Set Apart From and For

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” —John 17:17

Charles Haddon SpurgeonPut these two things together, dedication to God and separation unto him, and you are nearing the meaning of the prayer. But, mark you, it is not all separation that is meant; for, as I told you in the reading there are some who “separate themselves,” and yet are sensual, not having the Spirit. Separation for separation’s sake savours rather of Babel than of Jerusalem. It is one thing to separate from the world, and another thing to be separate from the church. Where we believe that there is living faith in Jesus, and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, we are not called to division, but to unity. For actual and manifest sin we must separate ourselves from offender; —but we err if we carry on this separation where it is not authorized by the word of God. The Corinthians and Galatians were far from being perfect in life, and they had made many mistakes in doctrine, yea, even upon vital points; but inasmuch as they were truly in Christ, Paul did not command any to come out of those churches, and to be separate therefrom; but he exhorted them to prove each man his own work, and he laboured to bring them all back to the one and only gospel, and to a clearer knowledge of it. We are to be faithful to truth; but we are not to be of a contentious spirit, separating ourselves from those who are living members of the one and indivisible body of Christ. To promote the unity of the church, by creating new divisions, is not wise. Cultivate at once the love of the truth and the love of the brethren. The body of Christ will not be perfected by being rent. Truth should be the companion of love. If we heartily love even those who are in some measure in error, but who possess the life of God in their souls, we shall be the more likely to set them right. Separation from the world is a solemn duty, indeed it is the hard point, the crux and burden of our religion. It is not easy to be filled with love to men and yet for God’s sake, and even for their own sake, to be separated from them. The Lord teach us this.

—Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Delivered Sunday Morning, March 8, 1886 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 32 Sermon No. 1890, “Our Lord’s Prayer for His People’s Sanctification”


About Jon J. Cardwell

"The Spirited Speaker" - Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Anniston, Alabama. Nationally recognized speaker and publisher. Author of several books, including the bestseller, Christ and Him Crucified.


  1. Quote: “If we heartily love even those who are some measure in error, but who possess the life of God in their souls, we shall be the more likely to set them right.”

    How does this apply to a church, where the leadership is in error, does one leave the church, or does one hold on to see if things become more godly, less compromising?

    What does a pastor do, where the congregation just seems to take church as business as usual, and live to please themselves rather than God?

    Don’t want to get trite, but with the way things are in the churches nowadays, where do you turn?

    • Sorry for the tardy response, Doreen.

      Actually, when you think about it, since the fall, there have been good leadership among men of God and there have been blighters of all kinds. Likewise with congregations. Immediately after the flood (and I use immediately loosely), Nimrod arose. There was an attempt by the lemming masses to build Babel. The congregation in the wilderness were a stiffnecked people as the followed after one of God’s most humble souls, Moses; ever chiding God and always challenging Moses.

      There have been good kings and bad; holy prophets and false… and the bad ones far outnumbered the good. Even in Christ’s day, most of the leadership opposed Christ, and even of those who were disciples or disciples in secret, like Joseph, did not fully understand the Lord.

      Even after the sending of the Holy Spirit, we see by the bulk of the New Testament presents many false prophets and apostles, the which the first century church must beware, as well as congregations in Galatia, Corinth, etc, that erred greatly in true gospel powered, Christ-exalting doctrine and worship.

      Therefore, it becomes a matter of the redeemed individual clinging to Christ in such a way that we, as saved individuals, may submit to Christ in every decision that must be acted upon according to our situation.

      Preachers must preach the truth of unity, for it is the Biblical truth; we must pray fervently for its God’s grace to empower us for it; yet, the Biblical and historical reality is that it is a rare experience indeed. And to phrase the paragraph above in a slightly different manner: it comes down to trusting faith in Christ alone regardless of the situation we are in, be it poor leaders or corrupt congregations.

  2. Pingback: Set Apart From and For – Spurgeon Sermon Quotes | My Delight and My Counsellors

  3. Thanks for the reply. Indeed, we do need to pray, and guard our hearts against corruption.

    God bless.

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