How many churches do you know that are flooded with the awesome presence of Jesus Christ? Where believers are so awed and reverent, they gather in holy silence. Where no one dares be flippant or silly. Where the singing is so filled with Christ's presence, sinners weep. Where the backslider and the wicked sinner become so miserable they either run to the altar, or out the door. Where the preacher is so anointed his face seems to shine with supernatural glory, and his words have convicting power.
How many Christians do you know who live in the glorious victory that comes from spending much time in the presence of Jesus? Who do you know that is exciting to be around, because you can sense victory and peace in them? Where are those who rejoice in pulling down strongholds — casting down evil imaginations — victorious over lust and passion — who have found and appropriated the strong arm of the Lord to all their hurts, problems, and anxieties?
How few churches, how few pastors, and how few Christians there are who are alive and vibrant with the power of Christ's presence!
Why? Because this generation of Christians is guilty of the sin of mixture! We have been shutting out the actual presence of Christ because we no longer want to be a separated people. We want to mix. We do not want to be different.
Mixture means "to combine or blend into one mass so that individual characteristics are gone." It is the intermingling of two elements causing them to lose their separate uniqueness, and take on a new, singular character.
Doesn't this describe exactly what is happening in Christianity today? God's people want to blend and intermingle — and soon they lose their unique, different, special character. They lose their godly character, and take on the character of the world.
He chose to reveal Himself through Israel — if they would avoid the sin of mixture:
"For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special (called out) people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth…" (Deuteronomy 7:6)
Moses knew there was only one thing that made them special, or different, from all other people on earth. It was not because they were in themselves worthy, or holy. It was the presence of God revealed in their midst! They alone had the actual presence of Almighty God.
"And God said to Moses…my presence shall go with thee…and Moses answered…if thy presence go not with me, let us go no further…
"For how shall it be known here that I and my people have found grace in thy sight…Is it not that thou goest with us? So in this way we shall be different from all people upon the face of the earth…(Exodus 33:14–16).
Here is conclusive proof that God's people are special and different because of the actual presence of the Lord in their midst! Take away His presence, and there is no difference from the rest of the church world. Any church or people can boast they are Spirit–filled and full gospel — but if there is no overwhelming presence of Christ at work in their midst, they are just as ordinary as any other dead, dry church. We are special, different, only when Christ's presence is in full revelation among us.
God warned Israel that any mixture with the world would cause Him to withdraw His presence, and He would reject them as the special channel of revelation. They were commanded to deal unmercifully with the ungodly, heathen spirit of their time:
"Thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no agreement with them, nor show mercy upon them…neither shalt thou intermingle in marriage with them…for they will turn thee away from following me…" (Deuteronomy 7:2–4).
Joshua had also warned the children of God — "…they shall be snares and traps unto you, and the cause of widespread affliction (scourge), and in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land the Lord your God hath given you…" (Joshua 23:13).
The warnings of Joshua are needed today just as much. To me, this explains much of the hurt and pain in the lives of some Christians. Think of it — widespread afflictions and thorns, all caused by affinity with the world. The direct result of the sin of mixture.
Israel loved to mix! God's people were determined to do away with everything that made them different from the rest of the world. They despised the reproach of being separated. They wanted kings, like the rest of the world. They wanted sexual freedom, like the rest of the world. They wanted to flirt and indulge in adultery and still cover the altar with tears; they wanted the lust, the passion, the immorality, the pornography, the fornication, and the idols — of the rest of the world. So they rejected His commandment to be separate and special to Himself. They sinned and became proud and vain, and made themselves molten images and worshiped all the hosts of heaven — to do evil in the sight of God "as did the wicked."
"And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight…" (II Kings 17:20).
There was no need for Israel to seek after counselors, or spiritual advisors, or prophets — to find out why they were so harassed and filled with despair. They knew why they were being afflicted. They knew why troubles were piling up on them — the presence of the Lord was gone! God had rejected them as the channel of His presence and had turned them over to spoilers!
Of course, not all who suffer have been rejected as channels of Christ's presence. Many are sick and suffering because, like David, God is seeking to reveal more of His presence to the sufferer, or those who are near them. But the context here speaks of a people living in mental and spiritual torment because of rejecting their place in God.
Jeremiah asked Israel, "Why do you think the Lord God has done all these things to you?" Then he gave them the answer: "Because you forsook the Lord and mixed with the worldly and wicked among you…" (Jeremiah 8:19). God spoke to His people through His prophet, saying, "Do you fear me? You will no longer tremble in my presence…but you have a rebellious and revolting heart…your sinful heart has turned away God's presence, and your sins have withholden good things from you…" (Jeremiah 5:22–25).
Listen to God's indictment against these mixers!
"You have grown prosperous and bright — you overlook the deeds of the wicked…" (Jeremiah 5:28).
Isaiah wept because "Zion was a wilderness, the people desolated, the holy house of God lying in ruins, and sore afflictions in the hearts of God's people…" (Isaiah 64:9–12).
He cried out, "And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities…" (Isaiah 64:7).
Was that unmerciful of God? Was there no grace shown to them? Oh, listen to the loving appeal God had made to them:
"I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walked in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts…" (Isaiah 65:2).
Isaiah goes on to describe the results of their mixing. They began to — "sacrifice to idols…eat swine's flesh…burn incense upon altars of brick…" Israel had mixed, lost its unique character, and had taken on the character and identity of the world! So God hid His face from them, rejected their new character, and withdrew His presence.
Are we so blind as to miss the point God is making in the Old Testament! How much clearer could it be that God will not put up with our mixing with the unholy, the unclean! Why such a separated priesthood in the Old Testament? To give us an example of God's firm commitment to revealing Himself through a holy, clean, separated people.
"Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when you go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generation…
"And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between clean and unclean…" (Leviticus 10:9,10).
"And you shall be holy unto me; for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine…" (Leviticus 20:26).
That is the special message of the Old Testament — aspecial, severed, separated, different people who would maintain God's cause on the earth, through a manifestation of His presence!
Ezra asked his people:
"Shall we break God's commandments, and join in affinity with the wicked?…that is why we can't stand before our enemies…
"The people of Israel, and the priests, and Levites have not separated themselves from the people of the land, and are doing according to their abominations…
"For they have mingled the holy seed with the people of those lands…" (Ezra 9:1–14).
There is nothing in the Old Testament quite as strong as the warnings of Paul against affinity with the world:
"Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers, for it cannot be done. How can right and wrong be partners? How can light and darkness live together? How can Christ and the Devil agree? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? How can God's temple come to terms with pagan idols? For we are the temple of the living God! As God himself has said: 'I will make my home with them, and live among them, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'
"And so the Lord says: 'You must leave them, and separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with what is unclean, and I will accept you. I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty…" (II Corinthians 6:14–18 Greek N.T.).
In the Old Testament, when God wanted to reveal the power of His presence before the wicked Egyptians, He first drew a line of separation, dividing God's people in Goshen from the rest of Egypt.
"And the Lord shall sever between…Israel…and Egypt…and I will send plagues upon thine heart…that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth…" (Exodus 9:4, 14).
God wants the world to see the difference between His people who love Him and the rest of the unbelieving world. He wants us to be an example of a delivered and victorious people, trusting in His mighty arm to deliver us from all harm and evil.
The demonstration of God's terrifying presence at work among His children smote the heart of Pharaoh with mighty conviction — "And Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron…I have sinned, and I and my people are wicked…" (Exodus 9:27).
The reasons for separation from the world (Egypt) today are the same. God is once again drawing a line between His people and this wicked age, so that this generation can know there is none like Him to deliver in all the earth. The wicked of this age must have an even greater manifestation of the Lord's presence; nothing else will get their attention. Nothing else will smite them with conviction for sin. The Holy Spirit has been outpoured, so that all flesh could come under the power of Christ's presence — and be convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment!
Whatever is mixed with the world can never be of God. It can never be a channel of Christ's actual presence. Our Lord is going to write "Ichabod" over the house of every minister who is leavened with the spirit and methods of this age. He will burn out and cast down every minister of the gospel who looks toward Sodom. He is going to withdraw His presence from every confessed believer who yearns for the pleasures and seductions of this world. They will be left dry, empty, and confused. He cannot — He will not — trust His Holy Presence to anyone who is not wholly separated from the world and yielded only to Him.
Disobedient servants will not be able to stand against the devil and the moral landslide of this final age. They will once and for all lose the touch of God, and though some will be saved, they will be counted unworthy of the anointing. If you are of "this world" you are not of His! Jesus said, "I am not of this world…" (John 8:23).
Speaking of His true disciples, He said,"…they are not of this world, even as I am not of this world…" (John 17:16). Again, "I have chosen you out of this world, therefore the world hateth you…" (John 18:19).
Do we really understand what Jesus is saying to us? "I have put a difference between you and the world. They will hate you because of My presence in you." If that is true, why are we trying to cozy up to the world? Why do we mix their music with ours? Why do we seek their good will? Why do we bend our morals to accommodate them? Why do we seek their applause or blessing? We are not of this world! We ought to accept our difference, and quit trying to be like them.
The world loves its own — but we are not of it. God, help us to joyfully accept our special character of separation and difference, and give up on the world. Only those who are truly unmixed with the world, separated unto Christ, have any power to save it!
"If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him…" (I John 2:15).
The Father loves the lost. The Christian who is mixed, or the ministry that is mixed, cannot know or share in that love for the unsaved. The love of the Father for the lost is not in them. The mixed Christian shows dishonor to the very Cross of Christ, for if He gave Himself that He might deliver us from this present evil world — how can we have any part with it?
The Holy Spirit is even now calling out the true followers of Jesus Christ, separating them — purging, winnowing, getting them prepared as a special people to bring back His glorious presence to shake the earth. A people crucified to the world! Ready to wrestle with the principalities and powers of darkness, and against all spiritual wickedness in high places.
There is only one sad alternative for those who mix with the world:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God…" (James 4:4).
In these final days, His friends and enemies are going to be determined by whether or not they are mixing, or separated.