Neo-puritanism vs Separation

Remedy for Entrenched Sins

Is it God's will to reform the churches? Can the churches be revived? How does one deal with sins in the churches? What is the remedy for entrenched sins? The Bible gives only one response to these questions.

I've chosen this title because it represents the only two human responses to the problem of settled sins in the churches. I've chosen Neo-puritanism to represent its response instead of simply Puritanism because I want to avoid the impression that it is the Puritanism of England and New England of early America that is put forward as one of the responses, although it shares reformation impulses with those historic movements. I also want to make clear that it is not denominational reformation about which I am writing, but it is the local, city-town-community area wide assemblies of Christ that are the objects of concern. Denominationalism, whether formal or informal, is a dead issue with no redemptive objectives. Reforming and reviving a denomination was a major historic error of historic Puritanism and is not a concern of Christianity. Christ is not de-named! The body of Christ is not divided! Denominations are not of God! God has clearly shown that such division is a work of the flesh and is fatal to the soul.

The New Puritanism of which I speak is the overwhelming response current today which is held fast as the remedy for the problem of sins in the churches. Those holding this position believe that the answer to the problem is to become a member of a church or, at least, attend a church and “be a light” within that church. They maintain that by going to church and acting as they are led by God that they are obeying God and correcting the sins that are infecting the church. The truth is that they are not accomplishing these ends and that since the days of the Apostles no area wide assembly as ever been reformed in this way. Instead, these neo-reformers learn to compromise and thereby become part of the very problem that they profess to remedy! Their error is that they pick and choose which parts of God's Word are to be obeyed and when and how those particular commandments are to be obeyed. It is also very common to try to implement this reformation among certain people only within the church (usually a small group) and not to start at the true starting place with the leaders of the church and then to carry it forward throughout the entire body of believers. In taking this compromised approach, they nullify God's Word about love, correction, admonition, and reproof. God's Word is to be obeyed according to His directives, not according to man's notions and timetables. This last approach is not obedience to God. God's will is for His people to always obey Him according to the need. God's will is to correct sins when and where they appear and according to His commandments. It is of primary importance that major sins be effectively dealt with immediately while not leaving minor sins as established. God's reformation starts with correcting sinful leaders and eliminating major sins at large and then to continue by correcting other settled sins in all of God's people and not a select “receptive” few, which latter selective position strikes at the very core of the nurture and care of the body of Christ, which is a whole body, not a partial one. No one is led by God to partially obey His Word. No one is led by God to defer obedience to His Word. These reformers are also self-deceived through their notion of “waiting upon the Lord” to obey His commandments to deal with the sins that they know that they must encounter. The fact is that such “waiting” is the direct opposite of what it means to “wait upon the Lord”. This passage from the Prophet Isaiah, like other passages that they hold to that they believe compel them to “go to church” and “do God's will” are butchered by being partially understood and obeyed! Such partial man-made obedience is, in fact, disobedience to God! It inoculates the professors from being part of God's remedy and thereby causes them to be part of the problem. For it is God's will to continue to correct settled sins with all due priority and emphasis and without delay until they are all remedied. Dealing with certain sins only of certain church members only and only sporadically, whether there is or is not remedy, is failure before God. Everywhere in the New Covenant Scriptures, God, through His people, corrects sins with immediacy and finality. Delay, procrastination, and sporadic dealing with sins are man-made approaches that disobey the directives of God for the remedy of sins.

What, then, is the remedy? Separation and only separation from settled, entrenched sins is the remedy. Separation is the basic meaning of holiness and sanctification. It is the first requirement of believing as being grounded in repentance (separation) from sins and faith in God. It never fails or ends. It is so simple and complete that it is its own commentary and needs no elaboration. In fact, it really has always been the active and true solution to the problem of entrenched sins. For example, those who historically began with Puritanism came to realize that to remedy settled sins Puritanism did not work and they finally separated from its position in order to solve the problem of sins. If only they had continued with God's thoroughgoing and universal administration. For by not continuing therein, they began new denominations with their own new sets of man-made problems and their own entrenched sins.

What we need and have always needed – and what they had in the days of the Apostles – is the ongoing solution of spiritual edification of the whole body of Christ, that is, building up faith and correcting sin in the believers and not stopping or failing in both of these undertakings. When believers become unfaithful to God through adherence to sins, when those sins will not be repented of, the only Biblical solution is separation from those sins and the churches that adhere to them.