SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD
Dwight L. Moody
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? —Amos 3:3
Our subject today is, “Walking with God, or Separating from the World.” Of course, this address is to those that have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ; for no man has a desire to walk with God until he is saved. For six thousand years, since Adam fell out of communion with God, God has been trying to win back the sons and daughters of Adam into communion with himself. When Adam was innocent of sin, he could walk with God; but the moment he fell, he ran away and hid himself and was out of communion with God. When men are going away from God they do not desire to walk with him; but after we have become his children, the sweetest lesson we can learn is how to walk with him in constant fellowship, how to be in communion with him all the while. God came down and visited man. He visited Abraham, and Jacob, and Moses; but he did not walk with man until after the flood. Then he took the children of Israel and walked with them, and would have walked with them forever as a nation; but they said that they wanted a king like the other nations around them, and God granted their request.
Now if nations will not walk with God, it is the privilege of individuals to do so; and each one of us in this house can be brought into communion with God, and walk with him the rest of our days, if we will. It says in Peter, 2d chapter, at the 20th verse: “For what Glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God, For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps.”
I am told by men that have been in the Indian country that very often you will find a trail over a mountain, and you will find only one footprint, as if but one man had trod that path; and I am told that the chief goes on and the tribe follow, and they put their feet into his footprints. Our chief has gone on before us, and left us an example. We are to follow in his footsteps; and we would have continual blessing if we did not go out of the path; and the trouble is that most of us think our way is better than his, and are not willing to follow in his footsteps. It says in the 26th chapter of Leviticus, 2nd and 3rd and 4th verses: “Ye shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them: Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”
Now if you will read the history of that nation, you will find that as long as they kept the law they prospered. God gave them the rain in season, and God caused their land to bring forth abundance; but when they turned away from him and would not reverence his law, then they brought calamity upon themselves, and they were taken into bondage and servitude. Nebuchadnezzar took them into bondage and kept them for seventy years, because they would not reverence the law. Now it says in that same chapter, 12th verse: “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” He said, I will come down among you, and you shall be my people and I shall be your God. And what nation had a God like that? What nation was blessed like that nation, when God was walking with them? The shout of the King was heard in the time of battle. God sent legions of angels to help them if they put their trust in him. But then he warns them in the 27th verse: “And if ye will not for all this harken unto me, but walk contrary unto me, then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.”
What causes so much misery now in the city of Boston? It is because men are walking contrary to God. There is no peace for the wicked. You may try to find it, but you cannot away from God. If men will just walk in God’s law, reverence God’s sanctuary, and obey God, they will have peace; they will be blessed as in olden time. God has not changed; he is the same now as he always was. But men are walking contrary to God, and that is the trouble. Now we find here, that in the days of Joshua no man was able to stand before him all the days of his life, because he studied the Word of God and meditated upon it day and night; he observed the whole law, not merely a part of it, and the result was that he was prosperous. In the 22d chapter, we find there he gave orders to those he left to take his place after he was gone: “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses, the servant of the Lord, charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went into their tents.”
We are told that they did not depart from the Lord in the days of Joshua and the Judges. He had such influence over those Judges that he kept the children of Israel from departing from the Lord. But a few hundred years after, they turned away. It is only rain that you hear, my friends; let us pray that the rain of God’s blessing may come upon us, that we may all be brought into communion with God. As he is giving the earth its showers, let us pray that he will shower blessings upon each one of us to-day.
If you will turn to the 6th chapter of Jeremiah, 16th verse, you will find what Israel did: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the way, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But, they said, We will not walk therein.”
We will not do any such thing, they say; that law of Moses is very good for those heathen coming out of Egypt, but we have scientific men and we know more than Moses and Caleb. It was very good in those dark, heathen days, but we have grown wiser; we have outgrown the law of God.” So the king turned away, and the whole nation turned away with him. So Jeremiah wept over them, and the Lord gave him this command: “And I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.” That is the way a good many men talk now. “We don’t want the Bible; give us some other book; the idea of men talking about the Bible being true! Don’t you believe in that book.” It is the same old human heart, the same old enemy. You will find it the same in every age, and in every time. Pride is a plant that grows in all kinds of soil, in winter and in summer, and you will find it wherever the foot of man has touched the earth; man just rising up and claiming to be wiser than the Almighty. Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O Earth; Behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words nor to my law, but rejected it.” They laughed at Jeremiah. The king at last put him into a dungeon, and they cast him into a filthy pit, and thought they had got rid of him.
But there is a God in heaven, and they found out that the Word of God was true; and these men that are now trying to fight against the Lord, declaring that his word is not true, will find out just as Pharoah did, when he asked, ” Who is God that I should obey him?” When God comes to deal in judgment, these enemies will find out. God has a controversy with man, on account of sin; and until man turns from sin, there can be no fellowship with God. He says in the 84th Psalm, 11th verse, and to me that is one of the sweetest verses in the Bible: “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” If a man is willing to walk uprightly, God has promised that no good thing will he withhold from him; and how many can say that that is true? That is their own experience. When they have been willing to obey God heaven has smiled upon them, and rich blessings have come upon their souls.
Now I want to touch on something that is practical, that keeps us out of communion with God. I believe there is one truth that ought to be preached to Christians more than anything else; and that is, separation from the world. If the church would draw the line and take its stand, I believe it would have a hundred times more power than it has at the present time. I do not fear what these infidels say about the church of God. The trouble is, we have so many traitors in camp. They blow hot one day and cold the next. They pat you on the back one day, and then stab you in the back. They meet you and say, “Oh, this is a fine work, I am very much interested in it;” and the next day perhaps they meet an enemy and say, “I don’t believe in that work at all.” We have too many of those men. It would be a good thing if every man who is opposed to Jesus Christ would take his stand and fight him. What we want is separation; and the quicker it comes the better.
We read in the 3d chapter of Amos, 3d verse: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” If you see a man that is in communion with another man, you say, those two men agree pretty well. If you see two business men that go to their stores together every morning, you say they agree; and if they do not have fellowship with one another, you do not have the same impression. If a man is going to walk with God, he has got to agree with God. He has got to give up his own thoughts and ways; for God is above us, and is not going to give up his ways to walk with us. I was in a horse oar, a little while ago, and saw two young men together. One spoke hardly a word without cursing; but the young man that was with him did not swear at all; perhaps he had a praying father or mother. But I noticed that they locked arms and went off together. There was no difference between them. One did not swear, and the other did; but they walked together, and I put the two together. Suppose I walk with a man to a bank, and while he breaks in and steals $100,000 I wait for him, and then walk off with him. The police get hold of us, and they make no difference between us. I walked to that bank with him, and walked away with him; and I am just as bad as that man. If we are going to be hand and glove with the ungodly, there is no difference between us. What we want is, to be separated. If a man speaks contemptuously of my wife, he is no companion for me. If he speaks contemptuously of my mother, he is no companion for me. Good bye, sir, I say. I will do all I can to save him, but will have no fellowship with him. If a man speaks contemptuously of the Son of God—good day, sir, you and I must separate. If you are going to walk with God, you have got to be separated from those who do not. He said, you know, when he brought them up from Egypt, that it was their sin that had separated him from them. If we are going to live in sin, God, if he walked with us, would appear to be a party to the sin. Therefore, when we walk in sin and unbelief, we must separate from him.
I want to call your attention to a passage in 2d Corinthians, 6 and 14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, anH walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you: And will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
I know this is not going to be a very popular thing for me to say; but when you come to the Word of God, you must look it right in the face, and let the truth come out. I believe, if I am a Christian man, I hare no right to yoke myself up with two ungodly men and go into business with them. “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.” A man came to me some time ago in great distress; he was a banker, and said: “I haye got two partners, and they voted to do so and so, and it is compromising my Christian character, and I cannot outvote them, what shall I do?” I said, “When did you form that partnership?” “So many years ago.” “How long have you been a Christian?” “Fourteen years.” “You formed the partnership only three or four years ago, and that is where the mistake was made, when you took those two unbelievers into company •with you.” “I thought I could get on a little better, and that is the reason I did it.” “God told you not to do it; be not ‘unequally yoked with unbelievers,’ and they voted to make the firm do something which has compromised your Christian character, and you haven’t got the power for Christ that you would have if you were separated.” And there are a great many men who think they can make money a little faster, and they go contrary to the Word of God. This question also touches matrimony. What right has a saintly, godly woman to give herself away to some scoffing infidel, because he is rich and has got some position in society? What right has a godly man to marry some frivolous, scoffing young lady; that hates the church of God and the Bible? “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.” That is what it means. It means more than that. What right has a Christian man in some of these lodges, where they have got infidels and skeptics that may vote to make him do a wrong?
If you want power with God, come out and be separated.
Some one will say, if you take that course you will be very unpopular. Well, you will be very popular up there with God, if you obey him. Let us take his Word ” back to back,” and not pick out a passage here and there. Let us not be catering to public opinion. I would rather be alone, with God holding my right hand and behaving, than to have all Boston applauding me and be wrong with God. “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.” I know there may be a great many young men that will scoff at this idea; and they will declare that they will marry whom they please, despite what the Word of God says. Bear in mind you will not have God’s blessing upon you. Many a young lady has given herself away to some scoffing infidel, and has lived a miserable, wretched life. It wasn’t long before he began to trample her feelings under his feet. A man that will not obey God, and don’t care anything about the law of God, will not care much about your feelings, in a little while. He may profess a great deal of love and friendship for you; but he will be unkind to you, by and by. There was a lady in Chicago that came to me in great distress. She was engaged already. I told her I hardly knew what to tell her, but advised her to go to her lover and tell him frankly that she was a Christian, and that their ways did not run together. Well, he gave her up, and said he respected her more than ever. But it wasn’t a week before he was in the inquiry-room, and sought her God and was converted. I know this doctrine is not what you like; but it is a good deal better to know the truth, and what God will have us do, than to go right contrary to the Word of God. Let us ask ourselves this question. Am I unequally yoked with unbelievers? Am I yoked up with some unbeliever? Perhaps somebody may say, “I have been converted since I was married.” The Word of God declares that you must not leave your husband. I am talking about those who are not married; and if we read our Bibles carefully on that point, we find that the Word of God gives no uncertain sound. Some of you may say, “I think I can do some good in that way.” I would rather be safe and take the Word of God for my guide, than be going against it and think I am going to do some good. If you haven’t any influence over the young man you are about to marry, you will not have any more after you have married him.
Then we find a great many people say, “Oh, he is a narrow, bigoted man. I believe we are to go in and be yoked up with unbelievers, and get into all these lodges and societies, and lift them up in that way.” I suppose Lot believed the same thing when he went to Sodom; but it lifted him down instead of up. And instead of lifting up the world, we find the world is all the time pulling the church down. If you want to be right with God, you want to be where you can testify against the sins of the world. Lot lost his influence in Sodom, because he became a member of their societies. Wives who have unconverted husbands bargain that they will go to the theatre with them, if they will go to church on Sunday; and then the husbands will find out some minister who don’t cut them with the truth; and they might as well be at the theatre as at that church; and wives think they are going to save their husbands in that way. You want to be separated from unbelievers; and if you want power with God and man you must be separated; and then he will walk with you, and be with you.
I remember a man telling me how the sparrows had spoiled his canary, and that it would do nothing but chirp, chirp, chirp like the sparrows. That is the trouble with Christians now; they cannot sing the songs of Zion, but just chirp, chirp, chirp. If they get up in the prayer meeting, they say nothing. If you want power with God and man, you must be separated and withdraw from the world; and then the Lord God will bless you.
Let us look at the 11th chapter of Numbers and the 14th verse. I think that gives us another view of this truth, and how it is we have lost our power. “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the flesh that we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.” What a sad picture that was. God gave them angels’ food, bread from heaven; and they loathed it. Why? On account of the mixed multitude; they got in with the world, with unbelievers, and they began to talk against the manna and about the onions, and leeks and garlics which they ate down in Egypt. What do you see to-day? Men loathe the Bible; men don’t love this bread which has come down from heaven, which feeds our souls; they run off to operas and theaters, and the world has come into the church. They loathe the manna which God has sent them from heaven, on account of this mixed multitude. Oh, may God help us to see this truth and separate from the world; and, if necessary, walk alone with him. Enoch’s name was handed down through all these generations, because he walked with God. If Enoch had been up for any office, I doubt if he could have been elected to the Legislature, or even to any town office. But he walked with God, and God must have agreed with him, for they never were separated. At one bound, Enoch leaped right over the stream; death never touched him. God loved his company so much that one day I can imagine he said, “Enoch just come up higher;” and up he went. And he has been all these years walking the crystal pavements of heaven with God. As old Dr. Bonar of Scotland once said to me, “Enoch took a long walk one day, and he hasn’t got back yet.” He is up there, and we will see him, by-and-by. Noah walked with God; and God took care of him in the time of the flood. Abraham walked with God, and he became the friend of God. If we walk in the wilderness to-day, we will walk in Paradise to-morrow. And when we are questioning ourselves if it is right to do this or that, ask the question if Christ would do it, and govern ourselves accordingly. Let us do as he did, have the same mind that he has, and try and follow in his footsteps and be like him iii all our ways.