By Allen Webster
A separatist is "an advocate of independence or autonomy for a part of a political unit (as a nation)" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary).
In religious terms, a separatist is one who separates himself from the pollutions of the world. Christians must live in the world, but the world must not live in them.
Paul gives some interesting figures to impress this truth upon us in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
A Christian is like a farm animal who does not want to be "unequally yoked" with another kind of beast (2 Cor. 6:14a). Under Moses' law, farmers were forbidden to plow with an ox and an ass together (Deut. 22:10), perhaps because it would be too hard on the smaller animal. There were other similar laws which forbade mixing. They were forbidden: to allow cattle to gender with a diverse kind, to sow a field with mingled seed, to sow a vineyard with diverse seed (Deut. 22:9), and to wear a garment mingled with linen and wool (Lev. 19:19).
Fathers were forbidden to allow children to marry those who followed other gods (Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:3-4; Ezra 9:1-19; Neh. 13:1-3, 23-26).
Israel "mingled among the heathen, and learned their works" (Psa. 106:35). God's child separates himself from any situation where he is too closely tied to unbelievers (James 4:4).
A Christian is like an honest businessman who wants no partnership with an unrighteousness man. The word fellowship (metoche) indicates a business participation (cf. Simon had "partners," Luke 5:7).
If an honest man hooked up with a crook and opened a store, would people assume that the bad man had straightened up or the good man had gone bad? -
If the dishonest man continued his shady deals, his partner would answer for it.
Paul wrote, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11; cf. 1 Cor. 5:9). "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go" (Prov. 22:24). David said, "I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go with dissemblers ... and will not sit with the wicked" (Psa. 26:45) and "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me ... I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer" (Psa. 101:3-5).
Jehu asked Jehoshaphat an interesting question, "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?" (2 Chron. 19:2).
A Christian is like a light fixture in a dark room. Light and dark are mutually exclusive. They cannot mix, for where light is, darkness flees. Similarly, "an unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked" (Prov. 29:27). "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils" (1 Cor. 10:21). "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5).
His children have "cast off the works of darkness" (Rom. 13: 12).
A Christian is like a musician who is cut of harmony with the world. You can't mix rap and opera!
Concord comes from a Greek word that gives us our English word symphony — "to agree in sound, to be in harmony," and suggests that believers and unbelievers belong to different orchestras, read different scores, and follow different conductors.
A Christian is like a citizen who is traveling through foreign territory. God's people and the people of the world have different citizenships and live on different ground.
A Christian can sing with feeling: "I'm pressing on the upward way, new heights I'm gaining every day, still praying as I onward bound, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."
"[O]ur conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20).
"This world is not my home, I'm just a passing thru. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; The angels beckon me from heaven's open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore."
A Christian is like a political activist who cannot vote against his party.
Agreement (synkatathesis from synkatatithemi) means "to cast one's vote together." The temple of God doesn't support the candidates on the devil's ballot. Like Joseph of Arimathea we "consent not to the counsel and deed of them" (Luke 23:51) and like the released apostles we go to "our own company" (Acts 4:23).
"Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate."
Published May 1996