Biblical Separation

By Dr. Stephen Scott-Pearson
General Secretary of the Protestant Alliance

In days such as these when the dark clouds of apostasy gather over our nation, whilst moral and spiritual declension run rife in our society, it is very needful that the Lord’s people be caused to hear and be exhorted to heed the great call of the Bible to separation.

The Word of God commands us
(2 Cor 6:14-18 KJV) 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.

The Love of Christ constrains us
(Heb 13:13 KJV) Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

We are to be separated (set apart)
“unto Him.”
-Christ is not in the ecumenical camp!
-Christ is not in the modernist or liberal camp!
-Christ is not in the great camps of the apostatized religious denominations!
He is to be found “without the camp.”

In the record of Exodus chapter 33 we learn that when the golden calf had been so wickedly introduced into the camp of the Israelites Moses moved the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) outside the camp. When the defilement came God departed.
“…And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.” (Exodus 33:7). Ecclesiastical corruption and doctrinal impurity in religious denominations or local churches always bring the same result. When purity and truth depart the Lord departs. It clearly follows that all true believers should, indeed must, do likewise.

The need of men confronts us
These are days of great religious confusion, satanic seduction and devilish delusion. The world needs to see Christian integrity displayed and religious reality exhibited while hearing eternal truth articulated. There needs to be a solemn proclamation of the great distinctive doctrines of the Bible and a clear assertion of the whole counsel of God by men whose walk is consistent with their talk. Those who proclaim truth while being in yoke, denominational or whatever, with unrighteousness, infidelity and idolatry, will never be effective witnesses for truth. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a wonderfully effective witness for his Master and he most certainly understood, practiced and advocated Biblical Separation. He wrote, “I have a taken a deep interest in the struggles of the orthodox brethren, but I have never advised those struggles, nor entertained the slightest hope of their success. My course has been of another kind. As soon as I saw, or thought I saw, that error had become firmly established, I did not deliberate, but quitted the body at once. Since then my counsel has been ‘come out from among them.’ I have felt that no protest could be equal to that of distinct separation.”

We need to recognize that there exists an essential difference between those who are born of God and those who are not. The difference between the sons of God and the children of wrath is both great and conspicuous. It is the difference between light and darkness, Christ and Satan, faith and infidelity, pure religion and paganism. We need to remember the dangers of close associations with the morally and doctrinally impure. The Old Testament with examples of what a curse affinities between the godly and ungodly prove to be in leading to material affluence, religious apathy, spiritual apostasy, and then social anarchy. Unequal yoking - intimate associations between the people of God and the world - ought not to exist.

There should a separation in religious fellowship
The Apostle Paul cautioned the Corinthian church against fellowship with the doctrinally impure. The only sound basis for religious fellowship is truth. Today in many religious circles doctrine is not to be found at all, or else it is diluted, obscured, or distorted.

There should be a separation in marriage
The question of religious equality ought ever to be the prime question. Among many professors of Christianity today the question hardly arises and in direct disobedience to Holy Scripture ministers unite such unequally yoked couples in marriage in the house of preaching, praise, and prayer. Where the church of Christ should caution against and censure such practices apparent blessing is given. These ill-assorted unions are not made in heaven and frequently lead to misery and disaster.

There should be a separation in business partnerships
Business partners are closely yoked, their actions need largely to agree. Our religion, if it is real, must come into every department of life and guide our way and regulate our principles on all occasions. Such partnerships between a Christian and non-Christian will always ultimately hit trouble. Stress and strain will build up in the relationship until both partners discover the wisdom of the question,
“what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

There should be a separation in pleasure-taking
Reading matter, the use of the media, time, energy, and resource-consuming pursuits are all matters about which the Christian believer needs to have great concern and show careful scrutiny, having a most tender conscience -
(Phil 4:8 KJV) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

There should be a separation in friendships
The power of friendship is great for good or for evil.
(Prov 27:17 KJV) Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. A wise man will choose his friends with care. Believers need friendships that will help and not hinder them. Believers should establish friendships and relationships that will not be severed at the grave. We need to reflect upon the fact that it is the duty of the godly to extricate themselves from all unequal yoking, “Wherefore come out from among them.”

The separation called for and commanded here is in a sense voluntary. The Christian himself must sever unscriptural ties and break away from all the unprofitable bindings. Such separation is to be entire, “Touch not the unclean thing.” We are to have no contact with moral or doctrinal impurity. What wonderful encouragement God gives to His people here for He says, “and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.”

The Christian is in the world
Christ did not pray that His people should be taken out of the world.
(John 17:15 KJV) I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Our present sphere of life and duty is earthly. There may be outward physical relations that we find difficult to sever or are truly impossible to break. In such situations the believer must be most careful and diligent in maintaining his independence as an individual, carefully rendering to God the things that are God’s.

The Christian is not of this world
(John 17:16 KJV) They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Although the child of God is in the world he does not adopt the principles, practices, or maxims of the worldly. He does not yield to worldly fashions nor follow worldly trends.

The Christian is to be above the world
(Rom 12:2 KJV) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

He has a divine life. He is the temple of the Holy Ghost. Therefore through divine grace and gracious enablement he masters worldly principles and resists worldly influences. The children of God are not only to be separated from the world and the worldly by the careful watching of their actions and habits but by an attribute of mind which brings a natural nonconformity. Having renewed minds believers are enabled to discern the
“good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We need to reckon it a certainty that we shall be misunderstood and misrepresented by the rest of society.
(John 15:18-19 KJV) If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. {19} 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.

In many societies today there is open discrimination practiced against Bible believing Christians. Believers are treated shamefully regarding education and employment prospects by the state and are imprisoned and tortured on account of their faith, This is the reproach of the Cross of Christ, this is price of being a “follower of the lamb” in such lands. In Egypt and other Islamic nations and in Mexico and other Roman Catholic dominated countries Christian ministers not infrequently “disappear.” Here in England the Lord’s people also must pay a price if they are what they ought to be and live as they ought to. Their appearances, conversations, customs and whole manner of life, should distinguish them from others. As these things, and the discriminating grace of God exercised towards them, marks them out, distinguishes and separates them there is a retaliatory hatred and rejection of them. The savour of Christ upon them, which is sweet to Almighty God, grows sour in the nostrils of natural men.

We Shall Be Misunderstood
The very strength of our faith and entire confidence in God’s Word will cause us to be misunderstood as being arrogant and proud. In fact the Lord’s people are of all men most humble. They do not go to the Lord’s house on the Sabbath because they think they are more righteous than their neighbors but rather because they know themselves to be naturally totally unrighteous-sinners in need of mercy. The people of God are too humble to prefer their own finite thoughts to divinely revealed infinite truth and wisdom. They simply accept the Bible in its entirety.
(1 Cor 2:12 KJV) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. The worldly wise cannot understand these things. (1 Cor 2:14 KJV) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We Shall Be Misrepresented
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men.” When we speak the truth for the love of souls we are accused of being unloving, whereas because we truly love and care for the never-dying souls of men we speak of
“righteousness, sin, and judgment to come” and man say - “How unkind, how unloving.” Is it not most caring and loving to warn of the dangers?

The price of separation can be very tangible and even pecuniary in this land today
Let us give one instance. About twenty five years ago Michael Taylor, the then new principal of the Northern Baptist College (Baptist Union) addressed the London Baptist Assembly on the theme, “How much of a man was Jesus?” In this address Taylor denied the true deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Uproar broke out in the B.U. over the issue. It was resolved not to discipline Taylor or remove him from office and many churches and even more ministers resigned from the ever-increasingly apostatizing Baptist Union. In the churches which separated there was for the ministers the loss of all pension rights, guaranteed stipends, grants to assist the education of their children, etc. For the churches, especially the smaller ones, no recourse to the Home Work fund for help with ministers’ salaries. In many instances it is the Pastors who have paid the whole price of this secession from the Baptist Union.

There are today a number of religious denominations in this land which harbor apostates and succour infidels whilst ostracizing faithful servants of Christ. No true man of God could remain within one of them in good conscience. Separation has to take place but there is a price to be paid. The true servants and people of God should be most happy and willing to pay the price. They should rejoice with the Psalmist saying: (
Psa 84:10 KJV) For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. The true servant of Christ is like Moses in “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” (Heb 11:25 KJV) Some religious professors will not separate according to the Scriptures and bear the reproach of the cross of Christ because they feel and show more loyalty to their denomination than to their Savior. Some ministers are reluctant to obey their consciences and walk in the light of Scripture, in many cases because they will not pay the price! Like Balaam of old they, “love the wages of unrighteousness.”

Unbiblical Separation
Sadly there are some who fall before the same temptation as the Apostle Peter at Antioch (Galatians 2:14) in separating, often in a bullish and ungracious manner, from others of the Lord’s dear blood-bought people. Extreme cases are sadly seen where whole sections of gracious people are labeled by that most solemn of appellations, “Apostate.” Those who so behave honor not the Lord but feed their own pride and exhibit nothing but carnality.  (4/1/05)