"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." 2 Corinthians 6:17
Separation from the world and worldly people has always been the sign of a saint of God. In the Old Testament, God required His people, Israel, to be set apart from the other people on earth. Some of His harshest penalties happened because His people comingled with the nations of the world. Paul, author of over half the New Testament, was very emphatic about Christians being separate in all of his writings. Paul said we are to avoid the very "appearance of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:22) To give you some idea of how worldly Christians hate this practice, all of the "new age" bibles change the word "appearance" to "every kind" or "every form" of evil. (You see, by changing the word "appearance" means we can 'appear' as a hippy, pimp, prostitute or drug addict, just as long as we aren't one!)
Paul spoke of the importance of that appearance when he said:
"Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." 1 Corinthians 8:13
When appointing the first deacons, the instructions were:
"Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." Acts 6:3
Notice the first qualification was "men of honest report." This preceded being "full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." One's reputation is very important to God.
Not only is it imperative that we separate from the devil's crowd, there are times when we must separate even from God's wayward children.
"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
There are two types of filthiness from which the Christian must abstain; the "filthiness of the flesh and spirit." (2 Corinthians 7:1)
The "filthiness of the flesh" is often more obvious than the "filthiness of the spirit." Both are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (above.) A "fornicator," "extortioner," "railer," or "drunkard" is fairly easy to detect. The "covetous" or "idolator" may be a little harder to distinguish. This "filthiness" may often show up in their doctrine. Christians who have aligned themselves with members of cults or groups that dishonor Christ should be off limits for God's children.
Our churches are filled with a "mixed multitude" (Nehemiah. 13:3) that sit, listen and go home, feeling like they have done God a favor by attending. Most of our churches have quit having invitations and most of those that do expect nothing to happen. Our invitations are powerless with no conviction, no repentance and no concern. The reason this happens is because the message has no conviction and no burden for souls. God help us for accepting this as normal.
We can talk about "praise and worship" all we want to, but the God of the Bible has never accepted praise and worship from a bunch of lukewarm, Laodicean church members. Churches lower their standards, then blame it on the young people. It does no good to "reach the youth" if you don't have anything for them. Our little ecumenical messages of "one size fits all" brings no clarity, purpose or peace to our young people. They need a rock to stand on, not a concert or fellowship to satisfy the carnal.
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" 1 Peter 4:17
Just because many of man's laws are not enforced or that man constantly changes them, doesn't mean that God has mellowed out. There is still a judgment for the lost (Revelation 20:12) and also a judgment for the saved (2 Corinthians 5:10.)
Have you ever wondered why God will "wipe away all tears" (Revelation 21:4) at the end of time? I imagine there will be a lot of tears at the judgment seat of Christ. Sins of commission, sins of omission, calloused hearts and selfish motives will be revealed and our hearts will be broken. The more tears we shed here, the less we will shed there.
How long has it been since you have seen tears of any kind, joy or repentance, in a preaching service? Suppose this could be the cause churches are closing or have no growth?
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalms 126:6
Keep looking up!