09 February 2011

Do Not Be Yoked Together With Unbelievers

The following was written by Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries:


Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
So What Does A Believer Have In Common With An Unbeliever?
Well, this would seem clear enough; but unfortunately, not so today because evangelicalism decided to embrace the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church aka the Emerging Church—with its “big tent”Progressive Christianity aka Emergence Christianity. So here we’ll look briefly at 2 Corinthians 6 as it concerns the historic context of this important passage of the Bible. The following commentary on our text from Dr. Murray Harris is a good place to start:
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (v. 14a). Clearly this is not an injunction against all association with unbelievers (cf. 1Cor 5:9, 10, 10:27). Paul actually encouraged the Christian partner in a mixed marriage to maintain the relationship as long as possible (1Cor 7:12-16). Rather, this is a prohibition against forming close attachments with non-Christians.
Paul’s agricultural metaphor (“You must not get into double harness with unbelievers”—C.K. Barrett) is based on the command of Deuteronomy 22:10 that prohibited the yoking of an ox and an ass for ploughing, and also on Leviticus 19:19 where the crossbreeding of animals of different species is prohibited. Although precisely what might have constituted a “diverse yoke” or “double harness” for the Corinthians remains unstated, it clearly involved compromise with heathendom,… Paul is content to state a general principle that needs specific application under the Spirit’s guidance.
In expanded form the principle might be expressed thus: “Do not form any relationship, whether temporary or permanent, with unbelievers that would lead to a compromise of Christian standards or jeopardize consistency of Christian witness. And why such separation? Because the unbeliever does not share the Christian’s standards, sympathies, or goals” …[1]
This passage will also have an obvious spiritual application, which should become even more evident now through the scholarly commentary of Dr. Harris. Consistent with what Christ Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:22 —“The eye is the lamp of the body,” the more spiritually mature will understand that anything you allow into your life on a regular basis, which would grieve the Holy Spirit, will have adverse effects on you. You might recall 1 Corinthians 15:33 — Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” where God shows us that even an unregenerate pagan understood this.
And if the Lord’s warnings are ignored, then know this: You will also open yourself up to further spiritual blindness and possibly even demonic oppression. The fact that Paul is simply using physical “marriage” to also illustrate a spiritual principle as well is obvious even to the rather conservative dispensational camp, who are certainly not known for any kind of radical spiritual excesses. By the way, my comment is simply to make a point concerning proper understanding of this passage, and is meant respectfully for my more dispensational brothers, with whom I happen to have much affinity.
Here’s what Dr. David Lowery says in The Bible Knowledge Commentary put out by Dallas Theological Seminary, an organization known for its conservative/dispensational theology:
What hampered the Corinthians’ open, loving response, which Paul called for? (v.13) Answer: rival suitors vied for their affections and allegiance. Though verses 14-15 are often applied to various sorts of alliances (e.g., mixed marriages, improper business associations), Paul’s primary association was probably ecclesiastical. The rival suitors were possibly pagan idolators (cf. 1 Cor.10:14) or more likely false apostles (cf. 2 Cor. 11:2-4). In censure or affection Paul was equally candid (cf. 6:11).
The solution to the dilemma was for the Corinthians to separate from the false apostles. Whatever may have been their own and others’ estimation of their spiritual status, Paul considered the false apostles to be unbelievers (cf.11:13-15) from whom the Corinthians needed to separate. But Paul did not say that Christian should have no contacts whatever with unbelievers. Earlier he argued the absurdity of such a position (1 Cor. 5:9-10). But religious unbelievers might lead believers astray from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3), and the fact concerned Paul greatly.[2]
What needs to be clearly understood here is this: Whatever one believes in—whether it’s a false god, i.e. demons such as in Islam, or no god at all, as in secular humanism—that belief system is your religion. It brings me no pleasure to have to tell you that we are, right now, likely at the beginning of an end. To be clear, I do not claim to know exactly what it is that has ended. Could it possibly be the end of the Age of Grace itself; God knows, but this much is certain, we are at the end of our Lord’s patience with what’s passing as Christianity—and especially so—here in amoral America.
And if you listen closely, then you will hear the call from men actually sent by God as Christ is now giving over the evangelical section of the visible church to their love of the self here in this pagan postmodern nation; an apostasy, which is spiritually spreading  just as explosively as an Oklahoma wildfire:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
“For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?” … For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (Jeremiah 23:16-18; 1 Peter 4:17)
[1]  Murray Harris, 2 Corinthians, in Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992], 359,  ,emphasis added).
[2] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 2 vols., [Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries, 2000], 570, bold his.

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