Whoa, that is not what scripture says, or is it? We are admonished in Scripture not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers but where does it state that we are to separate ourselves from believers. The truth is that there are different degrees of separation, one of which includes carnal Christians.
I do not particularly like the expression ‘backslidden’. The word itself is not mentioned in the Bible although backsliding is mentioned in Jeremiah and Hosea in reference to Israel. Instead I prefer the phrase ‘out of fellowship with God,’ which seems to have a more convicting connotation. True, the term backsliding has come to refer nowadays to a severed relationship with the Lord because of sin, but it does not seem to have the soul searching impact as being out of fellowship with God. In 2 Timothy 4:10 we are told by Paul that God had separated him from Demas because the latter went the way of the world and would have been a hindrance on Paul’s ministry. Carnal Christians are a hindrance to any ministry and/or personal relationship with Jesus. Actually, if the truth be known, those who name the name of Christ and are living in sin usually avoid those who are seeking to walk close to the Lord. The good apple/bad apple scenario would definitely apply in these matters of carnality.
So many times we enter into relationships that are not spiritually healthy. I know a lady who has affections for a man who is abrasive and somewhat condescending and rude. She is praying earnestly that the Lord would change his heart so that he would be ‘marriage’ material. Until then, she is content to remain single. ” Wise Woman!” A lady who is seeking to be faithful to the Lord has no business fostering a relationship with a man who has carnal tendencies. An acquaintance shared with me that her Pastor had counselled her against marrying her husband because he had a mean and angry spirit; now she is in an unpleasant marriage of her own chosing. Another Christian lady who was a widow became interested in a single man in her church. She was saddened that they only had one date and earnestly prayed that the Lord would allow her to become this mans wife. It turned out that he was smitten by another lady who lured him into a worldly church, which indicated that he was not firm in his convictions on separation issues. Recently I was befriended by a sweet lady who consistently dominated the majority of our fellowship with stories of her colorful past. It did not take my flesh long to begin competing with ‘my life was harder than your life’ stories. Occasional reference was made to the forgiving nature of Christ and His leading in our lives but the main focus was on our own ‘woe is me’ saga. Although it is needful at times to share pertinent information about ones past and how the Lord has lead you through trials as a testimony to God’s forgiving nature, it should be offered in caution and most certainly with a Saint who is not prone to gossip. Gossip, this brings me to another reason to separate oneself from a Carnal Believer.
Gossip – Giving Others Self Serving Information Persuasively. Little phrases like ‘just so you can pray more intelligently’ or We need to pray for so and so because…………………are sometimes red flags that a request for prayer has a tainted motive. Granted many prayers needs could be addressed in this manner, but caution must be maintained to assure that the request is legitimate. Fellowship with a person who is prone to gossip can only lead to trouble and it is not pleasing to the Lord. There is so much information about other folk that we do not necessarily have a need-to-know.
The old adage that we are known by the company we keep especially applies to Christiandom. Those who attend Catholic services are discerned as being Catholic. Folk who frequent churches with a penchant for Pentecostalism are refered to as Pentecostal. These are easily accepted as being religious people whom we should separate ourselves in our spiritual walk. Some fellowships are not as recognizable as being ‘separation’ issues. For instance, consider those churches who entertain their congregations with Christian Rock. In my opinion this would be a worldly church, Laodicean perhaps, and it would be wrong for me to frequent their services. In many communities across America, there are Church sponsored community activities which humanly speaking are worldly beneficial. Whether it be political or humanitarian, it may be necessary not to participate in these activities because of the Spiritual nature of the churches involved.
We are blessed in this Nation with an abundant of churches that still preach the Gospel of Christ. Some of these even use the KJV. Unfortunately for some, this is where it ends. The altar call, soul winning, visitation and preaching against sin is no longer a part of their ministry. Like the church in Ephesus, these folk have left their first love. Recently, I read where a man who was an elder in one of these ‘Ephesus’ churches signed himself and his wife up for dancing lessons. I do not believe I would be spiritually fed at their church. A church in a nearby community has become so ‘separated’ that it is nigh unto being a cult. The man in the pulpit so micro-manages his flock that he usurps the authority of Dad’s in their home. Children who attend the Christian School of this church are not permitted to talk to let alone fellowship with other Christian school children. For years I attended a church in which I did not feel comfortable. The Lord had led me to this church when the founding father was in the pulpit. After the Lord called him home, standards changes and I sought the Lord that he might lead me to another work, and through a set of circumstances, He did just that. Prayerfully consider the church that you are currently attending, if it does not measure up to the Church at Philadelphia, then perhaps you might seek wisdom from God about becoming a part of another work. Several folk in the church I attend drive a goodly distance to attend the services.
In closing, let me reassure my readers that I am not advocating separating oneself from a carnal brother or sister in the Lord as one would an unsaved person. On the contrary, just as we are to be witnesses of the Gospel in the world, so indeed are we to live our life in such a way that a wayward one within the flock of Christ will have genuine conviction and return to the fold. Fellowship with these folk may need to be limited, but not severed unless there is blatant sin. We must be ever mindful to the truth that if it were not for the grace of the Lord Jesus……………thither go I!
Note: Photo depicts ruins of Laodicean Church which is due to be opened to the Public in 2103.