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Secondary Separation (Part 2)

November 15, 2011

As a matter of obedience, we must separate from those who do not separate from apostasy.  Admittedly, this truth is a little bit less clearly distinguished from the Word, but the greater carefulness of study needed does not make the truth any less important.  If true Christian fellowship is centered around the gospel.  If we divide from those who distort the gospel so that we can maintain the purity of the gospel.  If those who do not separate from gospel error confuse and undermine the gospel message and if separation from gospel impacting error is commanded in the Bible, then separation from those who do not separate is a Biblical necessity.  Several passages in the New Testament bear out this conclusion. Paul’s injunctions to withdraw from those who are disobedient to the teachings of the apostles give the clearest foundation for this practice.  In other words, we are commanded not only to separate from those who by their teaching distort the gospel, we are also commanded to separate those who by their lives undermine the gospel.  To further emphasize this truth, a quick study of 2 Peter 2 and the book of Jude shows that a false teacher is not false only because of false doctrine.  A character that abuses, perverts or flaunts the grace of God is the character of a false teacher.  At what level is treating an apostate as a brother less egregious an error than the evil speech of Jude 1?  How is presumably well intentioned confusion of the gospel any less serious a problem than the intentional distortion of the gospel?  Do we give a pass to those who by “accident” undermine the gospel?  Paul’s command in Romans 16:10 is  that those who cause division and offense contrary to the doctrines of God be marked and avoided.  Offense is that which ensnares someone resulting in their fall into sin. It does not seem to me to be unreasonable to assert that treating an apostate as a brother will cause the unsaved or unlearned to fall into disbelief.  We must be very careful to maintain the purity of the gospel, by separating from those who are apostates and by separating from those who willfully extend Christian fellowship to apostates.

To wrap everything up, there is a lot of that is not being said in this article.  Not being addressed is the matter of separation (primarily or secondarily) from those who maintain different standards.  Not being addressed is separation from those who deviate from the Bible in doctrines that do not directly impact the gospel message.  Not being addressed is the necessity of secondary separation within self professed fundamentalism.  All of these things are topics for another time.  The crucial point for now is this: we must protect the purity of the gospel at all costs.  We must be ready to mark and avoid those who by their disobedience distort the clarity of the gospel message.

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