His Without Reserve
Teaching Holiness

On 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1

          A. Scripture: Chap. 6: “14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
         “‘I will live in them and walk among them,
         and I will be their God,
         and they shall be my people.
         17 Therefore come out from them,
         and be separate from them, says the Lord,
         and touch nothing unclean;
         then I will welcome you,
         18 and I will be your father,
         and you shall be my sons and daughters,
         says the Lord Almighty.’
Chap. 7: “1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.”
          B. Comment: This is a key passage for gaining a clear understanding of personal holiness.
         6:14. Mismatched. “Unequally yoked” (KJV); “don’t link up with” (Phillips). This passage stands separate from its setting in Paul’s letter–a parenthesis, as it were. Its first section might be titled “Contrasts.” Using five striking examples, Paul contrasts the mind-set of the child of God with that of the child of Satan. They are: righteousness vs. lawlessness; light vs. darkness; Christ vs. Beliar; believer vs. unbeliever; and temple of God vs. idols. The challenge thrown down to each Christian is clear: avoid attachment; disengage! Why? We are the temple of God.
         To have a vibrant relationship with God we cannot have any relationship with lawlessness, darkness, Beliar, the unbeliever, or idols. This instruction in no way forbids personal, loving (principled loving) interactions with unbelievers. However, these relationships must not draw our thoughts away from God’s thoughts for us, that is, God’s ideals for us (see Ps. 10:4; Jer. 29:11).
         15. Beliar. “Beliar” or “Belial” is a term for Satan or a follower of Satan. To make it clear that he is talking about more than marriage relationships, Paul lists “mismatches” that occur in several kinds of relationships.
         16. My people. The king of the universe urges upon all believers that divorcing oneself from the ways of the world brings a rich reward: He will be our God! We will be His people! He welcomes us. He will be a Father to us, and we will be His children.
         17. Come out. The earmark of a holy life is choosing to separate from evil and join to God, not just in selected areas of our lives but in all things. “This separation is not simply negative; it has its positive aspects also. One is not only to be separated from someone or something; he is also to be separated unto God. . . . It is also separation from attitudes and activities which belong to the world and to its system.”* The call to the Corinthians was to separate from the contamination of heathen practices and to enfold themselves in the welcoming arms of “the living God” (vs. 16) who calls Himself “your father” (vs. 17).
*Harold Lindsell, Harper Study Bible. RSV. Note on 2 Cor. 6:17.
         18. Father. God is at work continually forming a people, “My people.” He calls, He invites, He urges, He pleads. And who is the deity making this call? Who is offering adoption into His family? Who has the spiritual power to draw out a people from modern-day Egypt and bestow upon them sonship and daughtership in His kingdom? He is the Lord Almighty. This is ‘El Shaddai (Hebrew). This is kurios pantokrator (Greek: “Lord vanquisher.”) This name first occurs in Gen. 17:1, as God established his covenant with Abram. a covenant of rich blessing in land and descendants made by a resolute and beneficent deity. ‘El-Shaddai is revealed to us as more than a vanquisher of evil but also a provider and protector–a family God. He is totally superior in strength and ability, including the ability to provide bountifully for His people, His sons and daughters. He is our Father.
         Verses 16b-18 are based upon Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Eze. 37:27; Isa. 52:11; Eze. 20:34, 41; 2 Sam. 7:14; 7:8.
         7:1. Promises. What are the promises? The preceding verses in chap. 6 reveal six promises of relationship:
         “I will live in them”
         I will “walk among them”
         “I will be their God”
         “They shall be my people”
         “I will be your father”
         “you shall be my sons and daughters”
         Cleanse. These promises are among those that Peter called “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4). When our imaginations grasp even a fraction of what these promises mean, we rush to cleanse ourselves of every defilement of our outward self and our inward self. Impurity has no place in the presence of our powerful yet tender God.         
         Holiness. (Gr. hagiosuneen, “sanctification.”) “Making holiness perfect” is better translated “perfecting holiness” (KJV). This phrase embraces the multifaceted experience of becoming complete in Christ. It refers to an attitude toward our Savior that leads us to be eager to “separate from and join to”–that is, separate from worldliness and join ourselves to Christ.
         Perfect. (Gr. teleios, “brought to completion, fully accomplished, fully developed”*), that is, mature (Phil. 3:15) or complete (James 1:4) . J. B. Phillips reads: “Let us prove reverence for God by consecrating ourselves to him completely.” The Contemporary English Version (CEV) reads: “We should honor God and try to be completely like him.”
*Harold K. Moulton, ed., The Analytical Greek Lexicon, rev.