Thursday, October 6, 2016

Isaiah 52:11 -- On Being Separate and Different and Good and Clean

"Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord."
Isaiah 52:11

The idea of separation, or separateness, is a frequent one throughout the scriptures.  The Lord actually commands us to "be ye separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17; Alma 5:57) in very similar verses to this.  As mentioned here, one big reason is cleanliness, some of which was very literal in the Old Testament, and which is partially literal now, but which, then and now, is primarily figurative and symbolic.  Even the idea of being, or having, a chosen people... that's a strong idea, and something that makes us feel special to the Lord, but it was never really about exclusion, but more about keeping us clean and safe.

I think we've probably all sinned, right? :)  We've faced temptation, and sometimes we overcome it and get past it, and sometimes we don't.  When we don't, we keep trying, and we work to be better.  Part of succeeding in that endeavor is avoiding the temptations and being in situations that tend to lead us into sin.  We have to learn to choose to be *separate* from those situations rather than seeking them out.  The ancient Israelites had to avoid different situations than we do probably.  They were tempted to worship idols and to submit to slavery for a free meal.  It was difficult for them to learn how to adjust to freedom after being in slavery.  And it is hard for us to adjust when we have *chosen* slavery to a certain habit or addiction.  Change is hard.  That's one reason we need to be separate.  Another is that God wants us to be different than everyone else.

We sometimes rebel against the idea of being different because we want to fit in, or be accepted.  However, God specifically tells us "go ye out from among the wicked" (D&C 38:42) and that he wants us to be a "peculiar people" (Titus 2:14), not just to make us feel cool or unique, but because he wants us to be different, and good.  God is asking us to be better than we have been, and better than the evil around us.  We spread that message to others and invite them to be separate and different with us, as they are willing to come unto God and renounce evil.  And in order to be chosen, we have to do the same.  Any "betterness" just means less evil and more good. :)  So today, let's work on that.  Let's be less evil and more good. Let's separate ourselves from sin and temptation and wickedness.  Let's honor God, and the bodies that he gave us as the sacred vessels of God, carrying our spirits, and staying clean so that we can communicate with, and do the work of, God.

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