Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.
Probably no topic is more fraught with ‘divisiveness’ than the subject of ‘separation’. The idea of being separate from another has with it the connotation of doing something better, or, by many people’s estimation, ‘being better’, than someone else. But, that simply is what it is.
Paul pointed this out himself, even while explaining that we should be unified. He said,
For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
1 Corinthians 11:19
Now, keep in mind, this verse falls just two chapters before the famous “Love” chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Additionally, it is the chapter prior to 1 Corinthians 12 where he explains how we are all “one body”. But, in the midst of diversity of gifts, callings, and place, there is also this divine thing called ‘difference’.
Now, we know that God does not have favorites (Colossians 3:25), but God does have ‘favorites’. If He wants to get something done, He picks his best, those who have been tried and tested, proven to be capable of carrying out His will. The difference is simply obedience.
But, Paul uses the occasion for the divisions among the people as a place to learn. How are we to ‘discern what is pleasing to the Lord’ (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:10)? One way is simply to look at the divisions among God’s people, His Church, and see where His blessing and favor rest. Where is the presence of the Lord? Where is His anointing poured out? Where are people made happy, whole, and free? This is the evidences of God’s approval (see Romans 14:17, the Kingdom consists of ‘righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit’).
But, when it comes to separation, no one wants to admit they are wrong. As Psalms 36:2 says, the evil flatter themselves too much in their own eyes to detect their own sin.
But, the basic rule of living in God, living in the Spirit, is that separation is required. Jesus sanctified Himself, set Himself apart (John 2:24-25; John 17:19). He set apart His twelve (Mark 3:14), and the seventy-two who He sent forth to preach.
But, if one is to learn to walk in the anointing, one must, clearly, change what they had previously doing to something else. One must learn from the Scripture, and observe those who are already blessed by God. One must listen to the leading of the Spirit, being guided in every endeavor, even every aspect of life (at least, the ones you wish to be blessed by Him).
No one is expected to know all of these things from the get go, but, by following the inward witness of the Spirit, one can grow in favor and stature with the Lord.
But, as one does begin to change, and to grow, increasingly, they will need to distance themselves from those who do not likewise choose to engage, and this is, in essence, the root of sanctification, and the reason why this is a sensitive issue.
This goes even further when walking in the anointing. As you grow, and become more and more open to the things of the Spirit, you can grow increasingly aware of the rest of the spiritual reality in which we live.
As we do grow and learn, we must learn to place our priority on the things of the Kingdom, that is, upon the Spirit (Matthew 6:33; Galatians 5:16).
Any other life is the life lived by the flesh. Any other approach simply will not lead you to where you want to go, which is His heart.
A Christian is useful to the degree that they are submitted to Christ. And, to walk in the anointing is to walk in a spirit other than that of the world. As Christ said,
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
In all things, once we lose what makes us unique, that extra zest or light, that ‘salt’, we utterly worthless. In very simple, and easy to understand language, once you know how much the anointing is worth, don’t let anyone ever talk you out of it.
The church that does not have the active movement of God must recapture it, and the same with individuals. We must have His active presence, the ‘testimony of Jesus’, which Revelation 19:10 calls the spirit of prophecy. If we seem to lose it for a while, we must regain it, or we are like the multitude of others who have none.
And, none of this can be done without separation, in each of body, soul, and spirit.
The common objection to separation is asceticism, the assumption that mere removal from the things of the world will in some way make you more holy. This is, of course, completely to miss the mark.
Christ’s words, to describe the Kingdom, are this,
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
It is for joy, over the exceeding worth of the Kingdom, that one sells all and buys the field. Nor is it out of disgust for those who, inevitably, stay behind. The draw of the Beyond is always out of the exceptional worth, rarity, and perfection of the treasure to which someone separates to. Separation in itself does not produce righteousness, but the righteous will always, at some level, separate themselves.
Separation of this kind is not to itself, nor based upon ones own merit. It is merely the choice one makes upon considering any venture. Perhaps others made other decisions, perhaps they had different opportunities. But, for the one who sees what this one sees, the reason is self-evident. For those who cannot see the treasure (see John 3:3, 5), they cannot enter into it because, to them, it is not there, even if it is.
Without vision, as the opening verse indicates, people cast off restraint. Restraint is brought about by vision, and it is the substance of separation. To compete athletically, an individual separates from inappropriate activities and diet for the goal of obtaining something. Same with the anointing.
If we wish to walk in the power of God, we must walk worthy of the power of God, and be different.