Study on the Book of 2nd Corinthians

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Division 3 — “The Ministry & It’s Description”

Lesson 10: "The Ministry: It’s Call to Separation and Consecration" - II Cor. 6:11-7:1

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

II Corinthians 6:11-18, “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

II Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”


-Introduction: When the subject of separation is approached, it is often dreaded. People just misunderstand what separation really means. To most people, spiritual separation means that they have to give up this, quit going there, and stop doing that. They feel it means never again having fun and enjoying the pleasures of this world. This is all most people see and think when they hear of spiritual separation. However, the greatest call in all the world is the call to separation and consecration. A person can be saved from this world and given absolute assurance of living forever as a son or daughter of God. Just imagine the glory of being truly adopted as a son or daughter of God! This is the truth of separation and consecration. Let’s look at four calls here:

          -1.  Call 1: Open your heart (v.11-13).

          -2.  Call 2: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers—you are different (v.14-16).

          -3.  Call 3: Come out from among unbelievers and be separate (v.17-18).

          -4.  Call 4: Cleanse yourselves and perfect holiness (2 Cor. 7:1).


#1) The first call is for an open heart.

Look with me again at 2 Corinthians 6:11-13, “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.”


The first call is for an open heart. An open heart is an absolute essential for separation and consecration. No person is going to separate himself from the world and consecrate his life to God unless he has an open heart and mind. Two things here,

-First, note how Paul's heart is open and full of affection for the Corinthian church. He says four statements here to show it,

          -"O ye Corinthians": He speaks directly to the church as though face to face, which always shows strong feelings.

          -"Our mouth is open to you": He has spoken openly and honestly, without hesitation or equivocation.

          -"Our heart is enlarged": His heart is open to them, and his affection has grown as he has been sharing the truth with them.

          -"You are not straitened in us": The word "straitened" used here means to be restricted, to lack room, to be pressed or distressed, to be in anguish or straits. Paul says there was no lack of room in his heart for the church; no restriction against them. He held nothing against them. His heart was wide open to receive them.


-Secondly, note how narrow and closed the church was to Paul. Their hearts were straitened, restricted, closed, and had little if any room for Paul. Paul appeals to them: "recompense," that is, return to him the same enlarged and open heart that he has shown them. Note that Paul calls them his children; therefore, just as children open their hearts and receive their parents with affection; he begs them to receive him and his instructions with affection.


Thought 1. Two things are absolutely essential if the church is going to ever hear the call of God and His ministry.

1)  A minister with an open, honest, and loving heart toward God and His people.

2)  A church with an open, honest, and loving heart toward God and His chosen minister.


"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).


"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).


"Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Romans 12:9).


"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you" (1 Thes. 3:12).


"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Peter 1:22).


#2) A call for believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”


The reasons are clearly stated here as believers are different from unbelievers, ever so different. Just how different is seen in the word "unequally yoked." It refers back to the Old Testament where God forbade the plowing of an ox with an ass in Deut. 22:10, or the physical union of different kinds of animals as in Leviticus 19:19.


The point is this,

          • That the union of a genuine believer with an unbeliever would be as different as the union between two kinds of animals.

          • That the plowing through life of a believer with an unbeliever would be as difficult as the plowing of a field with an ox and an ass yoked together.


Genuine believers are radically different from unbelievers. Five areas clearly reveal the fact. Note that each area is introduced with a question by Paul.

          -A.  Believers differ from unbelievers in fellowship. "What fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness?" The word "unrighteousness" means lawlessness. Unbelievers have not and do not obey God. They live and do as they wish, not as God says. They reject God and what God says and go about doing their own thing. They rebel against God and His commandments, living lawless and unrighteous lives.

          1. They have not believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to save them.


"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment" (1 John 3:23).


          2.  They do not seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.


"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).


          3.  They do not hunger and thirst after righteousness.


"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).

Note the word "fellowship" it means sharing and participation. How can a believer who focuses his life upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ share and participate with unbelievers who care little if anything about Jesus Christ and His call to righteousness?


          -B.  Believers differ from unbelievers in communion. "What communion does light have with darkness?" The word "communion" means to be in union, in partnership, in a bound fellowship, to be closely bound together. It means to be so closely bound together that there is open and mutual sharing: what one has belongs to the other. The point is clear: there is no such communion or union between light and darkness. On the contrary, light and darkness are mutually exclusive, of different natures entirely. They cannot co-exist.


          -Light is the symbol or picture of believers.

            -Believers are said to become "children of light" through belief in the Light, Jesus Christ           Himself (John 12:36).

            -Believers have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of           Christ, the inheritance of light (Col. 1:13).

            -Before they come to Christ, believers are not only in darkness but are an embodiment of           darkness. But when they come to Christ, believers are placed in the Light and become an           embodiment of the Light itself (Ephes. 5:8).

            -Believers are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16).

            -Believers are to set their light on a candlestick—to make their light conspicuous           (Matthew 5:15).

            -Evil-doers shun the light (John 3:20f).

            -The creation of light is a picture of the expulsion of spiritual darkness (Genesis 1:2f).


          -Darkness is the symbol or picture of unbelievers. The point is striking: the nature of           believers and unbelievers differs as radically as light differs from darkness.

            -As children of light, believers know the light of God, live by the light of God, and are           blessed by the light of God.

            -As children of darkness, unbelievers know the darkness of this world, live by the           darkness of the world, and receive only the blessings of the world's darkness (temporary           pleasure and possessions, and the hopelessness of death and judgment).


          -C. Believers differ in attachment and covenant. "What concord does Christ have with           Belial?" Belial refers to Satan. The name "Belial" refers in particular to the           worthlessness, wickedness, and impurity of Satan's character. He is pictured as the head           or leader of unbelievers; whereas Christ is pictured as the Head or Leader of believers.          


          -The picture is striking:

            -The forces of good and evil stand opposed to each other.

            Christ stands opposed to Belial.

            -The Righteous One stands opposed to the wicked one.

            -The Worthy One stands opposed to the worthless one.

            -The righteousness and purity of Christ stand opposed to the wickedness and impurity           of Belial.


If a person does not follow Christ, then Scripture says he is following Belial or Satan. Therefore, it is impossible for a genuine believer to live in concord or harmony with those who follow the lead of Belial instead of Christ. Believers cannot be attached to those who live wicked and impure lives—persons who follow the leader (The father) of all unworthiness, that is, the devil.


"Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils" (1 Cor. 10:21).


          -D.  Believers differ in faith or belief. "What part does he who believes have with an infidel?" The word "infidel" means a person who has chosen to disbelieve in Christ and has deliberately rejected Him. The word "part" means a person's portion, lot, sphere, realm, or participation in life.


The believer's faith is pictured as changing his whole life: his belief causes him to move in a whole new sphere or realm of life. He may live among unbelievers, living and working next to them, but he moves in a different realm. His purpose and behavior upon earth is different:

            -The believer believes that Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world; the infidel does not.

            -The believer lives as Christ dictates; the infidel lives as he wishes.

            -The believer seeks to honor Christ by putting Christ first and serving Him; the infidel lives for self and the world and its possessions.


The very meaning, purpose, and significance of life differ radically between the believer and infidel. The believer seeks Christ and the things of Christ, whereas the infidel focuses his life primarily upon this world and self.


          -E.  Believers differ in worship. "What agreement does the temple of God have with idols?" The word "agreement" means close agreement, a close union and bond of mind and spirit. There can be no agreement, no union, and no bond whatsoever between the temple of God and idols. Idolatry, above all else, is despised by God, for an idol is the substitute god of a man. An idol replaces God in a man's life.

A man's worship or idol may be ranging from self or personal ideas over to graven images or possessions. A man may worship and make an idol out of anything, such as...

•  money

•  land

•  position

•  power

•  recreation

•  family

•  fame

•  recognition

•  houses

•  vehicles

•  religion

•  profession

An idol can be anything to which a man gives his primary allegiance—his time, energy, money. Wherever a man puts his primary time, energy, and money and allegiance is where his heart and worship are.


This is one of the most significant differences between the believer and the unbeliever: the believer is not an idolater. In fact, he himself is the very temple of God. His very body is said to be one of the special places where God's presence dwells. The believer is able to know, sense, and feel God's presence and power within him. Note that Paul quotes from the Old Testament to illustrate his point:


"I will dwell in them; and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2 Cor. 6:16; quoting from Leviticus 26:11-12; Ezekiel 37:27).


The point is clear: the believer worships the living and true God, not idols. He cannot agree with the worship of unbelievers; he cannot live and walk with unbelievers in worship, for his worship differs radically from the worship of unbelievers.


"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9).


"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16).


"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1 Cor. 6:19).


"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2 Cor. 6:16).


"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5).

#3. The third call is for believers to come out from unbelievers and be separate.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”


These two verses are direct quotes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah 52:11-12. When God led Israel out of the Babylonian captivity, He told them to leave everything behind. They were to take nothing out of the defiled land, for they were to begin a totally new life under His leadership. Note three significant points.

          -First, believers are to come out from among unbelievers and be separate. What does this mean? Of course, it does not mean that believers are to leave the cities, communities, and work places of the world. Believers are not to isolate themselves from unbelievers. It does not mean that believers have nothing to do with unbelievers—never talking, sharing, or associating with them. Both believers and unbelievers are in the world, and they have to share the world together.

          -What God means is at least two things.

          a. God means what has just been discussed. Believers differ from unbelievers; they differ radically. Therefore...

          •  believers are not to be "unequally yoked" with unbelievers. They are not to be yoked, be intimately involved in a relationship with unbelievers.

          •  believers are not to be in "fellowship" with unbelievers. They are not to share and participate in the worldly life and functions and events of unbelievers.

          •  believers are not to be in "communion" with unbelievers. They are not to be closely bound in partnership with unbelievers. They are not to be so united with unbelievers that there has to be open and mutual sharing of person and possessions.

          •  believers are not to be attached nor in covenant with unbelievers. Believers must not follow the worthless leader, Belial (Satan), of the unbelievers.

          •  believers are not to move about in the sphere, the realm, the life and position of the infidel, the person who has rejected Jesus Christ.

          •  believers are not to worship with unbelievers.

         

          b. God means what He says in this verse: believers are not to touch the unclean thing. Believers are no longer to live as the sinners of the world. They are not to participate in the sins of unbelievers.


Thought 1. Very simply stated, believers are in the world, but they are not to be of the world. They live in the world, but they are not to take part in the sins of the world.


          -Second, note that separation is a command of God Himself. "Be ye separate, saith the Lord." There is to be no questioning, rationalizing, twisting, or ignoring of the command. God demands separation. In fact, separation is so important to God, it is one of the essentials to be received by God.


          -Third, the results of separation are phenomenal.

          a.  If we separate ourselves and consecrate our lives to God, He receives us. The word means to accept, approve, welcome. Imagine being accepted and approved by God Himself! God cannot receive a person who lives in sin and shame, in worldliness and immorality, in covetousness and idolatry. But if a person comes out from the world and separates himself, God receives that person.


          b.  If we separate ourselves and consecrate our lives to God, God will become our Father and adopt us as sons and daughters of His. Note that it is the "Lord Almighty" who adopts us, the only Person who has the might and power to do such a glorious thing. God's relationship to us is that of a father to his sons and daughters! God favors and nurtures us with...

  love

  affection

 care

  instruction

  deliverance

  guidance

  direction

  life

  provision

  glory

  protection

  reward

  growth

  reproof

  discipline

  chastisement


"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).


"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:15-17).

"To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:5-6).


#4. The fourth call is for believers to cleanse themselves and to perfect holiness.

2 Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”


God gives two of the most wonderful promises imaginable: to receive us and to adopt us as His sons and daughters. Therefore, God expects two things from us,

          -1.  God expects us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. All sin makes man dirty, but there are certain sins that especially pollute his flesh and other sins that especially pollute his spirit. A glance at the list of sins in the verses of the former note will clearly show this. Sins of the flesh would be such sins as immorality and drunkenness, and sins of the spirit would be such sins as hatred and jealousy.


"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2:21).


"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).


          2.  God expects us to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Note that this is continuous action. The word "perfecting" is an aggressive word demanding aggressive action. It means not only to practice but to finish and complete. The believer is, of course, to practice holiness. That is, he is to practice doing the things that will make him holy. But he is to do much more: he is to pursue holiness aggressively, seeking to perfect and complete holiness in his life. Of course, the believer can never become perfectly holy: he cannot become God. But he is to set his mind and heart upon becoming holy.


          Note the motive for holiness: the fear of God. The word fear means not only fear, but also awe and reverence. When a man really sees and understands God and what God has done for him he ceases to fear men. Instead he fears God and stands in awe of God, seeking to please God by living a holy and pure life.


"And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation" (Luke 1:50).


"But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:35).


"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephes. 4:24).


"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).


"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [behavior]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16).


*Next Lesson: The Ministry: Its End—A Transforming Revival, II Cor 7:2-16



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