As you and I go through this life, we have to maintain separation. Why? To glorify God. Elijah emphasized the glory of separation. Elijah, the servant of God, had separated himself from the sins of the nations around him. He challenged the priest of Baal to a contest. He said, in effect, “Whichever god answers by fire, he is the true God” (see I Kings 18). Of course, the Baal worshipers did not have a ghost of a chance! They screamed and prayed and danced and cut themselves, but nothing happened. Then Elijah “repaired the altar of the Lord” (v. 30).
When your altar falls down, you are in trouble. When you stop meeting God daily for worship and praise, to offer yourself as a living sacrifice to Him, you are in trouble. Elijah rebuilt the altar, put the sacrifice on it and prayed. And God answered by fire. Elijah proved again the glory of separation.
This principle is explained in the New Testament in Romans 12:1,2. These verses are so familiar to us that sometimes we pay no attention to them. But they tell us how to be transfigured and experience the glory of separation. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present [once and for all] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service [your intelligent worship]. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed [transfigured] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Each of us is either a conformer or a transformer. In your church, your home and your community, you are either a conformer or a transformer. If you are separated to God, if you have given your body, your mind and your will to God, and if day by day you present yourself as a living sacrifice to God, then you can be a transformer.
It is interesting to read through the Bible and discover the people where were transformers instead of conformers. Joseph was a transformer. He was away from home, and nobody was watching him except God (see Gen. 37-39). Joseph did not have to give any account to his brothers or to his father, so he could have lived like all the other Egyptians. But he did not. He could have committed sin with the woman who tempted him, but he did not. Do you know why? Joseph was not a conformer, he was a transformer. He knew the glory of separation.
This was also true of Daniel (see Dan. 1). They put Daniel and his friends in a special school. The Babylonians changed their names, their diet and their curriculum, and they even tried to change their religion. But they could not change Daniel’s heart! He purposed in his hear that he would not defile himself. He was not a conformer, he was a transformer.
The glory of separation is that God works in us and through us to bring about changes. It is thrilling to see how God can use a believer to transform a Sunday school class, a home, a neighborhood, even an entire church! Sometimes God uses a dedicated, transfigured Christian to affect a whole nation. God wants to use us and wants us to be transformers, but we must be separated. This is the glory of separation.
Some people look at separation very negatively. They look upon it from the negative point of view—separated from the world. They forget the positive—separated unto God. According to Romans 12:1,2, we must take steps if we are going to be transfigured Christians.
First, we must give God our bodies. We must present our bodies, once and for all, to God. And it is a good idea to renew that dedication at the beginning of each day.
Second, we must give God our minds. We are transfigured by the renewing of our mind. How does God renew the mind? Through His Word. Do you spend time every day in the Word of God—reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it and practicing it? The Word of God, used by the Spirit of God, transfigures your mind, and this changes your life.
Third, we must give God our wills. “That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). We give Him our wills as we pray each day and seek His guidance and blessing.
I want to recommend that you start every day this way. If you want to experience transfiguration and the glory of separation, this is the secret. When you wake up in the morning, present your body to God as a living sacrifice. Then reach for your Bible, open the Word of God, read consistently and systematically through your Bible, and let the Word of God change your mind. Then, as you pray, give God your will concerning your job, your family, your health—whatever plan God has for you. You will discover a miracle taking place—the glory of separation. Separation will not be a hard, negative thing. It will become a very positive, glorious thing! God will have your body, your mind and your will, and you will be separated to the glory of God.
© 2006, Warren Wiersbe
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).