2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
In the days of Paul, the Church in Corinth had problems. These problems were spiritual ones: The members had allowed the world to come in their daily lives. They were not living like Christians. There was compromise with sin and they were not growing spiritually.
Apostle Paul gave two important reasons for the need to be separate:
1. A Matter of Principle (vss. 14-16)
It is a basic principle of life that opposites cannot fellowship together. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, we read: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”
These Corinthians were yoking themselves with unbelievers in marriage, social life, business life and in other ways, and they were losing their testimonies for Christ. They were tolerating sin in their homes and in the church.
Let’s pay attention to Paul’s words: “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 4:18)
“Some of you have become arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 5:1)
“You are suing fellow believers.” (1 Corinthians 6:6-7)
“You are grumbling (murmuring), getting drunk” and so on…
If the Christian lives like the world does, how can he or she witness to the world? And if he or she is not reflecting Christ in his or her life, what makes this Christian any different from a non-Christian?
What Paul wrote to the Corinthians, then, applies to all Christians everywhere. The attitude of too many Christians today is that the Church must court with and please the world and be politically correct in order to win the world. But nothing could be further from the truth!
The Bible says that there must be separation from sin: “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
This does not mean isolation or going out of the world, but, rather, keeping ourselves from the pollution of the world. It is fine for the boat to be on the water, but the water must not get into the boat. If it does, you are in trouble!
Separation must be from sin, but not isolation from other Christians or from the people in the world who need our witness and to hear the Good News. On the contrary, we must show what Christ has done in our lives, not only with words and doctrinal arguments, but with our lives and our love for others.
“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.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
2. A Matter of Promise (vss. 17-18)
God promises to bless those who keep themselves pure. Worldliness is subtle: It creeps up gradually on a Christian. First, there is the attraction of the world and its corrupt system and way of life. Then comes friendship with the world. James puts it this way: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
Friendship with the world leads to love for the world. John says: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
Then comes conformity to the world. Paul says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
God promises to bless those who will separate themselves unto Him. Isaiah wrote: “Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD!” (Isaiah 52:11)
Two Motives for Separation
The two motives for separation are love for God and the fear of God. Both must operate in our lives.
We must first cleanse ourselves and then separate ourselves from the sinful ways of the world. This is negative.
We must walk in holiness, enjoying the presence of God in our daily walk. This is positive.
Yes, separation is the negative, but perfecting holiness is the positive. How sad it is to see churches and Christians who claim to be separated from sin continue to compromise with the sinful ways of the world and not grow in personal holiness.
Separation should take us out of sin but not into isolation from other Christians or from those in the world who need our witness and must be introduced to Christ and His salvation.
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian