Saturday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:11—7:16 (NKJV)
6:11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.
5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you. 13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort.
And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.
Picture a wagon being pulled by two animals that are yoked together side by side, except that, instead of two strong horses, you have one that is big and strong and another that is small and sick. Or worse, you have a horse on one side and a goat on the other! Such animals are unequally yoked together, and they will soon stumble and bring everything crashing down.
Paul instructs the Corinthians, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers…Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.” This isn’t a command for believers never to associate with unbelievers in the world. It’s a command for believers not to participate in the moral filthiness of unbelievers, as if they were the same. What’s more, it’s a command for believers not to work together with unbelievers to pull the wagon of the Christian Church. In other words, those who believe the true doctrine of Christ should not work together in the Church with those who support false teaching.
Centuries ago the Lutheran Church understood these words of St. Paul as a command for them to disassociate themselves from the Papacy, which rejected the pure teaching of the Gospel. Even in matters of adiaphora, like ceremonies and rites in the Church, our Lutheran forefathers were careful not to give the impression that they were still working together with the Romanists or that they were “pulling the wagon” together with them.
It is for the same reason that Lutherans today who are faithful to the Scriptures and their Confessions must disassociate themselves from any synod or church body that rejects any part of God’s Word.
We pray: Father, You have called us by grace and cleansed us through faith. Keep us steadfast in Your Word and the clear confession of it. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.