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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, December 27, 2002
 
Separated Living
I continue to be dismayed by the lowering of standards in the Christian community today. One of the most common signs is the lack of preaching on separation in most churches. There is entirely too much accommodation with the world. Compromise has reached the point where church services are indistinguishable from worldly entertainment.

In my day Christians used to take justified pride in living a life that was different from the world around them. They would dress differently, cut their hair differently, talk differently, act differently and generally live a life of holiness and rigid adherence to high standards of personal purity. It was a sacrifice that we were proud to make. Today’s Christians have no such dedication to living a separated lifestyle.

Their excuse is that Christ looks on how the inward man is dressed, not on the cut of his clothes. They claim that spirituality is a relationship with a living savior, not the application of a set of rigid rules. They even claim that God is not as pleased with the way we live as he is with the way we love Him. What poppycock! They miss the entire point that obedience to a strict standard of spirituality and conduct is precisely what constitutes our relationship with Jesus Christ. Outside of obedience, there is no relationship.

Worship used to be something special when I was younger. Church services were not meant to be enjoyed but endured. The preaching was hard. The messages were uncompromising. The pews weren’t padded and the buildings were not air-conditioned. The last thing we wanted to do was to make sinners and the unsanctified comfortable. Instead, we wanted to profoundly discomfort them in their wickedness.

Today we see just the opposite trend. Churches are trying to be more “seeker sensitive” and appealing to the lost. The last thing in the world we need is for our churches to be more appealing to the lost. If that were the case, then every drunk, prostitute, criminal and worldly person would flock to our services. Where would our churches be then? Why, they would be full of sinners instead of the sanctified paragons of virtue we represent.

What the world needs today is more Christians who practice separated living by avoiding the worldly associations around them. When I was younger, everyone knew it was wrong for Christians to go to movies, nightclubs, dance halls or any restaurants where alcohol was served. Now most Christians visit these places with impunity. In fact, I have even heard of “Christian coffee houses” being established in an attempt to win the lost and appeal to the saved who want to act like the world. Well, I for one believe the Bible has instructed us to establish churches, not coffee houses and anything else is compromise with the world.

Even worse than that, churches are inviting the world into their assemblies. Their music is getting worldly. They have included the use of drums, electric guitars and worldly instruments of all sorts in their so-called praise and worship services. They are showing movies in church. They are clapping in their “worship” services. They are building recreational centers for their youth so that they have alleged Christian hangouts. Things have gotten so bad that our churches are indistinguishable from what the world has to offer. There are no more Bible-thumping preachers breathing out fire and brimstone to warn sinners of their hellish destiny. Instead, we are trying to appeal to them with our “sensitive” approach to sin. We need to soundly condemn sinners and tell them in Christ’s words, “Go and sin no more!”

My opponents claim that the essential difference between worldly amusements and church services is internal in the content of the worship, not the externals of legalism. They say that their worship is more genuine and from the newness of the heart instead of the oldness of the letter. What they fail to understand is that without the external standards, the world is unable to distinguish our holy living from their good intentions. Separated living is all about externals, not internals. The gospel should not be kept secret but lived openly where all the world can see it and profit by our good example.

Gamaliel/RJP

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV)

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