by Kato Mivule
In his defense and oral treatise, Stephen in the Book of Acts employs the term ‘church’ in his description of the children of Israel in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses. The children of Israel seemed not to have been aware of the ‘separation’ and ‘coming out’ that The Lord intended for the ‘church’ in the wilderness and thus the longing for a return to Egypt.
Act 7:38 KJV This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
We see that the Greek word for ‘church’ used by Stephen in his oral treatise is ‘ekklesia’, the same Greek word used in the New Testament for the term ‘Church’…
G1577, ἐκκλησί,ekklēsia, ek-klay-see’-ah
From a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2564; a calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): – assembly, church. 
Therefore this gives us an opening to see what The Lord had intended for the children of Israel when they left Egypt under the leadership of Moses, as Stephen refers to their gathering in the wilderness as the ‘Church’ in the wilderness…
Act 7:35-40 KJV This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. (36) He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. (37) This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. (38) This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: (39) To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, (40) Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
This problem of not knowing that The Lord had ‘called them out’ became an issue throughout the time of the Old Testament as Israel sought relentlessly to become just like other nations around them. The very fact that Stephen uses the term ‘church’ in his defense to describe Israel in the wilderness shows two issues.
First is that The Lord desired to have a people called out from among all nations separate for Him, even though they still lived in the world. They were to be a ‘church’, ‘ekklesia’, and ‘called out ones’, separate from the ways of the world and all ungodliness. Yet still even with the Law handed down to Israel through Moses, this separation from the world was not achieved. For Israel always rebelled and went the way of heathen nations. The Law through Moses was not able to grant grace to the children of Israel to live as a ‘church’, called out and separate unto The Lord.
Secondly, the Church today ought to learn from the failures of the children of Israel in the wilderness in that The Lord through Grace in Christ Jesus intends and desires for the Church to be separate unto Him and to live a ‘called out’ life, a holy life separate from ungodliness and worldliness.
Yet this is not the case for many Christians today. Worldliness and ungodliness have become part and parcel of the many churches. Sin, evil, and deception have crept inside the Church. It is important to note that I am not trivializing the issue of Christians who struggle in their walk with Jesus Christ, sometimes falling but calling out to The Lord for help, it is the duty and ministry of every christian to help and encourage such fellow Christians to walk in holiness, righteousness, forgiveness, and grace in Christ Jesus.
Yet we must be aware of so-called Christians who have knowingly cemented sin, worldliness, and all sorts of evil as the norm in the Church. It is not common for some Christians to call sin and evil good and refer to good and righteousness as evil. Many Christians and Churches today have become unequally yoked together with the world, sin, evil, ungodliness, and all unrighteousness…
2Co 6:14-18 KJV Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
The New Testament Church ought to be separate unto The Lord, The New Testament Church must be separate from all ungodliness and worldliness even as she lives in a world of ungodliness and righteousness. Jesus Christ Himself prayed that the Church be not party to worldliness even though she lived in the world. It is the desire and will of Jesus Christ that His Church be totally separate unto Him even as she lives in the world…
Joh 17:14-17 KJV I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (15) I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (16) They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Yet this type of righteous lifestyle cannot be attained by the Church though Laws, Regulations, and Traditions of men but through Grace in Jesus Christ. Some have thought that this separation means acts of legalism like wearing long robes, women who don’t put on make-up, men sitting separate from women in worship places, etc, such things have a deceptive form of godliness and deny the inner transforming power of The Lord.
It is therefore a challenge to every soul that names themselves after the Name of The Lord Jesus Christ to walk a life separate from all ungodliness and all forms of unrighteousness. For we are called to be a Holy Nation, a Royal Priesthood, a Peculiar People, and a Chosen Generation…
1Pe 2:9-12 KJV But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (10) Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (11) Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; (12) Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
The Lord Jesus Christ walked a victorious life of righteousness here on earth and He has extended His Grace to all who call upon His Name for salvation. Regardless of the struggles of sin and unrighteousness you go through, repent, return not to the former ways, take time to pray and petition The Lord, and trust in His Grace to walk a life separate unto Him from all ungodliness. For The Lord is calling upon all His people to be separate unto Him from all sin, evil, ungodliness, and unrighteousness.
God Bless You.
 Strong’s Concordance Number G1577