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NOT UNEQUALLY YOKED

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”  2 Corinthians 6:14-16

 As Paul writes to the church at Corinth again, it is evident he still has concerns about their spiritual health.  There are many things that contribute to an unhealthy spiritual life – poor Bible study habits, weak prayers, divided loyalties, a loose tongue, ungodly attitudes toward brethren and the pursuit of things over God. 

 In addition to these, there is another factor that contributes to spiritual weakness – it is giving the worldly an undue advantage in your life.  It is this factor that Paul now addresses in our text. 

 When we think of a yoke we think of a pair of oxen in a field.  The yoke is the tool placed around their neck so that they will together plow in the same direction.  Because of the yoke, the pair of oxen together would have more strength to plow the field.  The yoke BOUND them together.

 In our text, “unequally yoked together” is one word in the Greek language that means, “to come under an unequal or different yoke.” (Thayer).  Vine’s describes it as, “another of a different sort.”  The specific concern Paul probably had in mind was the Christian putting himself in a circumstance where a pagan or unbeliever had an advantage over him.   Bear in mind that Corinth was a very idolatrous society, so living there as a Christian required extreme caution. 

 The Christian is called upon to live with caution.  When Jesus sent out his disciples He told them, “Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16).  Paul cautioned brethren to, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside.” (Colossians 4:5)  We need to think about the consequences of our actions – how they affect others and how they will affect us.  That is what Paul was challenging the brethren at Corinth to think about.

 Do not be unequally yoked…”  There are many examples that we could think of as we seek to apply that instruction.  Let us notice a few ways that we can become unequally yoked. 

 Marriage.  There is debate about whether or not it is sinful for a Christian to marry a non-Christian.  It is not the purpose of this article to fully discuss that debate.  However, it is worthy of note that very often, when a Christian marries a non-Christian there is the potential for the non-Christian to cause the faith of the believer to weaken or even totally fade away.  I know of examples where a non-believing husband forbade his wife from assembling with the saints.  Her role as a wife conflicted with her role as a Christian, and serving Christ became much more difficult.  I also know of households where the children are agnostics because the parents are not on the same page spiritually.  And I also know of spouses who promised before marriage to allow their spouse to practice their faith who changed AFTER marriage.  Brethren, while it MAY not be sinful to marry a non-believer, it certainly is NOT wise.  I heard a preacher one time say, “If you marry an unbeliever, expect to have problems with your father-in-law” (think about that in spiritual terms).  Why put yourself in a circumstance where an unbeliever has the potential to make your life miserable, and because of God’s marriage laws (cf. Matt. 19:9, Rom. 7:1-3, etc.) you will never be happy in this life?  And it is the exception rather than the rule that the believer converts the non-beleiver.

 Business arrangements.  It is sad but true, even some Christians are materialistic.  While they want to serve God on the one hand, they want to make lots of money on the other hand.  Often the “dollar signs in their eyes” will move them to make decisions rashly with an unbeliever who can provide them with material prosperity.  Brethren don’t let money and the pursuit of things trap you in a relationship where you are “unequally yoked” with an unbeliever.  Consider 1 Timothy 6:6-10 which speaks of contentment and warns of the dangers of those who desire to be rich.  Matthew 6:19-21 speaks of where our REAL treasures ought to be.  And you will not be able to send money on ahead to heaven.

 Going to the fire of the enemy.  Remember the account of Peter after Jesus was betrayed? Peter denied his Lord 3 times.  It is recorded in all 4 gospels (Matt. 6:69-73).  Luke’s account (22:54-62) records that Peter was cold and made his way to the fire kindled by the enemies of Jesus (vs. 55).  It was when he was surrounded by enemies of God that Peter was tempted and denied his Lord all three times.  How terrible he must have felt when his rejection finally sunk in.  We are told that he went out and wept bitterly (vs. 62).  Brethren don’t go to the places where wickedness abounds.  Avoid casinos, bars, dance floors, and other places where a godly person is clearly in the minority AND “unequally yoked” with unbelievers.  These are places the Christian has no business being. 
The same could be said of going to places that might not be wrong in itself, but because of WHEN the activity is done, the majority of people there are worldly and ungodly.  For example: Attending a NASCAR race or an NFL football game.   BOTH of these take place predominantly on Sunday and often in conflict with assembly times.  Now we know that the ungodly who are there could care less about these things, but you should care greatly.  IF THE CHURCH is really first in your life, you are not going to want to be around such places.   David said in Psalm 119:104, “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I have every false way.”  May we learn to despise evil so much we will want NOTHING to do with it.

 The friends we associate with.  Related to the point above, we also need to be careful WHO we choose as our friends.  A good friend can be a great encouragement and we all need friends (Prov. 17:17, 18:24, 27:6, etc.).  Even Jesus had friends (John 15:14).  But the question is what will they encourage us to do?  Will they encourage us to do godly things or will they encourage us to do evil?   Jeroboam listened to his young friends (cf. 1 Kings 12:10-11).  Solomon warned about associating with wicked men early in his discourse on wisdom (Prov. 1:10-19).  Even Paul would later tell the Corinthian brethren, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” (1 Cor. 15:33)  Christians OUGHT TO prefer their brethren (cf. 1 Peter 5:5) over those of the world (cf. Mt. 12:48-50).  Godly brethren will build us up (Eph. 4:16), BUT there are many, EVEN BRETHREN, who choose their friends of the world OVER their brethren.  Such is dangerous and almost ALWAYS puts one in a circumstance where he will be tempted to do things ungodly or at least forsake his spiritual family.  Unless on is incredibly strong spiritually, there is HIGH probability that who you associate with will influence what you become, where you go and how you do what you do.  Don’t put yourself in that situation.

 Association with a false teacher.  Just this past week I read in a book by a prominent author how we ought to overlook the errors of others and call him “brother” in the way of fellowship. (When God Whispers Your Name Max Lucado, , pg. 53).  He actually said, “And if we never agree, can’t we agree to disagree?”  I have a serious problem with that.  False teachers are dangerous.  They use deceit and flattery to gain a following (2 Peter 2:1-3, Titus 1:11, Rom. 16:18).  Usually a false teacher doesn’t announce his plans when enters the assembly.  He enters disguised like a sheep (Matt. 7:5, 2 Cor. 11:13-15) and in time lures his “prey” away from the flock.  It is documented over and over how men with agendas have entered congregations, secretly amassed a following and then DESTROYED the church through division and introduction of error.  Such would NEVER be possible if brethren were ALERT and careful as to who they associate with.  If a brother is a false teacher, BE CAREFUL before you make him your closest friend!  You are likely to be influenced by him.

 These are some examples of how we can be “unequally yoked with unbelievers.”  Others could be added to these space permitting.  The point I make is that we need to cherish our brethren.  They ought to be more than just a casual, compartmental acquaintance in our life.  They ought to be our family and part of our “inner circle”.   If we are wise, they will help to keep us from the evil one and build us up spiritually.  Choose your friends wisely!  TATJR