Without the Camp.

Union with Christ in the coming glory involves present association with Him in His rejection, in His shame, and in His sufferings. This the Apostle teaches clearly in Heb. 13:11-13. The bodies of the beasts sacrificed were “burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” Great emphasis is here thrown upon the word “without,” since it is repeated three times. The parallel between the slaughtered animals, the suffering Saviour, and obediently following Christians, is here made to rest mainly upon the same word. The allusion in verse 12, is to the fact that Calvary where Jesus suffered, was situated outside Jerusalem, the Holy City, the metropolis of religion. His rejection was not merely by the virtually infidel world, to wit, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and others, but also, and as completely, by the so-called religious world, even the chief priests and Pharisees. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him.” In the case of the believing Hebrews, to whom the epistle was written, “the camp” would be the empty though self-righteous Judahdom. What is its pertinency to us? Is the world now-a-days so truly righteous and Christian, that this point of the injunction is void of all present application? Then out of what are we to come? Some explanation is afforded in the last clause, “bearing His reproach,” as if to imply, that departure from the camp will, even to the end, as truly, if through Christendom’s adoption of a defaced Christianity in another manner, insure us His reproach. “The camp” in our day is the great world-church or church world—the great professing body which has allied itself to, and is itself incorporated with the world, Babylon,

The world is viewed as still the world that rejects Christ, even though that rejection is covered over with the guise of godliness. Its hostility to Christ is still the same by whatever cloak it may be covered over. What if its hatred be all the intenser, even because it is disenabled? What if its insult be all the more keen, because, Judas-like, it kisses to betray? All complicity with such a state of things is forbidden to the true Christian. If Christ’s Cross does not teach him this plainly enough, surely His injunction will. And if some will shut their eyes and ears, then the duty of the individual is clear. “Neither be partaker of other men’s sins; keep thyself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22). And this injunction, “Let us go forth,” has a definite meaning which we may not miss or overlook. We suppose that we shall be informed this is nothing but a call to spirituality of mind. But what if we find that it is something more and other than spiritual-mindedness. It cannot be fully obeyed by the desire and the effort to be spiritually-minded, for spirituality without holiness, without conformity to and fellowship with Christ in His rejection, is sentimentalism. Alas! the unquiet conscience, that shrinks from plain duty because it is unpleasant, loves subterfuges however miserable they may be. Hence it strives to forget that holiness is separation from all contact with sin, and that all such separation is holiness. The words, “go forth,” respects the point from which, and not the point to which, the progress is made. Motion to one place or person, cannot be made, without motion from another place at the same time. Thus if resident in the Metropolis we would go to Birmingham, we must go out of London. In spiritual things there is a coming up from the wilderness-world as well as, and by means of, our leaning upon the Beloved (Songs 8:5). The advance out of the wilderness is constant, in proportion to our descrying sin, where once we beheld it not, and to our faithfulness to the Lord. As our first coming to Jesus involves separation from sin, so greater nearness to Him there cannot be, without further departure therefrom, whilst the gain in the greater degree of proximity to the one is proportioned to, and corresponds with, the progress made in the other. The way in which the Lord allures His people to Himself is by sealing upon their hearts the truths of His sacred Word, and as each fresh revelation of His grace, and of the excellency of His power, reaches the heart, the conscience is at once exercised by some co-relative duty enjoining separation from all complicity with sin and connection with worldliness. Thus, for example, is it Christ’s redeeming love that is the theme? Then we are told “He gave Himself for our sins that He might redeem out, out (there are two “outs” in the original) of this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4), which to all who glory in that Cross is thereby crucified to them and they to it (Gal. 5:16).

Is it the present enjoyment of a Father’s love and care? Then “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and be a Father to you; and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

And let us put away the chimerical fear of this plain duty of separation being too urgently insisted upon, as if some injurious extreme were possible. Are we not expressly forbidden even to “touch” the unclean thing? In God’s Word two-sided views of truth obtain constantly, and these, when combined, present the full truth, not either alone. Thus, with reference to a Christian’s deportment to the world, he is not to go out of the world—that would be monasticism. His presence in the world is according to the will of his Master (Mark 5:19). The Lord Himself left a holy heaven, to come and dwell for a time amongst a sinful people. Nor is it scarcely possible for His disciples to be too earnest, in going forth upon all occasions into the world in service for their Master. But, on the other hand, they are called to be like Him who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). Such is there part—entire compassion, no association. Nor must these two Scriptural principles be suffered either one to blunt the point and obscure the full force of the other. We must hold fast to both. “Let us go forth unto Him.” No other goal is possible. Separation from the world’s religion unto Christ. Nearer to Christ and closer to His people that have gone forth without the camp unto Him, the right hand of fellowship being extended unto all, and only all, “that love one Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption” (Eph. 6:24, Greek).