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A Separate People

God has always intended for His people to be a separate people. This separation may not always be easy. “Now the Lord said to Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1). Abraham had to give up home, loved ones, friends, customs, and make a long, difficult, and perhaps dangerous journey in order to obey God.

God formed Israel into a separate nation at Mt. Sinai. “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:4-6). However, Israel did not always keep themselves as a separate people and a peculiar treasure unto the Lord, for there were times when they wanted to be like the nations around them (1 Sam. 8:5).

God expects his people today to be a separate people. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 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. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14-18). This is a wonderful promise, but it is on the condition that his people will be a separate people.

God’s people today must be separate in doctrine. To Timothy Paul said, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 2:1-4). To Titus Paul said, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine…In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity” (Titus 2:1, 7). John warns: “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). Today there are many creeds, manuals, disciplines representing many conflicting doctrines. Someone has rightly observed that creeds are without any merit. First because the Word of God is complete and will furnish to every good work. Second, if a creed contains more than the Scriptures it is condemned. Third, if a creed contains less than the Scriptures it is condemned. Fourth, if a creed differs from the Scriptures it is condemned. Fifth, if a creed says exactly what the Scriptures say it is not needed. In any event God let us know that His Word is adequate, and that there must be no addition, no subtraction, no alteration, and no substitution (Rev. 22:18-19). We should remember that the downfall of Israel was caused by their departure from the Word of God (Is. 5:13; Hos. 4:6).

God’s people today must be separate in worship. God warned the children of Israel that they not allow their hearts to be deceived, to turn aside and enter into a false worship (Deut. 11:16). It is evident that worship by God’s people today is different from and peculiar to that of the rest of the world. The way we are to engage in worship of God today should be precisely the same as that in which the early church engaged. It is said that “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Paul further instructed that they were to speak one to another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). Thus in their worship they engaged in the study of God’s Word, “the apostles’ doctrine”; in partaking of the Lord ’s Supper, “in breaking of bread”; in the contribution, in “fellowship”; in “prayers”; and in “singing.” Their worship was to be “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). It was simple, without fanfare of the lighting of candles, the burning of incense, the sprinkling of “holy water,” the use of instrumental music.

God’s people today must be separate in life. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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” (Rom. 12:1-2). “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:17).   

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