Let us purify ourselves 2 Corinthians 6 14 to 7 1

7 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Paul has been defending his ministry to the Corinthians. But in chapter six he wanders off in a digression and nobody has been able to work out why Paul chose to change subjects at this point. There is no obvious connection with what came before, but at 2 Corinthians 6:14 he starts talking about holiness. Perhaps he was aiming all along at the punchline in chapter seven verse one so we will start there.
7 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

God offers amazing blessings to his chosen people – and Paul quotes two of these.
‘I will live with them and walk among them,
and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’

Leviticus 26:12,
11 I will put my dwelling-place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

Jeremiah 32:38,
and I will bring them back unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely; 38 and they shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me for ever; for the good of them, and of their children after them; 40 and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me. 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land in truth with My whole heart and with My whole soul.

Ezekiel 37:27
27 My dwelling-place also shall be over them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 And the nations shall know that I am the LORD that sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for ever.’

Not only are Christians God’s chosen people. Even more wonderful than that!
18 And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.’

Part of the Covenant God renewed with David
2 Samuel 7:14,
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son.
Christians are God’s chosen people. We are the children of the living God! These are the blessings God has promised for his chosen people when he brings them back from Exile and sends the Messiah the Saviour to them.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
We have so many motives for wanting to become holy. There are many places where God commands holiness.
1 Peter 1 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
But not only because God commands it. But also because of all the blessings God pours upon us, because of the great privileges we have as God’s chosen people and as children of God,
let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
God is holy. God is pure. And as Christians that should be our goal. And we become holy by purifying ourselves and cutting ourselves off from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
That is what Paul had in mind just before when he quotes Isaiah 52
17 Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’

That is how God’s chosen people should respond to God’s salvation.
Isaiah 52:11, 11 Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure,
Because of all the blessings God has poured out on us we are called to purify ourselves and separate ourselves from everything which would separate us from God.
Our aim should be perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Not that we will ever achieve sinless perfection. But that should be our aim and rest in our struggle against the world and the flesh and the devil we should not be satisfied with anything less. But what does it mean in practice to separate ourselves from everything which is unclean?
This is where Paul is heading, when he begins his digression on holiness with a command which has been controversial and I think quite often misunderstood and misapplied.
2 Corinthians 6 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
What does it mean to be yoked together with unbelievers?
KJV Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
Message Don’t become partners with those who reject God.
NLT 14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.
This verse has often been applied to two areas. The first has been to a Christian marrying somebody who is not a Christian. The second has been to Christians going into business with non-Christians as partners. Actually, I am not convinced that either of those two situations are what Paul is talking about in this verse.
NRSV Do not be mismatched with unbelievers.
Mismatched – heterozygountes – to be unevenly yoked in a pair of oxen pulling a plough – if one is stronger than the other the pair will pull to one side instead of ploughing straight.
Deuteronomy 22:10 10 Do not plough with an ox and a donkey yoked together.
It is easy to see how this metaphor would apply to forming a business arrangement. Less easy to see how it would relate to marriage.
Perhaps 2 Corinthians 6:14 is talking about marriage.
This was the command God gave to the Israelites as they were preparing to take possession of the promised land concerning the pagan nations which lived there.
Deuteronomy 7 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
That was the trap the Kings of Israel and Judah had fallen into from Solomon onwards by marrying foreign wives who worshipped pagan gods. The Israelites returning from Exile in Ezra’s time realised they had failed to obey this command
Ezra 9 “The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.
So perhaps 2 Corinthians 6:14 is talking about marriage. But we need to understand the verse in the light of what follows. Paul uses five comparisons for what being unequally yoked with unbelievers means, and all of them seem very extreme if we are talking about a Christian marrying a non-Christian or forming a business partner with a non-believer.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
All very extreme.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Is Paul actually saying that in a marriage the Christian is righteous and the non-Christian is wicked?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
Is the Christian light and the unbeliever really darkness?
15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? (between Christ and Satan). Is Paul really calling a non-Christian spouse Satan?
Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
His last comparison gives us the clue as to what Paul specifically has in mind here.
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
The commentators generally agree, and I am persuaded, that what Paul is really talking about here is idol worship. Christians are unequally yoked if their marriages or their business arrangements or any of their relationships lead them to participate in idol worship, worshipping pagan gods. Sometimes in those days working together in business would carry an expectation of joining in pagan ceremonies together, and Paul is saying this is wrong.
The meaning of the word unbelievers is straightforward – those who don’t believe the gospel.
But Paul may have a more specific meaning in this context. The comparisons seem very extreme if he is talking about everybody who does not have a faith – everybody who does not believe the gospel. What Paul means by non-believers here may be not so much those who have no faith, but those who actively worship and serve false gods, and lead Christians to do the same. Do not be mismatched with those who are opposed to the Christian faith.
Paul has already warned the Corinthians of the dangers of idol worship in
1 Corinthians 10 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
In Paul’s time everybody worshipped some god or another – the false gods or the Romans or of the Greeks or of the Eastern Mystery Religions. It is highly likely that the worship of pagan idols remained a temptation for the Corinthians, many of whom had been involved in such cults before they became Christians. And the pressures to worship idols from a pagan wife or business partner would be very strong. Perhaps indeed Paul had heard that this was a problem in the church in Corinth and it just came into his mind at this point in the letter as something he needed to talk to them about.
In our day there are many people who claim not to believe anything. Certainly very many who do not participate in any form of worship of any deity. These are non-believers. But they are not necessarily ANTI-Christian. So is this command not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers talking about a Christian marrying somebody who is not a believer in today’s context? Probably not. Is it saying Christians should not go into business with unbelievers? Probably not. But it surely is a warning about a Christian marrying somebody who is devoted to a different religion. Or forming a business partnership with somebody who has very different values. Somebody who is going to put them under pressure to worship the gods of this age, money, sex and power, consumerism and entertainment, instead of serving the one true God and Lord of All.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

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