Brethren Archive
Jeremiah 15: 19

Separation: Not Fusion

by C.H. Mackintosh

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before Me; and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth; let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them” (Jer. 15: 19).

The principle laid down in the foregoing passage is of the deepest possible importance to all who desire to walk with God. It is by no means a popular principle; very far from it. But this does not detract from its value in the judgment of those who are taught of God. In an evil world the popular thing is almost sure to be the wrong thing, and whatever has the most of God, the most of Christ, the most of pure truth, is sure to be most unpopular. This is an axiom in the judgment of faith inasmuch as Christ and the world are at opposite points of the moral compass.

Now, one of the most popular ideas of the day is fusion or amalgamation, and all who desire to be accounted men of broad sympathies and liberal sentiments go in for this grand object. But we do not hesitate to clearly state that nothing can be more opposed to the revealed mind of God. We make this statement in the full consciousness of its opposition to the universal judgment of Christendom. For this we are quite prepared. Not that we court opposition, but we have long since learned to distrust the judgment of what is called the religious world, because we have so constantly found its judgment to be diametrically opposed to the plainest teaching of Holy Scripture. It is our deep and earnest desire to stand with the Word of God against everything and everyone, for we are well assured that nothing can abide forever except that which is based upon the imperishable foundation of Holy Scripture.

What then does Scripture teach on the subject of this paper? Is it separation or fusion? What was the instruction to Jeremiah in the passage quoted above? Was he told to try and amalgamate with those around him? Was he to seek to mingle the precious with the vile? The very reverse! Jeremiah was taught of God first of all to return himself, to stand apart even from those who were the professed people of God, but whose ways were contrary to His mind. And what then? “I will bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before Me.”

Here we have Jeremiah's personal path and position most clearly laid down. He was to return and take his stand with God in thorough separation from evil. This was his required duty, regardless of the thoughts of men or of his brethren. They might deem and pronounce him narrow, bigoted, exclusive, intolerant, and the like, but with that he had nothing whatever to do. His one grand business was to obey. Separation from evil was the divine rule, not amalgamation with it. The latter might seem to offer a wider field of usefulness, but mere usefulness is not the object of a true servant of Christ: it is simply obedience. The business of a servant is to do what he is told, not what he considers right or good. If this were better understood, it would simplify matters amazingly. If God calls us to separation from evil, but we imagine we can do more good by amalgamation with it, how shall we stand before Him? How shall we meet Him? Will He call that “good” which resulted from positive disobedience to His Word? Is it not plain that our first, our last, our only duty is to obey? Assuredly! This is the foundation; yes, it is the sum and substance of all that can really be called good.

But was there not something for Jeremiah to do in his narrow path and circumscribed position? There was. His practice was defined with all possible clearness. What was it? “If thou separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth.” He was not only to stand and walk in separation himself, but he was to try to separate others also. This might give him the appearance of a proselytizer or of one whose object was to draw people over to his way of thinking. But here again he had to rise above all the thoughts of men. It was far better, far higher, far more blessed for Jeremiah to be as God's mouth than to stand well with his fellows. What are man's thoughts worth? Just nothing. When his breath goes out of him, in that very hour his thoughts perish. But God's thoughts shall endure forever. If Jeremiah had set about mingling the precious with the vile, he would not have been as God's mouth; he would have been as the devil's mouth. Separation is God's principle; fusion is Satan's.

It is counted liberal, large-hearted and charitable to be ready to associate with all sorts of people. Confederacy, association, limited liabilities, are the order of the day. The Christian must stand apart from all such things, not because he is better than other people, but because God says, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” It was not because Jeremiah was better than his brethren that he had to separate himself, but simply because he was commanded to do so by Him whose Word must ever define the course, govern the conduct and form the character of His people. Further, we may rest assured, it was not in sourness of temper or severity of spirit, but in profound sorrow of heart and humility of mind that Jeremiah separated himself from those around him. He could weep day and night over the condition of his people, but the necessity of separation was as plain as the Word of God could make it. He might tread the path of separation with broken heart and weeping eyes, but tread it he must if he would be as God's mouth. Had he refused to tread it, he would have been making himself to be wiser than God. Though those around him, his brethren and friends, might not be able to understand or appreciate his conduct, with this he had nothing whatever to do. He might refer them to Jehovah for an explanation, but his business was to obey, not to explain or apologize.

Thus it is always. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6: 14-18).

It may seem very plausible and very popular to say, “We ought not to judge other people. How can we tell whether people are believers or not? It is not for us to set ourselves up as holier than others. It is charitable to hope the best. If people are sincere, what difference does it make as to creeds? Each one is entitled to hold his own opinions. It is only a matter of views after all.”

To all this we reply, God's Word commands Christians to judge, to discern, to discriminate, to come out, to be separate. This being so, all the plausible arguments and reasonings that can possibly be presented are, in the judgment of a true-hearted, singleeyed servant of Christ, lighter by far than dust.

Hearken to the following weighty words from the blessed apostle Paul to his son Timothy — words bearing down with unmistakable clearness upon all the Lord's people at this very moment. “Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His. And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor. If a man purge himself from these (the dishonorable vessels), he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2: 19-21).

Here we see that if any man desires to be a sanctified vessel, fit for the Master's use and prepared unto every good work, he must separate himself from the iniquity and the dishonorable vessels around him. There is no getting over this without flinging God's Word overboard; and surely to reject God's Word is to reject Himself. His Word commands me to purge myself, to depart from iniquity, to turn away from those who have a form of godliness, but deny its power.

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