Beware of Unequal Yoke

The Lord’s messenger will be Pastor Isaac, and he will be speaking to us on the topic of “Beware of Unequal Yoke”, taken from 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Let us turn our bibles to 2 Corinthians 6, reading from verse 14 to 18. I shall read this portion of the scripture.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

“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.”

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

“And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Now I shall call upon Pastor Isaac to preach God’s Word.

Now our text for this morning 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. This is a familiar passage on the doctrine of Biblical Separation. We are continuing a larger theme for this quarter on Christian living. How we may, as God’s people, be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Sometimes when we read scripture, we do not read the way that it is written. We miss out on the voice inflection, we miss out on the tone that is used, we read scripture with a dead and express-less tone. But I’m sure that when Paul wrote his epistles, they were not written without feeling. They’re not just as a matter of fact and non-emotional statements. I’m sure that when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, when he says,

“So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:8

Because they were dear to him. There must have been emotions swelling in him when he penned those words. It is impossible to say these words without emotions. Or when he wrote to the Christians in Philippi, he says,

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”

“(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:” Philippians 3:17-18

These are not emotionless words, and so we read our text this morning, leading up to verse 14. And I want to back up a little bit to look at verse 11 and Paul was writing and speaking really from a pastor’s heart. And they can sense that emotion in verse 11, it says,

“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.”

And Paul often writes scripture in this way because he’s like a parent caring for his children.  He sees the dangers that they do not. And his concern for their spiritual wellbeing that they themselves sometimes do not appreciate. And those who are in the pastoral ministry feel that way sometimes, we observe decisions made by people which are questionable as far as we know. And if I were in their shoes, I would have perhaps taken a different path. Of course, every person is free to live his or her own life. And yet it is also true, that every decision that we make has consequences. When it comes to major life decisions, it is wise to listen to biblical counsel. And when the counsel is given, it is motivated by concern for the spiritual wellbeing of the person. So, verse 11 Paul says,

“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.”

It’s sounds as if Paul was a dentist when he should have been a cardiologist right? Paul is saying, speak freely. And we speak fully and we’re not holding back. Paul is saying that his words freely flow from a heart that is full of love and deep affection for the Corinthian believers. Paul loves them. He feels deeply for them, he loves them, that he was willing to be reproached, that he was willing to be persecuted. Look at the preceding verses 4 through 10, look at the things that Paul had to endure to bring the truth to the church at Corinth. He was willing to be evil spoken of, he was ready to be misunderstood, to be thought of badly. But he would not be silent because he loves the people. One writer says,

“If a minister loves the souls of his people, he will pour out the affections of his heart in strong and glowing language. He will preach what the people need to hear and not what the people want to hear. He will not preach sermons that tickle the ears of the people, rather he will preach the word and rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering. He would as Paul tells Titus,

“Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;” Titus 1:13

So, Paul here is speaking from a heart full of love. And in verse 12 he adds,

“Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.”

And this is a beautiful picture. Paul says that he is not shutting the Corinthians out by squeezing them out of his heart. On the contrary, his heart is enlarged. There is no lack of room in Paul’s heart for the Corinthians. But if the Corinthians view that there was no affection from Paul, it is their bowels, it is their own hearts, it is they that have no room in their hearts to respond to the same kind of affection that Paul has for them. Paul’s heart was enlarged to them. But their hearts, their bowels were straightened towards Paul. Paul’s heart was big enough to love them all, but the heart of the Corinthian believers had no room even for one person at all. And is it not the case that when we have no love for others, we justify ourselves by saying that it is the other people that has no love for us? And to press on the point, Paul speaks to them as a loving father to his children. As a father, he does not need and does not want any material support from them. And when Paul preached the gospel to the Corinthians, he did not receive any support. He says they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But he tells the Corinthians I have used none of these things, I preach the gospel to you at no charge. So, what does Paul want from the Corinthians? He wants the Corinthians to be enlarged, to have their hearts opened to him.

Now this is the introduction and is important because Paul is setting up the Corinthians for a truth, for a teaching that could fundamentally cost them to realign their relationships. Paul knows what he was going to say would be hard for some believers to accept. Why is that? Well, because there were believers in Corinth who were unequally yoked with unbelievers. And the believers in the church at Corinth still moved along and lived like the world. And Paul as a loving father wants to correct them. And the people would react by saying “Paul, you are unkind, you are being unloving.” And Paul is going to say, “No, no, no, my heart is enlarged. I’ve opened my heart to you I’m not holding back my affection or my love for you. I love you as my own children.” And he says in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18,  

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

“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.”

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

“And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

This is Paul’s teaching on Biblical Separation. This is Paul’s exhortation to the believers at Corinth and this is Paul’s words to us. He begins with a command. “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers” And from the second half of verse 14 through to the first part of verse 16, Paul will ask 5 questions, 5 rhetorical questions, to prove his exhortation that this is common sense. You do not need postgraduate degrees to understand this. It is common sense that Christ and Belial cannot stand together, it is common sense that light and darkness cannot be in the same place at the same time. And the last part of verse 16 through to verse 18 where Paul’s emphasises on the believer’s relationships with God. And finally, in 2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul ends the call, he ends with a call for holiness. So, look at the command, Paul says,

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:”

Paul does not specify what kind of unbelievers. He does not say that we are not to be unequally yoked with bad, immoral, wicked, murderous unbelievers, the worst of the worst. It’s just unbelievers. It is a broad and general category. But that does not mean that we are to withdraw from all society, after all wherever we go, we meet and interact and do business with unbelievers. Paul is not calling us to a secluded island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean to live by ourselves. That is an impossibility. It is also bad advice. Paul knows that Christians have many necessary dealings and contacts with unbelievers in our work, in our neighbourhood even in our own families and even in many situations of life. If you were to have no associations with unbelievers at all, where would the gospel even go out? And does it not contradict what our Lord says to the disciples,

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

So, we must have interactions with unbelievers. The question is what kind of interactions will constitute unequally yoked or being unequally yoked together with unbelievers? Verse 14 says,

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:”

The yoke is a device that a farmer will put over the animal as it ploughs the land, or as it pulls the carriage. It is an instrument to control the animal. And if the farmer needs to go faster, he increases the horsepower as it were. He put two animals together under one yoke. And for the ploughing to be successful, the two animals must work in harmony. The two animals must have the same nature. And Paul uses an illustration that is found in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 22:10. Moses says

“Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.”

Two animals under one yoke. One is an ox. Another is a donkey. They may be used separately but they are not to be used together. Verse 11 says,

“Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.”

The same principle applies here when you weave two different kinds of materials; wool and linen, together to make a garment. It will tear because the wool and the linen have different rates of shrinkage. And the garment will tear. In Leviticus 19:19, Moses tells us

“Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.”

And here the ideas are the same, do not crossbreed between different species of animals, say between the sheep and the dog. Do not sow the field with two kinds of seeds. Why? Because they are different. And the point that Paul is trying to make is this; we are not to change what God has made different. We are not to join together what God had separated; we are not to separate what God has joined together. Now there are a couple of reasons why this donkey and this ox cannot work together. First, the ox and donkey are of different sizes and they have different strengths. The strength of the donkey is not equal to that of the ox. And therefore, he supposes that this law was made from the mercy of God extended to all creatures, they cannot work together if not they would work to death. But perhaps the better reason is that one animal is clean, and the other is not. The ox is a clean animal. The donkey is not. The donkey is an animal that has cloven feet, a split hoof, and that according to Leviticus’s law is unclean. So, the clean and unclean animal, two animals of two different natures together just does not work.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:”

By application, Christians are not to have a close intimate relationship with unbelievers. It does not mean we cannot have unbelieving friends. In fact, the gospel tells us our Lord Jesus Christ is a friend of publicans and sinners. But the point is that there is a difference between believers and unbelievers. A difference so great that the union between the two will not only be improper, but harmful. That is not to say we must totally cut ourselves off from unbelievers. And the church history has countless examples of people who, because of separation, would have nothing to do with the world. They moved into the desert, they live in caves, they did not want to come into contact with the world. Now that is not biblical separation. There are areas in which believers and unbelievers have in common, where our paths do cross. There will be areas in our engagement and our association with unbelievers that we do not have to put aside our Christian principles and convictions or compromise our faith. Some of these areas include professional engagements. If you want to renovate your house; you get a contractor that is not a Christian, and that is fine, this is a professional engagement. Professional engagements like exercising our duties and responsibilities as citizens, in doing good works as long as that work does not violate the laws of God. So, there are some areas in our lives that we have to engage or interact with unbelievers. However, there are areas which unbelievers clearly dominate. And these will include actions and ideas and principles that would totally oppose the Word of God. There are areas that unbelievers engage in that seek to destroy the church and hinder the work of the gospel in evangelism. These areas cannot be reconciled with truth. And it is in these areas this principle “be not unequally yoked” is absolute. Believers cannot participate in or patronize or promote activities that are sinful. Paul says, we are not to be partakers of other men’s sins. Believers are not to partner with people who are engage in deception and fraud. 

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:11

And I maybe stepping on some toes here, but believers are not to be part of the world’s entertainment complex. I agree that not all entertainment is sinful. But here’s a litmus test. If you are at a place where your Christian convictions have to be laid aside, when a Christian’s faith is seen and deemed as inconsistent with that nature of the entertainment, where Christ will not be welcomed, where the gospel will be rejected. That is the place where you should not be. And those are the activities that you should not be engaged in as believers. And there are the areas where only believers can act together. And these are duties as a redeemed child of God when it comes to the practice of our faith. To pray, to worship, in Christian fellowship, in preaching of the gospel, in the work of missions and evangelism. The world has no say and no part in it. Remember when the Jews returned from exile to Jerusalem to build the temple. And in Ezra 4 the enemies of the Jews came to Zerubbabel and they offer him to build the temple, they wanted to help. They say to Zerubbabel, “Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do;” And Zerubbabel’s reply was “Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God”.

Nothing. Unbelievers have no part in the building of the house of God. Unbelievers have no part in the work of the gospel. God’s work must be done by God’s people. God’s work must be supported by God’s people. God’s work must be done according to God’s principles. Believers and unbelievers cannot worship together because we worship different gods. Christians and unbelievers cannot pray together because we’re praying to different gods. So, this is a command. 

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:”

And then Paul asks 5 questions, which are really common sense. 5 questions that will show us that this command of separation between unbelievers and believers are common sensical. Look at 2 Corinthians 6:14-16.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?”

Paul is asking the question, is there anything common? Is anything common between righteousness and unrighteousness? And the answer is no. Can there be interaction and participation between righteousness and unrighteousness? The answer is no. By the way the word “unrighteousness” literally means lawlessness. In other words, can a person who is righteous work hand with hand with someone who defies the law? And common sense will tell you, no, it is impossible. 

“and what communion hath light with darkness?”

Can there be communion or fellowship between light and darkness? Can light and darkness share the same place? No. Can light and darkness have things in common? The answer is no. You go into a dark room and the moment you strike a match; the darkness is gone. It’s common sense! The two – light and darkness, cannot be together. 1 John 1:5-7 we read,  

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:”

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Light and darkness cannot share the same common place. Third question. 

“And what concord hath Christ with Belial?”

The word concord in Greek is the same word we get as symphony. You go to a concert and an orchestra is playing and there are various instruments there. And Paul is asking, can there be harmony? Between Christ and Belial? Belial is in reference to the devil. In other words, can Christ and the devil say the same thing? Can they sing the same tune? Can they sing the same song, can Christ and Belial sing in harmony? And the answer is no, it is not logical. It is common sense. Even the unbelievers know that. And that’s why there are situations where a person has died, and he was a believer, but his conversion was not made known to his unbelieving relatives and family. And the family will not allow a Christian funeral. Why? Because the unbelievers know that this arrangement cannot work. It’s common sense. Christ and Belial cannot be in harmony. Question four,

“or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

Part refers to a division of an estate and Paul’s implying, can a believer and unbeliever share and live together in the same estate and have things in common? Again, the answer is no. And the last question,

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”

What agreement? The word agreement means company. Can there be company between the temple of the true living God and the temple of idols? And the answer is no. Unbelievers know that. And Christians ought to know that as well. 5 rhetorical questions asked but Paul is essentially asking only one question. He asks the same question 5 times over to show the people that absurdity of trying to put two things that are different together. And Paul is showing to us the absurdity of a relationship between two totally different elements; righteousness with unrighteousness; light with darkness; Christ with Belial; believer with an unbeliever, an infidel; the temple of God with the temple of idols. Paul here does not define the kind of relationship. He does not specify out for us “this is a relationship falls under one of these 5 things”, he does not say that. But certainly, marriage will come under such a definition. And you know that what Paul says here is not new. This teaching of biblical separation with regard to marital relationships is not new at all. Turn to the Old Testament Deuteronomy 7. The context here is that people of God were about to enter the promised land after moving through the wilderness for 40 years, except for a small part of mixed multitude of non-Jews that followed them. During the wanderings in the wilderness for the 40 years, they were only dealing with themselves; Jews with Jews. Now as they were about to enter Canaan, they were about to cross the river Jordan into Canaan.  And for the first time in 40 years, they will have to interact with the inhabitants of Canaan. Non-Jews, heathens, pagans, and God through Moses was giving them instructions as to how they should interact with these people. Deuteronomy 7:1-4,

“When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;”

“And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:”

“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.”

“For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”

Seems a bit harsh right. you shall smite them and utterly destroy them, make no covenant with them, show no mercy to them. But you see, you must consider the historical context in which these instructions were given. This was the beginning of a Jewish nation. They were about to enter Canaan so there must be unity in the people from the ground up. There must be oneness in the basic fundamental building block of society – which is the family. And God knows, if you destroy the family, it would destroy the nation. And that’s why you see the laws concerning the family, a violation of the family in those days were very harsh. Any deviation from the structure that God has prescribed gets the capital punishment. 

“And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” Exodus 21:15

if that law is applied, we will be childless. 

“And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 21:17

Wow look at that. Why is that important? Because these laws are needed to protect the family, which is the basic building block of society – which is essential at the beginning of a nation. Exodus 34:14-16 says,

“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”

“Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;”

“And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.”

And so, the Bible makes the link between the marital relationship and the intergenerational faith. I hope you see that. The Bible makes the link between the marital relationship and the intergenerational faith, a faith that passes on from generation to generation. And the point is this. The primary question in marriage, the first question you should ask before you commit yourself to a lifelong relationship is this; who is your God? What do you believe? You see, the goals of a believer are completely different from that of the unbelieving world. If you believe that God is your God, then your chief goal is to glorify God. Your chief goal is not pleasure, or the acquisition of wealth. You see, believers and unbelievers march to different tunes. In fact, they march in opposite directions. Now I know Christians who marry unbelieving spouses who later became Christians and things turn out well because and only because of the grace and mercy of God. But, Christian people, do not presume. Those who are still unmarried or single, do not presume upon God’s grace. These anecdotal examples of unbelieving spouses becoming Christians, do not in any way invalidate or nullify the principle of God. And that is, “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.” So, let me urge you, those of you who are considering marriage, seek godly advice. Speak to your parents who are Christians, speak to your pastors, speak to elders, speak to mature Christian friends.  Get objective biblical counsel and even if you do not like what you hear, listen anyway and seriously consider what you have been told. 

Do not just listen to your heart when you should be listening to the Word of God. 

And if there’s any doubt, walk away. Do not marry. So Paul gives a command. And the command is common sense.

Paul emphasizes the believer’s relationship back in 2 Corinthians 6:16. Paul defines the believer’s relationship with God. Beginning at the last part of verse 16,

“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.”

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

“And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

What agreement hath the temple of God with idols – verse 16. There are 2 Greek words translated temple in English. In the gospels, when our Lord Jesus Christ went to the temple and he threw out the money changers, the word used in that instance is a description of the entire temple compound. And then there’s a second word that refers to specific parts of that temple. In Luke 1:9 when Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, said it was his duty to burn the incense when he went into the temple of the LORD, that word is different. That word in Greek is “naos”. It does not describe the entire temple compound. That word is a technical term describing the inner sanctuary of the temple, the holy place, the holy of holies. And that’s why the Jews were so upset when our Lord Jesus Christ said, “destroy this temple, this “naos”, and in three days I will raise it up” they thought our Lord Jesus Christ was making reference to the destroying of the holy of holies. But we know the Lord Jesus Christ as God himself in human flesh, was referring to His own body as the dwelling place of God. This is a technical term. And Paul uses this term in 2 Corinthians 6:16. And so if we paraphrase verse 16, Paul is saying you are the holy place of the living God. 

Dearly beloved, there is a holiness that comes with our relationship with God. 

And Peter says,

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;”

“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

Now this is more than just a command, this is a description of our character as God’s people. This is what we should be. Given the fact that we are the holy place of God, given the fact that we are the “naos”. It does not make any sense, logically or biblically, for believers to be associated with those who are outside the temple. Again, Paul points us back to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the tabernacle of the temple of God is the object lesson for the presence of God. God told Moses,

“And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.”

“And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”

Paul quoted from this Leviticus 26:11-12. It does not mean that God is restricted to the compound of the tabernacle or the temple, but it does mean that when we look at the tabernacle, it tells us that God is with us. The tabernacle represents God’s presence. Paul says we are the temple of the living God, which means God’s presence abides with us. As Christians, we are indwelled with the spirit of God and we are united with God! That is the intimacy that we have in a relationship with God. And the intimacy is expressed in this, look at verse 16,

“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.”

Verse 18 that is even more intimate He says,  

“And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Paul emphasizes the relationship that we have. It’s not just a king and a subject, a master and servant, it is a Father and son relationship. And then he lastly directs our attention to focus on our call. He says, “be ye separate”. If we are conscious of our relationship with God, that He is our Father and we are His children, if we understand that relationship then verse 17 naturally follows,  

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,”

There are Christian leaders who take this doctrine of separation and apply it to topics or issues that they want to force upon the congregation. And whatever and whoever that does not agree with them is labelled unclean. They draw theological lines and make doctrinal distinctions when none really should be made at all. And the result is not biblical separation.  The result is divisions of the sanctions in the body of Christ, which is not right, neither is it glorifying to God. With that said, while it is true that the doctrine of biblical separation has been abused and misused, Paul reminds us that this doctrinal separation is not about what we decide, but rather about who God is. Of course, at the other end of the doctrinal spectrum are those who lower the bar of faith to the extent that nothing matters. Not even truth. These people embrace all kinds of teachings and doctrines. Truths are no big deal as long as Christians can get along. Well, I disagree. The practice and the standard of biblical separation is not so much the what as it is to who. Who is the standard of biblical separation? And we find that God Himself, the Holy God, is the standard of biblical separation. And as God’s people, we should make no apologies when we practice biblical separation biblically. Because it is a big deal to the church if we lose sight of God. It is a big deal when we forget our relationship with God. It is a big deal when we forget the Word of God. It is a big deal when we forget who God is and it is a big deal when we forget who we should be in light of what Christ has done for us. It’s a big deal. And so, we stay separate according to what God teaches. Look at verses 17 and 18. 

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

“And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Verses 17 and 18 speaks of the blessings of obedience, the blessings of sonship. The blessings of being the sons and daughters of the Almighty God. This morning, if you’re not a believer, when you stepped into this room this morning, you come as an enemy of the Holy God. You can step out of this room as a son or daughter of God. But you must come into the presence of God and you must believe in Christ. The world offers nothing, but that which is transient and temporal. The Bible tells us the pleasures of sin are but for a moment. The things that are enduring and eternal are the gifts that God gives us and the chief of which, is His saving grace through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. And for some of us to experience the fullness of the sonship, you have to return to the presence of God just like the prodigal son who never knew the blessings and the grace of his father until he returns. So likewise, some of you whose love for God has turned cold, whose bowels are straightened, whose heart has no room for Christ, you have to return to God. You knew what life was like with God, now you have to return to Him to experience afresh the fullness of joy. But for the rest of us, Paul does not end at verse 18 because really, chapter 6 should have ended with chapter 7:1. Because 7:1 is the conclusion of Paul’s instruction on this matter

“Having therefore these promises,”

What promises? Promises that we are sons and daughters of God, promises that link us directly to our relationship with God, having therefore these promises, Paul says,

“dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

We have to cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. And it is the fear of God that results in holy living. To fear God simply means to be conscious of His love. To fear God simply means to be aware of God, if you are aware of God, how would that awareness of God affect your life? And how would it affect my life? Well, I better talk to myself because I know myself better than I know any of you. Am I conscious of God? Is God in my heart? Is God in my thoughts? Is my heart enlarged for God to dwell in? If He is, if you are, if your heart is enlarged, then it has to affect the way we live. He ought to motivate us to watch purity. 

Christianity is real because our God is a living God. 

Christianity is real because you know that God is real. Do you belong to God? Are you a child of God today?