What Partnership has Righteousness with Lawlessness?

2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 7:1 ESV

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 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.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.’

“Since 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.”

All of God’s promises have conditions (stipulations, requirements). But too many people are pulling many of these promises out of their context and they are applying them broadly to anyone who makes a verbal profession of faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of whether or not they ever died with Christ to sin, and regardless of whether or not they are living to God and to his righteousness. And this should not be! So, please, if you read a Scripture with a promise of God, look further to see who it applies to.

We, as the Lord’s people, are those who are his by God-given faith in him, which results in us being crucified with Christ in death to sin and us being raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, no longer like our old lives, but now living as slaves to God and to his righteousness, in walks of obedience to our Lord and to his commands (New Covenant), and no longer living as slaves to sin. So we now walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (Romans 6:1-23; Romans 8:1-14; Titus 2:11-14).

For we are called to be God’s holy people, not just as a status we wear, but in practice, for we are to be holy in all our conduct (1 Peter 1:14-16). And to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, for as followers of Christ we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord. So, we are not to partner (unite, join in with) with the world. We are not to be like the world. We are not to do the ungodly things that they do. And we are not to be likeminded with them nor to share in the same attitudes.

And the world of unbelievers is not comprised solely of those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but this includes all who have made superficial professions of faith in Lord who never died with him to sin and who are not now living to him and to his righteousness, but who are still walking in sin. We are not to be partners with them, either. We are not to be in close fellowship with them to where we begin to take on their attitudes, and their characters, and their behaviors, for we are to be holy people.

So, we don’t go by who says or who doesn’t say that they believe in Jesus. What we go by is how a person lives. Are they walking in the light of the truth of the gospel in obedience to our Lord? Or are they still walking in darkness (sin), doing whatever they want to do, without regard for our Lord and for his commands? And I am certainly not saying that any of us has to be absolutely perfect. But none of us should be living in deliberate and habitual sin. None of us should willfully be disregarding our Lord’s words.

And how do the Scriptures define an “unbeliever”? They describe an unbeliever as one who practices sin and who does not practice obedience to our Lord, nor does he practice righteousness. And they describe an unbeliever as one who is disobedient, and a believer as one who makes obedience to our Lord his practice. Therefore disobedience = unbelief, and faith = obedience. And this has to do with what we practice.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:23-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Therefore, we are to come out from among those who are walking in disobedience to our Lord and who are not honoring Christ as Lord, and we are to be separate (unlike, different) from them. Now, this is not saying that we cannot associate with the people of the world, otherwise how can we show them the love of God, and how can we share with them the truth of the gospel of our salvation? This is speaking of us not being in partnership with those who do not honor Christ as Lord of their lives.

We are not to take on their character, and their attitudes, and their way of thinking and believing and behaving. We are to be different from them in thought, in belief, in attitude, and in behaviors. We are not to engage ourselves in their ungodly behaviors and attitudes and thinking. It is to have no part with us. For we are to be holy in all our conduct. And then God will welcome us, and he will be a father to us, and we will be his sons and daughters. And this teaching is consistent throughout the New Testament.

So, since we have these promises, we are to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. In other words, we are to cast off all hindrances (roadblocks) and all sins which cling so closely so that we can run with perseverance the race God has marked out for us to run (Hebrews 12:1-2). And we are no longer to walk in sin, but now in righteousness and in holiness and in walks of obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, from now to eternity.

For, if sin is what we practice, and if righteousness and walks of obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, we will not inherit eternal life with God, but we will die in our sins. And heaven will not be our eternal home.

[See noted Scriptures above]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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