Summary: If you ever have found it hard to be a Christian in this world - Paul has some good stuff for you in this text.
"HOW TO STAY CLEAN WHILE LIVING IN A PIGPEN"
Have you ever gotten all cleaned and dressed up and then found it hard to stay that way, spaghetti sauce on the white shirt or blouse...grass stains on those new pants. Have you discovered the truth that when we run around in the physical world we often pick up some of it’s dirt.
I think you will agree that this is also true in the spiritual sense. Sometimes it gets pretty hard to stay clean when we are living in a pig pen. And our world, our society really is, a spiritual pig pen. Much of our world is UNASHAMEDLY wallowing in the mud of sin and immorality. We are constantly being exposed to this philosophy in nearly every aspect of our lives, we can hardly get away from it. And it is nearly impossible for us not pick up some of the dirt. And if we are not real careful we’ll pick up a lot more than some. We live in a non Christian world and many times it is hard to be a Christian (TO TALK LIKE, ACT LIKE AND LIVE LIKE A CHILD OF GOD) under such difficult conditions. HAVE YOU EVER FOUND THIS TASK DIFFICULT?
The majority of people we go to school with, the teachers we listen to, the people we work with, the shows we watch -- most of the people we encounter, do not look at the world from a Christian point of view.
This problem of being a Christen in a Non Christian world is not a new problem. The church battled this problem right from the start, and the church at Corinth is by far no exception.
They lived in and were surrounded by, a city saturated in immorality and sin, and much of that philosophy, immoral lifestyle and attitude crept into the church.
In our text today, II Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1, Paul gives us 3 principles that will help us stay clean, while we are living in the midst of a pig pen.... IF YOU HAVE EVER FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN YOUR CHRISTIANITY WHILE LIVING IN THIS UNCHRISTIAN WORLD -- LET’S LISTEN TO PAUL AND SEE WHAT KIND OF HELP HE OFFERS US, THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD.
I. AVOID CLOSE CONTACT WITH UNBELIEVERS (6:14-16)
Paul in the opening words of our text writes, "DO NOT BECOME UNEQUALLY YOKED TOGETHER WITH UNBELIEVERS." This concept goes all the way back to Deuteronomy 22:10, "DO NOT PLOW WITH AN OX AND A DONKEY YOKED (OR HARNESSED) TOGETHER." The ox was a clean animal to the Jew and the donkey was not, therefore it would be wrong to yoke them together. And besides that on a practical note, they have different natures and would not even work well together, the ox is usually hard working and cooperative and the donkey is stubborn and feisty.
Certain things are fundamentally incompatible, like oil and water. They were never meant to be joined together. This principle applies to the Christian and the non Christian. The purity and nature of the Christian and the pollution and nature of a pagan were never intended to run together in a double harness. When we become a Christian we receive a new nature, "IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST HE IS A NEW CREATION, THE OLD HAS GONE THE NEW HAS COME" (2 COR 5:17), PETER SAYS IN I PETER 1:4, "WE (as Christians) PARTICIPATE IN THE DIVINE NATURE."
This principle of God’s people being separated from the world has always been a prevalent teaching in God’s dealings with His people. In the Old Testament, the Israelites before entering the promise land were commanded by God to remain separate from the Canaanites.
AND this principle of "separation", carried over in an even greater to the New Test., where we see throughout it’s pages Christians being referred to as "Saints". This term means, "set apart", "called out". Christians by definition are called out from the world and are set apart to serve God and do His will.
The world is often in Scripture described, as an enemy to be avoided and a foe to overcome. John tells us in his first letter, "NOT TO LOVE THE WORLD OR ANYTHING IN THE WORLD.." AND "THAT THE WORLD AND IT’S DESIRES ARE PASSING AWAY."
And yet, we are also told that , "WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, THAT WE ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH -- THAT WE AS WE STUDIED LAST WEEK ARE CHRIST AMBASSADOR’S, GIVEN THE JOB OF INFLUENCING THE WORLD FOR CHRIST TO TELL THEM THAT THE FAMINE IS OVER."
On the one hand we know that The world is evil and we are not to be like the world, "WE ARE TO BE IN THE WORLD AND NOT OF THE WORLD." And we have all felt the pressure that the world exerts on us, as it tries to pull us off "the straight and narrow", And our response at that time may be one of preservation, to stay as far away from the world as we can, to keep it from contaminating us... Yet on the other hand, if we completely isolated ourselves from the world, have no contact with it, how will we ever influence the world and win it for/to Christ... AND HERE LIES THE DILEMMA, How can we avoid those 2 extremes. One of being SO close to the world that we become just like the world, the other being so isolated form the world that we never really have any impact on it.? This balance is not easy and can be difficult to achieve?