Distinctly Christian? 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

Distinctly Christian?

NAU  2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 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. 17 "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Question: “What do these verses mean for practical living today?”

  1. Generally the prohibition of 6:14 is to be mismatched like two animals of a different kind being tied together (“yoked”) or mated with one another. This is pretty strong language. Working this out is tricky, but I do think it implies refraining from close (or formal) associations with or partnerships with unbelievers. At the end of the day, we must live so as to reflect the reality that we have little in common with unbelievers as the terms “partnership” and “fellowship” and “harmony” and “agreement” vividly imply. Applications might be….
  2. Business or legal partnerships with unbelievers are normally ill advised if not prohibited. However, I believe this usually would be restricted to 50-50 partnerships. Majority-minority partnerships have a built in decision making apparatus. 
  3. Closest friends will probably be believers. Of course, there is a tension point - we still must have relationships with non-believers in order to be salt and light - evangelism. Jesus himself is an example of this.
  4. No marriages with non believers.
  5. No religious partnerships with non-believers - this would probably be on a church or denominational level. However, I think this is primarily restricted to gospel endeavors and doesn’t prohibit working together for social or mercy purposes.
  6. In principle, no identification with causes, movements, events, organizations, or etc that blur our membership in the family of God and/or bring God’s name into disrepute.
  7. This passage probably also speaks to care in making financial investments and business endeavors. However, consistently applying a principle of no partnership is almost impossible unless a person is willing to live under a rock.  
  8. All of this does mean that the believer should be distinct - in the right sense he/she is to be known as “different” in values, practices, language, dress, worldview, priorities, and etc. We  must always be cognizant of our holiness, that is, our belonging to and identification with the holy God.
  9. This is all a moving target as well. How to work it all out will likely be different from culture to culture and from era to era. 
  10. I believe that if we are looking for absolute rules we will be frustrated and likely end up as confused legalists. Providing dogmatic answers to specific cases (“what about…”) is more difficult that we might think and often takes us into the realm of preferences rather than divine fiat. On the other hand, we must embrace our distinctness (“separateness”), not deny it. In his wicked culture, Noah condemned the world system by his public obedience to God.

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2017. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.