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Supporting the Truth

May 31, 2011

In the ongoing discussion about separation, we now step outside the doctrines over which we separate to something that is even more controversial.  We must not only separate from those who by their doctrines deny the gospel, we must also separate from those who live in sin, even if they proclaim Christianity.  Those specifically mentioned in the New Testament as ones to separate from include the divisive, the lazy, the immoral, the drunkard, the covetous, the thief and the reviler.  In the context of the local church this separation would take place as a result of church discipline, but is not limited only to discipline within a local body.  These commands have serious impact on our relationships with other Christians outside our particular local church and on our fellowship with other churches or Christian groups.  The commands are clear, but for some the reasons behind such commands are less clear.  We are to separate from the wicked for three reasons which we’ll explore over the next few articles.

The first reason to separate from those with right doctrine and wrong habits is because their actions defame the gospel.  The actions of those who willfully live in sin are such that they bring shame and dishonor upon the gospel.  They turn the grace of God into self satisfying abandonment.  They twist the liberty of Christ from the bondage of sin into lust driven “freedom” from the restraints of holiness.  They stand the gospel message on its head and proclaim through their lifestyle that what Christ really meant to do was make you free to live in all the sin you want.  Christ was slain for us.  When He died, He bore in Himself the entire wrath of God for all of our sin. He suffered the full consequences of our full guilt.  It is the basest of slanders to suggest that Christ suffered the greatest of agonies to give us the freedom to go and satiate our selves with those very sins for which He suffered.  It is absolutely treasonous to suggest the Christian has the freedom to wallow in that for which Christ died.

We must separate from those who live in wickedness lest the world, or that sinning Christian, get the idea that it is acceptable to act and live in such a fashion.  In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul states that the church is the stay and support of the truth.  Paul tells Timothy this to inform him why the previous instructions in the letter were important.  Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy are given to Timothy so that he (and other believers) may know how to behave themselves in the church.  The fact that the church is pillar and the ground of the truth is directly connected to the believers behavior within the church.  The church’s function as a support and bolster to the truth is tied to its practice, not its doctrine.  This has some major implications for our churches, but in the context of this article we see that the church’s response to a wickedly living professing Christian has a direct connection to the church’s responsibility to uphold the truth.   We must not have any part of ongoing wickedness lest we give any credence to the lie that one can be saved and live any old way they please.


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