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It is often argued that we should stay in the midst of churches and bodies whose sins and follies we deplore, in the hope of saving them for God and mankind. Such reasoning has a good deal of force in the first stages of decline. A strong protest may arrest error and stop the … More

Separation

Paul is saying to his friends in Corinth, that there is nothing holding back on our love for you, but you are holding back on your love for us (vv. 11-12). He goes on to say, “I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children (v. 13). Open your hearts to us!"

Separation from the ungodly is a basic Bible doctrine. These verses are often applied to various sorts of alliances such as mixed marriages, improper business associations and religious fellowship (vv. 14-15). The idea of the unequal yoke comes from Deuteronomy 22:10 where it says “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.” To the Jew an ox was a clean animal and the ass wasn’t; and it was wrong to yoke them together (Deuteronomy 14:1-8). Paul  is saying that in the same way, it is wrong  for believers to be yoked together with unbelievers. He goes on to ask, what union can there be between God’s temple and idols (vv. 16-18)? For we are the temple of the living God.

It is unfortunate that  this important doctrine of separation has been so misunderstood and abused in recent years. On the one hand some sincerely zealous Christians have turned separation into isolation. They have restricted their association and fellowship to the point where they are fellowshiping in a phone booth and they cannot even get along with themselves. On  the other hand, in reaction to this extreme position, other believers have torn down all the walls and will fellowship with anybody, regardless of what he believes or how he lives.

Application

In light of Paul’s counsel, what relationships with others, if any, do I need to change?  I must be sure that I am always turning away from sin, not people, and turning to God in everything I do.

II Corinthians 6:11-18 (English Standard Version)

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 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. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »

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