The Ministry of Testimony
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
We are done talking about the ministry of pleasing God and the ministry of reconciliation. We are also done in talking the ministry of endurance. Today, we will be talking about ministry of testimony. It is about keeping a good Christian testimony.
When God chose the Israelites to be his chosen nation, he means it. And he always wants to keep it following His ways as well as to keep it pure from thinking, from faith, and from practice. This is how God values his chosen people.
In the same way, we are to keep that testimony for the unbelieving world. We are to keep ourselves pure from all evilness and from all unrighteousness. In our passage, Paul talks what should be the kind of relationship that we need to have with the unbelievers.
For this chapter, we will be discussing the three verbs that we will be seeing here. While doing this, we will also be quoting the arguments of Paul.
Do not be unequally yoked (v.14)
The Greek words are “ginomai eterozugeo” which means to be in partnership of, or to have an agreement with. This passage is frequently quoted by many pastors, ministers, deacons, and even Church leaders. We usually used this as the main passage in teaching our young people not to have a relationship with the unbelievers.
The idea of the phrase is not to be in partnership or agreement with the unbelievers. The idea is yoking together different kinds of animals. As a result, the animals yoked together will have difficulty in working together. Plowing the field will be a huge burden for both. It is because not only that they are different in size; they also have different kinds of body figure as well as strength. Not to mention if both of them can really work together.
This is why the idea of using this with having an extra personal relationship with an unbeliever is being justified since getting into a relationship means having something to agree with. It means having an unwritten agreement to try their best to understand and agree with each other for their common good. Having different values, different motives, different beliefs, different upbringing, as well as different characters are really difficult. Entering into marriage with two different people having different characters and upbringing is difficult, and all the more that it is difficult if they have different beliefs, faith and moral standards.
However, the passage is very clear for the Christians to take hold of it and be careful with the kind of relationship we are establishing with the unbelieving world. The unbelieving world is totally different in the way they think, in their beliefs, faith, standards of morality etc.
The passage is not confined with having a marital or a steady relationship, though some commentators are strong with this. The passage is all about having no business or doing things that the unbelievers are doing.
Come out from among them and be separate (v.17)
Before, we are completely similar to the unbelieving world. We are dead to sin and do all kinds of evilness. We do not have any hope nor do we follow the will of God. This is why now that we have Christ in our hearts, then we can now come out from among them and be separate.
To come out from among them is to be identified apart from them. Our name should not be associated from them, that one will see that we are not with them and that we are totally different from them. This means that if we are in the midst of them, we can easily be identified apart from them. The difference therefore between a believer and unbeliever will be visible.
To be separate is to have a distance from them. Meaning, after we come out, we will maintain now a distance from what they do, especially those things that literally identifies them. The problem with many Christians, they don’t know how to be separated from among them. There are many things that we still do what the unbeliever does. This is why it is so hard for many to cope up with their spiritual lives because of this big problem.
No matter how we try to discuss all these truths in the Bible, as long as we are not willing to be separated from those evil works, then all those truths will come to pass the unhearing ears. It is useless and can do more harm than good because such kind of attitude only produces a calloused heart as well as a compromising attitude. The worst thing? These kinds of Christians will try to justify what they do wrong.
The words of the Apostle Paul are indeed clear, “Come out from among them and be separated.” The Greek word is “aphorize” which literally means to set boundary, limit, and excluding one self. It is for us to decide whether or not we separate ourselves. God empowers us for that, yet we also have to give that to God and that we should stop blaming God that he did not took that away.
Touch not the unclean (v.17)
The Greek word is “aptomai” meaning, attachment; in our passage it means that having no attachment at all with what is demonic, or impure. Being attached to it will contaminate his own self.
But some people are trying to play with it. As a result, many have fallen to temptation. Many even returned to the old life. The passage tells us that we should not have a close relationship with the unbeliever. This action does not mean to snub or to make enemies with the unbelievers, but simply not doing the evil things that they do and not engaging too much with them.
We are familiar with the saying “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” This saying is somewhat true with what Paul is trying to point out here. Being with bad friends widens our chances of joining them and doing the same things they do. In the same way, Jesus reminded us to “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48).”
The world is very tempting. There have been many times that a new Christian faces these kinds of temptations. I know that it is very hard to say “NO” from the invitations of our friends. But we need to overcome it. And we need to do what is right. Or else, we will fall to backsliding and carnality, and carnal attitude.
But why in the world should we be separated and be apart from the world? Verse 16 gives us an answer; “…for you are the temple of the living God.” And therefore, it is only rightful not to defile it. God dwells in us and we are his people, and now we are defiling it. Jesus himself demonstrated it when he throws away the dealing tables and small business outside the temple. This is the only incident that you can see in the Bible that Jesus made a literal, radical and seemingly violent show of anger.
Jesus faced the authorities who mocked him, yet did nothing; he faced the Pharisees and Sadducees with sarcasm, but not violently. This passage however shows that defiling God’s temple is literally insulting in the eyes of God.
Paul strongly made a good argument in our passage. There have been five main questions that Paul argued that has to be answered.
- What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness?
- What communion has light with darkness?
- What concord (agreement) has Christ with Belial?
- What does a believer share in common with the unbeliever?
- What agreement has the temple of God with idols?
Obviously, the answer of these questions is “NOTHING”. And therefore, it is only upright that we will continue to follow God in every way and be apart and be separated from the world.
Furthermore, there is a promise that God gave to us, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (v.16).” And such promise was repeated; “…and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty (v.18).