The Nature of Christian Separation5 min read
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
It is nice to look at a passage of Scripture such as this one and see that it has extremely practical and straightforward truths for us to apply to our hearts. The topic before us which must be applied is Christian separation. We will look at it in two parts: (1) The nature of Christian separation and (2) the Purpose for Christian separation.
When dealing with the nature of Christian separation, we must understand the concept of a yoke. It was, in natural terms, used in farming; and when it came to tending a field, two oxen would be yoked together by a type of wooden harness so that they could in strength and unity go forward to produce fruitfulness for the farmer who placed the yoke upon them. Now, at times there would be one ox that was weaker than the other, and because of the yoke, he held the stronger one back. But on the farmer’s part, the yoke shows his dominion over his animals.
On the spiritual side of this, we must understand the picture from both the “farmer’s” and the “oxen’s” perspective. The Lord Jesus is the Divine Farmer who says “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me … for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” We have been brought from under the bondage (yoke / slavery) of sin into being bond-slaves for Christ under a “load of grace.” And so, having His yoke upon us means that we are no longer compatible with the unregenerate sinner: we have different tasks, different loads, different masters, etc. We cannot be yoked together! What happens when we are is that the unbeliever (as if the weaker ox) will hold us back from fruitfulness for God – and this is always detrimental. Therefore, we should not seek greatness in the Devil’s domain (the world) with the servants of the Devil while neglecting God’s people – that is an unequal yoke – but rather we should seek to be great as servants in God’s assembly, that is, amongst those whom we are compatible with.
Paul then continues to give various contrasts between a certain aspect of Christian living and its opposite. He shows us in this just how unequal the yoke really is between believers and unbelievers. The two are diametrically opposed. These are brief descriptions of what godliness means as seen by Paul’s list:
Righteousness. As believers, we are declared righteous (justified) by faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what our yoke includes, because we now identify with the Saviour’s Person. But contrast that with the exact opposite: unrighteousness. Let alone the fact that our nature and the world’s nature are totally opposed to each other, we must not be joined in a yoke because we do not have any compatibility – the world is unrighteous. They have no genuine care for the things of God. They have no genuine appreciation for the Lord Jesus. They have no true sense of morality, and this is all seen in that many are now saying truth is relative. If we are yoked together with these unbelievers, it is not far-fetched to imagine what will happen. Our level of morality will fade. Out sensitivity to sin will diminish. Our testimony will be maligned. All this, because of an unequal yoke.
Light. While on earth, the Lord Jesus called Himself the Light of the World; He also said “He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” He also said that we are the light of the world, because He needs representatives of Himself to shine the light of the glorious gospel into the darkened heart of man while He is in Heaven. This speaks to us of the importance of testimony and evangelism. An unequal yoke with darkness will dilute the gospel message, method, and messengers to simply become dull professors of the faith. But wait, this is happening today. We are in an unequal yoke!
Christ. As mentioned earlier, we are representatives of Christ and are therefore identified with Him. The contrast between Christ and the Devil (Belial) certainly adds solemnity to this issue of Christian separation, because it implies that when we enjoin ourselves in a yoke with the world we declare that Christ has agreement with the Devil, when such is far from the Truth! Hare dare we think that we are so wise to properly dabble in sin without being hurt when we are really naïve and oblivious to the reality of the spiritual realm of warfare. How dare we compromise what Christ means to us! These matters are not light matters. So much more than we can comprehend is included in an unequal yoke.
Belief. Here is one of the obvious contrasts: we believe, while the world rejects the Christian faith. Do we understand what we did at conversion? We repented of our sins, and we rested everything upon the Person of Christ. We turned our back on the world. “Turned to God from idols.” And so, Paul rightly said “What part do you have with unbelievers?” We have no part with them. We have no identity with them. When we do, we minimize the value of Christ’s death and the importance of faith. We pretend being a believer is just a name game. We pretend God has not called us to repent. How dare we pretend that what Christ bought with His own blood is just another belief! We must not be unequally yoked.
The Temple of God. This brings in the local assembly – the people amongst whom God presences Himself; and it is contrasted with idolatry. The world has many versions of who they would like God to be, and yet in this they exalt man’s intellect over God’s revelation: they insult God. This is idolatry. Have we not been called away from that? Have we not learned to grant God preeminence.