2 Cor.6:14-16 – Do 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.”
Driving in New Orleans comes with its challenges. One of my favorites is what happens when you turn your blinker on to change lanes. Inevitably, someone will take the turn signal as a sign to speed up and block you or even better, swerve from behind you into the other lane and pass you. Thinking about this phenomenon caused me to fixate on the saying “stay in your lane”. If you wonder what this has to do with today’s verse, hold on, I’m about to tell you. The word we want to focus on out of this verse is yoked. This is a very powerful word with powerful implications about walking in the flow of the Christian community. Here is how Adam Clarke describes it.
“This is a military term: keep in your own ranks; do not leave the Christian community to join in that of the heathens. The verb yoked (heterozygeo) signifies to leave one’s own rank, place, or order, and go into another; and here it must signify not only that they should not associate with the Gentiles in their idolatrous feasts, but that they should not apostatize from Christianity; and the questions which follow show that there was a sort of fellowship that some of the Christians had formed with the heathens which was both wicked and absurd, and if not speedily checked would infallibly lead to final apostasy.”
What Paul and Adam Clarke are warning us about is not to become involved with the secular community. In other words don’t break rank with the body of Christ by becoming yoked or too familiar with worldly people. This admonition includes marriages, partnerships, and many other relationships that are not healthy for us and do not benefit or advance God’s kingdom. In other words, stay in the Lord’s lane for your life, you will be much more productive and much happier in the long run.
2 COR.6:16 – Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
We have all been called lots of things; some worse than others. A famous running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Hershel Walker, said he thought his name was “Get Wood” until he was almost grown up. What kind of names have you been called? Student, worker, black man, white man, athlete, husband, wife, chump or looser; you get the drift, we all have been called and labeled all sorts of things. Today’s scripture tells us one of the sweetest things we can be called, my people. The Lord Himself has called us His very own people, what could be better than that? Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this blessing.
“What a sweet title: My people! What a cheering revelation: Their God! How much of meaning is couched in those two words, My people! Here is speciality. The whole world is God’s; the heaven, even the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s, and he reigneth among the children of men; but of those whom he hath chosen, whom he hath purchased to himself, he saith what he saith not of others-My people. In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In a special manner the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. All the nations upon earth are his; the whole world is in his power; yet are his people, his chosen, more especially his possession; for he has done more for them than others; he has bought them with his blood; he has brought them nigh to himself; he has set his great heart upon them; he has loved them with an everlasting love, a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the revolutions of time shall never suffice in the least degree to diminish.”
I am one of God’s people. He has loved me and known me from the days of eternity. He has set me apart for Himself, what could be a higher privilege than that? I am more privileged than a corporate executive, a Senator, judge, or a celebrity doesn’t have the privileges that belong to me. We are more special than Princes, Kings, Prime Ministers, or Presidents. We are the very people of God.
Therefore, brothers, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place,
by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened
for us through the curtain, that is, his body.
Why such suffering? Why was Jesus beaten so mercilessly? The prophet Isaiah said that He was marred more than any other man. This visual and public beating of Christ was important. God was speaking to all of us with visuals that are hard to ignore. Just as the Old Testament temple was filled with illustration, so was the death of Christ. Just as the veil in the temple spoke to us about being separated from God because of our sins, the beating and death of Christ speaks to us about the price involved to redeem us from our sin. When the beating and crucifixion was complete an earthquake tore the veil in two. Flesh had been torn, the veil was rent, the way into God’s presence was now open. Here are some words from Andrew Murray on this new and living way.
“In the temple the veil hung like a curtain between the Holy and the Most Holy Places. At the altar in the entrance, the blood for the forgiveness of sins was sprinkled. The sprinkling of blood gave the priests permission to enter the Holy Place to burn incense there as part of the offering. But into the Most Holy Place only the high priest could go, and only once a year. The veil can be seen as a symbol of the sinful nature. In spite of the forgiveness of sins by the sprinkling of blood, entry and fellowship with God were forbidden. But when Christ died, the veil was torn. Christ showed the new, living way to God through the torn veil—His body. The new way, through which all believers now have access to the Most Holy, always goes through the torn veil, the body of Christ. There is no other way to God than through the torn body of Christ.”
This is the message of Easter, we have been given a new way to live our lives. What is this new way? It is life behind the veil, life in the very presence of God. This is why Jesus died, there is no other way to approach the Lord. We must come as Murray says, “through the torn body of Christ”.