Reader's Digest published a story once about a retired couple who decided that they should walk two miles a day to stay in shape. They chose to walk a mile out on a lonely country road so they would have no choice but to walk back. At the one-mile mark on their first venture, the man asked his wife, "Do you think you can make it back all right, or are you too tired?" "Oh, no," she said. "I'm not tired. I can make it fine." "Good," he replied. "I'll wait here. You go back, get the car and come get me."
Why is it that we often have good intentions to get into shape, especially in the New Year, but fail to follow through? Sometimes we simply don't realize that the issue is more than merely outward. In order to be faithful, we need to remember that our physical condition is one aspect of our devotion to God.
âDo 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? 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. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty." Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.â (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)
The text talks about being unequally yoked, and I want to talk about that, but there's larger issue here. We are radically different from the world, and we need to realize just how different we are. The rationale for this line of thinking is found in the quotation of the Lord, which is a series of quotations from the Old Testament (v. 16b-18). Ezekiel 37:27 - âMy dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.â Isaiah 52:11-12 - âDepart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.â 2 Samuel 7:14-15 - âI will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.â
This wasn't a new concept. God has consistently throughout history called His people to live differently from the world because He has made his dwelling in us, and has become our Father.
The command to not be unequally yoked is not, therefore, an arbitrary rule. There are no arbitrary rules in the Bible. Murder is wrong because it fails to reflect the life-giving God. Lying is wrong because God is Truth. So why is marrying an unbeliever forbidden for believers?
Someone once said, âMarriage is when you agree to spend the rest of your life sleeping in a room that's too warm, beside someone who's sleeping in a room that's too cold.â Husbands and wives have differences. But if a believer marries an unbeliever, there's a much more deep difference than surface level disputes. We have the Spirit of God in us!
We are different from the world (v. 14b-16a). We are in a state of righteousness (v. 14). We are living in the light (v. 14). We are associated with Christ (v. 15). We have a portion with the believers (v. 15). We are the temple of God, having the Holy Spirit living inside us (v. 16). And we ought to be becoming more different from the world every day (v. 17).
I don't want us to demonize unbelievers. That's not what the text is teaching. When it talks about unbelievers being in a state of lawlessness and darkness, it should give us a heart of compassion to reach them with the gospel. Unbelievers have not been set free from the bondage of their sin, and therefore they serve Belial (Satan/wickedness) and idols. We should seek to win them, not unite with them.
God has given us great promises (v. 1a). He will dwell in us, in our very bodies. He will walk with us. We shall be His people. If you have received these promises from God, then live like it (v. 1b). Trusting that Christ has saved you, live a life that honors God with your body. Don't try to live like the world. Be separate. Honor God in your body. âOr 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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.â (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Use your body in such a way that it brings praise to God. Treat your body well. Take care of it. Discipline your body. âBut I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.â (1 Corinthians 9:27). It's not so that we can feel good about ourselves. It's not so that we can get attention for looking so good. It's so that we would be consistently and comprehensively applying the gospel to our own lives.
We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and we ought to give Him a good home to live in.