“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Cor. 7:1 NKJV
In the Church today we find very little teaching of holiness and even less in the performance of it.
It seems average Christians are satisfied with their spiritual life as is, without any desire to be all God wants them to be or any effort to "grow in grace" as Peter exhorts all to do (2 Peter 3:18).
Holiness is not some pious attitude that causes us to be isolated from the world or clothed with some self-righteous display that is of no affect to anyone. We see too much of this and it is dishonoring to God. Holiness is simply the displacement of self and the enthronement of God in His rightful place. When He is on the throne of our heart, God is all and self is nothing.
The separated life is a sanctified life. Sanctified means to “be set apart.” Our understanding of sanctification comes from God. Just as the holiness of God means He is separate from all evil – so His children should live a sanctified life; a life separating ourselves from whatever could influence us away from fellowship with God.
What is the application of the life separated to God? What does it mean to live a separated life? How do we live in the world and yet keep the influences of the world from overwhelming us?
The city of Corinth was a melting pot of many cultures, a port city with people coming from many different places and bringing with them the worship of many different idols. Corinth was a place of great immorality, with the temple of Diana at its center, with all its hideous practices. By the time Paul wrote 1st Corinthians those in the church had begun to embrace many of the practices of that culture - that were contrary to faith in God.
God's call for separation began with the nation Israel, how they were to be different then the people who lived in the land God gave them. They were to be a separate community because they were chosen by God for a special purpose. That is Paul's point to us, and that is why believers are referred to as pilgrims and aliens, -- we are chosen by God to represent Him here on earth.
The evidence of a separated life is the fruit of the Spirit working and moving through us (Gal. 5:22-23). The evidence of a life not separated unto God, is anything that looks religious without a relationship with the Lord -- like legalism and rules – to make us look holy.
Religion is a lifestyle that tries to justify sin and serve God at the same time. Secret sins that we refuse to turn over to God; the worship of idols -- the idol of self pity, the idol of self, the idol of laziness, the idol of addictions, the idol of lust, the idol of wealth, the idol of self indulgence……...putting these things before the Lord is idolatry.
But Agape love is the evidence of a life separated unto God. Loving God and following Jesus will teach us to live separated unto God.
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV