“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;”  2 Cor. 6:14-16

Many times as believers we cringe at biblical commands because they call us to action. Sometimes toward repentance and sometimes to continue on as we have been walking in obedience. It is important to realize that Paul has more than just marriage in mind as he give the command. Notice he gives six reasons why. Five of them are questions. One is a qualifying reason for why he is telling the Corinthians (and us) to not be unequally yoked.

The phrase “unequally yoked” really comes from Deuteronomy, where God says in the law to not yoke a donkey and an ox together. It is agriculture lesson. A smart farmer would not yoke to unequal animals together. They cannot work together. It has the idea of not being bound together with those who are not like minded, have the same goals, or worldview.

So, what is Paul saying here to the Corinthians? The unbelieving Corinthian culture was affecting the church. In fact, it had infiltrated it! From 1 Corinthians we know that there was sexual immorality, pride, sectarianism, rudeness, selfishness, class distinctions etc. There is no greater danger than when a church faces this, for several reasons:

  1. God is not being treasured above all else, demonstrated in the fact that Christians are not loving their brothers and sisters.
  2. The Leadership has not guarded well the flock
  3. The flock has not noticed the leaders failure or the intruders (wolves in sheep clothing)
  4. The flock and leadership are not being discerning of the Enemy’s schemes
  5. The Word of God is already not being obeyed

So, how does a church deal with the danger if it has already infiltrated? Or, better yet, how can a church prevent this from happening? The principle here is that the affections of the world are not Godward, have you noticed?

So Paul answers this in 5 questions using these words:

Partnership vs. 14
Fellowship  vs 14
Accord vs. 15
Portion vs. 15
Agreement vs 16

Now these words are explained with comparisons

  • Righteousness and lawlessness are opposite vs .14
  • Darkness is not the opposite of light it is the absence of it. Vs. 14
  • Christ and Satan are advancing different kingdoms! (Jesus Himself said “a kingdom divided against cannot stand” he said this when people accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan. Vs. 15
  • Portion of a believer and unbeliever: Means: “In common” serving different masters. 15
  • Temple of living God with idols? Vs. 16 Who is the temple of God? We are!

So, how should we apply such truth? Here are some thoughts in the form of questions that you can take to the Lord and assess where you are with this command. The beauty of this is that the Holy Spirit will convict where there is or has been sin, and secondly, He desires to free you from these associations so that you can live truly for Him and His kingdom purposes.

  1. Are we (or have we) made a partnership with an unbeliever in business that would bind us to unholy purposes, products, or people? Not all business can be done with just believers, (ie. going to the market) but formal partnerships that would put you in conflict with God’s purposes through you.
  2. Who do you spend the most time with? You will naturally become like those you spend time with. They affect you whether you like it or not. What do you read, what do you watch, who do you “fellowship” with? As it says elsewhere in 1 Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Although Paul probably quoted this from Menander’s comedy, he uses it as a proof to Corinth to not continue in sin. It is wisdom that tells us that when we hang around negative people, we will probably be negative, if we hang around grumpy people, we will probably be grumpy. Why not find godly, kingdom focused individuals to spend time with?
  3. We have probably thought about what God would have us to be doing, but have you ever noticed that scripture warns us against being deceived by or even serving Satan’s purposes? (Matthew 16:33 (Forbidding that Jesus go to the cross), Luke 22:31 (Satan desires to disrupt what God is doing in and through our lives), John 8:44 (Satan’s children believe and live a lie.), Acts 5:3 (Lying), 1 Corinthians 7:5 (faithfulness in marriage), 2 Corinthians 2:11 (our mission activity), 2 Cor. 11:14 (what seems of the “light” may not always be), 2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Tim. 3:6 (Temptation toward conceit), Ephesians 4:27 (give no opportunity to the devil), Ephesians 6:11 (Standing against His schemes), 1 Thessalonians 2:18 (Satan hinders missions efforts) , 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 1 Timothy 1:20 (Blasphemy), 1 Timothy 3:7 (snare of the devil),  1 Timothy 5:15 (straying after Satan), 1 Peter 5:8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  1 John 3:8  practice of sinning, 1 John 3:10 “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” Revelation 2:9 (pretenders “synagogue Satan”), Revelation 2:10 (we can be tested through him), Revelation 2:13 (Satan’s throne) Revelation 2:24 (deep things of Satan) But he can be rebuked! Jude 9 , Resisted James 4:7 And will be destroyed!  Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 12:9,12; 20:10
  4. Are you sharing in this worlds system rather than the church? You are called to be separate! (2 Cor. 6:7, 1 Thess. 4:3)
  5. Are you in agreement with idolatry? You are God’s temple! Identify and destroy idols in your life that distract from worship of Christ as He rightly deserves.