Monday, January 18, 2021

Living Biblically - Separation

Ever notice this symbol on newspapers? It’s called a registration mark. Any time you are printing multiple colors, to get a picture clear, you must align the registration marks on each separate printing run. These are standard in the printing industry on everything printed that has multiple colors. You won’t see them in magazines because the registration marks are on the excess part of the paper that is trimmed off.

When we are seeking to understand what God says in His word, we need the registration marks to align. Otherwise, we have a fuzzy picture of what’s going on. Everything in Scripture isn’t black and white. God prints in an array of colors so that clarity can only come when everything fits together as He intends it. Alignment is essential.

Which means, I cannot take one verse and go off and build a belief from it. I need the rest of Scripture to support what that one verse says. Even in accusing a person of a crime in Bible days, you had to have at least two witnesses, one to verify that the other is telling the truth.

A guy was trying to discover God’s will for his life using the one-finger approach. He’d open to a page, close his eyes and point at a verse. That verse would then be his answer from the Lord. He pointed and it said, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” That can’t be right so he tried again, “Go and do likewise.” He said, “I’ll try one more time.” “What you do, do quickly.” He closed his Bible and decided to watch TV instead.

I hear people say all the time, “But the Bible says this…” Yeah, but it also says this, which is different than what your verse says. If we have opposing views, let’s back up to what we know is true – God is not the author of confusion and will never contradict Himself. We need more context. That’s why we must study harder to align the registration marks.

2Tim 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 

The KJV said: study to show yourself approved. For those who remember school days, why did we study? To hopefully do well on our assignment or test. Study is the process of diligently taking content and attaching a handle to it so we can use it. Paul sees our responsibility before God to handle His word in such a way that what we discover will be usable because it is accurate to the whole. That what we believe will be consistent with all that God has said.

Have you ever read part of the instructions and not all of it? Sometimes in my zeal to get a project finished, I don’t always follow the steps. If you skip a step, you can mess up the final result.

I was installing a kitchen faucet. I’d done so many times before. So, who needs to read instructions, right? When I got to a certain point and had some important stuff left over, I looked at the instructions. I was supposed to put this on and run this through that and connect this piece here because I cannot take it off once I’ve connected it. I skipped some important steps and as a result, the faucet didn’t work as designed. There was a right way and a wrong way.

Throughout Scripture God uses contrasts to draw a line between the right way and the wrong way. He uses goats and sheep, flesh and spirit, righteous and unrighteous, Jews and Gentiles, life and death, lost and found, light and darkness. But one contrast that has powerful symbolism is good and evil.

The name of the tree that bore the fruit that Adam and Eve ate was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When they lost their innocence by disobeying God, they suddenly saw both sides of life: the good side and now the evil side.

Why was the tree there in the first place or at least have been fenced in? The answer you’ll find most often is: Since God doesn’t force people to obey Him but wants them to want to obey, the tree provided man with a choice: a choice to love and serve Him willingly or to rebel against him. That tree represented the line between good and evil. From that one tree, what they chose to do would lead them down two separate roads of life.

Another image we see in the Garden is light and darkness. When you take away the grey matter of dusk and dawn, God uses light and darkness as stark contrasts. It’s an either/or. Either light or darkness, not both at the same time. In creation, light was the first thing God made. He did so to distinguish day and night. It’s a physical phenomenon. But here with Adam and Eve, it turns into an analogy of what went on in the spiritual realm. Having lived in the light, they now discovered what the darkness felt like.

When I was a kid, my family went to Carlsbad Caverns. I can still remember the moment the guide turned out the light. I had never felt darkness before. Even today, it is one of the most uncomfortable moments in my life. I’d been by myself before, but never had I felt truly alone as I did in that darkness. Even with people all around me I felt a deep emptiness that gripped me until the light came back on. Light brought comfort to an uncomfortable moment. You can see how God would use Light to represent His presence.

1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 

Eph 5:8-9 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 

As children of the light, we should be uncomfortable in spiritual darkness. Ever wonder why you don’t see a lot of roaches during the day? They don’t like the light.

John 3:19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 

Children of the Light are drawn to the light because their desire is to walk in fellowship with their Heavenly Father.

In general, like the chameleon, people tend to adjust to fit their circumstances. They want to live close to the middle and lean in whichever direction they believe will be most comfortable. That affects Believers just like it does people of the world.

Here’s my problem and maybe yours. Having no boundaries to force us to be separate, no fences to divide between the two, or walls that make it impossible to compromise, we often linger in the shaded zone of a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, a little bit light and a little bit darkness. It’s easy to adjust our actions to conform to those with whom we associate.

Paul saw this as a threat to the identity of the church in Corinth. 2Cor 6:14-17 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord.

They had a man in the church that was blatantly living in darkness yet wanting fellowship as though he was in the light. Paul said they could not allow that within the church. He needed to make a choice and then live within that choice. Either come back into the light and live accordingly or stay in the darkness. It was a call for that man to decide on which side of the line he choose to live.

God faced this same challenge with the people He got out of Egypt not fully knowing who He was. They had lived over 400 years in a pagan world. Their minds were divided. They knew of Him but didn’t know Him. God had to show them who He was.

So He told them: Lev 11:45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.

The goal was: draw near to God and move further away from Egypt. But the tendency to compromise continued. The people kept blurring the line between the two – a little bit holy and a little bit Egyptian pagan.

Ps 81:8-13 Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me! Let there be no strange god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god. I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! 

You almost hear God crying out: “Hey, I’m not over there where you are. I’m over here. Come over here and walk with Me.” When we pray: “God be with us,” I hear God saying, “Why don’t you be here with me?”

Heb 2:1-2 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

We drift away when we neglect the life-consuming aspect of our salvation. Unless we stay moored to truth, we will be drawn away from it.

Ezra saw that the people in Jerusalem had already drifted. He said, “You’ve let people of the world draw you away from being the People of God.”

Ezra 10:10-11 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have been unfaithful and have married foreign wives adding to the guilt of Israel. Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.

What was wrong with marrying foreign wives? It wasn’t the value of the women. It was the baggage they brought into the marriage. They were pagan women who expected their husbands to come over to their beliefs, not the other way. It’s the manipulating of a Delilah twisting Samson’s heart with: “If you don’t do this, you don’t love me.”

Deut 7:3-4 Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.

1Kings 2:3-4 Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, 'If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.' 

1Kings 11:7-10 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. 

In the OT God didn’t call everyone to become His People. He was working with a singular, particular people He had called to become His Family. And to be His Family, He placed upon them very specific commands. These commands started with Adam then ran through Seth and into Moses. These commands called for a separation from the world, which became the spiritual battle ground for the Jews. They wanted the title People of God, but not the requirements.

Deut 14:2 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 

Peter adds us to that original calling. 1Pet 2:9-10 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 

Compromise blurred the identity of God’s people when they mixed good and evil, light and darkness, holiness and unholiness instead of separating the two. Which led to the flood.

Gen 6:1-8 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 

The purpose of the flood was two-fold.

Do you remember the curse on the land? Gen 3:17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; cursed is the ground because of you;

Gen 5:28-29 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, "This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed." 

Gen 8:20-21 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. 

There are a variety of English words that can be used to translate a particular Hebrew word. The phrase I will never again curse the ground could be translated: I will not continue the curse of the ground. That through Noah, God cleansed the ground, which removed the curse caused by Adam.

The second purpose was to judge the world because of the compromise between the people of God and the people of the world. Now, I’m going to take out the part about the Nephilim because they weren’t a factor in the reason for the flood. Let’s look at what was going on between the people. The sons of God came into the daughters of men. In other places in Scripture, there are references to the sons of God being the people of God. There are also references to the sons of men being mankind, the unredeemed part of humanity. What I see here is the blurring of the line between the two groups that was to remain separate.

Because the line had been so blurred, God had to erase it and start over. But we’re left with a significant question: If the flood was to get rid of all wickedness, did it accomplish its purpose? Did the flood fix the problem of the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually? Not according to David. Watch how he contrasts the people of the world – the sons of men – with God’s people.

Ps 53:1-4 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God," They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; there is no one who does good. God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge, who eat up My people as though they ate bread and have not called upon God? 

The evil in men’s hearts survived the flood much like, after nuclear holocaust, when everyone else is gone, the roaches will still be around.

Jesus saw the same thing in people during His day. Mark 7:21-23 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders,adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. 

That’s why Jesus prayed for us: John 17:15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 

Your Bible will have the word one after evil in italics. The translators felt Jesus was praying for the Father to keep us from the Devil, who tempts us to turn away from God and become like the world. What Jesus was concerned about was how evil permeates life. We are not of the world, yet evil drives the world. Father, keep them separate. Don’t let the evil of the world cause them to compromise their calling to holiness, godliness and righteousness.

We must reject what takes us away from God and instead run to Him. The story of the flood serves as a reminder of the consequence of making the wrong choice.

How does this fit into Living Biblically? Until we discover that Living Biblically is our responsibility, we will never embrace the life God called us to live. Since God has drawn a line separating the lives and lifestyles of the People of God and the people of the world, He intends us, His people, to choose to live on the side that reflects we belong to Him.

We can’t isolate ourselves from the people who operate in the dark, but we can refuse to live in the shadow of their darkness.

Living Biblically means staying true to who it is God has called us to be, regardless of what’s going on around us. How appropriate that is to this time in history!


  1. In giving us Free Will, God knew the risk of allowing us choice.
  2. We can choose wisely or choose poorly.
  3. So, choose to reject that which takes you away from God and run deliberately back to Him.
  4. Then live with all the registration marks aligning to bring your life back into focus with God’s design.

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