Summary: Because of God’s covenant of grace believers are called to live separate and holy lives.
"14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 ‘‘Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 ‘‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."
Friends in Christ,
“Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.” “Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.” “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.” Those seem like strange laws don’t they? No, they are not examples of some misguided regulations proposed by an out of control government agency. Those commands are listed among the laws that God gave to the Israelites through Moses. You can find them written in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
Why do you suppose the LORD gave those commandments to his people? Was he concerned about how they would look if they wore clothes made out of a combination of wool and linen? Was there some good reason for farmers not to mix crops in a field? And what was wrong with an ox and a donkey pulling a plow together?
The LORD wanted his Old Testament people to learn a spiritual lesson from those laws. By not weaving wool and linen together, and from not mixing seeds in a field, and from not plowing with an ox and donkey yoked together, his people would be reminded that they should not mix with the unbelieving people in the nations around them.
God wanted to keep his people separate from everyone else. He wanted this to happen so that the Israelites would not be led away from Him. The pagan peoples around Israel lived contrary to God’s will. Their disobedience to God’s commandments was detestable and disgusting in God’s sight. And God knew that if his people mingled with those pagans they would soon be living and acting the same way.
But God did more than just tell His people to separate themselves from unbelievers. He formed a bond of love with them. He declared that they belonged to Him and He to them. With that declaration came all kinds of promises. God swore that he would live among his people, provide for them, protect them, and prosper them. Those promises were to supply the motivation for God’s people to obey His commandments and remain separate from the nations around them.
In the Word of God that we will consider in our time together we are given a current application of God’s daily reminder to his Old Testament people that they shouldn’t mix with unbelievers and that they should live a holy life. Listen as I read 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 (Read text.) Through these verses let’s answer this question:
“HOW CAN WE LIVE AS GOD’S CHILDREN?”
I. By living a separate life
II. By living a holy life
Living as a child of God was especially challenging in the city of Corinth. Since it was filled with temptations and immorality of every kind the Christians who called that city home were under unrelenting pressure to sin. How would they live the life of a believer under those circumstances? These verses supplied the answer to that question.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” It seems clear that the apostle was referring back to the Old Testament laws that forbid the yoking of two different animals together. Any former Jews who were members of the Christian church at Corinth would have immediately picked up on Paul’s point. A child of God lives a life separated from sin. But the Gentiles at Corinth could also have caught the implication of Paul’s words. They would have known what a yoke was. They could also have understood how impractical it would be for a farmer to yoke together to different kinds of animals. If they walked at different speeds and behaved differently the farmer would have nothing but trouble using them.
To make the lesson clear about Christians living lives separated from sin and from those who would pull them away from Christ Paul went on to ask five questions. “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ” With the reading of each of those questions the Corinthians must have realized more and more clearly the mistake they had been making. Had they toyed with temptations? Had they fooled themselves by thinking that flirtation with sin was okay? Were they trying to be Christians and still live like pagans? Yes. They were guilty of the things Paul listed. They had put their faith and salvation in jeopardy by being yoked together with the unbelieving world.