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Be Ye Holy
Chapter 5: The Spirit of the Separatist

Fruit of The Spirit

The New Testament directly associates with separation three virtues that are part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life (Gal. 5:22-23): love, gentleness, and meekness. They must characterize the attitude of the biblical separatist. When the believer "walk[s] in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16), the Holy Spirit produces His fruit in the believer. Some of that fruit must be displayed in the attitude of the person who obeys God in the matter of separation.

Love

As the Holy Spirit leads up to the long passage in Ephesians 4:17-5:18 that deals with personal separation, He teaches that a mark of maturity in the Christian life is "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15). Paul unequivocally speaks the truth in the following verses, but he does so with love for his readers and a desire that they lead Spirit-filled lives. The axiom of Ephesians 4:15 is demonstrated in his words in the following section. He also exhorts them to "walk in love" (Eph. 5:2). The Christian who loves God will hate sin and forsake it in the Spirit's power. These instructions accompany a militant, forceful passage which condemns sin and commands holiness in the Christian's life.

In another passage in which he refers to those who have "swerved" from Scripture (I Tim. 1:6), Paul states, "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" (I Tim. 1:5). Paul had instructed Timothy to rebuke some who had begun to teach false doctrine (I Tim. 1:3). He refers to that "charge" and says that love is the purpose of his "commandment" (v. 5) to rebuke them. Hiebert comments, "Their teaching produced strife and contention, but the charge of Timothy has as its aim the production of true and pure love."3

The preacher's aim must be to keep himself in the love of God and to build a love for God, for fellow Christians, and for all men in the hearts of his people. False doctrine, which detracts from that purpose, must be exposed and avoided (I Tim. 1:3-4).

Gentleness

Gentleness is to be another part of the separatist's attitude. In II Timothy 2:16-21, which has been previously discussed, Paul instructs Timothy to separate himself from false doctrine and to thus sanctify himself for God's use. Paul apparently taught Timothy to instruct those who were caught up in the false doctrine which Hymenaeus and Philetus propounded, saying, "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient" (II Tim. 2:24). Gentleness is required of the separated servant of the Lord who would seek to recover those caught up in false doctrine. In II Corinthians 10, Paul describes the spiritual warfare for the souls of men (vv. 3-6). He begins that militant passage by referring to the "meekness and gentleness of Christ" (v.1). Twice he speaks of gentleness in passages where he is militant and separatistic.

Thayer describes gentleness as being "equitable, fair, mild."4 Vine states that "it expresses that considerateness that looks 'humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case.'"5 This attitude must characterize those who are separatists. It is never right to misrepresent those who deny the Word of God. If their doctrine is false it must be exposed and repudiated, but those who are caught up in false doctrine must be treated with that equity and fairness that constitute gentleness. This attitude is necessary because the separatist must hold out hope for the recovery of the one caught up in false doctrine (II Tim. 2:25-26). Scripture calls false doctrine "iniquity" and commands believers to separate from it (II Tim. 2:19), but they must seek the recovery of those from whom they separate over unholy doctrine. Hiebert speaks of the difficulty involved and the divine power necessary to effect such recovery: "The habit of the errorists to contradict the truth has made it hard for them even to listen to the truth. Only God can effect the change in them. He must 'give' it to them as a gift, using Timothy's efforts as the means to work the needed 'repentance' in them."6

This gentleness must also characterize the actions of separatists in their relationships with believers whom they perceive to be in error. This sense of equity demands that they go to them privately, before publicly exposing supposed error. This is a matter of biblical practice. These passages all deal with separation in the context of the local church, and in that context, separatists are to patiently seek to restore a brother before they separate from him. The same principle applies in a larger context. Before separatists expose a brother in a public forum, both common courtesy and biblical principle demand that they speak privately with him first. They may learn that a brother is not at all cooperating with a group whose meetings he may attend or whose resources he may use. To illustrate, every preacher uses books written by men with whom he has profound disagreement; doing so does not mean that he is "cooperating" with those authors. Churches may use educational materials from institutions with whom they do not agree and with whom they are not in cooperation. Separatists may learn that supposed compromise is not compromise at all, or that a brother has made an isolated mistake. Separatists must heed James's advice to be "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:10).

Meekness

Meekness is a part of the Spirit's fruit associated with separation. Paul refers to it along with gentleness in both II Corinthians 10:1 and II Timothy 2:24-25. He also states, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal 6:1).

Vine describes several important features that constitute meekness: "It is that temper of spirit in which we accept [God's] dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting . . . . The meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power . . . . Described negatively, meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest . . . . It is not occupied with self at all."7

The separatist is to submit himself to God, and in a selfless, powerful manner stand against those who promote false doctrine. He is to exhibit this attitude in separating from the false teacher.

Patience

Another biblically mandated component of the separatist's spirit is patience. Paul tells Timothy that in separating from false teachers and instructing them he is to be "patient" (II Tim. 2:24). The word used is (pios), which is used only once in the New Testament.8 It conveys the idea of "putting up with what is bad."9 The believer must separate himself from false doctrine but be patient with the man who promotes the evil. This passage never condones compromise with false doctrine but repeatedly commands separation from it (II Tim. 2:16, 19, 21, 23). Paul identifies the false teachers by name and warns of the evil effect of their teaching (II Tim. 2:16-17). At the same time he requires patience with evil. He requires this in addition to gentleness and meekness as the servant of the Lord seeks the recovery of those who have fallen into error.

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Be Ye Holy: The Call to Christian Separation. By Fred Moritz. ©1994. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is available for purchase at the Bob Jones University Campus Store (phone: 1-800-252-1927; web address: www.bju.edu/store.) Please note, due to browser limitations, the Hebrew and Greek words are not displayed in their original languages.

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