From the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible: SEPARATION Bible separation is the practice of separating from sin and error unto truth and righteousness. Three Types of Separation In the N.T. we find three basic areas of separation. The Christian is to practice Moral Separation-separation from sin and worldliness; Doctrinal Separation-separation from those whose teaching and practice is contrary to that of the apostles; and Practical Separation-separation from brethren who are committed to disobedient paths. MORAL SEPARATION There are many, many passages of Scripture which teach that the Christian is to separate from sin. We are commanded to put sin out of our lives and to avoid fellowshiping with the evil things of the world. Of the many passages we could consider, let us use but one-Ephesians chapter five. Here God begins by telling His children to "walk in love." And how is this done? The rest of the chapter tells us, and we see that much of the chapter is devoted to instruction about separation from evil things. This is part of godly love! DOCTRINAL SEPARATION he second kind of separation God requires of the Christian is doctrinal separation. Sound apostolic doctrine is to be preserved by the churches while false doctrine is to be avoided. Doctrinal separation can be further divided into two aspects: First, we are to separate from those who teach false doctrine. And secondly, we are to separate from the entire apostate last-days Christianity. Let us consider these forms of separation in more detail. We are to separate from those who teach false doctrines. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Ro 16:17). See also 2Jo 1:13; Re 2:2. In this passage we are plainly commanded to mark and avoid those who teach false doctrine. A question arises here. Which doctrines are to be used as the basis for this separation? The answer is that any apostolic doctrine clearly presented in the Bible is a basis for fellowship and separation. To my knowledge, the N.T. never divides doctrine into "essential" and "non-essential," or into "fundamental" and "peripheral." Men do this today, but the Apostles did not. It is true that some doctrines are more important than others, but nowhere in Scripture do we read that portions of God's Word, rightly divided and properly understood, are of no significance and can therefore be put aside as peripheral. I realize this is contrary to popular thinking, but consider upon the following verses very carefully and I believe you will see that this is correct: Php 3:17; 4:9; 2Th 2:15; 2Ti 1:13 . In these references Christians are not exhorted to follow only the major apostolic doctrines. All apostolic doctrine and example is to be obeyed (Ac 2:42). PRACTICAL SEPARATION The Bible commands Christians to separate even from those who give evidence of having been born again, yet who refuse to follow the teachings of the Apostles in matters of practice and Christian living. Yes, there is a time when we are to separate even from our own brethren (1Co 5:11; 2Th 3:6; 1Ti 6:5; Mt 18:15-18). In all of these passages the writer is speaking of a separation from true brethren. This type of separation refers primarily to discipline within one particular local church, but the principle goes far beyond this. Not only are we bound to keep the letter of the Word of God, but also its spirit, its principles. Take 2Th 3:6 for an example. Immediately after giving the command to separate from a disorderly brother, the Apostle Paul gives an illustration of such. He mentions some who were walking "disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies" (2Th 3:11-12). In v. 14, he repeats the command to separate from such. Is this command to be limited only to those who are disobedient in the matter of employment? It would not be reasonable to limit the passage in such a way. The Holy Spirit is giving a principle regarding fellowship and separation. We are to separate from any brother who walks disorderly and who refuses to repent of his disobedience. The matter of employment is one example. The command would apply to our relationship with a brother who is persistently disobedient to any apostolic teaching. Would God tell us to separate from a brother who is disobedient in the matter of employment but not require that we separate from a brother who is disobedient in the matter of baptism, or in following the N.T. pattern for church government, or any number of other commands which are at least as important as whether or not one is employed? We believe these commands to separate from unrepentant, disorderly brethren are principles which cover disobedience to all apostolic instruction.