2Co 6:14-18 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (15) What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (16) What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
We could say very accurately that the master theme of the Bible is God dwelling with His people. That fellowship was, of course, broken by Adam’s sin. God no longer came and walked with man. But in His great mercy, He set out to provide a way by which we could once again be restored to Eden. A way that would once again effect God dwelling with His people. That way of course, is Christ.
Where God dwells is his temple. As you go through the Bible you will find this theme of the temple advancing to fullness until, in the new creation the entire universe will be His temple. Perfect fellowship between God and His people. Paul writes about this subject quite often, reminding us that in Christ WE are God’s temple:
1Co 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1Co 6:18-19 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (19) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
I particularly want us to consider the passage quoted at the beginning of this article – 2 Cor 6 –
2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Now of course this verse is quoted over and over in regard to a Christian marrying only a Christian. It is applied chiefly in other words, to marriage. And there is application there. I have written before however about how this principle is regularly twisted and misused in the churches today (link here). But what I want to talk about in this article is what is actually the overall and chief subject Paul is getting at. Look at it again:
2Co 6:16-17 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
The Corinthians apparently lived in (and had come out of) a culture infested with idolatry. It permeated their society. Paul saw it at Athens, you remember – idol images on every street corner. If you broke with these systems, you would pay a price – economically, socially, and in many other ways. You could probably kiss your career goodbye in some cases. Family could ostracize you. It would be similar to being, let’s say, a professor in a university nowadays and being a genuine Christian.
When it comes to following Christ, to being the temple of the living God by His Spirit in us, there are some serious considerations to think about. And one chief one is this: Therefore, go out from their midst and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you….”. Most of the time when these words are addressed in sermons and other church settings, they are applied to the Christian separating from the world. And that is true. We are to be holy and to live in light of the fact that God dwells in us. There are many activities and occupations for instance that a Christian just cannot participate in.
But I want to suggest to you that Paul is dealing fundamentally here with false religion. And that brings us right back around to the subject I always return to – abuse in the churches. I can say without flinching that most local churches have become idol temples. They worship a false god. They preach a false gospel. They present “another Jesus” as Paul puts it (see Gal 1). Their god is one who loves everyone and who is quite non-judgmental. They oppress the oppressed because…well, because to effect justice for the oppressed would require confronting evil. It would require a radical re-examination of their theology that insists like a gyroscope always returning to a level no matter how it is tipped – that God loves everyone, including the oppressor/abuser and that the oppressed are sinners just like the oppressor. You’ve all hear that same old record playing over and over and over, right?
This is idolatry. It is a false church filled with false saints, led by false shepherds looking out for their own little kingdomes. And what the Apostle Paul is telling us here is get out of those places! Separate from them. You are God’s temple. You have nothing in common with idolaters. Nothing.
Paul’s question put to us is rhetorical (a statement in question form that is answered with “duh!”) – What agreement has the temple of God with idols? The answer is, none. None! There is a separation at the very starting line – with who God is. Everything else will flow from how that question is answered. That means that the false churches of our day, because they worship a false god disguised as the God of the Bible, are in fact idol temples. Maybe at one time in their history they were true churches, but then along came the wolf and destroyed them so that Christ departed from them. Paul’s pronounces such wolves damned by God (Galatians 1) because they destroy the temple of God.
So, what agreement has the temple of God (YOU) with idols? None. And Paul goes on to tell us to depart from such a place. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, He says. Understand? So many real Christians are looking for Christ in all the wrong places. He is to be found outside the camp:
Heb 13:12-13 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. (13) Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
When Jesus healed the blind man (John 9) this is what happened after-
Joh 9:34-35 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. (35) Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
See it? The man was put out of the temple, but outside the camp he found the real Temple. Or rather, was found by Him.
And that is how it is today. We are to depart from the idol temple/false churches that make up a large portion (most?) of the visible church now and guess what God’s promise is to us when we do? It is this:
2Co 6:17-18 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
THAT is a wonderful promise and it is the truth. Think about it very carefully. The thing is ironic and soooo opposed to what we have been told for so long. Going out is when you find Christ. Staying in the false church is to continue to look and look and be lied to and abused and used.
This is the chief reason we started our online church outreach. Not to be trendy. Not to cater to people who just want to be lazy. But to provide real fellowship in Christ to the many genuine Christians all around the world who increasingly have no true church available to them.