by Dr. Jack Hyles:
One of the big issues of our day is not only, “Should we separate, from the wrong crowd?” but also, “Should we separate from those who run with the wrong crowd?” We could go on and on and ask, ” Should we separate from those who run with those who run with the wrong crowd?” and “Should we separate from those who run with those who run with those who run with the wrong crowd?” To enter into such a subject is like tiptoeing through mine fields, but since the issue needs to be faced, we will do so.
Sin is basically that which causes bad consequences to me or to someone else. This is an oversimplification, but to say the least, sin has consequences. The ultimate consequence of sin is death. Because of this, the wise person will find what leads to death and avoid it. The answer to this is in James 1:14,15. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” The Bible teaches us that sin brings death. We are reminded in the Word of God that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. We are reminded that the wages of sin is death. If we could just find what brings death and avoid it, we could avoid death-death of dreams, death of homes, death of hopes, etc. Since we don’t want to die, then we should avoid sin, for sin brings death.
What brings sin? We find in our text verses the answer to this. Temptation brings sin. Hence, the wise person will stay away from death by staying away from sin and will stay away from sin by staying away from temptation, for temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death. To be two steps from death is better than to be one step from death.
We could be even safer if we could find what brings temptation. Again, our text verses tell us that enticement causes temptation. Enticement is someone or something trying to get us to consider wrong. Since enticement leads to temptation and temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death, then a person is farther from death if he stays away from enticement. If one does not want to die, he should avoid sin. If he wants to avoid sin, he should avoid temptation. If he wants to avoid temptation, he should avoid enticement. If this can be done, we are another step farther from death. Far too many of us walk just inside the boundary of sin, and then one stumble sends us across the line ! However, if a person can find that temptation brings sin and enticement brings temptation, he can be several steps from death; then if he stumbles, he will not stumble into sin but into enticement.
Recently a young lady in Hyles-Anderson College came to my office in tears and completely broken. I asked her what was the trouble. She said, “Dr. Hyles, I am a fallen woman.”
I said, “Oh, my, I’m sorry!”
She said, “I know I have broken your heart. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I know my parents will be heartbroken! My pastor will be crushed! I know, Brother Hyles, that I have hurt you deeply.”
As she told me this she was weeping uncontrollably. I wept with her. I asked her, “Where did this happen?”
She said, “In the halls of Hyles-Anderson College.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I said, “Exactly what did you do?”
She said, “Brother Hyles, I held a boy’s hand.”
Though I continued to look concerned, I could not help but rejoice inwardly. To her, to become a fallen woman was to hold a boy’s hand. She had stayed so far away from sin that when she did stumble, she was far enough away from the edge of sin not to go into sin itself How tragic it is that many schools have their rules just between temptation and sin! The only rules are those which keep young people from sin. Why not make rules that keep them from temptation? Then why not make rules that keep them from enticement? Then why not make rules to prevent enticement in order to keep the young people even farther from death? If sin brings death, let us stay away from sin. If temptation brings sin, let us stay away from temptation. If enticement brings temptation, let us stay away from enticement.
If we could find what causes enticement, we could take another step away from death. The answer once again is in our text. Lust brings enticement. Lust simply means “desire.” We lust, then we are enticed, then we are tempted, then we sin, then we die. We could take a step farther from death if we could find what leads to lust or desire. Again we find in our text that being drawn away leads to lust. God has a plan for each of our lives. Each of us is to be busily engaged in fulfilling that plan. When we are drawn away from that plan and the work that God has called us to do, we then notice what the world has to offer and we desire it. Once we desire it, there is always someone who can entice us. Then we are led to temptation which leads to sin which leads to death!
If we would keep from death, we must keep from sin. If we would keep from sin, we must keep from temptation, which takes us two steps from death. If we would be kept from temptation, we must be kept from enticement, which makes us three steps from death. If we are kept from enticement, we must be kept from lust, which puts us four steps from death. If we are kept from lust, we must be kept from being drawn away, which makes us five steps from death. It just makes sense that the farther one can stay from death the better off he is, and since death is caused by sin and sin brings death, we should stay as far away from sin as possible. Everyone who goes into sin follows the same pathway. He is drawn away from doing the things he is supposed to do. His eyes see something after which he lusts. Then someone entices him to take, whereupon he is tempted. The temptation leads to sin, and sin leads to death.
When I was a boy my mother taught me to come straight home from school. There was a certain route that I was to take every day. One day I did not take that route but joined some other boys in traveling another way. We had taken the first step. I was drawn away!
On this new way home there was a peach orchard which also had a big pecan tree nearby. We came by, looked at the peaches and pecans and desired them or lusted after them. Now we had taken the second step toward death which is lust.
Then one of the fellows suggested that since I was the smallest, I should climb to the top of the fence and the other boys would keep me from falling inside. I could lean over the fence, pick up some pecans and peaches and throw them out until there was enough for all of us. Then they would pull me back over the fence and we could go our way. There was the enticement. I was a step closer to death.
As I looked at the peaches and listened to their plan, I was tempted, and I was a step closer to death.
Then came the sin! I climbed the fence and reached for the pecans and peaches on the other side. One boy was at the top of the fence holding me, another boy was at the bottom of the fence holding him and the other boy was on the ground holding him. I got several pecans and peaches and threw them outside the orchard, and just as I was about to get enough, I noticed that the police had arrived! I was the only boy inside the fence, and as soon as the other boys saw the police coming, they let me go! I fell inside the fence and they scurried home. (This is always the case! Those who lead you into sin always drop you as soon as they are through with you or as soon as trouble comes.) There I was facing the police officers. Being drawn away had brought lust, lust had brought enticement, enticement had brought temptation and temptation had brought sin. Sin brought the police. (My mother had called them and told them to scare me to death.) They took me to the police station and warned me of my plight. I could see life imprisonment or perhaps even the electric chair! My predicament was caused by sin. My sin was caused by temptation, my temptation was caused by enticement, my enticement was caused by lust, and my lust was caused by being drawn away from the straight route home.
How foolish we are to live just outside sin! How foolish we are to make our rules and standards just outside sin! The farther we can walk from sin, the safer is our walk, and the farther from sin that we can keep those young people over whom we have authority, the safer will be their walk. Too many of us have our rules and standards right after temptation or right after enticement or right after lust or right after being drawn away. The wise leader will keep himself and his followers as many steps from death as possible; hence, as many steps from sin as possible.
Now concerning the matter of secondary separation, this is not even the issue. The issue is to be as safe as possible. If it is safe not to run with the wrong crowd, then it is safer not to run with the crowd who runs with the wrong crowd. Let us suppose, for example, that when our oldest daughter, Becky, was dating the young man who is now her husband, her boyfriend came by one night to get her and had with him a friend. Suppose he said, “Brother Hyles, I want you to meet my friend. He is a sex pervert who has just escaped from the mental ward of the state penitentiary. He is going to go with us on our date tonight. ” My daughter would not have gone on a date that night, and I would have told Tim so!
Suppose he would have said, “Brother Hyles, don’t you approve of me?”
I would have said, “Yes, Tim, but I don’t approve of your crowd. Now you take the sex pervert home before you take my daughter out, and you sever your relationship with him before you think seriously about my daughter.”
Now if a person is a Christian, he is my brother in Christ, and I am to be kind to him, but if he is running with the wrong crowd, I will not promote him. I think it not necessary for me to declare the names of those with whom I do not choose to cooperate. I simply quietly use care so that I may stay as far away as possible from sin. Many churches and ministries have died because the pastor and people have not stayed far enough away from death and that which brings death-sin.
I have no tabloids or papers in which I verbally abuse the brethren, but there are brethren whom I love dearly and whom I think are saved whom I will not have preach for me. I am not going to list them, be unkind to them or verbally abuse them, but I will very quietly exercise care. The reader may call it what he wants to call it. I call it being careful. Perhaps this chapter should be called, “Careful Separation,” but whatever it is-whether it be the sin of drinking, the sin of adultery, the sin of dope, or the sin of denying Christ and the Bible, the farther that I can stay away from it, the safer I am.
Because the command of the Bible is to be separate from sinners, it is wise that we exercise special care as we deal with others concerning this subject and its implementation.
If a young person wants to stay away from adultery, which is sin, then he would be wise to stay away from heavy petting. If he wants to stay away from heavy petting, he should stay away from petting. If he wants to stay away from petting, he should stay away from kissing. If he wants to stay away from kissing, he should stay away from embracing. If he wants to stay away from embracing, he should stay away from hand-holding. There is nothing in the Bible that says hand-holding is sin, but there is certainly nothing wrong with exercising care and good sense.
I am very aware of the fact that there is a great difference between the hair standards required for our young men at Hyles-Anderson College and what would be called sin. A young man could wear his hair much longer than we at Hyles-Anderson do and not sin, but why stay right next to the edge? The same is no doubt true with standards concerning young ladies’ dress, but we believe that there is safety in staying a great distance from sin and its consequence-death. Each man must decide for himself how far that distance is, but there is certainly wisdom in safety.
Now the Bible is plain concerning separation from unbelievers. II John 7-11, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” You will notice that we are not to receive false teachers into our house and we are not to bid them God speed when they leave, lest we become partakers of their evil deeds. If a nice, personable fellow comes by with a briefcase, a tape recorder or slide projector and tells you that he wants to talk to you about religion, you are not supposed to receive him into your house until you are sure that he is not a false teacher.
The Bible promises a great blessing to those who abstain from fellowship with the ungodly. Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Here are five points or steps to guaranteed prosperity and success.
1. Do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
2. Do not stand in the way of sinners.
3. Do not sit in the seat of the scornful.
4. Delight in the Law of the Lord.
5. Meditate in the Word of God day and night.
Notice that three of these deal with separation from the wrong kind of people.
There is also a blessed fellowship offered to those who separate themselves from being yoked with unbelievers. II Corinthians 6:14-18, “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, and 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, saith 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.” Notice verse 18 where God promises a sweet relationship between Himself and the separated believer. To be sure, all of us who are saved are God’s children, but sometimes that relationship is strained and God will not treat us like His children. This depends upon our running with the right crowd and being separated.
Unbelievers want us! Acts 20:28-31, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Jude 3, 4, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” II Peter 2:1-3, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
Just as Sanballat and Tobiah wanted to help in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, even so unbelievers want believers and their fellowship. For one thing, they need our zeal. Their only hope for growth is the zeal and fire of those who believe and preach the Gospel. Apostate denominations love to confuse zealous believers and use them as window dressing. They put them in front of the denomination national meetings in order to convince the denomination that everything is all right while behind the scenes they continue to chop away at the foundations.
They also want God’s blessings. This is why they came to Balaam and asked him to come to Moab. Though they themselves were heathen, they wanted the blessings of God that accompany God’s men.
Then they want our money. They don’t mind you criticizing them as long as you feed them and send your money to their liberal programs.
Then they want our fame. They love to choose some famous evangelist and appear before him because he is famous. The truth is, if he were not famous, they would destroy him if they could. Wrong always wants to run with right. An immoral boy always wants to marry a moral girl. Wrong always entices right, and the tragedy is that right always seems to think that it can change wrong. This is never the case. Those decaying denominations are never salvaged from within by their zealots. A long time before the zealots realize the decay, the places of denominational leadership and the schools have turned toward apostasy.
The Bible is clear that we are not to yoke up with unbelievers, but how about those who do yoke up with unbelievers? That has been discussed from many angles in this chapter. Much care should be taken here. Suppose your son has a good friend, but the good friend runs with homosexuals. Would you want your son to run with a fellow who runs with homosexuals? The truth is, the farther away he can get from the homosexuals, the better he is. Somebody says, “Prove it by the Bible.” In this case, I do not have to do so. I can prove it by good sense. I am thinking now of a Canadian preacher who once was a successful evangelist, but he got the idea that he could run with the National Council of Churches and not be affected. He soon became their evangelist. He did not change them; they changed him. He then got out of the ministry. While sitting in a motel room in Canada, I saw him on a television program, and I heard him deny the Bible, deny Christ and even declare atheism!
The hope for America is the sanctity and purity of God’s people. It is the hope for your children and mine and for your grandchildren and mine. Too much care cannot be taken to preserve this holy position in order that God may, for His people’s sake, spare our generation!
by Jack Hyles