A PASSION FOR HOLINESS
Lord, keep me from falling into any form of idolatry.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 6:14—7:1
Warning Against Idolatry
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[a]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. 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.”[b]
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”[c]
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”[d]
7 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
a 2 Corinthians 6:15 Greek Beliar, a variant of Belial
b 2 Corinthians 6:16 Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27
c 2 Corinthians 6:17 Isaiah 52:11; Ezek. 20:34,41
d 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Samuel 7:14; 7:8
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty” (Isa. 6:3). Worship God for the beauty of his holiness (e.g., Psa. 29:2, AV).
Our passage today constitutes a ringing call to holiness. It contains several phrases, especially “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” and “Come out from them and be separate” (6:14,17), which are well-known to many Christians. However, these sayings can be misinterpreted and skew our idea of what holiness actually constitutes. We might think we need to withdraw altogether from unbelievers, but this is not Paul’s view, as the Corinthians already know (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9,10; 7:12–15; 10:27; 14:22–24). Indeed, God himself has come to us in Jesus, living among people full of sin and shame, touching our brokenness and bringing salvation (16). If holiness is essentially Christlikeness, then withdrawal from the world cannot be the way forward, for this contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture and the very actions of God himself.
What do these verses teach us? Paul Barnett declares that, in context, “the passage is a specific call for separation from the temple cults of Corinth,” cults that would have involved both “idolatry and temple prostitution” (Paul Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 341,347). Sexual impurity obviously must be avoided. Failure to do so misuses God’s wonderful gift bestowed upon us to enjoy in Christian marriage. We might think that idolatry, the other issue in Corinth, does not apply to us, but an idol is anything or anyone which takes the place of our Lord in our hearts. Money and career are just two of the things that can become our gods. Neither one is bad in itself, yet we can pursue both selfishly, becoming mired in consumerism or self-centered ambition. We may come to virtually worship them and relegate God to second place. Consequently, we become more like those around us, instead of fulfilling our mandate to be Good-News people who announce and embody a different way of living. May God give us a real passion for biblical, Christ-centered holiness.
Are there idols in your life you need to tear down? Spend time in confession and ask God for strength to worship him alone.
Lord, we have come out from among them, as You have commanded. Teach us what it means to be separate from a world in which we are inextricably involved.