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2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
STAYING SEPARATE IN A CONNECTED WORLD
Intro: We are living in a time when connectedness is the rule of the day. With our cell phones, our pagers, our Internet, we are always connected with those around us. Being connected to those you love and to those who need you is one thing, but there is another kind of connectedness that is not so good.
Some of the common buzzwords you often hear today are “tolerance, acceptance, openness, seeker friendly, inclusive.” The idea behind all of these terms is togetherness, or being connected on a human level. There is a concerted push in the world today to bring every one together under the same umbrella, one world, one society, one church. This is the heartbeat of the world and, sadly, it is becoming the heartbeat of the church. I would just remind you this evening that God did not call His people to be inclusive, but exclusive! The fact is, we are called to be vastly different from the world around us!
This trait of separation was sorely lacking in Corinth. Of all the churches mentioned in the New Testament, the church in Corinth was undoubtedly the most worldly. If the church in Philippi was known for its compassion, and the church in Ephesus was known for its commitment, the church in Corinth was known for its carnality!
It was a worldly church dwelling in a wicked city. The city of Corinth was so vile, that to be called a “Corinthian” meant that you were a person of low moral standards. Sadly, the evil of that society had penetrated the church and things had gotten so bad in Corinth, that there was little distinction between them and the world around them.
Paul is letting them know that things do not have to be that way! These verses tell us everything we need to know to remain separate in a connected world. While the world and the church are melding together so that there is little distinction between them anymore, God still expects His people to be different. He expects us to stand apart from the world around us and these verses tell us how to accomplish just that.
Now, there may be some here who would like to see Calvary Baptist Church become more “modern”. Well, these verses not only tell us how to be different, they show us why we should remain different as well. While all the church world around us is changing to accommodate the world, we have some very good reasons for staying in the old paths of righteousness and worship. Tonight, as the Lord gives liberty, I want to preach on this thought Staying Separate In A Connected World.
I. V. 14-16 WE ARE MARKED BY SEVERAL CONTRASTS
(Ill. Paul uses several verbs to make his argument: “fellowship, communion, concord, part, and agreement” all of these speak of “something held in common, or something shared.” His basic argument here is that Jesus and His followers have nothing in common with the world around them. He points this truth out by revealing 3 areas in our lives where there is to be contrast.)
A. There Is To Be A Contrast In Our Walk - The word “righteousness” has the idea of “purity of life, or of that which is pleasing to God.” The idea here is that God children are to be different from this world in the way they conduct their lives, Phil. 1:27. We are not to put on the world, but we are to put on Jesus in front of the world, Rom. 13:14!
B. There Is To Be A Contrast In Our Wisdom - Light and dark can have no fellowship. Even the tiniest bit of light has the power to dispel the most oppressive darkness! What Paul is talking about here is this: A life governed by the word of God has no shared ground with a life governed by the flesh, the world and the devil! We are to be different because we are to live our lives according tot he Word of God. We have a different standard of living than does the world, 1 John 1:7, John 14:21-23. (Ill. We have the light, let us walk in the light! But, beware of the words of men who would add to and subtract from the world of God! Avoid legalism, avoid modernism, but walk in the pure, living Word of God, Psa. 119:9.)
C. There Is To Be A Contrast In Our Worship - Paul reminds us that we are God’s possession. Just as there is no common ground between Jesus and the Devil (Belial), and between one who confesses Christ and one who denies Him, the idols of the flesh and the world have no business in the temple of God. My friends, let us be reminded this evening that this church is not the temple of God! You, who are saved are His temple, 1 Cor. 6:19-20. The things of this world do not belong in your life, nor do they have a place in your worship of the Lord! Just as our physical life is to be clean, so too is our spiritual life!
(Ill. This speaks volume to the modern church! Our duty is not to make the house of God and our worship here “seeker friendly”. Our duty is to consecrate ourselves to the will of God and to worship Him in Spirit and in truth! We have no business changing our music, our preaching, or lowering our standards to attract the world to the house of God. But, we are to place the totality of our beings on His altar, Rom. 12:1-2 and leave the growing business to Him! Instead of trying to be “seeker friendly”, the church should strive to be “Spirit friendly!” We need to create an atmosphere in which the Spirit of God can work, move and bless. As we do, He will see to it that those He desires to be here will get here be saved and will grow in grace.)
(Ill. The word “concord” in verse 15 equals “harmony”. It refers to musicians who play the same piece of music the same way at the same time. We get our modern word “symphony” from this word. Just as there is disharmony when a pianist play Amazing Grace at 3/4 time and the organist plays it at 4/4 time at the same time, so there is disharmony between Jesus and everything evil.)
(Note: The whole point here is this: God’s people are to be different from the world around them because they possess a new nature, 2 Cor. 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4! A pig rolls in the mud because it is a pig. If you could change its nature to that of a sheep, it would shun the mud and head straight for the green grass. If you are saved tonight, you have a new nature. It is not like the old nature, but it is different and it is hungry for the Lord and His will!)
II. V. 14, 17 WE ARE MANAGED BY SPECIFIC COMMANDS
A. V. 14 We Are Commanded To Be Segregated - This command pertains to people. It comes from the Old Testament, Deut. 22:10. The ox and the ass were two vastly different animals. The ox was clean, the ass was not. They possessed two vastly different natures. To yoke them together was to invite trouble! The “unequal yoke” is a military term. It means “stay within you own ranks.” This phrase us usually applied to marriage, and it is wrong to marry outside your faith if you are saved. But, there is more to it than that! It has the idea of not walking with the world. The believer needs to closely monitor all of his relationships, because walking with the world often results in walking like the world, 1 Cor. 15:33!
B. V. 17 We Are Commanded To Be Separated - This command pertains to practices. Just as we are to refuse to walk with the world, we are also to refuse to walk like the world! Let the world do its own thing, we who are saved are to be different! We are a “called out people” and we are to be different! (Ill. The word for “church”) (Ill. Many have read the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 9:19-23 and concluded that Paul altered his lifestyle and message to accommodate different crowds of people. What Paul did was to apply the Gospel in different ways to speak to different groups. In His personal life, he lived in such a way that he did not offend anyone, whether they were Jews, Gentiles or Christians. In other words, he lived a life of self-sacrifice and self-control. He didn’t change to suit the crowd, he just lived to please Jesus!)
III. V. 17-18 WE ARE MOVED BY SATISFYING CONSOLATIONS
A. V. 17 There Is The Consolation Of His Favor - Those who walk the separated life have God’s promise that He will “receive” them. The word “receive” means “to treat with favor”. God is saying, “If you will be separate from this world for my glory, then you will enjoy my favor. My smile will be upon your life!” I don’t know about you, but I want God’s favor! I want His smile upon my life, don’t you? A clean, separated life is how you get that smile on you!
B. V. 18 There Is The Consolation Of His Fatherhood - Now all the redeemed are the “children of God” and He is a Father to the all. However, just because all enjoy the relationship, there are many who do not enjoy the fellowship! Often, there is a rift between the Lord and some of His children because of what they have in their hearts and lives. When those things are taken care of and that child turns back to God in holiness and separation, that child will enjoy the sweet fellowship of the Lord once again! (Ill. Can you remember times when there was a breech in fellowship with a parent? Wasn’t it sweet when it was restored?)
IV. V. 7:1 WE ARE MOTIVATED TO STEADFAST CONVICTIONS
(Ill. Paul tells us that it is the Promises and the Person of God that should motivate each of us to seek a closer, more consecrated and separated walk with the Lord.)
A. Motivated To A Clean Walk - We are called upon to “cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” Well, the filthiness of the flesh would refer to those external acts of wickedness and filthiness of the spirit would refer to those internal attitudes of the heart that lead to external sin. We could preach all night about the sins of the flesh, Gal. 5:19-21. However, that which we do on the outside is merely a symptom of a problem on the inside! Many people, maybe many of you, have confessed the same sins over and over and still go right out and so the same things again. Why? Because you haven’t gotten down to the root of the problem! The real problem is not with the body, but with the heart! You see, the body might be chaste and bridled, while the heart is a hot bed of sin and evil! The body is an inanimate object until it is animated by the will. And, friend, whatever is in the heart, will be carried out by the body, Matt. 15:18-19!
Therefore, we must actively cleanse ourselves both inwardly and outwardly, so that the favor of the Lord can rest upon us and upon our church! You see, it is not enough for you to ask for cleansing, the words “let us” are a call for you to become actively involved in this process!
B. Motivated To A Consecrated Walk - The phrase “perfecting holiness” has the idea of “completing or getting the whole mind of Christ into the soul.” It is about us ceasing to be driven about by the flesh, the world and the devil, and about is beginning to be moved through life by a desire to please the Lord. In other words, this idea of “perfecting holiness” is the idea of Christ in you and living in you to enable you to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord, Ill. Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20! But, how is this possible?
1. By resisting and avoiding sin in all its forms - 1 Cor. 10:13!
2. By setting the “fear of God” before our eyes. That is, by refusing to engage in any thought or activity that would bring God’s displeasure upon us! (Ill. Where is the fear of God in these days?)
Conc: Are we really expected to remain separate in this connected world? Yes we are! But, we are to be separated and not isolated! Remember Jesus? He lived in this world and He lived a perfectly holy life, Heb. 7:26. But, at the same time, He was “a friend of publicans and sinners.”, Luke 7:34. And, like a skilled physician, we are to practice contact without contamination in this world. We have to be here and we have to interact with the world around us. We are to try to reach them. But, even while we live here in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we are to shine as lights in the world, Phil. 2:15!
Let us never be ashamed of the fact that Calvary Baptist Church is out of step with this world! Let us never ashamed of what we are, what we believe and of the convictions we hold sacred. Instead, let us strive to insure that it remains that way until Jesus comes! If we begin to lower the standard today, we will soon no different than the myriads of churches all around that have forfeited the presence and the power of God so they might gain the popularity and praise of men! You see, what you allow in moderation today, you will do in excess tomorrow! Maybe you would like to come and pray for your church this evening. Pray that we will stay in the old paths of consecration and conviction for the glory of God.
Maybe you need to come and talk to the Lord about your personal walk today. If there are areas of weakness and needs that have been touched on this evening, then you come before Him and He will meet with you. He has promised that He will draw near those who draw near to Him!