There are some Christians
who speak of primary and secondary separation. By primary
separation they mean separation from those who teach false
doctrine. To them secondary separation involves separation
from those believers who do not practice primary separation.
Many Christians have ridiculed the position of secondary
separation as unscriptural. As shown above, however, faithfulness
to biblical principles sometimes makes separation from other
believers necessary. This kind of separation should not
be called "secondary" but biblical separation.
True biblical separation
is a matter of love: a love for God that rejects the world
system, a love for the Church that will not tolerate false
teachers who desire to lead the sheep astray and to devour
them, and a love for the Christian brother—a love that is
willing to endure even a break in fellowship in order to
provoke him to do right. In his practice of separation the
Christian should not become frustrated, vindictive, or mean.
He should not be hasty to condemn others on the basis of
unproven rumors. He should demonstrate a godly patience
because he knows that God will eventually judge all ungodliness
(Jude 14-15), whether it be the ungodliness of the world,
of the false teacher, or of a disobedient brother.
A Christian whose
sin is not publicly known and who is not leading others
astray by his example should be rebuked privately and in
the spirit of the New Testament. While a stronger brother
should try to rebuke and, if possible, restore a weaker
brother, he should do it in a spirit of meekness, remembering
that he may also be tempted. However, public sin committed
by a public figure must be publicly rebuked for the sake
of those who are being deceived. For example, a man who
advocates fellowship with apostasy and who cooperates with
cultists, heretics, false teachers, unbelievers, and Romanists
is guilty of a public defiance of God's command. For the
sake of those whom he is leading astray or who might be
led astray by him if not properly warned from the Scripture,
a faithful minister of Christ must hold that man up as an
example of a false teacher even though he pretends to, and
perhaps to an extent does, preach the Gospel. He is not,
however, abiding in the doctrine of Christ and so must be
exposed as a wolf in sheep's clothing. It is unfortunate
that men are associated with positions. It would be well
if we could concentrate only on the position and deal with
the issue of scriptural disobedience or compromise; but
when some man is the prime instigator, promoter, and advocate
of an unbiblical position, that man must be exposed as a
false teacher as we denounce the sin he is promoting.
Many who argue against
scriptural separation as presented here are not against
separation as a principle. They will separate from other
believers because of disagreements over minor matters of
interpretation or practice which do not involve the fundamentals
of the Faith. But they have an unbalanced view of the Scripture
and fail to see the seriousness of the sin that makes separation
absolutely necessary. The believer who immerses himself
in the Word of God and seeks to mature spiritually must
learn to view sin the way God does.
Biblical Separation ©1980. BJU
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