Subject: Called out
Text: 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Rev. Kelly R. Jackson
3 Thoughts to consider:
1. Separate and unequal
2. Unholy associations
3. Being received by The Master
This second letter written to the church at Corinth was in part addressing some issues that we still see in the church and in its members today. We often assume that what was written thousands of years ago in the Bible has no bearing on us today. But consider the church at Corinth and what was going on. There was envy, strife, backbiting, arguing and sins of the flesh. How is that any different than what we see on Sunday mornings?
We have to stop looking at the walls of the church and look at the infrastructure. The church still has issues because we still have issues. The people are the church and if we’re broken, the church is broken. What’s worse is the fact that we embrace being broken. We often attempt to use scripture to justify shoddy Christian living. “God knows my heart”, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”, etc. We’re aware that we’re consistently under construction, but nothing ever gets done. That’s not God’s fault, that’s our fault.
Let’s look at some scripture that puts the onus on every Christian to come out from a sinful life and sinful associations, and embrace what God has called us to.
Separate and unequal
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?
During the civil rights movement, rather than fully integrating with Blacks, whites offered separate but equal facilities, schools, restaurants, etc. However, what they offered was anything but equal. The facilities were unsanitary and often deplorable. The fact that they had to be separate suggested that they wouldn’t be equal. Such is the life that Christians are called to live by God. We are called out of the world to be separate because we aren’t equal to the world. The world’s condition is unsanitary and deplorable.
This verse has often been used to keep Christians from marrying the wrong people. In matrimony, the saved aren’t to even consider someone that doesn’t believe in and acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. However, this verse actually is an instruction for all of our relationships as Christians. Our love life, our friendships and even our family relationships are addressed here.
The word “yoked” in this text means to be joined. God doesn’t want us unnecessarily mixing with those that are in conflict with how we’re called to live. Now, this isn’t a call to be spiritually proud or uppity. God doesn’t want us looking down our noses at people, but rather we are to remain humble when dealing with the unsaved. We must remember that we were once like them. Though we may still love our lost brothers and sisters, we must learn to love from a distance.
If we consider what light does, it casts out darkness. Even a candle in the darkest of night can be seen. Therefore, when we become children of the light, we can no longer exist where darkness is because we will shine. Also, if we continue to dabble in our old ways and with those that are living in those ways, we can be overtaken again. This is where the humility of this verse comes in. Avoid fellowship with the unsaved, lest you fall. Avoid fellowship with the unsaved lest you cause someone else to stumble because you have become their spiritual role model.
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 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
Verse 15 continues on with the questions of why we would continue associations with people in our former lives. What concord has Christ with Belial, which is another name for Satan or something wicked. The Apostle Paul also asks why we would associate with an infidel. These sound like harsh words, but what would you consider someone that is in disagreement with our heavenly cause? And why would we call ourselves Christians and continue spending so much time with people that aren’t, unless we were trying to convert them?
Let’s be clear, anyone or anything that is against God, the church or the harmony of the church is evil, according to the Word of God. Looking at Verse 16, the Apostle Paul asks us why there are idols within our churches, and even our lives. Where are the idols in church today? Well, we make idols of people in positions, we elevate the music ministry above the ministry of the Word of God and, dare I say, we make idols of the preachers. This is an offense to God and something that needs to be addressed.
Continuing with Verse 16, Paul says “ye are the temple of the living God”. This speaks to the individual body and the collective body of Christ that is the church. When God is saying that He will “dwell in them” and “walk in them”, He saying that He wants to live within us and among us. But the question remains, can God dwell in the church if we continue to yield to the whims of the unholy?
Once we fully acknowledge God for who He is and allow Him full control of our lives, and thus the church, this 16th Verse says we shall be His people. We can fix our churches by driving out certain unholy behaviors. If we can’t drive the behavior out of the people, they we need to drive the unholy people out. Again, this may seem harsh, but it’s scripturally based (Matthew 18:15-18, Titus 3:10-11). God doesn’t expect us to allow the devil to set up shop in the sanctuary and just deal with him. We are to drive his spirit away, and if a person insists on bringing that spirit into our congregation regularly, we are to drive that person out.
Being received by The Master
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith The Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you
If you’ve ever been a child dressed in your Sunday best by your parents, you know what instructions usually followed: Don’t go out and get dirty! God is no different when He cleans us up. Once He’s done that marvelous redemptive work on us and in us, He doesn’t want us going back to our old ways, our old friends and down old paths. He wants us changed!
In order to be received by God, we must be cleansed. This can only be done through the blood of Jesus. It’s not Rev. Jackson that’s telling you to be separate from those things and people that used to influence you in the wrong ways. It’s the Word of God.
What is the unclean thing? That would be anything or anyone that comes against the Spirit of the living God. It would be anything or anyone that has you yielding to the flesh and denying the spirit. And just because you’ve known a person for years and have been fellow church members forever doesn’t mean that they’re on The Lord’s side. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you a spirit of discernment, particularly with old friends and family because that’s a soft spot with us and it’s exactly where the devil likes to attack us.
Again, this isn’t to suggest that we become spiritually arrogant. It’s not to suggest that we don’t speak to people, aren’t polite to people or don’t show love to people. We should show the love of Christ to everyone, even our enemies. But God wants the individual Christian and the collective Christians to separate themselves from ungodliness. Drive it out of your home, drive it out of your life and drive it out of the church, all with the Word of God, so that we may be received by God.
One of the difficulties of being saved is letting go of some things of the past. Let’s be real, the devil makes sin fun. When we’re in the world, we do a lot of things that are enjoyable to the flesh. This is why the saved man is to deny his flesh and live in the spirit. This is what real fasting and praying is about, but that’s another blog for another day. Once we begin living in the spirit as God has called us to, then we can see that some things, some people and some relationships are no longer profitable for us.
Another difficulty of being called out by God is dealing with some of the current and longstanding relationships that we have. I’m often imploring people to examine their friendships and family connections once they’ve accepted Christ. It’s easy to hold on to people that aren’t saved because you love them and you’ve been connected for such a long time. However, we must love no one above God and we must trust no word above His. If He’s called you out from that way of life and the people you love are still in it, you’ve got to let them go.
Lastly, we can’t compromise our Christianity. Look at Psalms 1:1: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful”. God is telling us that there is a blessing in keeping clear of the sinful. There is no exception made in the scripture for 30 year friendships or your favorite cousin. If they aren’t walking in the path of the saved, they’re no good for you. We’re making too many concessions for Satan and we’re assuming that it’s okay to maintain a relationship with worldly people as long as we’re not discussing “religion”. Jesus says in Luke 9:26 that if we’re ashamed of Him here, He will be ashamed of us in Heaven. Therefore, we should be the Christians of Romans 1:16, not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
We are called out by Christ. He gave His life for us. What are we willing to give up for Him?