Today: [2 Corinthians 6:] Come Out From Among Them: Is it wrong to have an “us vs. them” mentality as Christians? Most preaching today would count this as an immature viewpoint. In ch. 6, however, Paul stresses that we must embrace the idea of separation from the world as the basis of our connection to God as our Father. How does this apply in your life? What relationships and connections would you sever today if you chose to take this admonition of Paul seriously?
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[2Co 6:1-18 KJV] 1 We then, [as] workers together [with him], beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all [things] approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and [yet] true; 9 As unknown, and [yet] well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and [yet] possessing all things. 11 O [ye] Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. 12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. 13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto [my] children,) be ye also enlarged. 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
In v. 1 Paul implores the Corinthians that they receive not the grace of God in vain. How do we keep from this? The scope of the context covers the last three chapters – all dealing primarily with false teaching and false teachers deceiving the people into looking to man for what they ought to look to God for. We are to remember that man does not save us neither are the teachings of man possessed of any grace that doesn’t originate in God. In the day of salvation (v. 2), it is God and not man who has saved us, therefore, we should not think of a man more highly than we ought. As ministers of the gospel, our goal (v. 3) is to give no offence (no unnecessary offense) in anything that the ministry be not blamed. Does this mean if we are criticized, or if people are offended that we it delegitimize our ministry? No, because the counterbalance to this statement is found in James:
[Jas 3:1-2 KJV] 1 My brethren, be not many masters (teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2 For in many things we offend all.
How do we approve ourselves? We approve ourselves as ministers of God through the patience we display under fire. Paul calls for ministers of God to show much patience in afflictions, necessities, distresses, stripes, imprisonments, tumults, labors, etc. If you properly examine the statement, it is the patience and not the suffering that constitutes God’s approval. This is important to point out because many teach that suffering is a necessary part of the call. Suffering is not a part of the call because Jesus suffered so we don’t have to – however suffering is often a consequence of the call of God in our lives. If you suffer, it is your patience that brings the approval or the approbation of heaven over your life. On the other hand, sometimes suffering on the part of a leader tends to cause followers to pull away as though something is wrong in the life of a leader because they are undergoing difficult circumstances. This also is wrong thinking. Your leaders are human and to expect them to live lives without pressure or challenges constitutes idolatry. Paul declares in Acts 14:22 that through much tribulation (pressure) we enter the kingdom. If you are pressing into the kingdom you will face difficulty. The question is will you demonstrate patience. If you are patient in the pressure zones of life, you will (Acts 14:22) break out into the kingdom.
The servant of God also receives heaven’s approval (v. 6) by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned. How do we demonstrate kindness? Many time preachers and teachers are resoundingly unkind in their preaching claiming that they are just “telling it like it is” and unfortunately they are applauded by their congregations for doing so. There are times that what man approves of an encourages in their chosen leaders God defines as a basis of disqualification.
The minister of the gospel is approved before God by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and the left. Also by honor and by dishonor. By evil report and good report. As deceivers and yet true. As unknown and yet well known. Here is another contradiction between God’s idea of leadership and man’s. Men tend to follow leaders who are popular and well thought of. Sometimes, however, laboring in obscurity, taking the path less traveled constitutes the will of God for the leader God has chosen for you and could you tell the difference? It takes no faith at all to hang on every word of a popular leader who sways the masses. The true heart of discernment, however, can hear the word of the Lord from those that are unknown and unsung.
The point Paul is making is that the Corinthians were looking down on him and refusing to accept his ministry because they were immature and small minded. In v. 11-12 Paul cries out to them that though his heart is enlarged with compassion toward them, they were straightened in their bowels in response. What does this mean? It means they were spiritual constipated. They were unwilling and unable to process Paul’s message because it wasn’t worth their time and they didn’t respect Paul in the first place.
Regardless of their lack of kindness and respect toward him, Paul implores them as a father speaking to his own children. What is on his heart? That they be not unequally yoked together (v. 14) with unbelievers. This is more than Paul saying that believers should not marry unbelievers (although that certainly applies). The Corinthian church was a church without necessary boundaries regarding its commitments and relationships where the world and the ungodly were concerned. We are in the word yes, but we are not to be so caught up in worldly affairs and relationships that we cannot extricate ourselves and live separate lives. What concord has Christ with Belial? What real part can a believer have with a person who is an infidel?
The message of separation is not a strong theme in the current climate of Christian culture. Paul on the other hand questions what agreement does the church as the temple of God have with idols? It is said we are not to question those around us whether they are believers or not but instead just ask whether or not they are advancing our agenda. If a person has a Christian testimony or not doesn’t matter it is alleged so long as they are working in our favor – as the Japanese Art of War declares “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In the light of Paul’s statement about separation that supposition does not hold true. We are to “come out from among THEM and be separate.” Yet much preaching comes out today as a consistent theme that we as believers are wrong to have an “us vs. them” mentality. Does this hold up as consistent with Paul’s statement here and if not how can we make the correction? One way is to ask yourself who the “them” are that we are to come out from among? Who are they and why would we want to come out from among them? Because if we do – God will be a Father to us and we will be His sons and daughters to a degree that is not available to us if we reject the idea of separation in our thinking and belief system.
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