“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” 2 Cor. 6:17
While reading an article, extolling the virtues of a famous person, I was amazed by his accomplishments and honors. Wondering how he had come to such a life I was struck by how easily I could admire someone whose life was deeply embedded in the world and its charms. And then I wondered if I had come out?
To come out is not a phrase unique to the 20th century and needn’t be limited to one’s sexual preferences, instead it is a command of God for His followers…you and I, to come out from the world. To be separate from the world. Have I? Or am I blended like homogenized milk (part world and part church) indistinguishable from people who reject Christ as their Savior? Does my lifestyle illuminate the darkness in the world or have I reduced the flame to an ember so as not to offend? Have I come out?
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them and walk among them I will be their God, and they will be my people. 17Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 18And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (Isaiah 52:11; Ezek. 37:27; Ex. 29:45; Lev. 26:12)
In case you are wondering how God sees our coming out from the world, it is important that we understand what He is NOT saying as found in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 5:9-12 In the letter that I wrote you I told you not to associate with immoral people.10Now I did not mean pagans who are immoral or greedy or are thieves, or who worship idols. To avoid them you would have to get out of the world completely.11What I meant was that you should not associate with a person who calls himself a believer but is immoral or greedy or worships idols or is a slanderer or a drunkard or a thief. Don’t even sit down to eat with such a person. 12-13After all, it is none of my business to judge outsiders. God will judge them. But should you not judge the members of your own fellowship? As the scripture says, Remove the evil person from your group.
Ephesians 5:1-3 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 3Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.
1 John 1:6-10 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
Often, when faced with a life change, we naturally seek a set of rules to help lay the groundwork, light the path or make the change easier. However, we seek for them in vain since God has made it clear it is what doctors might describe as, “a heart condition.” Coming out for us requires our effort, our diligent effort. But if that were all, then the most disciplined person among us could proudly proclaim their success and right-standing with God.
Reading the Bible, praying, choosing to call upon the Lord when we are weak, admitting to Him we are incapable in ourselves, praising and worshiping our Savior are paving stones on the road to a closer walk with the Lord. Contrary to the world, God uses our weakness and dependence on Him to accomplish what is humanly impossible. Contrary to the world, God uses our weakness and dependence on Him to accomplish what is humanly impossible.
1 Corinthians 1:27-31 God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful.28He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29This means that no one can boast in God’s presence. 30But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom. By him we are put right with God; we become God’s holy people and are set free. 31So then, as the scripture says, Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.
Coming out from the world is not a thing I do, it is a life I live, through the grace of God.