Be Ye Holy
Chapter 5: The Spirit of the Separatist
Fruit of 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.
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
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
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).
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.
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
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).
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).
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
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
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
Be Ye Holy: The Call to Christian Separation. By Fred Moritz. ©1994.
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