What does separating from sinners mean?

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By BibleAsk Team


What does separating from sinners mean?

Separating from sinners generally means distancing oneself from individuals or influences that engage in behavior contrary to one’s moral or religious values. This concept often arises in religious contexts, where believers are encouraged to avoid close associations with those who consistently act in ways deemed sinful or harmful, in order to maintain their spiritual integrity and avoid temptation. This separation can take various forms, such as choosing different social circles, avoiding certain activities, or refraining from particular types of entertainment. The underlying aim is to foster a purer, more righteous lifestyle by minimizing exposure to negative influences and focusing on positive, constructive relationships and environments.

Separating from Sinners – Old Testament

The principle of separating from Sinners has been taught in the Old Testament. The Jews had been ordained “a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), “separated … from all the people that are upon the face of the earth” (Exodus 33:16), a “peculiar people,” that is, God’s own. The Lord declared, “But I have said to you, “But I have said to you, “You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples” (Leviticus 20:24, NKJV). This principle is also expressed in Exodus 34:16, Deuteronomy 7:1–3 and 22:10. 

Israel was to be different from all other nations, not only in their worship, but in their laws, goals, social gatherings, diet, and dress. God ordained the separating of His people from all others, not only to make them different from all others, but that they might show in their lives His own goodness and holiness of character. Thus, even the pagan nations would see the purity of God (Deuteronomy 4:6–9). 

Throughout their history, the Israelites broke this principle and suffered disaster. The Northern Kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. Most of its inhabitant were taken into captivity. The Northern kingdom (Israel) never again came into existence. And the Southern Kingdom, which consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin was also conquered by the Babylonians in 606 B.C.

After 70 years of Babylonian captivity, the Lord brought the Jews back to Jerusalem. Now the exiles had learned the value of separating from sinners by experience in the school of affliction. However, during the long years of exile, some of the people accepted many of the pagan customs (Ezra 9:1 also 6:21). So, God’s prophets urged them to readopt the principles of separation and reform their lives.   

Separating from Sinners – New Testament

The Word of God warned against every kind of association with unbelievers that would place Christians in situations where they find it difficult or impossible to avoid compromising principle. This prohibition also includes the marriage relationship (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The apostle Paul wrote, “

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what [a]fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what [b]communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[c] are the temple of the living God…” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16, NKJV). 

So great is the difference in ideals and behaviors between believers and non-believers, that to have any relationship with those who don’t follow God, whether in marriage, in business, or otherwise, leaves the believers with the choices of either letting go of their principles or facing hardships that are linked with differences in faith. Separating from sinners and sin is clearly taught in the Bible (Hebrews 7:26). The Lord commands, “Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17,NKJV).

Man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27) but lost the likeness through sin. The purpose of the gospel is to restore the divine image in man, that he may be holy as his Creator is holy. Therefore, the Lord calls His people to be holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). Jesus mingled with the sinners but only to call them to repentance (John 5:14).

Christians should love the sinners but hate their sins (Luke 7:34). They should not join the sinners in their evil actions but rather lead them to holiness. They are to be the light of the world without allowing the world to dull their light (Matthew 5:14-16). Believers should be in the world but not of it (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). For “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

The Savior is the Prince of light (John 1:9; 8:12). Christians are called the children of light (Matthew 5:14; John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8), who walk in the light to the eternal city of light, where there is no darkness at all (John 12:35, 36; 1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5; 1 John 1:5–7; Revelation 22:5). The devil is the prince of darkness (Colossians 1:13). His followers are the children of darkness (John 3:19; Ephesians 5:11), who walk in darkness now to the eternal darkness (Matthew 22:13; 25:30; 2 Peter 2:17; 1 John 1:6; Jude 13). The two groups can’t mix.

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