IN STEP WITH GOD
God, my Father, this day is yours. I ask for your watchfulness over me. Help me to find you throughout the day.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 6:14 - 7:2
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.
Paul’s Joy Over the Church’s Repentance
2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one.
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.
‘Although the whole world is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’1
When we compare 6:13 with 7:2, the intervening parts of today’s passage appear to interrupt Paul’s appeal for reconciliation. It is widely thought, therefore, that this is an inserted fragment of another letter, possibly from an earlier one Paul wrote, now lost.2 This is plausible (although only a theory), in that the theme has to do with separation and Paul thinks he may have been misunderstood.
Certainly these verses are about separating from evil practices and persons. The emphasis is binary: there is nothing in common between righteousness and wickedness, light and darkness, Christ and Belial (a word for ‘worthlessness’, possibly meaning the devil), the temple of God and idols (vs 14– 16). The logic and the outcome are clear: Don’t go there! We are called to be holy, to keep in step with God and to be God’s alone (v 16). In certain areas there can be no compromise between good and evil. ‘Cut it out’ is the appropriate response. This can be misunderstood, however. Although some Christians are too quick to compromise, their example has led others to go too far the other way, to drastic forms of separation and the refusal to participate in aspects of social life that are in themselves wholesome or morally neutral, activities where Christians might be salt and light.3 This may be the significance of 1 Corinthians 5:9–13, where Paul clarifies what he did or did not mean by his advice. Withdrawal from society was not on his agenda.
For most of us this is not the problem. Rather, we might succumb to the subtle pressures that society and commerce impose upon us. ‘Purity’ (see 6:6) is not a popular word in our world, seen as old- fashioned, to say the least. Perhaps it is time to reinstate it.
‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me … I will teach … so that sinners will turn back to you.’4
Merciful Lord, it is so easy to go along to get along. Keep me alert to subtle compromises I may be tempted to make. Let me be a light for you in dark places.
1 Exod 19:5,6 2 1 Cor 5:9 3 Matt 5:13–16 4 Ps 51:10,13
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.