The Christian Must Be Set Apart

5 Mins read

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:14-17).

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers”

Paul begins this passage by stating a definite command for the believer not to be yoked with an unbeliever. The illustration of the yoke is taken from the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 22:10 instructs the Jews not to plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.

Much of the instruction given to the Jews in the Old Testament would have been centered on them living a sanctified life. They were to be set apart from the neighboring nations. In Deuteronomy 22:11, they were instructed not to use two different fabrics to make their garments. In Deuteronomy 22:9, they were told not to sow different types of seed in their fields.

The matter was much more significant than meets the eye. God wanted the people always to remember their need to be set apart. He wanted them to know they were to avoid being unequally yoked with unbelievers.

The yoke illustration is helpful for the Christian to ponder. A yoke united two animals in their work. However, when a believer is yoked with an unbeliever, their thoughts are divided, and they will pull in different directions.

Thus, the believer should not be yoked to someone pulling in another direction.

Elsewhere Jesus has stated that He offers His yoke to the one who is weary and heavy-laden. He offers to bear the bulk of the work when someone learns to walk with Him rather than against Him.

“for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?”

Next, Paul lists the first of his many questions to prove his point. The answer is simple, righteousness and unrighteousness are opposites; therefore, there is no fellowship. Expressing hatred is an unrighteous act.

However, showing love is a righteous act. Likewise, being prideful is an unrighteous act, but being humble is righteous. This is not to say that the Christian is never prideful and does not express hatred. However, it is to say that the Christian must place himself around those who are seeking to live a righteous life.

“and what communion hath light with darkness?”

The second of Paul’s questions cause the Christian to go even deeper. There is a great divide between the kingdom of darkness and light. The Scriptures often contrast light and dark, leaving no gray areas for the Christian to hide.

Where there is light, there is no darkness; where there is darkness, light is absent. The natural occurrence of such a phenomenon gives the Christian a marvelous illustration of the spiritual life God has called him to.

Scripture says, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:5-6). Thus, the Christian will not have fellowship with God when walking in the darkness.

“And what concord hath Christ with Belial?”

The third question Paul poses consists of contrasting Christ with Satan. There is no harmony, no agreement, between Jesus and Satan. The thoughts, goals, desires, and more of these two are at odds.

Scripture says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Deuteronomy 13:13 speaks of worthless men, literally translated as sons of Belial. Belial denotes worthlessness, and the Bible tells of these worthless men leading the Jews away to serve other gods.

“or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

The fourth question contrasts a believer with an unbeliever. Beliefs are not minor matters. Someone’s beliefs shape his whole life. A man’s beliefs will dictate the direction and course that he walks. As a result, faith is inseparably linked with action in the Bible.

For instance, Hebrews chapter 3 speaks about the Israelites in the wilderness. They rebelled against God, and as a result, they did not enter the Promised Land. They hardened their hearts and sinned against the Lord. But at the end of the chapter, it is said, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19).

The root of their problem was not so much disobedience as it was a lack of faith. If their faith were more significant, they would have obeyed the voice of God.

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”

The final question consists of the temple of God and idols. The two are at odds with each other once again. The temple of God is illustrative of true Christianity and worship. On the contrary, idols are indicative of false religion and worship.

The Christian should also show the same zeal Josiah showed for purity. Scripture says, “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest… to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem…” (2 Ki. 23:4).

More could be said about the purity of this great king, but time will not allow it. In summary, the temple of God is reserved only for the Most High God.

“for ye are the temple of the living God”

Then Paul moves to a particular point established through the New Covenant. The temple is no longer a building made by hands. Instead, the Christian is the temple of the living God. Thus, the Christian is responsible for what he allows into his temple.

The temple of God was a place of worship, holiness, and purity in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the believer is called to be holy, pure, and a place of worship unto God as well.

“as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them”

The ramifications of the Christian as the temple of God run deep. God dwells with the Christian. Scripture says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19).

Elsewhere, Paul said, “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). God has always desired to dwell with man. However, the sin of man caused God to depart on different occasions in Scripture.

Therefore God sent His Son to ensure union with the believer through the death of Jesus. The believer must show the same zeal for the temple of God that Jesus showed when He flipped over the money changers’ tables. The temple of God should never be a den for robbers or a house for idols.

“and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”

The focus of the Christian should be God first. God has called the Christian to Himself in purity. He has also made it clear throughout His Word that being unequally yoked with unbelievers will cause the believer to fall.

This does not mean the believer should have no dealings with an unbeliever. However, it does mean that his time spent with unbelievers should be ministerial.

Final prayer

Father, I thank You for setting me apart in Christ. You have set me apart; now I must walk in what You have done. Help me to glorify You in all that I do. You are worthy of my devotion and dedication. Thank You for coming to dwell with me and walk with me. May I always be concerned about keeping my temple pure. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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