The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: 6:14-18

2 Corinthians 6:14‑18  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 9
“Be not diversely yoked with unbelievers, for what participation is there between righteousness and lawlessness? or what fellowship of light with darkness? and what consent of Christ with Beliar? or what part for a believer along with an unbeliever? and what agreement of God’s temple with idols? for ye are the living God’s temple, according as God has said, I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be to Me a people.
“Wherefore come out from the midst of them, and be separated, saith the Lord, and touch not what is unclean, and I will receive you; and I will be to you for a Father, and ye shall be to Me for sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (JND).
Important as these instructions for the children of God were in the day in which they were written, they are as important and as binding in our time. There was the open worship of idols then; but these rules for the Christian cover a far wider range, taking in all the associations we may have in the world.
“Be not diversely yoked with unbelievers” suggests a reference to Deuteronomy 22:1010Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. (Deuteronomy 22:10), “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together,” but a different kind of yoke is in view here. It is a brief statement of great weight, the force of which every Christian must feel, and it calls for separation from the world, in every form and measure.
Perhaps the thought comes to me that I can do much good in association with those who are not believers. Opportunities for service for Christ are there which (I think) I could not have in a narrower path. Besides, I can be an example there to the unsaved, which may (I hope) result in their accepting Christ. What shall be the answer in such a case? There is but one to which I should give heed; it comes from God Himself, and is plainly written in His Word, commanding my obedience: Be not yoked with unbelievers. All other answers to the question, no matter how attractive in appearance, proceed from the believer’s enemy, the devil, though he may make use of a Christian to deliver it to me.
It is God’s desire, for their blessing, to have His children entirely separate in their association from the world. If we look no further than within the five preceding chapters of this epistle, we may form an estimate of what we are to Him.
In chapter 1, we are saints, anointed and sealed and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
In chapter 3, we are the epistle of Christ, written with the Spirit of the living God, and with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.
In chapter 4, God hath shined in our hearts for the shining forth of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
In the fifth chapter we are wrought by God for the heavenly body we shall each possess, and in that connection the earnest of the Spirit has been given; the love of Christ constraining us, we judge that we, once morally dead toward God, but now living, should live, not to ourselves, but to Him who died for us and rose again; accordingly, henceforth, we know no one after the flesh; being in Christ we are a new creation, old things are passed away, all things are become new, and all of God who hath reconciled us to Himself; He hath made Him sin for us,—He who knew no sin, that we might be made righteousness of God in Him.
In the well-known and precious passage at the close of Matthew 11, young Christians will remember that there is more than the invitation to the sinner, with a promise made good upon acceptance; an invitation, and a promise to the believer follows:
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (verses 28-30).
With Christ’s yoke taken, how, in faithfulness to Him, can I take also the yoke of the world? It has been truly said,
“Where Christ is not before the heart, the world in one form or another, fails not to ensnare, fair excuses which cover unholy alliances escape detection, and His honor somehow is ere long compromised  ... If blessed with Christ for eternity, you cannot, without sin, have relations with the world.”
May God preserve the writer and the reader from such dishonor to Himself and His Son!
Looking at verses 14 and onward in detail, we see how opposed are the principles, motives, interests and ways of the child of God to those of the world. First, the principles of the one and the other come before us:
“For what participation is there between righteousness and lawlessness? or what fellowship of light with darkness?”
Verse 15. “And what consent of Christ with Beliar? or what part for a believer along with an unbeliever?”
Here the characteristic heads are viewed, and the followers. The word Belial occurs 16 times in the Old Testament, and means simply wickedness,— “sons of wickedness,” for example; but here alone in the New Testament it is Beliar, evidently referring to Satan. Impossible that there could be anything in common between Christ, and the prince of this world! Then what part is there for a believer along with an unbeliever? Should it not be plain to any believer that he (or she) can not, as another has said, as a Christian put himself or herself “under the same yoke with those who have only worldly motives, to draw the chariot of life in a path common to both?”
Verse 16. Though idolatry is not practiced now in civilized lands in the measure or in the same way as in the Apostle’s day, it continues to exist in subtle form, and will break out again in due time and in full character. In 1 Corinthians 6:1919What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19), the believer’s body is declared to be the temple of God; here collectively believers are His temple. What carefulness should then characterize our thoughts, our words, our actions!
Verse 17 is a command to every believer mixed up with the world. “The unclean” in the Apostle’s day meant the heathen world, today, it is more, including the great system which Satan has built up around men to make them content without the true knowledge of God; such is the world as the Christian knows it.
Coming out from among the worldly, we hear the words of welcome, of special regard,
“I will receive you (verse 18), and I will be to you for a Father, and ye shall be to Me for sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” “Father” is the name of special relationship which God assumes with us. To Abraham He had made Himself known as Almighty; to Israel He was Jehovah, or Lord; to us He is the Lord Almighty, and moreover our Father.
The chapter division here is plainly wrong; the first verse of chapter 7 attaches itself to the close of chapter 6.
“Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us purify ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.” What is your response to this, dear Christian reader?