ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XII | Courageous Division | 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:4
Topic: New Testament Passage: 2 Corinthians 6:14– 7:4
Christopher Rich – April 18, 2021
ENDURE | Courage in Weakness
PART XII| Courageous Division | 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:4
Introduction | What influences you?
Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series ENDURE: Courage in Weakness.
Let’s talk about influence and effectiveness? We have strong internal desires and powerful external influences competing for our attention and affection. Some helpful, some harmful. We think of influence in negative terms because we believe we are this steady immovable rock neutral or right in how we see and engage the world. Yet, all of us are influenced our entire lives in countless ways positively and negatively. If we are Christians our eyes are open to recognize sin is real, brokenness impacts and influences us and the world in a variety of ways, yet we are called to holiness. What does endurance look like in a world opposed to God?
Retreat- Sin is a disease we could catch and need to avoid at all costs so the best way to do that is bunker down in a holy huddle. This is attractive because it appears safe but neglects that we’ve got the disease too. It is big on calling out sins the community isn’t actively engaged with while ignoring those which remain present.
Receive- Sin doesn’t exist (at least not the way God defines it) doesn’t have consequences or is in fact not something to be avoided but is something to accept, affirm, and even advocate for. This is attractive because all sin starts with a promise of greater/flourishing life/pleasure purpose, etc. and is usually popular so it appears to be acceptable. However, it ignores the reality of…… sin is real has consequences, shame, separation, and eventually death. It at times includes even a rejection or denial of objective reality itself.
Sin’s promises are empty - This is not a new issue, it is one dealt with in generation after generation and it presents itself in different ways so when/where/who we grew up with, run with now, or listen to have a great impact on how we see and engage the world. None of us are neutral, while In Christ we have been made new AND we are called to holiness for the purposes of our joy and God’s glory. How can we stay actively engaged with the world without engaging in active sin? Faithful endurance requires Courageous Division.
PART I | Break the Yoke! | 2 Cor 6:14-15
2 Cor 6:14-15 |14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
Necessary Distinctions - While a house divided will fall sometimes there are times division, separation, or at least differentiation is necessary. Not all unity is good and life giving, not all division or distinction is bad or destructive. There was a movie in 2013 called “I’m in love with a church girl.” Staring “Ja Rule” in which he plays a retired high level drug dealer who starts falling for a “church girl” and when the begin dating she says “do you know what it means to be unequally yoked” and he says “what like eggs or something?” and I think most of us in the church see this from a context of dating or marriage. This can apply to marriage, dating, relationships but here the context is idolatry and pagan practice. This also refers to influence. This doesn’t mean we don’t have relationships with unbelievers, in fact we’re glad you’re here. only that we do not participate practice or affirm what God has prohibited. Meaning is not disassociation but differentiation.
Yoke - A yoke tied two animals together so they could work together for a common purpose as if they were one. Two oxen tied up can only go together effectively if they are of mutual size strength and direction. But what if one is significantly strong than the other? What if they’re different creatures all together? Deut 22:10 (do not plow with a donkey and ox because they are so different) Bound means you cannot separate. The strongest animal is going to be pulling in the direction it wants to go. You might think “I’m the strongest” and maybe you’re right. But you cannot overcome effectively someone tied to you actively going in the opposite direction or is simply dragging their heals or at best not helping you progress. It’s a heavy and ineffective yoke causing a painful burden. Jesus says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” so we can have rest.
Partnership/Production - Fellowship means working together for a common purpose. Justice vs lawlessness (One direction bent towards the balanced scales of justice the other towards greater corruption and rejection of that which leads to flourishing. How can they work together when their desires, goals, and practices are as diametrically opposed to one another as light and darkness? Light and Darkness have different purposes and produce different outcomes. Light brings illumination of reality, warmth, clarity and life/growth. Darkness brings fear, obscures reality, hinder life and fosters decay. You cannot have light/dark work together to produce life. Jesus says in Him light has come into the world overcoming darkness. It doesn’t mix the two. You don’t have a little righteousness mixed with some injustice and call it good. One ingredient poisons a burrito.
Unholy Symphony – The word accord means agreement, harmony, unity, the root is where we get the word symphony from. Musically we like mashups (Glee, Linkin Park-JayZ) but these two are so distinct it cannot work. You can’t mask up In Christ Alone and Cardi B’s WAP have it be edifying music. The two are singing different songs Christ (mercy grace, holiness sacrificed himself for you) and Belial (satan,) means worthless. He seeks division between you and God, t requires you to sacrifice yourself for him. John 10:10| The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Portion (What you share together) – Again all the context is around worship. When you have a new identity united with Christ you have a different purpose than those who are opposed to Christ. Distinction from unbelievers is not disconnection as we love our neighbors and pursue them with the compassion of Jesus. Sin isn’t something we can, or should, always social distance from. Trained healthy health care workers who are using the right PPE can often engage and even help people who are sick or who need care without getting sick themselves. But if you’ve got co-morbidities and you don’t know what you’re doing or are just doing the same things hurt/sick people are doing you’re likely going to get harmed. When you give time, energy, attention, resources and and relationship you are giving over influence into your life. This includes what media you consume how we spend our time and with who. We ask ourselves questions to help us navigate:
Who are the people have the greatest influence in your life? What is their deepest desire, goals or worldview? Define in your mind what is the nature of this relationship? Are you the influencer or are you being influenced? Where can we partner and where can we not? What media are you consuming, or voices are you listening to?
PART II |Comfortable Holiness | 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1
2 Cor 6:16-71 | 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then 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.” 7:1Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
Agreement – (Deposit together/vote, treaty) In this case, peace declared where there is actually a conflict. We should be uncomfortable when there is sin, when are consciousness are seared. We shouldn’t be willingly or knowingly placing ourselves in a yoke of burden, but enjoy and pursue Comfortable Holiness – To be Holy is to be set apart by God for God. With the Holy Spirit, in us we are now a temple where the living God dwells. We desire God working in us and through us. Holiness gets a bad rap because it includes and at times requires necessary division or even self-denial. We don’t like self-denial because we think it is a lesser than life. Why would I deny myself? God is a cosmic kill joy, and if He is restricting me, He must be holding out on true enjoyment. We misunderstand. Every prohibition in scripture is an invitation to greater life.
We are the temple of the living God – How does knowing we are “temples of the living God” inform our identity in Christ? What are the implications for how we understand holiness? God dwells with us in us. You can track the narrative of the Bible with a clear theme of God renewing and restoring dwelling with His people that had been exiled from the Garden because of sin. The exile from Eden was not because God was unloving but because God is holy and cannot allow sin to dwell with His perfection. God knows we cannot and will not effectively and eternally purify ourselves to be in His presence so He pursues us in our sin, engages with us, makes us new and leads us home with Him. God with His people in the tabernacle, in the temple, In Christ Perfectly, and the body of Christ (Christians) becoming part of His Temple as we’re united with Christ through the Holy Spirit. This is us as individual Christians and collectively as a church. Our God is Living, as opposed the lifeless idols of the world. The point of turning away from, separating from, being unyoked with is not for us to simply avoid what is evil or attempt to stay away from what is “dirty”. God does not prohibit us from consuming things which are actually life giving but rather protecting us from that which is capable of consuming us. Paul goes old testament to make the point clear, the purpose of holiness is not to be exclusionary with the world or retreat from it but rather to endure and persevere in it, while we make our way home.
Presence & Power (v16) – Leviticus 26:12-13 | 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. God doesn’t say, man I wish you’d just get yourself out of slavery already, or you should break out of the yoke. God has shown up, He has broken the yoke that was weighing you down and keeping you enslaved to sin so because He is with you, and us, we can stand up tall and walk with confidence. God doesn’t call us to something that He hasn’t already empowered or equipped us for. In the OT God showed up in the tabernacle/temple, but now He dwells with us, in us, through the Holy Spirit in power and presence. So when in the NT you see calls for to avoid sin, to repent, to change our actions or attitudes it is not so that we will be saved or have the favor of God. It is in the context of the new identity we’ve already been given In Christ, healing we’ve experienced from Christ. It is not our power that brings us to God’s presence but God’s presence empowering our life.
Purity & Protection (v17) – Isaiah 52:11-12 |11 Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.12 For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. God’s people were defeated and dominated finding themselves in exile in Pagan Babylon. God was appealing to His people to return to Jerusalem, to reject and repent of the pagan practice. With the power and presence given, yoke broken we can now walk out of slavery and exile. For the Corinthians it meant not engaging in the idolatry in Corinth. We are in Babylon now and we need be discerning what can be received and what needs to be rejected. We are invited to purity in part because we are vessels of the Lord’s presence. Yes, we are jars of clay who carry the treasure of the gospel but that doesn’t mean we have to be dirty and defiled. Leave exile. Do not pursue that which will destroy us but rather leave behind what seeks to ensnare you. God is leading you forward and protecting you where you are vulnerable.
Promise & Provision (v18) – Jeremiah 30:11-12 | With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. When we are humbled and aware of our own sin we don’t have to run from God but rather we run to God who welcomes us with the promise of taking us home to the family we are now a part of. Heartbroken, contrite, humble, stained and broken all have a place and need not fear at all. Because we are coming to the God who promises us Mercy with Him. We have to remember the promises of God as we pursue holiness otherwise WHEN we sin, or WHEN we stumble we might think we are done with God or God is done with us. This misunderstands the Depths of His Mercy for us and the efficacy of His promises to us. God provides what is needed to fulfill His promises. As part of a new family we are no longer easily comfortable with sin which defiles us. He provides as He guides. I will make them walk by brooks of water (providing joy and life) and He lays out the path that keeps us from stumbling. God is the sustainer of our holiness. He does all this because of His identity of a loving Father who meets us I our brokenness and leads us on a path of wholeness.
Body & Spirit – This is comprehensive, so we are not mystics that or nostics that pretend only our soul matters, and we’re not materialist who only care for the body. What we do (or is done to us) impacts our souls, and our souls impact how we live. We are wholistic people so we cannot just say my soul is clean while we defile our body or assume that because our actions seem unimpeachable that our souls are free from pride and malice. We have been given and are secure in the promises of God SO we can now pursue purity. We do NOT pursue purity to secure the promise of God (that’s religion) nor do we receive what God has called sin and reject what God has declared good (that is idolatry). All of this is a pursuit leads it says to “completion” wholeness. So what we think of as self-denial is actually a path to wholeness, where self-indulgence leads to greater brokenness. Our identity is “beloved”, or desire is wholeness, and our motivation is reverence for “the Lord all mighty” the all powerful, creator, eternal God who is greater than all the false little g god’s we get served up. The good, loving powerful God who made us and knows us both individually and collectively.
PART III |Set Apart, not Separate | 2 Cor 7:2-4
2 Cor 7:2-4 |2 Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
Set Apart, not Separate – Faith in Jesus and receiving His holiness is necessary for each of us individually. Enduring in with the Lord isn’t something we endeavor to do alone. Holiness is not a call to loneliness but to community with others who know and love Jesus. We require communal connection. Christians are never intended to be solely independent but rather interdependent on healthy Gospel community. We have corrupted no one – We are a community that builds one another up towards what God has for us. Serving and loving one another, no using or abusing one another. Healthy community gives Gospel, safety, time, as we don’t affirm but we abandon what hinders life and purity. Unbound to the world and unburdened from the condemnation of our sin, we are bound together in LOVE as brothers and sisters with grace and truth.
This community allows us to experience joy even in affliction. Who has been an encouragement to you in community during a difficult season? Jesus has called us to be on mission IN the world while not being OF world. We are pursued and received while we were yet sinners. So we can and do engage with compassion and conviction. We don’t retreat in fear or receive what is evil, but journey in boldness and joy as we Trust Jesus!
More in ENDURE: Courage in Weakness | 2 Corinthians
June 20, 2021ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XX | Courage to Endure | 2 Corinthians 12:20-13:14
June 6, 2021ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XIX | Enduring Weakness | 2 Corinthians 12:1-19
May 30, 2021ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XVIII | Leading out of Weakness and Vulnerability