Summary: Message No. 1. An introduction to a series on the unequal yoke

The Unequal Yoke

Aim: To show how our relationships with the unsaved must be tempered by our understanding of biblical Salvation.

Text: 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1

Introduction: Few matters can be of such vital importance to the welfare of the Christian than the matter of the unequal yoke, and yet few matters are given such little regard by the people of God than the matter of personal separation. We are in the world, the Lord Jesus said, but we are not of the world. We must by necessity rub shoulders with unbelievers and sinners, but we must not become like them. As one famous evangelist put it, "We are not to be isolated but insulated, moving in the midst of evil but untouched by it." Separation is contact with contamination. Jesus was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26), yet He was "a friend of tax collectors and sinners"

Right here lies the problem, a problem of relationships, how to be a friend of sinners and yet, at the same time remain separate from sinners. Over the course of the next few weeks I want to draw your attention to the thorny issue of the unequal yoke. For many this is a matter for marriage alone, but actually is wider reaching than that, indeed in the passage before us this morning marriage isn’t the primary issue. No the unequal yoke takes in a whole spectrum of relationships and partnerships and reminds that our first loyalty is to the Lord and that our personal sanctification is essential to walking with Him and knowing Him in a deeper and more intimate way.

So, what do we mean when we speak of the unequal yoke – what is it?

I. It Is Personal – Its Relational – 2Cor 6:14a

A. The principle of the unequal yoke affects our relationships with those all around us.

1. Notice what the Scripture says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

2. This is about interpersonal relationships – it is about the limits of our fellowship.

B. We are told that we are not to be “unequally yoked”, but what does that mean?

1. Although the term appears as two words in our AV, it is actually only one word, albeit a composite term, in the original Greek.

2. The term is ‘heterozugeo” meaning “the joining of different sorts”.

a. “Hetero” means different, and “zugos” indicates a coupling.

b. And the idea of an unequal yoke comes from a farming analogy wherein two animals of differing kinds and strength are coupled together in order to plough a field, a practice which was forbidden to the Jews under the Old Testament law – see Deut 22:10.

c. The yoke is a harness which joins two animals side by side, and obviously if a stronger, more dominant animal is joined with a weaker one both animals are going to suffer, and in particular the weaker animal is going to be chaffed and damaged by the pull of the stronger.

C. In the spiritual life we are speaking about the believer forming a bond with the unbeliever.

1. That is what the text says - “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

2. The unbeliever is “apistos” in the Greek, that is one who is faithless, one who is incredulous of the things of God, one who is unbelieving and untrusting of Christ.

3. That is who is in view here, and the idea is that the Christian is not to enter into any formal arrangement any kind of binding partnership, and covenant or contract or tie with those who are in unbelief.

4. Why? Because such a relationship will prove damaging to your spiritual life.

5. You see an unequal yoke is an unbalanced relationship – in fact the term “yoke” here may also refer to the beam of a balance.

6. Now imagine an ox and a donkey being tamed together to plough a field – what is going to happen.

a. Its going to be impossible for the animals to walks a straight line, to cut a straight furrow, because the strength of the one is going to cause the other to turn aside.

b. They are at odds with each other.

c. And that is how it is in the Christian life – when we bond with an unbeliever the pull toward the world, the temptation to turn aside is going to be much stronger than if we limit our primary relationships to those who are in Christ.

II. It Is Problematic – Its Restrictive – 2Cor 6:14b-16a

A. The issue now is one of practicality – of how this actually works itself out in our lives.

1. Illus: The new believer who was instucted by the Exclusive Brethren not to eat at the same table with his unsaved family.

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