Separation from the World
William Nicholson, 1862
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 2 Corinthians 6:17
The Apostle points out a very important duty, which, if more extensively regarded, would greatly tend to the purity and prosperity of the Church. One of the greatest evils, at the present day, with which the Church has to contend, is conformity to the world, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14
I. The World from Which the Christian Is to Be Separated.
By "the world" here is meant . . .
its sinful principles,
its sinful spirit,
its sinful customs,
its sinful practices,
its smiles, and
These unitedly form a stream or course against which he who would arrive in Heaven must struggle; and from people having principles inimical to the truth, he must be separated.
1. The world is under Satanic influence. "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?" 2 Corinthians 6:15. Belial is a word which signifies extreme wickedness, and appropriated by the Jews to Satan, who is emphatically "the wicked one" This world is his kingdom, Ephesians 2:2; John 14:30. Sinners are his subjects, and are like him. Can saints associate with them?
2. The world is wicked. "For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?" 2 Corinthians 6:14. The world is filthy; "unclean," verse 17; Romans 3:10; 1 John 5:19; 3:8-10.
3. The world is full of moral and spiritual darkness. "What fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14. John 3:19; Ephesians 5:8, 11.
4. It is an unbelieving world. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." 2 Corinthians 6:14. Unbelief is founded on ignorance; principally on aversion to God, pride, love of the world, John 5:44; Matthew 22:5; Hebrews 3:12; John 5:10. They trust in themselves, and despise Christ.
5. It is an idolatrous world. "What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?" 2 Corinthians 6:16. Are not the pleasures, the possessions, the honors, the creatures, etc., of this world idolized? Colossians 3:5; 1 John 5:21.
6. It is an infidel world. "Infidel," verse 15. How this prevails at the present day! And also atheism. It is not the result of sober inquiry, close investigation, or full conviction; but the slow production of a careless and irreligious life, operating together with prejudices and erroneous conceptions of the nature of the doctrines of the Gospel. Infidelity, in general, is a disease of the heart more than of the understanding; for it always increases as morality declines.
II. The Nature or Separation From the World
1. Separation from the world does not interfere with the natural or civil connections of life. Proper relations are not to be abandoned because they are irreligious. 1 Corinthians 5:10. The godly are compelled to have fellowship with those whose ungodly deeds are grievous to them, like "Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)" 2 Peter 2:7-8
2. It does not imply separation from legitimate worldly concerns. While in the world, we must live, and we are commanded "not to be slothful in business," etc.
3. Actual separation from the world. "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord." 2 Corinthians 6:17." With the men of the world as associates, or as companions for life, verse 14; not to resort to the places where they go and sin — as the tavern, the theater, etc.
4. The world must be overcome, as a most deadly foe, "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith!" 1 John 5:4. And the principle of victory is faith. Redeemed from this present evil world by faith — faith in Christ — faith in future eternal realities.
5. It implies enlightened, believing, and holy conduct.
Is the world under Satanic influence? Believers show that Christ is their Master.
Is the world unrighteous? Believers are made righteous by the blood of Christ, etc.
Is the world full of darkness? Believers are light in the Lord.
Is the world unbelieving? Believers live by faith.
Is the world idolatrous? Believers worship God alone.
Is it an infidel world? Believers are rooted and grounded in the truth, and earnestly contend for the faith.
6. Separation from the world is indicated by devotedness to God and his cause. The Church is loved, fellowship with God and his people is enjoyed; Christians are his companions, his brethren, etc. He is traveling with them to Heaven; he is united with them in the bonds of holy love, and separate from a corrupt world.
7. This separation is enforced by many motives.
By the example of Christ, and his Apostles.
By the nature of regeneration, which produces opposition to the world.
By the nature of our Christian profession.
Many have been destroyed by the world, as Demas, etc.
Our own salvation demands separation from it.
III. The Blessed Results of this Separation.
1. Present and final deliverance from the evil consequences of worldly association. 1 Corinthians 11:32.
2. The Indwelling of Deity, "As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 2 Corinthians 6:16
3. A saving interest in God, and all that he has promised; "and I will be their God," verse 16.
4. Divine acceptance and approval. "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 2 Corinthians 6:16
5. The paternal love of the Almighty God! "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18.