Why I am no longer in the Church of Scotland (7)
In 1995 I produced a small booklet on biblical separation. This is the seventh extract from that booklet:
2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
The Corinthians were in danger of entering into an association that Paul describes as an “unequal yoke”, both by fellowshipping with pagans in their temples, and, by implication, by fellowshipping with false apostles and teachers in the church. The apostolic command, (not suggestion), is for a clear and identifiable separation from such compromising associations. Denominational association with false teachers who spread doctrinal and moral error, is an unequal yoke. If these false teachers cannot be removed by discipline, then the believing church in Corinth is called to separate from them.
2 Corinthians 11:13 – 15
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Here false teachers are identified as servants or ministers of Satan masquerading as apostles of righteousness. They do not openly deny Christ, but deceitfully disguise themselves as servants of Christ. But Paul cuts through the disguise to say they are in actual fact Satan’s servants, who stand under the certainty of ultimate judgement. Do we really think that the apostle Paul would urge those in Corinth to unite with such false apostles? Are we so foolish to claim that we can work with Satan’s servants in the diversity of a broad church?
As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Paul is uncompromising in his attitude to those who preach another gospel. They are under God’s eternal condemnation! If leaders in the church teach that there are many ways to God, that salvation can be experienced through many religions, and that the new birth is not necessary, are they to be accepted within denominational fellowship and recognised as valid ministers of the church? Or, is the church not to reflect God’s eschatological judgement in the exercise of ecclesiastical discipline and remove such men from office and membership?
Ephesians 5:3-7, 11
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Sexual immorality excludes the unrepentant from God’s kingdom. Such impurity should not even be hinted at in God’s church. The open support for and defence of sexual immorality, although forcefully argued for by its protagonists, amounts to nothing more than “empty words”. The church is not to be “deceived” by such false arguments, but clearly recognise that such practices are evidence of the judgement of God and will bring down the wrath of God on those who continue in their disobedience.
Paul clearly says that the church is not to be in partnership with those who commend or engage in such practices. Denominational fellowship with such false teachers is clearly to recognise them as “partners”, in direct disobedience to the apostle’s command. Rather, we are to “expose” them, denounce their error, and dissociate from their fellowship.