Monday, November 8, 2010

Be Equally Yoked

Today I want to expand on the concept of being unequally yoked.  It is a verse we commonly used in regards to dating, but it is a concept that goes well beyond dating.  Today our study is in 2 Corinthians.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV
Being unequally yoked with an unbeliever is any situation where you are partnered with or joined with an unbeliever.  There is no way to be equally yoked with an unbeliever.  This is for business, for dating, for marriage, or any other similar situation.  A Christian should not date a non-christian.  A believer should not be business partners with a nonbeliever.  A Christian should under no circumstances marry an unbeliever.  A Christian should not come together in any partnership with a nonbeliever.  There is no way it can be equal.  You may say that the other person will change or that the other person will hold to your standards, but that is not true.  You have already changed by breaking with the Will of God.  You have already shown the other that you are willing to compromise your principles by compromising the Word of God by the very fact that you are in that arrangement.

Paul goes on to give the reasons why.  You may disagree with any of these examples, but you are in reality guilty of them all if you are partnered with a nonbeliever.  Remember, by the very fact you are in the arrangement, you are already in rebellion to God's Word and Will and guilty of all that follow.  There is no way around that.  There is no compromise in the Word of God. 

First, righteousness has no fellowship with lawlessness.  In other words, as a Child of God you are righteous before God.  The nonbeliever is not.  The nonbelievers are slaves to their sins and incapable of holding to a biblical standard they do not even believe in.  In a romantic arrangement, that comes to play in that you are compromising your growth in the Lord by allowing yourself to be influenced by one who is a slave to sin.  In business, that means you are subjecting yourself to a partner who, as a slave to sin, is bound to cutting moral corners.  The fact that you have already sinned in getting into the arrangement, the moral compromise has already began.

Next is that there is no communion between light and darkness.  You, as a child of light, can not share in a relationship with a child of darkness.  If one is not in Christ, that one is a child of darkness plain and simple.  There are no children of gray.  In a dating relationship, you as a child of light are in communion with a child of darkness. That should never be!  Think about it, by joining in a romantic relationship with darkness, you are loving darkness, romancing darkness, and allowing yourself to come under the influence of darkness.  In a business relationship, are you making a deal with darkness.  You are allowing darkness into your business practices.  You are giving darkness some control over your dealings. 
And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  2 Corinthians 6:15 NKJV
Paul gets even more direct now.  First, what accord does Christ have be Belial.  In other words, what agreement can there be between Christ and demons or false gods.  There can be none.  You are in Christ, his bride, and heir with him.  A nonbeliever is a slave to sin, a believer of a demon, false god, or no god at all.  There can be no agreement.  By your disobedience to Christ, you are showing that your God means as much as the false god your lover believes in.  If you are getting married, you are allowing your future children to live in a home with Christ is compromised to the detriment of their souls.  As you compromise your values (and again you have already crossed that line), you will begin to worship the same evil that your partner does.
Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods. So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs.  Judges 3:5-7 NKJV
For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.  1 Kings 11:4 NKJV
If you disagree with the premise that your romantic non-believing partner will turn your heart away from God, you are disagreeing with the Word of God and the examples it lays out for us.  The example time and time again in Scripture is that you will end up compromising your faith.  Again, you are already compromising your faith by the very fact you are in that relationship.

In terms of business, if you wish to found your business on Christian principles, it is impossible to do so when your partner is founded in false religion or no religion at all.  There can be to accord between Christ and Belial. 

Moving along, Paul next gives the comparison of what part a believer can have with a nonbeliever.  What can you share in common with a nonbeliever if you are in a romantic relationship?  If you are truly a Christian, then your life is about conforming yourself to Christ.  If Jesus is your Lord, then Jesus is your life and everything you do in life is filtered through your faith in God.  What can you possible have in common with someone who rejects the Lord you are trying to conform yourself to? What can you have in common with someone who has no part in what defines your life?  There can be none.  If you claim to follow Jesus, you can have nothing of substance in common with a nonbeliever.  All you can have in common are those areas of your life in rebellion to God.  Being with the nonbeliever amplifies those parts of you in rebellion and diminishes whatever parts are conforming to Christ.

In a business relationship, you can be partners because you unbelieving partners rejects the very foundation of your ethic.  You can no subject your business to the guidance of Christ when your partner is in rebellion to Christ.  It will be a disastrous relationship either for your business or your spiritual life.
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."  2 Corinthians 6:16 NKJV
This is an interesting verse.  There is another case where Paul says something very similar.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.  1 Corinthians 6:15-20 NKJV
I believe that 2 Corinthians 6:16 is specifically in regards to dating.  The world does not teach a message of "wait until marriage" and even in Christian relationships, that line gets fuzzier and fuzzier.  In a relationship with a worldly person, that value is not shared and your purity will be compromised.  Sexual contact with a nonbeliever is defiling the Temple of God.  You are allowing darkness, sin, unrighteousness, and a worshiper of other gods into the temple of the Living God.  If you marry an unbeliever, you are becoming one with evil, one with darkness, one with false gods, and one with his or her slavery to sin.  You are joining something to Christ that should never be.  You are defiling the temple of God.  And there are consequences to that.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.  1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NKJV
This verse is not about God sending lightening from heaven to burn you up, but it is about spiritual consequences to your actions.  By joining with a nonbeliever, you are ruining your spirit.  You are hurting your relationship with God.  God will convict you and if you continue to harden your heart to God's conviction, God will harden your heart for you.  He will hand you over to your rebellion for the purpose of destroying your flesh and ultimately coming to repentance.  Your spirit and body belong to God as they were paid for with the blood of Christ. You have no right to join them with darkness.  You have no right to allow the joining Christ with the darkness you desire. 
Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."  2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NKJV
And now we see the advantage of following God's plan.  We are called to be separate from the world and in getting into a relationship or partnership with a nonbeliever is joining ourselves to the world.  Come out of the world, be separate from the world, do not join yourselves again to the filth God has cleansed you from, and allow God to receive you.  God will be your Father and we will be His sons and daughters.  When it comes down to it, you are making a big decision.  The choice to follow God's plan for your life and have that relationship with God as your Father or the choice to follow the lusts of your flesh and have a relationship with the world.  It is the choice between a deep spiritual relationship with God or a shallow relationship based on the flesh.  It is the choice between a relationship that will end in disaster or one that will end in glory.  If you partner with an unbeliever, two things can happen.  The first is you do have a revival in your heart for the things of God and in your rededication of your life you realize you are with someone who has nothing in common with you.  They realize the same and ultimately that relationship ends in breakup or divorce.  The other option is that you harden your heart against the Lord to the point where He hardens it for you and leaves you to your own lusts.  In business, you will either compromise your values and ultimately God will give you over to that as well.  There are many Christian business men in bankruptcy or prison wondering how they strayed so far.  The other option is if God does get a hold of you and you and your partner have entirely different ideas for business, that business will be torn in two or go out of business altogether. 

It really comes down to a matter of faith.  Do you have faith in God to believe that He knows what is best for your life or do you trust in your own flesh to know what is best?  Do you believe the Bible has the answers for your life or do you believe the world?  Do you trust the heart of God or do you trust your own heart?  If you do call yourself a Christian, that decision should have consequences in all parts of your life, even in whom you choose to partner with. 

I know so many who rebel against God in this way and they all have similar excuses.  Some compromise their definition of what a Christian is.  Some think they will win their partner for the Lord.  Some thing that they love they feel "must" be from God and so it must be God's will for them to be together.  Some think that the verse does not apply to them in some other way shape or form.  This passage leaves no room for compromise, though.  There are no loopholes.  There are no exceptions.  Do NOT be unequally yoked with a nonbeliever.  Do not bring Jesus into a sinful relationship.  Do not join the Spirit that dwells in you with sin, darkness, false gods, or unbelievers.  That is what you are doing when you try and partner the temple of God with a nonbeliever.  If you know a Christian in a relationship like this, take that person aside and in love warn them of the spiritual dangers.  You are not helping them by accepting their relationship.  You only become part of their justification for their sin and rebellion because saying nothing becomes an endorsement of their choice.  If you are in that kind of relationship, end it now before you compromise Christ even more.  Your rebellion against God shows the one you claim to love that Jesus is just as imaginary as whatever false Gods they believe in.   In other words, by being in that relationship, you are showing that the Word of God is negotiable and therefore not the Word of God.  You are showing that your values are corruptible and therefor the Spirit of God is not doing His work of sanctification.  You are showing them that you know better than your God.  They will not take a God they do not believe any more seriously than you do.  If you want to win someone for Christ, show them by your obedience.  Show them by your faith.  Show them by the power God has in your life. Don't endorse their darkness, false gods, sinfulness, and unbelief by your relationship with them. Show them the light of God's love and His power in your life by your relationship with Him. 
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."  Ephesians 5:8-14 NKJV

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