Spiritual Law of Separation
(Reading time: 2.2 minutes)
Throughout the Bible, we see God separating things and making distinctions. Even the creation account describes him separating light from darkness, and water from the sky and dry ground (Gen. 1:4, 6, 9). He intended Israel to be separate from the surrounding nations (Ezra 9:1; Esth. 3:8). The New Testament continues this theme of separating or distinguishing wheat from weeds, the wise from the foolish, the righteous from the unrighteous (Matt. 3:30; 13:49; 25:1-4, 32-33).
So it shouldn’t surprise us that God asks us to separate ourselves voluntarily from those who oppose him (2 Cor. 6:17; Rev. 18:4). That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be around or interact with such people, because we have what they need. Jesus associated with sinners for the same reason (Mark 2:17). Rather, our character and behavior should reflect God’s to the point it’s clear we’re very different in a positive way and we don’t engage in wickedness.
The Bible uses words like “holy” and “holiness” to describe this intentional separation. The importance of holiness, however, is what we’re separated to, not from; we’re set apart for God, reserved for his praise and service. Once we acknowledge Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin and accept him as our Savior and Lord, we no longer belong to ourselves (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Then separation from sin is a natural result.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he referred to the Christians as “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy” (1 Cor. 1:2, NIV84). To be sanctified is to be dedicated to God, set apart for his exclusive use and separated from the profane. Sanctification is the process in which God makes us holy.
God calls or chooses all Christians to be holy (Rom. 12:1; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:15). We respond to his call by choosing to cooperate with him, then he makes us holy. We can’t make ourselves holy through our own efforts, but we clearly have a part in the process. Just as we used to be slaves to sin and wickedness, now we choose to be slaves to righteousness, which leads to holiness (Rom. 6:19).
Is this really a spiritual law? Yes, this process is immutable (God’s nature never changes so he’ll always do his part), inviolable (no one can force us to be un-holy), and universal (applies to all believers in all circumstances). Our part is to reflect his nature so there’s a clear distinction between us and the ungodly, and to live as if we belong to God, not ourselves, as if righteousness were our only option. He does his part by making us holy and calling us saints, which means “holy ones” (Rom. 1:7; Phil. 1:1).