2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
In Consecrated part 1, we revealed our need for holiness and our call to holiness through grace. In part 2 we looked at holiness as the result of faith in our position in Christ. We become holy as we believe we are holy.
So where does that leave us? Is our holiness strictly passive? Or is there something to do, or to not do?
Paul’s admonition to us in 6:14 is to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. The metaphor comes from putting an ox together with a donkey in a yoke to plow your field. This was forbidden in the Mosaic Law. Why? Because God created things for specific purposes. Oxen and donkeys aren’t designed to work together. In the same way, Christians have a unique purpose, a gospel purpose. We have a different purpose than an unbeliever. Unlike unbelievers, we are ministers of reconciliation.
In what way were the Corinthians yoked to unbelievers? Some see it as their continued involvement in the pagan temples. Eating, worshipping idols, and contributing funds. Others see the opposite here. The unbelievers are those Judaizers that opposed Paul and his gospel. The ones who kept the Corinthians from having an open heart toward Paul.
In either case, the Corinthian Christians were not acting as reconcilers to Christ and his grace. They weren’t holy. You can’t yoke grace and law. When you do, you sacrifice holiness. Like an ox and a donkey, you can’t hitch them both to your heart and expect to be holy. Only one of those two things will produce holiness, and it isn’t law.
The question is, “If I am going to be consecrated to holiness, does this affect my relationships, and how?”
You are designed to be a reconciler unto grace. You are an ambassador of Christ. Therefore, Any relationship that causes you take on a controlling identity other than Christ’s grace is to be avoided.
Paul is not talking about our casual relationships or even our relationships outside of the church. He is not talking about avoiding all those who are not Christians (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). More likely, he is warning us about those within the church who are actually unbelievers bent on a false gospel. Those that would destroy our holiness by mixing grace with law.
Our consecration to holiness does not include moving to some sort of Christian ghetto, where we only eat with Christians, in Christian restaurants, watching Christian movies, at Christian theaters, playing on Christian softball teams, and using Christian contractors to fix our Christian houses that we bought from Christian realtors (you get my point).
It is a call to keep anything from stealing our identity in Christ. Does playing on a softball team yoke me to that team? Yes, it does. But does it become my controlling identity? Well, that’s up to you. Does being a Republican or Democrat yoke me to that political party? Does it change my identity? Does it control me? Is it a “law” that replaces grace?
The more imminent danger for us Christians comes from within the church itself. Teachers, doctrines, books, curricula, those “Christian” movies, these all can steal our holiness by stealing our “need” for grace. We find our comfort in a tradition, or a devotional, or a personality, rather than finding it in the grace of Jesus.
Consecration then takes us back to this place of resting in grace. It takes us back to faith in our union with Christ. It takes us back to “to live is Christ.” And it takes us away from those unbelievers that masquerade as light but they are actually darkness.
Can you identify anyone or any group that is robbing you of your identity in Christ? do any of your relationships replace God’s grace in your life? Are you discerning as to what “believers” you listen to? How can union with Christ allow you to be a minister of reconciliation to unbelievers, while guarding your own identity in Christ?
It all comes down to another example of BE WHAT YOU ARE. You have passively, by faith, been placed into fellowship with Christ. Now, actively, by faith, live out your partnership with Christ. To partner your life with anything else is to be unequally yoked.