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Untitled Document
2nd Corithians 1:1-7
2 Corinthians 1:1-14
2nd Corinthians 1:15-24
2nd Corinthians 3:1-18
2nd Corinthians 4
2nd Corinthians 5:12-21
2nd Corinthians 6:4-18
2 Corinthians 7:1-16
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
2 Corinthians 10:1-18
2 Corinthians 11:1-33
2 Corinthian 12:1-21
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2nd Corinthians 6:4-18

 

“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report:  as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.  O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.  Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.  Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.  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.” 

 

How We As Ministers of God Have Served God---What A True Minister Has To Go Through

 

 

“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left…” (verses 4-7)  “2nd Corinthians chapter 6, Paul, in this second letter to the Corinthians, much more passionate, much more revealing, sharing of his heart, challenging them, holding his ministry and the co-laborers that work with him before the Corinthians.  Saying, ‘We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us,’ Paul said, ‘the Lord speaking through us.’  “We pray you in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to God, for he hath made him to be sin for us; who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  “We then,” chapter 6, verse 1, “as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”  Paul, that tremendous sense of being a co-laborer with Christ, workers together with him.  That was an amazing perspective for Paul to maintain, we’ll see as we go on here.  “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation, have I succoured thee:  behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (verse 2)  By the way, tonight is the night of salvation, hopefully for some of you.  “Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:” (verse 3)  That’s a great plaque to hang in every Christian’s office or family room, or over every fireplace, or anyone who wants to have a ministry, ‘Giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed.’  Notice, “but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God,” and then he goes on to describe that.  “In all things” and he tells you in verses 4 and 5 what those “all things” are.  Then in “approving ourselves”, verses 6 and 7, he tells you how they were approving themselves.  Then he says “as the ministers of God,” and in verse 9 to 10 he tells you what that means.  So, in all things, ministers of God, not willing to bring any reproach to the ministry.  Paul is going to say, ‘Hey look, these are the things we’ve gone through, these are the things that no phony minister, no wolf, no false prophet would ever endure for the cause of Christ.’  Paul says, ‘Look at our lives,’ these are the things he says, “in all things.”  What are the things that they served God in?  Well, if you notice in verses 4 and 5, at least in the King James you have “in, in, in, in”, verse 6 and 7 you have “by, by, by, by, by”, bye, bye.  In verses 9 and 10 you have “as, as, as, as, as.”  So “in all things”, what are the things that Paul laboured in and served in?  He says here, “in much patience,” now that’s a bummer to start that way, because if there’s something I lack it’s patience.  Now this is not patience like I’m waiting at the bus stop and the bus is late, and I’m ready to jump out of my skin, but because I’m a Christian I’ll be patient.  It’s to “forbear”, tupomone, it’s to bear up under.  It’s when you’re standing at the bus stop in a blizzard, and the snow turns to hail, and it’s bouncing off of your forehead, and you’re getting struck by lightning, yet you’re standing there patiently waiting for the bus, it’s bearing up under pressure.  It isn’t just patience in the sense of waiting, it’s patience in the sense of endurance, of going through difficulty and enduring, in much patience.  ‘Hey, I want to be in the ministry.’   ‘Oh really?  Look through (verses 5-10) and see what you’re in for.’  “in afflictions,”---you can interpret that however you want in your mind---“in necessities,”---often being in need---“in distresses,”---stressed out, this is Holy Ghost university---“in stripes,”---being beaten, being whipped---“in imprisonments, in tumults,”---he started riots at times—“in labours,”---that’s labouring to the point of exhaustion---“in watchings,”---staying up all night praying, sometimes---“in fastings;”  verses 4b-5)  Look, “we then as workers together with him” verse 1, what does it mean to serve together with Christ?  “Oh it’s exciting, I want to be in the ministry, serve…” then Paul rips off this list.  Wait a minute, let’s think about this again.  Now you have to understand, he’s not being chastened by God, this is not chastening.  God is not, you know, somebody would look at Paul’s life and say ‘God must be, he must have hidden sin or something, every time I see him he’s full of problems, floating on a log or getting whipped, kicked, or you know.’  No, he is in these things because not only has he separated himself from the world, but then he’s stepped one more step and consecrated his life, it’s not just separated, it’s consecrated to the cause of Christ.  And he says ‘We are ambassadors.’  That means we represent another place.  We’re here temporarily, at the Embassy.  That’s where we meet every week, at the Embassy.  We’re ambassadors, for another world.  And this world is not our home.  Jesus had a young man come to him and say, ‘Lord, I’ll follow you anywhere, let me first go and bury my father.’  Jesus said, ‘No, let the dead bury the dead.’  What the young man was saying was ‘Let me go take care of my father, he’s old, then when he passes away I’ll come follow you.’   And Jesus said, ‘No, let the dead bury their own dead.’  In other words, without spiritual life, even though you’re walking about breathing and talking, you’re not really alive eternally, spiritually.  ‘Let the dead bury their own dead.  The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay his head.’  ‘The foxes are in their environment, birds of the air, this is their environment, they have their nests.  If you want to follow me, I have no den here, no home,  I have no place to lay my head, I have no rest, this is not my environment, I’m passing through.’  Also, Jesus is the ultimate Ambassador.  In fact, when we find out finally where he ultimately rests his head, it says when he died on the cross he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.  That’s the next time that word is used, ‘the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’  He finally had somewhere to lay his head, when his work was finished and he went home.  So, Paul is not in these difficulties because God is chastening him.  This is the ministry he stepped into in a world that was adverse to the message that he was bringing in many ways. 

 

How We Endure, How Christ’s Ministry Through Us Is Approved

 

Verse 6 shows us how you do endure.  Let me ask you a question, when you are enduring something, are you smiles, what’s your attitude?  Are you Yipidy Do Da, Yipidy Yea, or are you kind of ‘if they don’t get here soon, I’m going to shoot ‘em, grumble, grumble, grumble’?  Look, he’s in patience in afflictions, necessities, distresses, stripes, imprisonments, tumults, labours, watchings, fastings.  And how?  How does he handle those things?  He says, “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness,”---those are not the kind of things that rise to the surface in me when I’m in distress and persecutions, and I’m getting beaten and whipped by somebody’s tongue---“by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,”---that means without hypocrisy, it’s not a phony love, without hypocrisy---“by the word of truth,”---which is the Word of God, obviously---“by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.  By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;” (verses 6-8)  That’s how.  He says first of all, “in all things.”  And then in verse 4 he says “approving ourselves”, how do you approve yourself?  i.e. How is Christ’s ministry in us approved?  Well, whatever situation you’re in, however difficult it becomes, whatever comes down on you, if you know that you’re serving with Christ, and you are fellow-labourers with him in those circumstances, ‘pureness, knowledge, longsuffering, kindness, the Holy Ghost, love unfeigned, the Word of God, the power of God, the armour of righteousness’   ‘Honor, yes, and dishonor, by evil report, and good report’ if you’re serving Christ, if you’re not in sin, if you’re not stealing money, if you’re not compromising, the way Satan is going to come at your life is just like this, through the tongue.  Honour, dishonour, good report, bad report, it’s going to come, goes with the territory.  You know, it’s interesting, watching these two precious sisters of ours, who were rescued out of Afghanistan.  And isn’t it interesting, to be perceptive and watch what’s going on right now, you know, what is extremist Islam, what is this belief?  What is an infidel?  Does the Koran say you can kill?  There’s that whole question floating around out there.  Then all of a sudden there’s a President praying, holding prayer services in New York, calling out on God.  These two young women, held up in front of the entire world, who just spent a good bit of time in necessities, in distresses, in imprisonments, tumults, watchings, fastings, by pureness, and knowledge, and you can see the joy of the Lord in their faces.  I watched them on TV.  I think, ‘Oh Lord, what a great witness, their faces are glowing, the joy of the Lord.’  So they were asked, ‘What are you going to do with your life now [now that they had been set free from their captures by some U.S. Army soldiers that discovered them locked away in a steel cargo shipping container by the Taliban]?’  ‘Go back to Afghanistan.’  Larry King, ‘What!?’  ‘We were made for Afghanistan.’  ‘Weren’t you angry at your captors?’  ‘No, I was angry at the way people were treated there.’  What righteous indignation.  No, I wasn’t angry at the people that mistreated me, but I was angry at the way I saw other people mistreated.’   They showed the kind of anger that is vindicated in Scripture, the purpose of anger.  Not to do the stupid things we do when we’re angry, punching holes in sheetrock, walls, and furniture [I have to admit, I once broke my hand punching out a chair, been there, done that Pastor Joe J ], and getting out Elmer’s Glue and fixing it.  No, no, the Bible says “Be angry and sin not.”  Anger is a necessary emotion, it’s not evil, people get condemned for being angry, but the Bible doesn’t condemn anybody for being angry.  God has given us anger.  It’s part of his nature, there’s a lot of anger in the Bible [and you don’t want to get God angry at you J].  But it’s being angry at the right thing.  Using anger is an emotion to use in a proper environment, when there’s abuse, when someone’s being hurt and there’s injustice.  You know, just what a great testimony, “I wasn’t angry at them for what they did to me, I was angry because I saw how other people were being abused and injured.”  What a great testimony.  The same Spirit is in us, the same filling, the same empowering, the same Holy Ghost, the same Word of God, that I believe if we were forced into those circumstances the same grace would be there to sustain us and to keep us.  Same God, same chapter, alive right now before our eyes. 

 

What Paul’s Ministry Was Like

 

“by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report:  as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (verses 8-10)  He moves onto his “as’s” in verse 8.  “as deceivers, and yet true”, you know any of those feelings?  Paradoxes of ministry?  How many of your family, you know, ‘You go where?  Don’t take my kid there, don’t do that.  You deceiver…’  ‘No, Ma, I know the truth, I’ve come to know Christ as my Saviour, this is what the Word of God says.’  “as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (verses 8b-10)  Now Paul, see Paul didn’t understand some of the Health & Wealth teachings that have come to us in these days, ‘If he would have just confessed that he was rich, he wouldn’t have had to go through these things.  If he would have just confessed that he wasn’t floating in the ocean the sharks would have left.  If he would have just confessed that he didn’t have any  pay.’  Isn’t it ridiculous? [Pastor Joe is referring to the ‘Health & Wealth Gospel’ that some denominations mistakenly believe and teach.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation3-1-22.html and read the letters Jesus wrote to the Philadelphia and Laodicea Church eras, the last two eras of the Church before the 2nd coming., to learn about the fate of those who teach the ‘Health & Wealth Gospel.’]  Paul is in the middle of these things, yoked in the yoke with Christ, serving with him, led of him, ambassadors for another world, not at home in this world, facing these adversities for the cause of Christ, held up as he says, as a spectacle for the world to see.  And one of the things that makes our testimony spectacular is to see someone like these two girls, to see someone like Lisa Beemer, whose husband died on the flight over Pennsylvania, to see someone whose gone through hardships and distresses and sufferings, and yet with pureness and joy and hope in the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  Yes, there’s the process of being called one thing or another, you know, ‘unknown, yet known, dying yet we live, sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, having nothing and possessing all things.’  Paul is describing the ministry that he himself and his fellow-workers had been going through for these Corinthians.  In the Book of Acts he wanted to leave, he’d been mistreated, and God said to Paul, ‘Go back into the city, for I have many people there.’  It’s a good thing God said that to him, because there probably would have been times, when he looked at the Corinthians and said, ‘This is a losing cause.’  ‘Go back into the city Paul, I have many people here.’  And he’s pouring out his heart here. 

 

Paul, as a parent to his kids

 

“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.  Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.” (verses 11-12)  ‘Oh you Corinthians.’  We’ll hear it again in Galatians, ‘Oh you empty headed Galatians.’  What Paul’s saying is ‘We’ve been open, our mouth is open, we speak plainly, our heart is enlarged to you, we’ve given everything, we’ve suffered, we’ve been through all of these things, we’ve been mistreated, we’ve done it with pureness, with loyalty, we’re the ambassadors of Christ, we never want to bring any reproach on the ministry.  And we take all of this abuse and all of the mouths of men attacking us.  Oh you Corinthians’ he says, ‘we have done this for you, we’ve spoken openly, plainly to you.  Our hearts are open, it’s enlarged to you.  And you are not straitened in us, there’s no restriction in us towards you, we haven’t held anything back.  But you are restricted, you are straitened in your own bowels, now for a recompense I speak as unto my children, be ye enlarged.’  Paul says, ‘I want something back, a recompense.  All of this has been for you,’ and Paul says, ‘We’ve spoken plainly, and we’re open to you.  The problem isn’t that we’re not open to you,’ Paul’s saying, ‘the problem is that you’re not open to us.  And it’s the recompense that we want, just like a father speaks to his children.’  Just like any parent here tries to nurture their children, and raise them in the fear of the Lord, and talk to them about spiritual things, and talk to them about Christ.  And you look at your children and say, ‘I’ve spoken plainly, my heart is poured out to you.’  And you have that emotion, ‘Oh…’ whatever your kid’s name is, ‘the problem isn’t that I’m not open to you, the problem is you’re not being open with me.’  [How many parents have gone through that with their teens?  Almost all decent parents have, obviously.]  And he’s pouring out his heart. 

 

Paul’s Plea To The Corinthians---‘Don’t Be Unequally Yoked Together With Unbelievers’

 

And look what his plea now is to these Corinthians.  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:  for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  and what communion hath light with darkness?” (verse 14)  This is a church, remember, Paul laboured here for a number of years.  As he travels he hears that the church in Corinth is famous for division, ‘I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos, I’m of Cephas.’  He hears that this church is famous for sexual sin, even to the point where one man is sleeping with his mom, and the church doesn’t do anything about it.  He hears that this church is famous for suing one another, and taking each other to secular courts, instead of settling things in the church.  This church is famous for getting drunk at the Communion table [Christian Passover table, for that early Christian church], and abusing one another.  This is a church where God said ‘Paul, go back into the city, I’ve got many people there.’  And Paul must have been saying at some point, ‘They’re yours, they ain’t mine.’  This is a church where if you laboured for years, this is the best teaching, the best pastor, and see this kind of fruit, it must have been discouraging.  And yet Paul is pouring out his heart here, he says as a father to his children, ‘Don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’  He’s going to begin to talk to them about the need for separation.  ‘Don’t be unequally yoked together.’  Of course as a Jew Paul is thinking of part of the Law, “Thou shalt not plow” well it speaks of separation, “thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with diverse seeds, thus the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown and the fruit of thy vineyard be defiled.”  [We’ve done that artificially with genetically modified seed, and before that with hybrid seed.]  “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and with a jackass.  Thou shalt not wear a garment of diverse sorts, as of wool and linen.  Thou shalt not yoke together a jackass and an ox.”  The Law said that.  Two reasons, one simply, they were constantly learning the differences between that which was clean and unclean.  But more than that, there was a chafing, there was an unequal yoke.  If you put a jackass and an ox in a yoke together, the ox, by nature, is going to labour and pull forward.  The jackass, by nature, is rebellious and is going to pull backward and go ee-aawh!  ee-aawh! and pull in the other direction.  What happens is that yoke that’s around both of their necks is going to chafe and it’s going to be injurious and it’s going to begin to bleed.  There was an art to making a yoke, even with two oxen.  The yoke itself would have to be fitted for each of the ox’s personality and strength.  It’s interesting, because when it says, when it  tells us that Jesus’ father Joseph was a carpenter, the word is, one of the words used is a technician, a master-carpenter, not just, he wasn’t just framing houses, he was a finish carpenter, a master carpenter.  And what that tells us is that one of the main things that he would fashion would be the yoke.  Jesus grew up fashioning yokes, Jesus understands the purpose of the yoke.  And to be unequally yoked causes injury, causes bleeding finally, chafing, there’s a soreness and an injury, and then infection.  And even with two oxen that yoke had to be fashioned for each of those animals so that the pull, the labour, would not be a labour that was injurious.  Now Jesus, a yoke-maker, then and now, said “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.  My yoke is easy, my burden is light.  You shall find rest for your souls.”  Easy means “well-fitted.”  You know, we’re almost repulsed by that idea, being yoked in with somebody, you know, something chained around our neck.  Well, Jesus knows the yoke that each of us was made for.  And he knows how to fashion it so that it’s not pulling unevenly, so that it’s not injurious.  In fact, he says ‘my yoke is well-fitted, if you’re yoked in the yoke with me.’  [Or if you’re in the yoke created by Me, say in a godly marriage.]  That’s what you were made for, to labour, to move forward. That’s where you will find freedom.  That’s where there will be in your life the least amount of injury.  ‘Least amount of injury?  Paul, you just said you’re in distresses and beatings and whippings and no thanks.  That’s the easy yoke?’  Well that is the easy yoke.  You want the hard yoke?  What does an unbeliever go through?   Because they experience the same things.  What does an unbeliever experience when they’re persecuted or beaten, or they get cancer or life is falling apart, or somebody punches them?  Do you want to go through those things without Christ?  Paul says we go through those things ‘with pureness, with joy, with the Holy Ghost, with understanding, with the Word of God.’ 

 

The Yoke In Reference To Marriage

 

And he begs these Corinthians now, ‘Don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’  No missionary dating.  Now, I hope that hurt.  Um, I’ll tell you what it’s not saying.  It’s not saying, I don’t want anyone going home saying, ‘Ah, Pastor Joe said I can divorce you.  No wonder I’ve been sore at you all this time, it’s this unequal yoke, you’re heathen and I’m born-again.’  No, no, that’s not what I’m saying.  Some people are in an unequal yoke because they were converted, in a marriage, in a business, in a relationship that was already existing.  And Paul says if the unsaved partner is pleased to stay, then you stay, love them, minister to them, witness to them.  [see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor7.htm]  But this is a great exhortation for those that are still “free” [ie unmarried] not to be stupid.  I wish I could line the people up on stage that would tell you, ‘We came into the church, we wanted one of the pastors to perform the wedding. When they found out the person I wanted to marry wasn’t a believer, they said ‘No.’  We went ‘Oh yeah?’ and we went to another church and got married.  And our life is a disaster.  And I’ve been divorced for three years.  And I’m worn, and I’m sore, and I’m bleeding, and I’m chafed.’  To those of you that are free [unmarried], your true freedom is to be yoked in the yoke with Christ, not to be yoked with the world, the world’s values, the world’s relationships, worldly businesses, don’t get yourself into those circumstances.  Because with those things comes worldly morals, worldly spiritual values, emptiness.  If you marry an unbeliever, you know, we hear ‘Oh he’s so wonderful, he’s so nice.  Look at those biceps…’  Well if he’s that nice, and he’s the ox, what space is left in that yoke?  [laughter]  Or vice versa?  And then you get married, and have kids, and then you want to take the kids to church, and the spouse says ‘Ya, go ahead, I don’t care,’ and the kids start to think, and they say ‘Mom, you have to be saved to go to heaven, right?’  ‘Yes,’  ‘Well, does that mean Daddy’s going to hell?’  ‘Shhhhh, he’s gonna flip out if he hears this!’  That’s the story.  It’s funny for us.  I guarantee you, anyone whose sitting here in that situation is not laughing in their heart.  Don’t go there.  Don’t get involved in it.  Don’t move into it.  Paul says, ‘Don’t’ he’s pleading with them, ‘everything we’ve been through, beatings, and shipwrecks and being whipped, and all of this stuff, and we’ve done it with pureness, we’ve done it with a right attitude, you know we’re not phonies, we’ve been discredited, we’ve been lied about.  O you Corinthians, I’m talking to you the way that a father talks to their children.  The problem isn’t that we’re not speaking plainly or that we’re not open to you.  The problem is you’re not open to us.  Don’t be unequally yoked together with the unbelieving world.’ 

 

The Yoke As It Applies To All Relationships

 

Not just in marriage, but in business and a thousand different relationships.  You all know that.  You have the Holy Spirit.  Here are the reasons why.  Look what he says. “for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  and what communion hath light with darkness?” (verse 14b)  King James says “unrighteousness”, that word is “lawlessness.”  Fellowship means to participate with, to be in partnership with.  “What partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness?”  When you’re yoked unevenly that is why it chafes, because righteousness, the right behavior, differs from someone who has no rules.  They have a different set of rules, when it comes to paying taxes, when it comes to doing the books, when it comes to morality, when it comes to drinking [and that would be to excess, beyond extreme moderation], when it comes to R-rated movies, when it comes to one thing or another.  What partnership is there between righteousness and that which has no law?  No rules, no guidelines, lawlessness, it’s an unequal yoke.  “and what communion hath light with darkness?” communion, that’s koinonia, the Book of Acts, they were all together and they had all things in common, koinonia, it means communion, it means “in common.”  What does light and darkness have in common?  Go home into a dark room, turn on the light, where’s the darkness?  Turn out the light, where’s the light?  It isn’t like half the room can be lit up and half the room can be dark.  What communion, what koinonia is there between light and darkness?  It’s unequal. “And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (verse 15) Concord” is symphonisus in the Greek.  “Christ with Belial”, ie “Christ with the devil, Christ and Satan.”  What symphony, what harmony can there possibly be, symphonisus between Christ and Satan, between righteousness and lawlessness, between light and darkness?  What symphonisus?  When you come here, your elementary school students playing in the orchestra, you come because you love your children.  [chuckles]  There’s a lack of symphonisus there.  They’re so cute, and we have our cameras and you know…it’s a slight lack of harmony sometimes, very recognizable.  “or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (verse 15b)  That’s an important word these days, infidel, isn’t it?  An infidel is an unbeliever.  That’s what a Muslim thinks, a Christian or Jew is an infidel.  An unbeliever doesn’t believe what they believe.  We’re talking about this from the perspective of Christ and the Scripture.  What part does a believer have with an infidel?  That’s an interesting word “part” there.  It means “parcel”, it means “portion”, it’s the word used in the Old Testament when the straws were drawn when the children of Israel came into the land and received their portion, their allotment, their inheritance.  ‘What allotment, what portion, what inheritance does a believer and an unbeliever have in common?’  What’s your destiny?  What’s your inheritance?  We have an inheritance that’s incorruptible, undefiled, it fadeth not away.  What inheritance lies in front of an unbeliever, what destiny?  It’s hard to be yoked together with somebody that doesn’t recognize and has a completely different influence, completely different kingdoms, completely different set of goals, completely different set of destinies and purposes.

 

We, Collectively, Are The Temple of God

 

“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.” (verse 16)  “For ye”, that’s King James, that’s “plural you”, ‘you sitting here this evening, everyone in this room, you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, I will be their God and they shall be my people.’  Paul ends this whole section, you know, that’s his concern, the Corinthian church was so polluted, the Corinthian church was so compromised, the Corinthian church had so many problems, he pours out his heart as a father here, he says ‘Don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, it is injurious, it is chafing, it produces infection.  And how can there be those things between righteousness and lawlessness, and light and darkness, and the believer and the unbeliever, between Christ and Belial, between the temple of God and that of idols?  Because you, plural, are the temple of God.  And when you bring that kind of compromise into this temple, you pollute the entire Body of Christ,  you pollute the entire temple.’  When you come in here with your compromise, you’re living in sin, you’re playing games, you affect everybody.  No one sins to themselves.  I’m not saying that a sinner shouldn’t come, we welcome sinners.  And we’re thankful if somebody comes, and they sit and they hear the truth, and they come under conviction, and they give their lives to Christ, we live for that, it’s wonderful.  But Paul’s talking to believers, who are playing fast and loose with the world.  And what he says is, ‘You are chafing yourself, you are wearing yourself out, you’re going to find yourself bleeding, and broken, and infected.’  And not only that, ‘You’re bringing that corruption right into the temple, right into the Church, right into the Body of Christ.’  And it’s a tremendous exhortation.  And you know we hear it all the time, ‘Well, you know, he’s so nice.’  ‘Well is he a Christian?’  ‘He acts like one.’  ‘No, no, is he born-again?’  ‘Well he goes to church on Christmas and Easter.’  ‘Is he SAVED?’  ‘I dooonnnn’ttt know.’  You need to know, you need to know.  Here’s what Paul says.  He goes to Isaiah, and he quotes Isaiah who was challenging the children of Israel to come out from amongst idolatry.  “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 17-18, [quoting Isaiah 52:11])  Paul said this is what the Word of God says.  “and touch not the unclean thing”, now you have to understand, from a Jewish perspective, this means anything that brings defilement.  You don’t have to walk around saying ‘What’s the unclean thing?  I don’t want to touch it.  Do you see it?’  ‘Don’t mess with that which defiles, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’  Come out from among them.  Touch not the unclean thing, saith the Lord, literally it’s ‘I will receive you kindly, and treat you with favour.’  It’s an interesting idea.  ‘I will receive you kindly, I will treat you with favour, I will be a Father unto you.’  ‘Well what are you saying Pastor Joe, that if I’m living in compromise or I refuse to separate from some kind of situation, that I’m not saved, that God is not my God?’  No, I’m not saying that.  I’m saying you’re a backslidden stubborn knucklehead.  And maybe you’re saved and you get to heaven [or into the kingdom of heaven] by the skin of your teeth.  But there’s another side to this relationship, not just your side.  What God is saying is, ‘If you will be separate, if you will give your life to me, then I won’t just be your Father, but I will then be able to be a Father unto you.  If you live in sin and rebellion, yes, you’re still my child, but I can’t bless that.  I can’t treat you kindly and with favour.  Because I can’t give the world the impression that I bless sin, that I bless rebellion, that I bless stubbornness.  So I cause those who would live in rebellion to be in a situation that chafes, that causes them to be sore, that wears them out, that they might come away smarter, they might come away broken, that they might come away obedient.  Because if you come out from among them, and you’ll be separate, I will receive you.’  It’s not salvation, he’s talking to the Church.  ‘You will be my sons and daughters, I’ll treat you kindly.  You need a husband [or wife]?  Don’t go hunting, don’t go compromising, just separate yourself and come to me, and I’ll treat you like a Father, and I’ll give you one that I know is best.  You want a better job, you don’t have to compromise and get involved in some questionable situation with unbelievers where they’re lying or cheating.  What you need to do is you need to be separate, you need to come to me, and I will be a Father unto you, and treat you kindly, and bless, and give you the things that you need.’  It’s the heart of God, and Paul says that, he senses that, that pathos, like a father beseeches his children, Paul is saying.  He’s giving them an exhortation.  “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers.”  And then he goes on and talks about that.  But “come out from among them,” and he tells us why, so that God can treat us the way he wants to treat us.  There’s two sides to a relationship, it isn’t just yes, we’re his children, by grace we’re saved, but it is when we walk with him, when we’re yoked with him, that’s what we’re made to be yoked in, that’s where we can find our life can go forward, even in difficulty, without chafing, without being sore, without being infected.  If we’ll walk where he’s called us to walk, then he will be a Father unto us, not just he will be our Father, he is, by salvation, by grace.  But he will play the part of the Father in our lives.  He’ll receive us, treat us with favour, ‘I will be a Father unto you, you shall be my sons and my daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’  It’s always good to know your Dad is Almighty, it’s good to know your Dad is Almighty in this world, when we see what’s happening around us.  It’s a good feeling to close your eyes at night when you lay your head on the pillow and know your Dad is Almighty.  [Spoken about three or four weeks after the Trade Towers were hit on 9/11.  And Boston just had two bombs set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on the 15th April 2013.] 

 

2nd Corinthians 7:1

 

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (verse 1)  This first verse of chapter 7 is the conclusion of what we’ve been looking at. No, the promises are, ‘I will receive you, I will treat you with favour, I will be a Father unto you,’  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  So this is not salvation, he’s asking something of you in regards to being separate, in regards to setting your life aside for his purposes.  “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting”---and that is progressively, in the text---“holiness in the fear of God.”  Having therefore these promises, that God has made a yoke for us, he knows every personality in this room, and he has, he is the yoke-maker, and he knows how to carve the yokes so that two oxen [i.e. married couples] can pull together and not be worn.  He certainly spiritually knows how to produce the yoke for you to be yoked in with him where you’ll find rest for your soul.  You’ll find that your burden is easy, and that it’s light.  He knows how to produce that in your life.  And if you come to him and say, ‘Lord, that is my place, my place is better known by you than it is by me.  My function, Lord, that will bring fulfillment in my life is better known by you than it is by me.  Lord, my destiny is better known by you than it is by me.  My purpose in this world is better known by you than it is by me.  My preservation, Lord, is better known by you than it is by me.  So Lord, yoke me in the yoke with your purposes, with your calling and with your destiny.  Be my Father, lead me.  Give me in my life what you need to give me for me to fulfill the purposes that you have predestined, those good works fore ordained that I should walk in them.  Be my Father, I’ll be your child, oh Lord Almighty. [J. Vernon McGee shows in his commentary the yokes we’re not to be yoked to as being marrying an unbeliever verses marrying a believer, being partners in a business with unbelievers, or a crooked organization, etc., that is the context of yokes in this set of verses, yokes to avoid.  It’s interesting, Paul in 1st Corinthians 7 spent a whole chapter discussing the subject of marriage in the Church, being married to believers verses unbelievers.  Now it’s almost as if he’s finishing up on the subject by showing how one can be properly yoked in a marriage between a man and a woman, and to avoid at all costs being yoked in a marriage to an unbeliever.  1st Corinthians 7 and 2nd Corinthians 6 are complementary in that way, they complement each other in their messages and teaching.]    “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh”---those are our actions---“and spirit,”---those are our attitudes---“perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 

 

We Must Cleanse Ourselves From All Filthiness Of The Flesh

 

First thing, filthiness of the flesh, ‘How do I get victory?  I can’t get victory over pornography.’  Really.  ‘I mean, I know the Bible says that, and I love the Bible, it’s just the verses the bother me, and I’m an exception, there was no Internet when Paul wrote that.  If he’d had known about the Internet, that rule is outdated.’  Oh really.  ‘Surely I’m the exception to the rule.’  “cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh.”  God’s calling you to be separate.  You can’t be yoked together with the things of the world.  You can’t be yoked together with internet pornography without destroying your life, without quenching the Spirit, without playing the part of an infidel, without finding yourself in darkness, without finding yourself in spiritual things that will chafe you and make you sore and desensitized.  Drunkenness, we don’t have to go through the list.  “cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh”, if you’re living in sexual sin this evening, if you are having sex with someone you’re not married to, ‘Well, we’re married in the eyes of God.’  And I’m sure you’ll get divorced in the eyes of God too then.  ‘Well, it’s just a piece of paper.’  Well if it’s just a piece of paper before you get married, it will just be a piece of paper after you get married.  And it’s not just a piece of paper.  The Scripture says you’re to abide by the laws of the land, it is a Marriage License, and it certifies that you have stood somewhere and you have made your vows, and have the signature of someone on it who loves you and who cares for you, who will watch over your life spiritually, and give you the exhortations and challenges that cause you to make the vow and covenant that’s necessary, in front of witnesses.  It is not just a piece of paper.  It is sacred, and it is a covenant.  And within the framework of that, yes, then sexual pleasure is pure, it finds its fulfillment, that’s where God has placed it.  If you’re living outside of that, the exhortation of Scripture is “cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh.” ‘Well I can’t get victory over it.’  I’ll tell you, when the Trade Towers went down, we had people with victory the next week.  We had people who could not get victory until they said ‘Oh my God, this is all real, I might be checking out soon, Lord, I got victory.’  And again [right after 9/11] we saw people we hadn’t seen since the Persian Gulf crisis back in church, checking to see if we’re still here.  But it was funny, how many people came with tears, recommitting.  ‘I got victory, I got victory, I saw the fire, I saw the people falling, I saw the terror, the horror, I saw my own mortality, I got victory.’ 

 

‘Cleanse Yourself From All Filthiness---of the spirit.’

 

‘Cleanse yourself of all filthiness of the flesh, you know the things that the Scripture prohibits.’  Is God prohibiting you from having those things because he’s a kill-joy and he wants to take away your fun?  No, no.  Because he knows it’s impossible for you with the spiritual nature he’s planted within you when you were saved, which is the very nature of his Son, which is his very Son, it’s impossible for you to be unequally yoked then to the things of this world, and have any spiritual health, fulfillment, joy, strength at all.  ‘Cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh,’ now here’s the tough one, “and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (verse 1b)  You know, because the Pharisees, they cleansed themselves from all the filthiness of the flesh.  But their spirit was rotten.  Jesus said, ‘Outwardly you look like whitewashed tombs, inwardly you’re full of dead men’s bones.’  You can have some of these very legalistic things, and say ‘I don’t do this, and I don’t do that, and I don’t do this, and I don’t do that, and I don’t do this, and I don’t do that, and I don’t do that either.’  I don’t want to know what you don’t do, I want to know what you do.  ‘You don’t do any of those things, but you’re judgmental, you have an attitude, you brag about your self-righteousness.  You give your alms to be seen of men, you fast so other people can see you.  You pray so people can see you, you make long prayers for pretense.’  Jesus went through all of the things that somebody can be outwardly self-righteous, but inwardly hypocritical, Jesus went through a whole list of what they do.  And honestly, unsaved people, they see that.  They see when we can be outwardly puritanical, and yet they sense in our spirit hypocrisy, being judgmental, being angry, being lustful.  ‘Cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit,’ Paul says, “perfecting”---that’s progressively—“holiness in the fear of God.”  Well how do I do that?  Well I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t know.  I know you wish there was a book in the bookstore ‘The Secret of Cleansing Yourself From All Filthiness of the flesh and the spirit.’  Then you can say, ‘That’s why I’m such a filthy sinner, because I didn’t know the secret.’  Your problem isn’t that you don’t know, your problem is what my problem is, I do know.  How do we cleanse ourselves?  First of all, confess your sins, homologeo, confess, say the same thing,  that’s what the Greek word means.  Say the same thing as God.  Don’t say, ‘Well Lord, you know I really love her, yea, we’re sleeping together, but we’re gonna get married, I don’t sleep with anybody else…’  That’s not confession.  Confession is, ‘Lord, you said this is sin, I know it’s wrong, it gnaws away at me, I’ve lost my joy, I’ve defiled you sister in Christ, Lord this is spiritual incest, it’s wrong, forgive me, cleanse me.’  Confess your sins.  And then it says he’s faithful and just to forgive us, to cleans us, and to cathorize us from all unrighteousness, to begin to take out the defilement.  Jesus says to abide in his Word.  He says, ‘Lord, they are sanctified through thy truth, thy word is truth,’ that our lives are set aside by the Word of God.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  We know that, the washing of the water of the Word, and the truths of that Book, helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, gird our loins with truth, feet prepared with the preparation of the Gospel of peace and the sword of the Spirit.  Our problem isn’t that we don’t know, our problem is that we do know (read James 1:22-25).  We don’t lack for knowing, we lack for doing.  And his challenge here to these Corinthians, and there’s a little bit of Corinthian in every one of us, to differing degrees I guess.  The problem isn’t on God’s side.  Paul says we are his ambassadors.  ‘We are the mouth-pieces of God,’ Paul said, ‘the apostles, Christ is speaking to you through us.  We are labourers together with him.  We have sacrificed in many ways, and borne up under those difficulties that honours him.  And we are pouring our hearts out to you.’  I know that feeling sometimes.  Sometimes I hear of people in the congregation in sin, and think, ‘What do they listen to?  Do they hear?  They’ve been sitting on the Word for years.  What’s in their mind?  How do they justify?’  Paul says as a father to his children, ‘We’re pouring out our hearts.  The problem isn’t,’  Paul said, ‘that we haven’t spoken plainly or been open to you, we’re enlarged, we’re open to you.  The problem is you haven’t been open.  If you want to be open, here are the truths, don’t be unequally yoked together with the unbelieving world.  You can’t find any partnership there, you can’t find any harmony there, you can’t find any communion there, you can’t find any destiny that is in common or portion or inheritance with the unbelieving world.  It is just a chore, it is painful, it will cause you harm.  But rather than that, come out from among them, be separate, and I’ll receive you.  I’ll be a Father to you, you’ll be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.  Seeing therefore we have these tremendous promises, let’s cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.’  And look how remarkable that is.  God is saying to people who need to cleanse themselves from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, ‘I will be a Father unto you.’  He’s saying that to them.  He’s not saying, ‘You are going to be smoked.’  No, he’s saying, ‘Get rid of these things in your life.’  There’s such tremendous longsuffering and tolerance on the part of God.  ‘Cleanse yourself from the filthiness of the flesh.’  He’s not saying ‘You’re done!’  You know, if my kids sin at home, break the rules of the house, if they’re in rebellion, I don’t say ‘Ok, pack your suitcase and change your last name, and get out of here.’  No, God chastens, he loves us, as he says, as a father with his children, Paul’s saying.  If you’re in some filthy thing tonight in your behavior, or some attitude that needs to change, God isn’t casting you off.  He’s not telling you to pack your bags and change your last name.  He’s saying you have these tremendous promises, ‘I long not just to be your Father, but to be a father unto you, you’ll be my sons and daughters.’  It’s a promise, it’s not a suspicion, it’s not a possibility, it’s a promise.  ‘Cleanse yourselves, put away those things that you know are offensive, get rid of those places where you’re yoked with the world in some unfruitful ridiculous thing, some worldly attitude or behavior, and put them aside.  Let me yoke you in the yoke I’ve formed for you from the foundation of the world, and let’s move on together.’  What a great exhortation…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on 2nd Corinthians 6:4-18 and 2nd Corinthians 7:1, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

How are we, collectively, the Temple of God?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm and scroll to Zephaniah 2:1-3.

 

‘Cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the…spirit.’  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20I.htm

 

Christ corrected the judgmental way the scribes and Pharisees were keeping the Sabbath.  Are you a Pharisee?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm

 

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