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The Practice of Separation

March 22, 2011

In thinking through the issue of separation from professing believers over doctrinal differences, some things have led me to take a few weeks to give some practical examples of how this applies to our real world circumstances.  The major factors in making this decision are recent controversies swirling in Christian circles, a desire on my part to be clear in this important matter and a recognition of my responsibility to identify those who walk contrary to the doctrines of the gospel.  So over the next month I am going to identify two specific preachers from whom we must separate and then two specific teachings from which we must separate.  Before I do that, though, I must first define the kind of separation required in response to one who presents a false gospel.  Before I do that, though, I must first issue a caveat.

So, here’s the caveat.  There is a monumental difference between one who in ignorance teaches a false gospel and one who willfully continues in teaching a false gospel.  Apollos was guilty of teaching a different gospel, though he did not know it.  Two dear saints took it upon themselves to instruct the overwhelmingly outstanding orator.  Apollos submitted himself to their instruction and went forth preaching truth.  The Judaizers taught a different gospel, and Paul not only rebuked them, he issued a dire curse against them.  Why?  They knew better.  They had learned the truth, and had perverted the truth.  Not in ignorance but in disobedient disbelief.  The one who is ignorant of truth, we must instruct.  The one who has been instructed and refuses to receive truth, we must reject.  We are ungracious and unloving to reject the unlearned and we are foolish to attempt to instruct the rebellious.

When we do find ourselves confronted with a persistent purveyor of perverted precepts, we must separate from him.  Several verses give us this command, but one seems to sum up this separation most succinctly.  “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.  For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”  (2 John 1:10-11) If someone comes knocking on your door, professing to be from a church down the road and offering to teach you new truths about Jesus and the Bible, when in reality he denies Jesus is God and denies the only way of salvation is faith in Christ apart from any human effort, then you must not welcome him into your home and drink a cup of coffee with him while listening to his false doctrines.  When you kick him off your front porch, you must not wish him well in his efforts or offer him any kind of encouragement of his activity.  To do so is to take unto yourself a part of his false teachings and wicked works.  To do so aids and abets the enemy.  We are not to be hospitable to them in their efforts and we are not to be encouraging to them in their sin lest we become party to their evil.

That verse does not just apply to door knocking promoters of cultic trash.  It applies to our dealings with all who teach false doctrines, including those who claim to be Christians.  In my opinion, we apply those verses today by refusing to buy their books, CD’s or DVD’s, by refusing to watch their TV shows or channels, by not giving one cent of our money to their ministry.  In short, we give nothing to them that might encourage them to go forward in their work.  We do not encourage others to continue to have a part in the false teachers ministry.  We do not put their books in our library, even if donated.  We buy not material from the false teacher, even the good stuff.  We do not try to find something nice to say about them- but we must not be unkind and ungracious, we must speak the truth in love.  We do not do anything that will promote, further or assist the increase or continued existence of their ministry.   Separation from preachers and teachers of a false gospel is a total and severe separation.


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