As we approach the end of the age and the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ it seems it seems that there is an ever-increasing exhilaration towards apostasy, in preparation for the revelation of antichrist. Spurgeon speaking of the situation faced by the church in his day spoke truth which is equally applicable to our day, he said, "they say let us revise our doctrines. Some are old fashioned, grim, severe and unpopular let us drop them out. Use the old phrases so as to please the obstinately orthodox but give them new meanings so as to win philosophical unbelievers. Shave off the edges of unpleasant truths and moderate the dogmatic tone of infallible revelation. Say that Abraham and Moses made mistakes and that the books, which have long been held in reverence, are full of errors. Undermine the old faith for the times have changed and the spirit of the age demands the abandonment of everything that is to severely righteous". If that reflects the spiritual temperature in Spurgeons day in is hardly surprising that in our day that professed evangelicals are denying the personality of the Devil, the conscious eternal punishment of the lost, the absolute inerrency of scripture and many more doctrines. Nor is it surprising either that they are openly courting liberals and ecumenists. There has not been a time such as this since the reformation, therefore never has it been so necessary as it is at this moment in history to set forth the old truth of separation. This truth was crucial as far as Paul was concerned, for in the context here in 2 Thessalonians 3, he recognised that in light of the soon return of Christ, the major theme of this book, that it was imperative for the church to be delivered from, evil people, v2, and evil practices, v3. Paul taught that separation was essential, note four things that he says about it here, which applied not only to the Thessalonians but also to all believers everywhere. A. The command of separation, v4&6. Separation is not an option for the believer it is a command. Other commands in Scripture include – The command of SALVATION, "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent". The command of SERVICE, "follow me". These commands are not requests, we must obey them, there are consequences for our disobedience, and if you ignore the command to be saved you will lose your soul. If you ignore the command to serve you will lose your reward. Clearly these commands are incumbent upon us, but so also is the command to be separate, "come ye out from among them and be ye separate says the Lord". We should keep in mind that we can only expect blessing in proportion to our obedience. B. The constraint of separation, v5. The motivation for the believer to come apart from the world and be separate is love for God and the return of the Lord Jesus. Jesus said, that, "if we love Him we will keep His commandments". Therefore the evidence of our love for Him will be the degree to which we keep His commandments. If we profess to love our spouses then our desire will be to please them, if we know that a certain course of action will displease them then we will desist from it so as not to risk upsetting our loved ones. If we say that we love God then we will desire to be obedient to His word so as to please Him. Another powerful motive for separation here is the Lord’s return. After all we would not want to be ashamed at His coming which we would be if we were "unequally yoked", this verse is usually applied to wedlock and that is a proper application, but in its strictest context its primary application is toworship, which includes witness and walk, cf 2Cor6v14-18, 1Jn2v28. To "wait" for Him as Paul exhorts here presupposes a pure heart confidently hoping for His coming, could we as believers wait with confidence if there was sin and disobedience in our hearts or if we were compromised not living separated lives for Him. C. The character of separation, v6&10-15. As we look at the character of separation there are two things here that we need to consider. (I). The particulars of it. We are commanded to be separate from false deeds and false doctrine and all those who propagate them. a. Separation from the propagators of false deeds, v6&10-12. Paul commanded the Thessalonians here to be separate from all those who walked disorderly, and it was sound council, because it was very possible that by keeping company with them they would become contaminated by them. The downward steps to apostasy are well marked, first there is toleration of error, next accommodation for error, closely followed by co-operation with error, leading to contamination by error, resulting in capitulation to error. The Biblical teaching is clear when it comes to separation from those groups or individuals who are walking disorderly, we must "mark them and avoid them", cf Rom 16v17. b. Separation from the propagators of false doctrine, v6&14. There is some confusion among Bible believers as to which doctrines are important enough to separate over, but rather than speculate lets see what the Bible teaches. Christology, cf 2Cor11v2. The doctrine of Christ has been the subject of attack down through the history of the church as the Saviour said it would be, cf Mt13v33. Pneumatology, 2Cor11v2-4. It is very serious error indeed to claim experiences from the Holy Spirit which He is not the author of or attribute work to Him which He is not responsible for. 3. Soteriology, 2Cor11v2-4. What fellowship can we have with those who deny the necessity of a new birth experience claiming instead salvation by works 4. Eschatology, 2Tim2v16-17. According to these scriptures certain aspects of the doctrine of last things are important enough to maintain our separation over. 5. Ecclessology, 1Tim3v15, 6v13-14,&20-21. There are definite aspects of the doctrine and practice of the church which we can not agree to disagree on and must take our stand concerning. Bibliology, 1Tim6v3-5. On what basis could we have fellowship with those who deny the inspiration or inerrancy of scripture. (ii). The purpose of it. The purpose of separation besides keeping oneself pure that is, is to win back wayward brethren, cf v15. Our actions in withdrawing fellowship from brothers embroiled in error is intended to challenge them to think about what they are doing and desist from it for the kingdoms sake. D. The connotations of separation, v1-2&16. When we obey the Lord and separate from evil then there are implications for – (i). The scriptures, v1-2. The word of God will be unhindered and have free course among the people accomplishing God’s purposes. Obedience always brings blessing, disobedience and entanglement with error whether moral or doctrinal, stifles the power of God and hinders the work and word of God. (ii). The saints, v16. Peace and spiritual prosperity are the promises of God for His people. But we will not know peace if we are knowingly living with error and tolerating sin. The promise of God to His people is, "come ye out from among them and be ye separate and I will receive you saith the Lord".
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