Grace And Separation
By Pastor Tony Butler
Since I have come into a better understanding of Grace than at any other time in my life, I love to share with people the blessings and power of God’s grace in the life of the believer. As I have spoken to many believers about the awesomeness of grace over the years, sometimes their response is, “Well, I agree, but grace needs to be properly balanced.” They would explain themselves by saying, “There has to be practical holiness in life as well.”
The absolute Biblical reality is that grace is the essence of balance and the divine ability to walk in holiness. The Bible teaches that the “Law” came by Moses but Grace came by Jesus (Jn. 1:17). Do we need to balance out Jesus? Of course not! Jesus is the perfect balance and example of all that pleases the Father. False teachings or improper applications of grace don’t mean true grace needs be adjusted. The grace of God teaches absolute separation from worldliness and ungodliness. It teaches us how to live righteously in an unrighteous world. It points our eyes to the coming of Jesus, who is coming for a people redeemed from sin, purified, and zealous to serve God. In my opinion we need to move from trying to balance grace to becoming absolutely radical in it. The last statement in Scripture was that the grace of God would be with us (Rev. 22:21).
Titus 2:11-14 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; (14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
THE BASIC DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIAN SEPARATION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT IS BUILT ON GOD HIMSELF AS THE GOD OF GRACE.
Peter refers to God the Father as the God of all grace. (I Pet. 5:10) The God of all grace is a Holy/Separated God. Look at the praises of the Trinity in heaven as God is being worshiped, “…Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. 4:8) To be holy means to be separated, or set apart.
God is absolutely set apart from sin, imperfection, uncleanness or anything that that defiles. Nothing less than holiness will enter into His holy city (Rev. 21:27). As a Holy God He is high above all mankind and should be reverenced and worshipped. No unholy man could stand His holy presence in judgment without being visited by wrath. (Rev.20:10-14)
EVERY BORN AGAIN BELIEVER IN JESUS CHRIST HAS BEEN MADE HOLY THROUGH GRACE
The Greek word for “holy” is “hagios.” It is the same basic Greek word for saint, sanctified, and separated. The moment one is born again they become saints/holy ones in Christ and separated unto God. (Rom. 1:7; Eph. 1:1; I Cor. 6:11)
The moment we are saved by grace through faith we become the children of God. (Eph. 2:1 -10) We have been made alive and seated in Christ in heavenly places. We were the children of wrath, but now we are the children of God and are to live for Him (II Cor. 5:15).
CHRISTIAN SEPARATION FROM SIN IS ALSO SEPARATION TO GOD
Because a true believer has been made holy it is only reasonable and biblical that his life be a life of separation from sin to God in his daily walk. Because of the holiness of God he has declared to us, “Be ye holy: for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Many believers declare they are separated to God, but they are not separated from sin in daily practice. They falsely think there is no true relationship between the holiness given to them by grace through faith in Christ and their practical walk of holiness on this earth. The Bible never declares we are half separated. Scripturally there is no doubt that the two aspects of separation, “From” and “To” are plainly taught in Scriptures which have to do with our position in heaven and our walk on earth.
|Separation From||Scripture Passage||Separation Unto|
|Who has delivered us FROM the power of darkness||Colossians 1:13||and has translated us INTO the kingdom of His dear Son|
|For God has not called us unto uncleanness||1 Thessalonians 4:7||but UNTO holiness|
|Wherefore, come out FROM among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing||2 Corinthians 6:17-18||and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty|
|For I the LORD am holy, and have severed you FROM other people||Leviticus 20:26||that you should be Mine|
|Let us cleanse ourselves FROM all filthiness of the flesh and spirit||2 Corinthians 7:1||perfecting holiness in the fear of God|
|You turned to God FROM idols||1 Thessalonians 1:9||to serve the living and true God|
|But is passed FROM death||John 5:24||UNTO life|
|He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness||John 8:12||but shall have the light of life|
|Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin||Romans 6:11||but alive UNTO God through Jesus Christ our Lord|
|And be not conformed to this world||Romans 12:2||but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind|
|Even when we were dead in sins||Ephesians 2:5||has made us alive together with Christ|
|But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off||Ephesians 2:13||are made near by the blood of Christ|
|And you, that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works||Colossians 1:21-22||yet now has He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight.|
|That we, being dead to sins||1 Peter 2:24||should live UNTO righteousness|
|Unto Him that loved us, and washed us FROM our sins in His own blood||Revelation 1:5-6||and has made us a kings and priests UNTO God and His Father|
With just a light reading of Scripture one will quickly discover that the God of grace, through the ability of grace, calls and teaches us to be holy/separated from worldly lusts and ungodly pleasures, practices, and even ungodly associations concerning fellowship. (See I Jn. 2:15-17; Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; I Thess. 4;3-4; Gal. 5:16,17) It would be well for God’s people to study carefully and prayerfully I Cor. 6-10 and Romans 14. Grace separates us from evil to righteousness. The separation/holiness of grace goes far beyond the written letter of Scripture into the practical application by the Spirit in everyday life.
Our separation must go beyond the mere Scriptural right and wrong.
Our separation/holiness must be ruled/motivated by our love for God, which was placed in us by grace (Rom. 5:5), and our love for those whom He died (Gal. 5:15).
Our separation must be based on bringing God glory (I Cor. 10:31).
Our separation should involve sensitivity to other believers so we don’t aid them in sinning against their own consciences. (Rom. 14;13,21; I Cor. 8:8-10).
Our separation should be used for the “profit” of others over ourselves and to seek their edification (I Cor. 10:33).
Our separation should contribute to what is necessary in the moment over our own desires and liberties (I Cor. 6:12). Grace teaches us all this and more.
CHRISTIAN SEPARATION ALSO INCLUDES SEPARATION FROM PROFESSING HERETICAL AND IMMORRAL CHRISTIANS
I love fellowshipping with other believers. In all my years as a Christian I still love to be with God’s people and fellowship around Jesus and the Word of God. Christian fellowship is wonderful and has the capacity for great mutual benefit. Did you know it’s an actual proof of genuine salvation (I Jn. 3:14)?
However, there are times when there must be a breaking off of fellowship from other professed believers if they are involved in disorderly behavior such as a sexual relationships that aren’t blessed by God (I Cor. 5:1-2,11) or are plainly moving away from the traditions of the apostles to heresy (II Thess. 3:6,14). In such a case, the only contact should be in the form of admonition for desired behavior change through repentance.
If a brother removes himself from Christian orthodoxy (the essentials of the faith) through heresy or from clear biblical teachings, then the believer, after the second admonition of attempting to recover the heretic, is to remove himself from that person. (2 Thess. 3:6,14 and Titus 3;10 )
Separation isn’t just about individual immorality and maintaining healthy doctrine. Separation is also a church-wide affair. Sometimes sinful people must be put out of the church and counted as heathen in hopes the individual will be restored. The church must protect itself so no evil can come into the congregation causing a loss of blessing or judgment by God. Leaven/sin in the lump will never bless a church; rather it will do immeasurable harm to the church. The assembly of the believers must separate themselves from all the unrepentant who would walk contrary to the truth ( Mt. 18: 15-17; I Cor. 5:1-7).
Separation from heresy is the only guarantee of the continuation of truth for each generation. Once that truth is compromised, all that remains is a lie. There is no way to remove Christian separation/holiness from maintaining the truth. Jesus came into this world and was full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14). Grace is forever joined with truth. Because they have been joined together forever by God they must never be put asunder. God must be worshipped in the truth. The whole unsaved world lies in the lap of the wicked one and has believed a lie. As believers in Jesus we are not of this world; our true place will always be “outside the camp” with Jesus (Heb. 13:13).
As the children of God we are outsiders/aliens/strangers/pilgrims passing through a world of darkness as God’s lights to the lost. We must shine His light and share in his sufferings outside the gate as we declare the gospel to a wicked generation that Jesus alone is the only hope and way to God.
For Christians to tolerate damnable heresy within her midst is spiritual treason. A sacred trust of keeping His Word pure has been placed in our hands as stewards by God (1 Thess. 2:4). It ever behooves us to guard/keep/protect that which has been entrusted, regardless of the cost. It is always the way of the unholy and ungodly to attempt to change the truth of God into a lie. They are the serpent’s seed who like their serpentine father slither in among us and begin to ask, “Has God said?”
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Jude 1:3-4
As separated children of God, we are the gatekeepers of the truth. Grace would do no other than deny anything false, especially when it comes to salvation. The Psalmist declared with his heart "therefore I hate every false way" (Ps. 119:104).). The grace of God that saved me will hate and despise any religious system that declares the cross of Christ to be of no effect. Grace completely separated us to the Lordship of the Person of Christ and bought us by the finished work of the cross of Christ through His blood (Acts 20:28). A separated person of grace will oppose all that seek to turn “The Only Way” into “A Way”. Grace will always declare the deity and preeminence of Jesus over every name that is named in heaven and in earth. Grace will oppose any and all religious substitutes served from Satan’s smorgasbord (Gal. 1:6-8; Jn. 14:6).
When an ox and a donkey are yoked up together they are involved with the same work. They are “on the same team,” laboring together for common goals and objectives. Believers are not to work together in co-operation with unbelievers/heretics in the work of God. Neither Jesus nor any apostle ever used unbelievers/heretics to carry out the work of God. When light begins to fellowship with darkness the light will soon begin to be extinguished.
CHRISTIAN SEPARATION INCLUDES SEPARATION FROM UNGODLY RELATIONSHIPS
Proverbs 13:20 – II Cor. 6:14 - I Cor. 15:33; Ps. 1:1; Ps. 119:63
Ungodly basically means to be without God. Being in the world, believers can’t help but to rub shoulders with the unsaved. But grace teaches us that our holy communion/fellowship is with God and with those who have believed. Believers have all been made into one spiritual organism as the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13). As the body of Christ, God desires us to be light and salt in the world. We have to work and live among the lost but our primary mission is to warn them and win them with the truth.
But when it comes to close relationships concerning friends, the opposite sex, socializing, and business ventures we must be very careful and remember our first allegiance to Christ and never allow any human relationship to be greater than our relationship with our Savior. Especially with the unsaved! If that takes place, compromise will come and the light will diminish. Grace always invites people to leave the darkness and come to the light, but grace will never accept an invitation from darkness to leave the light.
2 Corinthians 6:14 - “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?”
1 John 1:3 – “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 6:17 – “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”
CHRISTIAN SEPARATION INCLUDES SEPARATION IN EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE
How we think – Phil. 2:4; Phil. 4:8
How we are motivated - Phil. 2:5; 1 Cor. 10:31
How we dress – I Pet. 3:3-4
Where we go – I Thess. 5:22
How we speak – Eph. 4:29; Col. 3;8
How we treat others – Eph. 4:31-32
How we work – Col. 3:23
How we respond – I Pet. 3:9
I have only touched the surface concerning the holiness/separation of God’s people. How can we walk out holiness/separation in shoe leather? What Christian can live out these things without becoming a self righteous person or an angry judgmentalist? Can one really walk in holiness and walk in proper love? Many Christians try to walk out a holy life and fail miserably. They try harder and harder to the point of giving up or they merely surrender to a form of cover up so that there is only an appearance of victory. (The only people being fooled are themselves)
Grace alone is the answer. It is what Jesus came with. Only by God’s grace can we walk in the Spirit, live right, treat others right, think right, be motivated right and respond right. When we rightly understand grace then we will rightly walk in true holiness. It is only the grace of God that teaches us separation from worldly lusts and ungodly passions. The grace of God has given us His Word, His life, and His Spirit.
Grace doesn’t need to be balanced by separation. Grace is the only power behind separation. Grace is all of God and none of man. It is an endless supply of God’s ability for all who would receive it, grow in it, and live in the reality of it. If we don’t let God’s grace be our balance then there is an absolute surety we will become imbalanced through lawlessness, legalism, judgmentalism or self righteousness, not to mention pathetic failure.
Because of grace we are completely and unconditionally accepted in Christ and have received His righteousness (II Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:1). As believers we are able to serve God in the only acceptable manner in God’s sight which is “In Grace”.
Hebrews 12:28 – “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:”
You can’t be holy by trying to be holy. You must accept the fact that “in Christ” you are holy and then “in grace” walk in the truth of who God says you are. You don’t gain holiness; you declare holiness. Paul said in Col. 2:6 that in the same way we received Christ, we are to walk in Him. We received Christ by grace and we can only walk in Christ by grace.
Paul didn’t serve God more than all the other apostles because of his own ability and talents. It had nothing to do with his personality type, educational background, intellect or anything else. It was solely because of the grace of God which worked mightily through him. I am so glad he didn’t try to balance grace in his life but let grace balance him. Selah
1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
Colossians 1:25-29 – “of which I became a minister, according to the administration of God given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God; (26) the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. (27) For to them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, (28) whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, so that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (29) For which I also labor, striving according to the working of Him who works in me in power.”
Trying to balance grace with any other means of holiness/separation is like trying to balance the national budget with monopoly money. It won’t work.
“Let us have grace that we may serve God acceptably”
Have A Jesus Filled Day
Read the next article on Grace: Grace that Came Part 1