As we study the holiness of God, we read one command that we don’t have a choice about and that is to be holy as He is holy. You’ll find that in 1 Peter 1:15-16 and 2 Peter 3:11. These verses teach us that we are to separate from the world and in this study we will examine that closer. You can also read this post on Why You NEED to Desire More of God as it speaks to the holiness of God.
This is the second study in this Series, What Does it Mean? You may want to grab your coffee, your Bible, and a notebook as we begin today’s study.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2 Cor 6.17
Read the whole chapter of 2 Corinthians 6 for context for this verse and to correct any misuse of the verse as well.
But let me condense the context: Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers pleading with them that they have not received the grace of God in vain. He goes on to clarify that he and his ministry coworkers have not offended them in anything as Paul and his team have given them much patience as well as been through tough times and hardship to preach the Word. Read verses 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 for the details.
The context continues: Paul gave an appeal for the believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers as there is no union between light and darkness, righteousness and lawlessness and Christ with Belial or even a believer with an unbeliever.
He reminded them they are the temple of the living God and as God said in Ezekiel, Leviticus, and Jeremiah, that “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be My people.”
Therefore, believers are to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” 2 Corinthians 6:17.
What are We Coming out From?
So, if we’re commanded to ‘come out from among them’ and be ‘separate from the world’, what are we coming out from? To answer that question, we need to look at these verses.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:24
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. Colossians 3:10
The old carnal nature is everything that opposes righteousness.
It is fornication or sexual immorality (pre-marital sex and adultery)* [see note, below], it is covetousness, filthiness or foolish talk and crude joking.
Note: *a great resource for the definition of ‘fornication’, follow this link.
We’re coming out from holding on to bitterness, wrath, anger, corrupt or filthy communication, malice, deviousness, blasphemy, lying, murdering.
Take a look at these sins, what do you notice about them? They are sins towards each other.
Basically, we are walking away from everything that opposes righteousness.
We make the choice to walk through the ‘strait gate’ onto the ‘narrow road’ and join the ‘few that find it’ Matthew 7:13-14. You can read more about that in this post Is the Strait and Narrow Road for Everyone?
We have the Spirit of the Living God who dwells in us and as we walk in the Lord, following His ways, we have the light of the Word of God to guide and direct us.
We can see clearly how we ought to walk, and therefore, cannot continue to walk in darkness. We must separate ourselves from unrighteousness!
To answer our question, we are coming out from the sin that we once did. We are leaving that life behind.
How Do We Separate Ourselves?
To be obedient to God’s word to ‘come out from among them’ and be ‘separate from the world’ we must first make a decision to obey God.
We have established that we are to leave behind our old carnal nature, the nature that lived in constant sin. We simply turn away from it. For example, as a young 22-year-old woman, I used to drink alcohol and do drugs. I made a decision to stop that, cold turkey. No side effects, just said ‘no’ to those who offered me anything.
I also gradually stopped hanging out with those friends who were into that lifestyle. I made new friends at church and between being a new wife, and a new believer, I was busy learning how to live holy and blameless.
So, we are to turn away from the old lifestyle. Leave behind the things that are part of that life. If friends are the problem, you will need to make a decision about that. If you are the stronger influence in that friendship and you can share Christ with them, then share Christ. If not, then you need to move on. Not my words, but His.
Paul wrote in Romans 12.1-2,
to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, … be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…
Part of the ‘how’ answer is to present ourselves to God, that is our decision, as mentioned already. The second part of the ‘how’ is to renew our minds and we do that by reading the Word of God. By obeying it when we learn what it is saying to us.
Don’t just take my word for it, read it for yourself. Spend time in prayer about it. Ask God what it is He wants you to do and let Him direct you back to His written word.
Be separate from among them. (based on 2 Corinthians 6:17)
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. (based on Ephesians 4:23)
Hide the word of God in your heart so you won’t sin against Him. (based on Psalm 119:11)
Why Should We Separate Ourselves?
As Paul said in Romans 12.1-2, we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.
In the Old Testament, God commanded the Hebrew children to be separate from the people in the land they were conquering. Not to take on their idols, religious practices, or their way of life.
He wanted them to stand out from the crowd. To be separated, to live a holy life. It is not any different today. He still wants His children to be separate from the world.
What is in the world that we cannot be a part of?
We read already in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 that light and darkness do not mix, as does righteousness with unrighteousness, believers with unbelievers. This is what the Word of God says. Not me. I’m only sharing what He said in His Word.
Does this mean we cannot talk with our neighbours who aren’t saved? Or with our friends who laugh at us because we ‘go to church’? Or friends who are tolerant of our beliefs but don’t want to accept Christ?
We are to share the gospel message that Jesus saves, and we share this with unbelievers no matter who they are.
It also means that we don’t let ourselves be influenced negatively, to fall back into the old lifestyle that we have been saved from.
We are to be the stronger person in the relationship.
To answer this question of why we are to be separate from the world is because God demands it!
That’s a Wrap
In all of my relationships, I have always asked the Lord to let me be a light in their lives and if they will not receive it, to let the friendship fall aside. My goal is to be obedient to Him, at all costs. I trust that is the same for you, too.
As always, I invite your comments on this topic of being separate from the world. Have I missed anything? Would you like to add anything? Please leave a comment, below. I’d love to hear from you!