When we are identified with the living, victorious Jesus Christ, we are automatically separated from the world. The emphasis should never be placed on separation from the things, but on the identification with the Person.
One of the most basic laws of science states: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This same principle holds true spiritually. When we turn to God, we automatically turn from that which is opposed to Him. However, when we turn to the world, automatically we turn from God. A bumper sticker gets the message across: “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?”
To be fair, there are also some Christians who make the mistake of emphasizing the positive element of separation and forget the negative aspect. The Word of God includes both. The Bible says, “Flee fornication… Abstain from all appearance of evil… be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Obviously, these verses can in no way be interpreted as positive statements. They represent the negative side of a powerful, life-changing doctrine.
Identifying with Jesus Christ is not easy. He never said it would be. Quite to the contrary, He said His disciples would be disliked and even despised. Real identification with Jesus Christ is identifying with what He did, with His death, burial, and resurrection.
In almost every account of individuals receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, God’s Word also mentions the baptism of the new believers. It is extremely important to understand the significance of this. When a new Christian submitted to baptism in those days, it often resulted in total alienation from his family. First-century historians recorded that many parents disowned their children when they were baptized. This was especially true in Jewish households.
Baptism in water is an act which openly identifies the believer with Christ. It is the first step of obedience we must take after our spiritual birth. Acts 8:36, “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Receiving eternal life is not dependent on our baptism, but our identification is.
The apostle Paul probably suffered more for his faith in Christ than any other man. He really went through the wringer: he was beaten with rods, imprisoned, subjected to hard labor, bullwhipped, stoned, shipwrecked, lost at sea, robbed, cheated, reviled, persecuted, and even left for dead. But did he gripe about all this? NO, in fact, he said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities…” II Corinthians 12:9
Paul did not have a martyr complex. He wasn’t hung up on self-pity because of all the things he had to go through. He knew well that Jesus had suffered much more. Daily Paul reminded himself of the price the Savior had paid with His own blood.
We will examine this aspect in greater detail tomorrow.