Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #241 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2nd Corinthians 6 today and our focus is on Best Four Word Description of the Christian Life + What Does It Mean to Be Unequally Yoked? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
In 2nd Corinthians 6, Paul gives us a spot on description of what Christian leaders should be like, and in the midst of that wonderful description, he gives what I have previously called the best four word description of a Christian in the Bible. Disclaimer: this is my opinion only, but these four words capture the essence so well of what it means to be a Christian:
grieving, yet always rejoicing 2nd Corinthians 10:6
Isn’t it interesting to hear such a description from the apostle Paul – one of the most mature Christians to ever live, and somebody who was called to ministry face to face by Jesus. This seems quite different in tone and content than what many prosperity teachers and preachers proclaim, and much more true to life. Jesus was a man of great joy, but also a man of sorrows. Paul saw many incredible triumphs and mountaintops, but also suffered through incredibly extreme difficulties. In this world we will have tribulation, and thus be often sorrowful, but take heart, says Jesus, He has overcome the world, and thus we are always rejoicing, because no matter what tribulation we encounter in this fallen world, we know that eternal and joyful bliss awaits on the other side, thanks to Jesus.
Here is a verse that is oft quoted:
14 Do not be yoked together with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…2nd Corinthians 6:14-16
Does Paul here mean that Christians should not have anything to do with those who aren’t Christians? Of course not, as we can see from other commands, such as:
9 I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 10 I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10
So here Paul even seems to urge Christians that it is okay to associate with obviously sinful people in the world – we are not at all commanded to withdraw and take a sort of puritanical, circle the wagons approach that keeps us from having any contact with the non-Christian world. But, God’s Word is commanding us to do something today, and it is a strong and obvious command – we can not be yoked together with those who do not believe. What can that mean? Let’s think about it as we read our chapter.
Yoked is not a word we encounter much in our modern world, but it refers to two or more animals harnessed and working together. Paul is speaking metaphorically here, of course, but what is he forbidding? A marriage? Business partnership? Working with non believers? Here’s pastor Sam Storms with some excellent and Scripture soaked thoughts on this question:
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14a). One hears people quote this passage almost as often as John 3:16, but with considerably less clarity and understanding. What does Paul have in mind? What is the background to his exhortation, and how does it apply to us in the twenty-first century?The situation in view was not a new one for Paul, having addressed it earlier in 1 Corinthians 6:12–20 and 8:1–11:1. Some professing Christians in Corinth were visiting the temple cults of any number of the pagan religions in the city, perhaps even engaging in the sexual activities (temple prostitutes, etc.) associated with their “worship”.This problem was most likely the reason for Paul’s emergency second visit to Corinth and the follow-up “Severe Letter” (see 2 Cor. 2:1–4; 10:1–6; 12:20–13:2). Therefore, the “unbelievers” that he describes in this passage were unconverted Gentiles who were involved in worship at the Greco-Roman mystery cults of Corinth (cf. the use of the word in 2 Cor. 4:4). His command, then, would be for Christian men and women to withdraw from such unholy and immoral alliances. But does the principle behind the imperative extend to other issues that we face today? Yes, but we must proceed cautiously in our application.Although Paul is not writing about marriage in this text, certainly the principle would prohibit a Christian entering into such a covenant with a non-Christian (1 Cor. 7:12–15, 39). Just as we are commanded not to put asunder what God has joined together, we must be diligent not to join together what God has put asunder!Sadly, though, some have applied this passage in ways that Paul never sanctioned and that would, in effect, make it difficult even to live, much less work, in a secular society.For example, there’s no indication that…Paul is forbidding or condemning business relations with non-Christians. Whereas I believe it is biblically permissible (necessary?) to do business with a non-Christian, entering into a legal partnership with one calls for discernment and caution.Paul is in no way forbidding or condemning friendship with non-Christians. If anything, I believe he would encourage them. But even then, how close is too close when it comes to fellowship with the unregenerate?There is certainly nothing here that would forbid or condemn association and cooperation with other Christians who may disagree with you on secondary issues (contra the attitude in much of early Fundamentalism in western religious culture). And contrary to what some have suggested, if two unbelievers marry and one subsequently comes to faith, he is not instructing the latter to terminate the relationship (see 1 Cor. 7:12–15).As far as contemporary application is concerned, the separation Paul has in mind between Christians and non-Christians is spiritual and moral, not spatial. The principle is this: enter into no relationship or bond or partnership or endeavor that will compromise your Christian integrity or weaken your will for holiness or cast a shadow on your reputation (see James 4:4–5).…Those committed to righteousness have no partnership with people given to lawlessness. Those who live in the light of God’s revelation are not to be yoked with those who walk in spiritual and moral darkness. Quite obviously, Christ and the devil agree on nothing and have no harmony with one another.Likewise, a believer and non-believer share no spiritual common ground. As Philip Hughes has said,“The unbeliever’s life is centered on self, the believer’s on Christ; the treasure of the one is here on earth, of the other in heaven; the values of the one are those of this world, of the other those of the world to come; the believer seeks the glory of God, the unbeliever the glory of men” (251).However, Paul is not denying our common humanity or suggesting that there is literally nothing that we share. As Calvin wisely reminds us, “when Paul says that the Christian has no portion with the unbeliever he is not referring to food, clothing, estates, the sun, and the air, … but to those things which are peculiar to unbelievers, from which the Lord has separated us.”Finally, if the OT prohibited the introduction of idols into the temple of God, how much more horrendous is idolatry in the life of the believer (v. 16a)! Are we not ourselves the only temple in which God shall ever dwell (see 1 Cor. 3:16–17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16b; Eph. 2:20–22; 1 Peter 2:5)? Yes!…What is most important to remember, then, is that this is “not a call to create a Christian ghetto, but a summons to purify the Christian community. Paul does not have in view the life of the church in the world, but the life of the world in the church” (Hafemann, 292). The former is both good and inevitable. The latter must be avoided at all costs.Sam Storms, Biblical Studies: Meditations on 2 Corinthians (Edmond, OK: Sam Storms, 2016), 2 Co 6:14–16a.
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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