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? [2 corinthians 6:14-15]
if holiness means we are to be separate from the world, with the wholly different purpose of reflecting God’s glory. then that means we have such a beautiful and intimate connection with other believers, through the Holy Spirit who dwells within each of us, linking arms to live out our new purpose together, as the church, the bride of Christ. what a blessing we have in a community of like minded people, given to each other for the purpose of encouraging one another to live out this new purpose with awe and joy!
but what does that mean about our relationship with unbelievers? as someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit, who lives free from the bondage of sin, and who now sees with opened eyes the glory of the Father, how do we relate to someone who follows the prince of the power of the air, who lives in slavery to his own brokenness, and who is blinded to the glory of God? the truth is, on a spiritual level, they cannot relate. they cannot understand our new purpose. paul says in another letter to the corinthians,
for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [1 cor 1:18 ]
but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to jews and folly to gentiles [1 cor 1:23]
and then once again,
the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. [1 cor 2:14 ]
so paul is saying that it’s impossible for us to link arms and be on this same mission with unbelievers. they will always be seeking a different glory, serving a different master, and living out a different purpose than what we are called to.
this passage is one of those that we will shy away from if we are dating an unbeliever. or if we have an unbelieving business partner. or our “people” we spend most of our time with are unbelievers. if this describes you, maybe the question to be asked is “am i living out a different purpose than the world?” or perhaps, “am i trying to force spiritual connection where there’s none to be found?”
paul’s not saying to sever all relationships with unbelievers. he’s not telling you to divorce your husband now that you’re a believer. (see 1 cor 7 and 1 pet 3) he’s not telling you to quit your job at the office because there are no other believers there. (but maybe so?) to sever the world does nothing to further the gospel. but you cannot further the gospel by linking arms in intimacy with an unbeliever. this is a call to honestly evaluate our relationships. talk to someone about your boyfriend/girlfriend who’s not a believer. talk to them about your best friend. seek out your lot family leader. we can’t waiver on this truth. God will not share his glory with another. (isa 42:8) believer, if your heart bristles against the command, ask why that is, and ask the Lord to soften your heart to the truth for the sake of his glory in us and to the praise of his glorious grace, which he promises will satisfy more fully than we can imagine.