Only you must not go very far away.
This is a crafty word from the lip of the arch-tyrant Pharaoh. If the poor enslaved Israelites must leave Egypt, then he bargains with them that it shall not be very far away--not too far for them to escape the terror of his arms and the observation of his spies. After the same fashion, the world hates the nonconformity of nonconformity or the dissidence of dissent; it would rather we were more charitable and not deal with things too severely. Death to the world and burial with Christ are experiences that worldly minds treat with ridicule, and as a result baptism, which pictures them, is almost universally neglected and even condemned.
Worldly wisdom recommends the path of compromise and talks of "moderation." According to this carnal policy, purity is admitted to be very desirable, but we are warned against being too precise; truth is of course to be followed, but error is not to be severely denounced. "Yes," says the world, "be spiritually minded by all means, but do not deny yourself a little friendship with the world, the odd journey to Vanity Fair. What's the good of denouncing this empty lifestyle when it is so fashionable and everybody does it?" Multitudes of professors succumb to this cunning advice, to their own eternal ruin.
If we are going to really follow the Lord, we must be prepared to walk the narrow path and join Moses who refused to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. We must leave behind the world's maxims--its pleasure, and its religion too--and go far away to the place where the Lord calls His sanctified ones.
When the town is on fire, our house cannot be too far from the flames. When disease is rampant, it is hard to escape it. The further from a poisonous snake the better, and the further from worldly conformity the better. To all true believers let the trumpet-call be sounded: "Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them."1
1) 2 Corinthians 6:17
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.