Introduction: The Importance of Philosophy | Part I: New Testament Passages

Excursus: Romans 1:5 | Part II: Holiness | Part III: Personal Separation

The past few posts have been focusing around holiness, personal separation, and the importance of having your own sound Biblical philosophy when ministering to others. It is important to explain that Holiness is not a code of conduct which Christians must rigidly follow. Holiness is who’s we are: God’s. As chosen of God, Christians have a relationship with God; a relationship which is constantly being redefined through progressive sanctification and reinforced through a cascading faith. With this basis in mind, a second facet of separation will be examined; that of ecclesiastical, or positional separation.

Due to God’s immutable and absolutely righteous character the principle of 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1—Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers…come out from among them And be separate…perfecting holiness in the fear of God—should direct every ministry. Therefore, proper fellowship within the Christian community between ministries must be founded on ideological, scriptural, doctrinal, and ethical beliefs which are tied directly to the character of an unchanging God. The reason behind this strict doctrine becomes evident from an examination of the following passages.

In Deuteronomy, Moses warns the Israelites against false prophets, simply commanding them to be put to death (see Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:20-22). Yet despite the various warnings the Old Testament Scriptures depict numerous instances of the people turning from God and following false prophets. The true prophets of God taught the people the direct revelations of God (see 2 Chronicles 17:7-9, et al.). Personal ministries which deal with education will gain a better understanding of how they should function by examining the means by which prophets performed their duties. Prophets communicated God’s revelations to the people; they gave warnings and instruction, they sought after God’s will and proclaimed his message to the masses. A further connection revealed between teachers and prophets can be found written in the epistles of Peter; for the Apostle wrote:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed (2 Peter 1:20-2:2).

Running counter culture, Peter’s warning—no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation—carries the utmost authority. Contra post-modern thought and the mindset that nothing can be objectively known, Peter argues that truth (i.e. prophecy) is not open to relative interpretation; for it came by men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. As mentioned in Part I, Biblical leaders have a divine imperative to properly educate those under their care (see 2 Timothy 2:2); for the consequence of failure is God’s wrath as it was poured out in the Old Testament—those who pervert the truth of God will not escape punishment (see 2 Peter 2:4-9). Therefore, one purpose for ecclesiastical separation is to protect against false teachers (for they inhibit the spread of the gospel); another is to protect against apostasy (i.e. straying from the truth).

Jude takes the above warning of false teachers further, for he exhorts: “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Separation from false teaching is paramount to all ministries; these men who crept in did not uphold the values of God and therefore should never have been listened to in the first place by any member of the Christian community—a false teacher is deceitful. Jude then continues (vv.5-7), presenting Biblical illustrations of those who strayed from the faith due to false teaching—the people should have been guarded against these dangers. Next Jude intensifies their immoral plight, writing they are men who “defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries” (v. 8); furthermore, he stresses that these men do not know about what they speak, they have chosen to disobey God and therefore do what they please (v. 10). Finally after providing more character illustrations, Jude focuses everything on the sovereignty of God—these evil men will be judged. Jude reminds this church to be steadfast against those who have the apparent advantage over the Church; for in the end their perseverance in Christ will bring them great reward. Jude leaves this church with six instructions: 1) to build themselves up (v. 20); 2) to seek the help of God (v. 20); 3) to remain obedient to God (v. 21); 4) to look forward to the coming kingdom (v. 21); 5) to strengthen those who are weak and bring those who have strayed carefully back (v. 22); and 6) to grab or extract those who have left the fold and in the air of loving truth bring them back (v. 23).

Thus, 2 Peter and Jude show that believers are required to separate themselves not only on a personal level from worldly pleasures and attitudes, but also from any unbiblical teaching. Ecclesiastical separation is essential to the spread of the gospel, the upholding of the saints, and the glorification of God.

-Next, Where Does Music Fit in?-

[1] Note that there is no biblical support for secondary separation (i.e. the notion that one should not fellowship with a professing Christian who is living a worldly life); either one chooses to separate completely from unbiblical practices, or does not.

This set of six instructions is loosely based off an outline developed by Thomas L. Constable (“Notes on Jude,”, [Dallas Theological Seminary, 2005], pp. 19-22).