Biblical Separation Biblically Done, Pt. 3

Today is the grand and glorious day (or not) when Oprah, Joel Osteen, and Rick Warren appear on Oprah’s Lifeclass.  I have already written two posts on this here and here and as my title points out this is my third post.

I just had the privilege of listening to part of Joel Osteen interview with Oprah.  It was all about pushing his new book, I Declare, which is nothing more than re-branded “Name It and Claim It” trash.  It is that deadly idea that somehow we can create our own reality and make ourselves happy, successful and, of course, rich.  Oprah loves the book  and said to him, “Do the declarations for 31 days and your life will be changed forever.”   Then she gave me a bit if an eyebrow-raise-moment when she giddily stated, “I am!  I do declare.” All of this to Osteen’s approval.  Then I had the blessing of having “Pastor Joel” lead the people in some of the declarations.  He asked all the people to stand and repeated loudly these words, “I am strong. I am healthy. I am confident. I am secure. I am talented. I am creative. I am disciplined. I am focused. I am valuable. I am beautiful. I am blessed. I am excited about my future. I am victorious.”

I could spend the time talking about the silliness of those declarations and how they reveal the idols of the hearts of all who so enthusiastically shouted them but it is not the point of this post.  But the Lifeclass does help me in my point related to when a Christian should separate from others.

When we talk about biblical separation there can be a lot of heat generated.  Among those commonly known as Fundamentalist Christians separation is a key doctrine.  Some of them practice it in a manner that is gracious and concerned for truth, while others practices it in a manner that is hateful, political, and motivated by power.  For most Fundamentalists the key text for the doctrine is 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 where the key line is “Therefore, come out and be separate from them.”  I will examine this passage, but not now.  This post is to simply give a broad sense of God’s perspective regarding those who teach false things and our reaction to them as Christians.

In Ezekiel 13 there is that powerful denunciation by God to the false prophets of Israel.  The people of God are in sin and rebellion.  The covenant they made with YHWH is certain.  And the covenant made it clear that if they loved and obeyed the Lord they would be blessed but if they sinned and rebelled then they would be cursed by Him.  The cursing was in progress, the glory of God was departing from the nation and pagan kings were circling the borders.  And what do the prophets say? “Peace.”  But there is no peace.

That is the lie of the false teacher.  They always and ever point away from our hope and life in God alone.  The alternatives are seemingly endless but they all flow from the same hellish lie, there is something other than the one true God that we need.  Our hope, our striving, our delight and our joy comes from something other than God.  James says in chapter 4 that the reason there is fighting and murder is that we lust and do not obtain.  He goes on to then explain what that heart of lust really is, spiritual adultery.  And to give your heart over to the desires of this age that is in rebellion to God is to make yourself an enemy of God.

Yet that is what the false teacher does.  He or she does not lift up the utter necessity of the Cross of Jesus Christ.  They will either point you away from the gracious saving work of God through His Son or away from your utter inability to do good.  It shows itself in a multitude of ways and time does not permit it.  It can be the legalist who tells you that through your efforts you earn the favor of God.  It can be the spiritualist who tells you that you can imagine and declare a new reality for yourself.  It can be the religionist who tells you that by following certain religious practices that you are perfected.  It can be the atheist who tells you that nothing really matters because this is all there is, so live life as you wish and then die.

When you come to the New Testament it takes little effort to see that we are to separate from those who teach falsely or lead people away from the truth which is God’s Word.  Jesus tells us that we will know the false teacher by his fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).  Just prior to this He reminds us that the way of salvation and the way of truth is narrow, few are on it and many are on the path that ultimately leads to damnation.  No one can accuse Jesus of softening up the “message.”  Paul warns the church in Rome to keep an eye out for those who come into the church to create dissensions and tripwires by not teaching that which is true.  They are people controlled not by a love for Jesus but their own desires (Romans 16:17-18).  In almost every New Testament letter there is strong denunciation of those who seek to introduce strange teachings into the Church (Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:3).

A follower of Jesus must decide whose company he keeps.  I am not saying that we reject relationships with non-Christians, that is folly.  But I am saying that the Scripture does not tolerate us buddying up with those who teach false things.  Certainly we are not to seek to minister along side those people or act as if our differences are small and unimportant.  There is a battle for truth that goes all the way back to the time of creation.  It is not less of a battle today and it will only get worse.  To have a man like Rick Warren allow himself to be placed beside a Joel Osteen or to appear on stage as a treasured guest by Oprah is a contradiction to the gospel he believes.

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on October 4, 2012, in Bible Observations, Church, gospel, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. “To have a man like Rick Warren allow himself to be placed beside a Joel Osteen or to appear on stage as a treasured guest by Oprah is a contradiction to the gospel he believes……”

    Well and bravely spoken. I know you to be a man of disciplined thoughts and tongue and such words don’t come easy. I also think we as Christians need to understand more fully perhaps that the unity of faith and the unity of spirit do not imply that we endorse everything that is spoken by fellow believers. Nobody likes to hear that “their baby is ugly”, but the truth is that many of us have presented ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ in downright horrible ways. Many of these Christian “celebrities” are unaccountable to anyone wiser than themselves, being the big fish in small ponds, surrounded by adoring “fans”. Would that God will grant us a much needed courage to address these issues like you have….Thank you.

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