The Separation of Church and World: It’s No Yoke
(God’s Rules of Order - Not Robert’s)
July 21, 1996
Scripture: 2Cor. 6:14-7:1
Illustration: The Smoking Tennis Player
Ever since mankind fell from grace in the Garden of Eden, he has been in an identity crisis.
Eve had believed Satan’s lie about who God was, therefore believing the lie about who she was.
God has been in the business of trying to restore mankind to his rightful position and purpose for which he was created ever since.
It is this identity crisis which keeps us in sin even when we know the truth as Christians. We hear the truth but we don’t think it really applies to us. We still believe the lie Satan tells us about God (who is holy) and therefore about us (who are also holy).
Illustration: Who am I?
If we really believed these truths from God’s Word would we ever sin, or even be able to? The time will come when this will be true, when we will “know fully even as we are fully known.”
It is here that Paul lovingly exhorts the Corinthians to consider their true identity as Christians rather than idol worshippers within which culture they still live.
Pr 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
We have heard and believe in the democratic principle of separation of church and state. In practice, as this concept was designed in our constitution, it means government has no right to interfere with the practice of legitimate religion but that religion has every right and responsibility to bring morality and ethics to bear upon government. In other words, the church must influence, but not be influenced by, government.
In the same way, Christians in the world must bring salt and light to the world without becoming infected by the decay and darkness of the world. In short, we are to be in the world but not of the world.
The Corinthian church is a worldly church with worldly people and practices. The struggle with their identity is immense. The church and its people should not operate on worldly principle. We should stand apart as identifiably different even while within the world.
We have an identity crisis going on today as well. Every one is struggling to know just who they are: culturally, ethnically, professionally, sexually, religiously. We separate out into groups more and more narrowly defined. Now for any particular item in the store we have a hundred flavors and the diversity is growing. The malls have one shop for cookies, one for coffee, one for popcorn, one for orange juice, etc. There is a danger even within Christianity. We have a bible for blacks, one for seniors, one for women, one for men, one for youth, one for children, one for those in recovery, one for those in marriage, one for singles. Where in the world is our identity in Christ alone?
Paul begins back in 2Cor. 5:17 to tell them they are “new creations.” In v. 20 he tells them to be “reconciled” to God, in v. 21 that this is possible because of the “righteousness” of Christ, which in 6:1 we are not to receive “in vain,” and in v. 2 to apply “now.” The Corinthians have opposed Paul’s ministry to them and in vv. 3-13 he explains and justifies what he and others have gone through for them. He is jealous for God for them. In v. 14ff he breaks of with an exhortation telling them not to be “yoked” together with the unbelieving idol worshipping culture and its people, but with the people and purpose of God, to whom they belong, and which Paul and his fellow workers represent. In 7:1 he sums it up and in 7:2 he resumes his personal justification to them.
We must be cautioned that this passage does not justify believers separating from other believers (in the sense of not having anything to do with them) presumably on the basis of minor doctrinal differences, but of believers not forming any associations with unbelievers which will infect their walk or their witness. (It may remain for us to research the definition of a believer, while trying to answer the question of how far afield one can go and still be termed a believer.)
We are reminded of the following passage:
1Cor. 5:9 ¶ I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people--
10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.
The church is in the business of restoring sinners to God, either those coming out of the world or those seekers who have gone back into the world. We should not bar sinners from our church except those who blatantly refuse to repent, in which case they are to be turned out into the world for discipline so they will see its horror and repent and come back to the family of God with tears and weeping for having crucified the Son of God all over again. The road back is long and hard but possible. There is no “easy believism.”
1Cor.5:4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,
5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?
2Cor.2:6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.
7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
Heb.6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,
5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age,
6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
We are cautioned not to reject unbelievers, but we are to be careful not to become as they are.
Jude 22 Be merciful to those who doubt;
23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-- hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Gal. 6:1 ¶ Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
We should also be on guard not to fall into any pride or worship of any separatism we may hold to. Separation does not imply that we are better, just that we are set apart. The rest of the above passage tells us we should restore others but not compare ourselves with them. We carry our own load when we test our actions against God and not others.
Gal. 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
5 for each one should carry his own load.
I. The Instruction: God’s motion in the form of an exhortation needs no second.
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
Deut. 22:9 Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled.
10 Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.
11 Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.
Deut. 7:1 ¶ When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations-- the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you--
2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.
3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons,
4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.
6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
Ezra 10:2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel.
3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law.
1Cor. 7:39 ¶ A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
II. The Question(s): the floor is open for discussion but the questions are all rhetorical with implied answers (no).
A. Righteousness in opposition to wickedness.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
1. The Christian’s identity is with righteousness.
2. The unbeliever’s identity is with wickedness.
Mt. 25:31 ¶ "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
B. Light in opposition to darkness.
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
1. The Christian’s identity is with light.
2. The unbeliever’s identity is with darkness.
1John 1:5 ¶ This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
C. Christ in opposition to Satan.
15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
1. The Christian’s identity is with Christ.
2. The unbeliever’s identity is with Satan.
John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
D. Believer in opposition to unbeliever.
What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
1. The Christian’s identity is with other believers.
2. The unbeliever’s identity is with other unbelievers.
1John 1:3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
Heb.10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
E. Temple of the Living God in opposition to idols.
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
1. The Christian’s identity is with God.
2. The unbeliever’s identity is with idols (any worship that is not of God is idol worship even if there is no visible image).
3. This 5th question reveals the best clue to Paul’s intent in the passage.
Eph. 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-- such a man is an idolater-- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
III. The Affirmation: God’s sovereign vote on the issue.
For we are the temple of the living God.
1Cor. 3:16 ¶ Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?
17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
1Cor. 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Eph. 2:21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Rev. 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Rev. 7:13 ¶ Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes-- who are they, and where did they come from?"
14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
IV. The Reference: God’s justification from His own written Word.
As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
17 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.
Illustration: Resting on His Power
Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
18 "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
V. The Conclusion: Paul’s second to God’s motion which has been made, discussed, affirmed, and justified.
A. Our possession:
1 ¶ Since we have these promises, dear friends,
B. Our purpose:
let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
Illustration: Clean in a Dirty Place
C. Our paradigm:
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
1. “Perfecting holiness”: personal sanctification demands
Heb. 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
2. “Reverence for God”: the fear of God is the regulating standard.
Illustration: Paradigm Shift
Illustration: In the World, but not of the World
Illustration: Standing Alone
“Separate yourself from the world and find yourself separated unto God.”
It’s No Yoke!