is certainly emotional and passionate.  BUT…
  2. Our Hearts must never overrule our heads! You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. The Christians were evaluating what he said by their emotions, and their own desires, and their feelings.  And feelings must NEVER be the motivating factor in the Christian’s life!  They were being RESTRICTED BY THEIR OWN AFFECTIONS! 

Now, this is really important, for Paul is about to make a very strong and serious point indeed, which the Corinthian Christians would really not rather hear!  Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.  Paul says, LISTEN TO ME – BE OPEN TO ME!  By way of return then, do this for me–I speak as to children–open wide your hearts also [to us].  They must not listen to their feelings or their emotions, they must actively and deliberately turn their hearts to Paul, and listen to the message from God that he brings.  Paul says:-

2. Don’t Compromise your Holiness!

Here is a great danger at Corinth, and indeed today.  Christians must not be entangled with those within the visible church who would promote false religion or false doctrine, for if they are, they will lose their effectiveness. Notice:-

  1. The Doctrine Stated. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers
    1. The BACKGROUND to Separation.  This is a doctrine which spans the whole of the Bible, both OT and NT.  God always forbids his people from having any form of intermingling with those who believe and proclaim false religion, or a false gospel.  Paul’s reference to a YOKE would have immediately reminded his readers of an OT command.  Deut. 22:10.  Like the two animals, Christians are a different breed.  They are DIFFERENT from anyone else. Exodus 33:16, Leviticus 20:26, 1 Kings 8:53,  2 Thes. 3:6   There are many, many more examples!
    2. The PEOPLE of Separation. What does Paul mean when he speaks about a Christian believer?  A true believer is one who is saved by God’s grace.  When Paul talks about UNBELIEVERS – he means those who do NOT believe in or proclaim in their pulpits, God’s saving grace. Paul says, ‘do not be unequally yoked with them! Romans 16:17, 1 Cor. 5:11,  2 Thes. 3:6,   2 Thes. 3:14, 1 Tim. 6:5, 2 Tim. 3:5, 2 John 1:10.
    3. The LOCATION of Separation!  Paul is not warning the people about Roman Emperor worship, or Judaism, or eastern mystery religion.  The Corinthians knew those religions were false!  The danger was IN THE CHURCH!  Same today! The subtle danger lies inside the visible church.  The real danger is with people who are very nice, very kind, very helpful people, but who are not preaching the true Gospel.  Paul says that to associate with them is an unequal yoke!
  2. The Doctrine Illustrated.  Paul now gives a series of contrasts to illustrate why Christians cannot have fellowship with those who do not preach the true gospel.
    1. Righteousness Vs Lawlessness! For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness.  An unregenerate man is still under the law’s condemnation!
    2. Light Vs Darkness! what communion has light with darkness. The unregenerate soul does not see the gospel, it is hid, because the god of this world has blinded their minds!
    3. Christ Vs the Devil! what accord has Christ with Belial.  The unregenerate person is still a son of his father the devil!
    4. Believer Vs Unbeliever! what part has a believer with an unbeliever.  What conversation, what fellowship, what relationship would that person have with an unbeliever?  Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? 
    5. God’s Temple Vs Idolatry! what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.  A true Christian is a temple, for the Holy Spirit indwells him.  An unbeliever has only himself enthroned in his life!  He is by his very nature an idolater, for to worship anything instead of God through Christ is idolatry!
  3. The Doctrine Demonstrated. As God has said: “I will dwell in them  And walk among them.  I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”  This is COVENANT TALK.  God has redeemed himself a people.  He has chosen them and called them and saved them and adopted them.  They are HIS PEOPLE, and as their response to that there are covenant responsibilities laid upon them.  They must obey the Lord!  So God, in the light of his covenant says to his people, Come out! Come out from among them  Stay away! And be separate, says the Lord Don’t Touch! Do not touch what is unclean Obey God rather than please men! And I will receive you “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”

Now there is no equivocation here whatsoever.

3. Don’t be Smug about Yourself[Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  Open your hearts to us.

There have always been those who have applied this doctrine with harshness and in a condemnatory way.  Paul warns us against that.  Remember that we ourselves are just sinners saved by grace. We must examine ourselves, to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness, both outward filthiness and inward filthiness – not to be hypocrites – to stand in the fear of God who searches our hearts.  Paul’s final word to the Corinthians on these matters. Your feelings and your emotions may be the very opposite to what this passage teaches.  Paul says, “You must do something about this.”  You must turn your heart from the attractiveness of following false doctrine, and you must open your heart to what I have written – the inspired and infallible word of God.

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