II CORINTHIANS 6:14-16: “Stop becoming unevenly yoked with unbelievers. What partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? What fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony exists between the Messiah and Beliar, or what do a believer and an unbeliever have in common? What agreement can a temple of God make with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…”
OBSERVATION: Am I a hiding my light under a basket? Jesus has called me to be both salt and light in the world. Paul views this call as living as the temple of God in our daily life. And if we are going to do this, he warns us not to become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. What does this mean?
To the audience Paul wrote this letter, this would be a common reference. It was not only a practical call, it was also a spiritual call. It hearkened back to the Old Testament teaching in Deuteronomy:
- “You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled. “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. “You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.” (Deuteronomy 22:9-11 NKJV)
The prohibitions against “mixing” were both practical and spiritual. They were reflections of the call to holiness that God had given His people (Leviticus 19:2), and they were practical realities of life intended to keep Israel from being unfruitful. Paul uses the example of unequally yoking ourselves with unbelievers, and illustrates this with four key words – partnership, fellowship, harmony, and agreement.
First, a believer is not to form a partnership with an unbeliever. The word partnership in the Greek language means – intimate participation, or fellowship. This would include marriage between a believer and an unbeliever. However, it speaks to so much more. It is not a call to judge and shun those who do not believe in Jesus Christ. We are called to pray for, love, and share the Gospel with the world! Rather, it is a call to refrain from entering into agreements, covenants, and activities in such a way that we both participate in them and by doing so approve of them. If we are pursuing righteousness, we cannot participate in lawlessness.
Second, we are exhorted not to have fellowship with darkness. The word fellowship in the Greek language means – social participation and interaction. This calls us to examine our interactions in the world. What type of activities are filling up our lives? What type of conversations and jokes do we participate in? Where are we engaging our social interaction? When we are out in a restaurant, a shopping mall, a movie, or any place where we would engage in social interaction – is our light shining brightly, or would our activities dim our light and our testimony for Jesus Christ? Wisdom and an open heart to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit is needed here! We cannot have fellowship with the darkness of the world!
Thirdly, Paul asks – what harmony does Christ have with Beliar (Satan), or what does a believer and an unbeliever have in common? The word harmony in the Greek is “symphonesis“, from which we get our world “symphony”, and means- an agreement, a concord. So, Paul is getting to the root of the matter. Is there really any agreement or concord between Jesus Christ and the enemy of our souls? The answer to this is obviously a resounding – NO! If we are truly His disciples, if we are called by His Name, then can there be any agreement or concord between our lives and those who oppose the things of God? It is interesting that Paul uses a term that we identify with music. Just as dissonance distorts the melody of a song, so any agreement with sin distorts our call to be salt and light in this world!
Finally, Paul asks – what agreement can a temple of God make with idols? The world agreement in the Greek means – approval. Can the temple of God offer approval to the worship of idols? And if we are the temple of the living God, should our lives, attitudes, words, or actions provide approval for all that opposes the name of Jesus Christ, and the supreme sacrifice He made for our lives when He died for our sins? The answer to this – is again – a resounding NO!
The Corinthians, like much of the contemporary church today, were trying to live in two worlds. They were going to church on Sunday, and living just like everyone else from Monday to Saturday. Their faith had not impacted their relationships, their activities, their attitudes, and their approvals. And our faith, if it is to be a sincere faith – it must impact all of these. We are called to live “in” the world – but not to be “of” the world! We are not to hide from sin and unbelievers. No, we are to shine brightly as we take God’s love and call to righteousness into the darkness.
Our call is not to stand in judgment, but it is to stand in distinction!
We are called to live a life that points the way to God’s Grace and reflects the continual transforming power of His love!
- “Therefore, “Get away from them and separate yourselves from them,” declares the Lord, and don’t touch anything unclean. Then I will welcome you, I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, declares the Lord11 Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:17-18)
- “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV)
Lord, grant me the grace to live as salt and light in this world – so that others may come to know Jesus Christ and find the forgiveness, love, and freedom that only He can bring!
In Jesus Name!