Separation: The Strength of the Redeemed
By: Frances Swaggart
(This article was originally printed in May, 2008)
“That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There has not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man” (Judg. 16:17).
Samson’s remarkable strength came as a direct result of his consecration to the Lord. The term “Nazarite” comes from the Hebrew word “nazir” meaning “consecrated” or “separated.” The Nazarite Vow required a man or woman not to cut one’s hair, to abstain from the fruit of the vine (wine), and not to touch a dead body (as death portrayed the Fall of man, while the Nazarite was to epitomize Life). In such, the Lord made it clear how important separation from the world would be for those He would use in the Works and Callings of His Kingdom. John the Baptist was also a Nazarite: “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk. 1:15).
Samson kept the Nazarite Vow until he found a part of the world upon which he began to set his affections. His love for Delilah (Delilah being a type of the world) caused Samson to relinquish his Vow of Separation to God. The cutting of his hair was the outward sign of his heart’s betrayal. As a result, he lost his strength! The Philistines overtook him; they even took his sight. This should be a tremendous lesson to Believers today. The Lord views affection toward the world as spiritual adultery committed against Him. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I Jn. 2:15). Under the New Covenant, however, Believers do not need to take the Nazarite Vow, because we rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit to separate and distinguish us from the world.
Separation is an inherent part of the very purpose of the Church, her purpose being the proclamation of the Gospel! It is a vital part of our witness/our testimony to demonstrate that we have been Saved and changed! One renowned preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, said, “. . . the Church of God needs to remember that fellowship with God necessitates separation from all who fail to fulfill the responsibilities of fellowship in light or in love.” The Lord requires separateness of Believers over and over again in the Scriptures – in both the Old and New Testaments. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Cor. 6:17). And notice this particular verse is speaking of separation from the apostate church as well. Just as there is no fellowship with the world, there is no fellowship with a backslidden church. Regarding what he referred to as “secondary separation,” Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have preached God’s truth, so far as I know it, and I have not been ashamed of its peculiarities. That I might not stultify my testimony, I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith and even from those who associate with them.”1
So, why is it so important to the Lord to have His People remain separate and distinct from the world? Why does this give the Lord glory? Because this present world is actually ruled by Satan. Since the Fall, Satan has been able to influence man in all his actions and endeavors, so the ways of unredeemed man actually reflect the will of the enemy, not the Lord’s. One pastor recently asked, “Is there any Scriptural directive calling us to renovate the Land of the Lost into a facade of faith so that it will appear to be Christian owned and operated when our Lord returns, even though it is clearly stated four times in Scripture that Satan is the ‘prince of this world’?”2 You see, Biblical separation is separation from Satan and from the antichrist system he is presently establishing. Christians are considered foreigners in an evil kingdom, which is why it is so important for the Child of God to develop discernment as he grows. “But strong meat belongs to them who are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). Satan will even disguise his followers as professing Believers to cause confusion. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I Jn. 4:1).
THE WAY OUT
God allows His people to remain in Satan’s territory for one purpose — to show others the Way out! This is the only reason we remain on Earth after we are Saved, so we must remain “in” it without being “of ” it! “No man who wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who has chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4). Of course, the Devil is not pleased with our inhabitance, and he will try everything in his power to pull us back into fellowship with his fellows! He even offered Christ the kingdoms of this Earth: “And the Devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto Him, All this power will I give You, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If You therefore will worship me, all shall be Yours. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Lk. 4:5-8).
It is also interesting to note that during the time of Samson, men with long hair were viewed as weak, yet it was one of the requirements of the Nazarite Vow. Certainly it was a humbling position to be in, but it actually spoke volumes regarding the Source of Samson’s strength. It gave God the glory. It is the same today. Separation may put a Believer in a position of weakness in the eyes of the world. For instance, a particular Believer may refuse to partner in business with a nonbeliever, possibly lessening his/her potential to make a greater financial income. But, it is just such a Believer whom the Lord delights in strengthening and supplying by His Power! It is when a man humbles himself to the guiding of the Spirit that the Lord may use him the most mightily! “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Cor. 12:10). Likewise, the Church as a whole is always strengthened when she remains separate. Again, this is God’s way of demonstrating His Own Strength! When the Church intermingles with the world and/or takes on the methods and ways of the world, the Lord is not glorified as He should be. The Work Jesus did at Calvary is distinct and exclusive, and Faith in it always begins to distinguish you from the world. If you deny this separation, you deny the Cross!
Yet, this is the precise sin of the modern church. The modern church is preaching unity rather than separation! Preachers today seem to think there is “strength in numbers,” but this is a false strength that will ultimately break down in the face of adversity. It is the Lord’s Power Alone that can defeat the enemy’s schemes, which is why Satan constantly tries to get the Church to look for strength in anything other than Christ and Him Crucified! Believers must understand that the Lord wants His Church to be different! But, the modern church strives to appeal to, work with, and unify with the world and/or other apostate churches. Remember what happened when Samson chose to love Delilah in this manner? She eventually caused him to betray his First Love. But nonetheless, the modern church has invented a new “Do-Good Gospel.” In other words, they say in “doing-good” together and “loving” one another despite our differences, people will begin to “experience” God on an individual basis. While it is true that “good works” can produce a spiritual “experience,” the spirit felt is not necessarily the Lord. Rather “good works” produce a religious spirit (when done apart from proper Faith). This is quite disturbing because churches quickly fill up with religious people rather than Saved people. People who are simply religious cannot tell the difference in true and false doctrine, so their criteria for knowing about the Lord becomes “experience.” Some Protestants have even converted back to Roman Catholicism simply because of the spiritual “experiences” they have had with mystic Catholic rituals, no matter that these are completely unbiblical and ungodly. The Emergent Church is one of the greatest promoters of this road back to Rome as they emphasize and promote unbiblical spiritual attractions such as prayer stations, statues, incense, liturgy, candles, icons, and the sacraments including the Eucharist.
Another way the Lord admonishes Believers to remain separate is by requiring us not to be unequally yoked. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has Righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? (II Cor. 6:14). The yoke is quite a powerful symbol in Scripture! It referred to the cattle yoke which bound animals to a plow so that they can work in unison. Old Testament law forbade even an ox and donkey to plow together (Deut. 22:10). The yoke was also used figuratively to refer to bondage and the burden born by slaves (Ex. 6:6-7; I Tim. 6:1). Jesus would later tell us, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Mat. 11:30). When a person is Saved, he has a newfound yoke with Jesus which has freed him from all the enslaving yokes of the enemy. So, while it is perfectly fine for Christians to participate in society, they should not join in common cause with it. Christ cannot be joined to a fallen world. Those who walk by Faith can never walk with those who walk by the flesh and self-will. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). God even forbade Israel from making international alliances for defensive and economic purposes — even though the practice was common among other nations (Ex. 23:32; Josh. 23:12). The primary reason for this was spiritual, seeing that treaty relationships would involve contact with pagan religions and, thereby, call for toleration of pagan practices. This is exactly what happened when Solomon got involved in international alliances. When Jehoshaphat made a trade alliance with Israel’s wicked king, Ahaziah, a prophet came to him and announced, “. . . Because you have joined yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has broken your works . . .”
(II Chron. 20:37).3
Sadly, these are just the types of alliances that are going on in the modern church. Pastors like Rick Warren are teaming-up with globalist/communist leaders to work toward common goals, but all this is really a guise for the Antichrist to bring about his one-world order. “Rick Warren was invited by the U.N. and accepted, to come to the U.N. Interfaith Prayer Meeting which was attended by leaders of Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and every other faith. Since most of these religions don’t believe in Christ, it is clear this was not a Christian prayer meeting but was a guise to have a globalist political conference. The U.N. believes that religions must be pacified and brought into its fold in order to have world peace. The U.N.’s plan is to synthesize all religions into one, and Rick Warren seems to be the point man to facilitate this. That is why Rick Warren said, ‘The man of peace can even be a Moslem.’”4 False preachers try to impose a guilt trip on Christians if they will not sacrifice their personal needs for the needs of the community. But, remember the word “communism” actually comes from the word “community,” and ultimately the church will lose her freedom to a religious dictatorship if she refuses to remain separate from the governmental affairs of this world. This country has stood on the principle of the separation of church and state for a reason!
SEPARATION NOT ISOLATION
The point should also be made that in the Church some have confused the idea of separation with isolation. For instance, we have seen monks and/or nuns of many religions isolate themselves throughout history, but this is not what God meant by separation. Jesus ate with sinners without compromising. “Actually, Jesus contemplated that His people would have such intercourse with the world, and that in it they would do good. But in none of this is there to be any compromise of principle; in none to be any yielding to the opinions and practices that are contrary to the Word of God. As we have already stated, if we isolate ourselves, we cannot let our light shine. . . . As well, ‘separation’ must be that which is guided and directed by the Holy Spirit and not legalism.” “Nevertheless, having said that, one can be certain that the Holy Spirit is not going to place a seal of approval upon that which is obviously wrong.”5If the Holy Spirit is telling you to separate and be different in any area of your life, do it! Even if other professing Believers do not, you must obey for yourself, because what you are sensing is actually the beginnings of an eternal separation. Remember, only the Lord knows who is truly Saved and who is not. God’s Word tells us that “the wheat and the tares” will reside together, but that the Lord will separate them in the end (Mat., Chpt. 13). So Believer, rejoice and obey the Lord, because what you are sensing is simply His Spirit beginning this work in the hearts of those who are truly His! You are wheat, and it is your destiny to be separate from the tares!
1 (quote taken from a teaching by Pastor Perry F. Rockwood) (http://www.crossroad.to/HisWord/notes/separation-holiness.htm)
2 (Where is your kingdom? by Paul Proctor, February 15, 2006)
3 (Jimmy Swaggart Bible Commentary, II Corinthians, p. 268-272)
4 (Loren Davis, “The Purpose Driven Life Uses Marxist Ideology and Language” 2008) (http://www.lorendavis.com/news_articles_pdl.html)
5 (Jimmy Swaggart Bible Commentary, II Corinthians, p. 271)