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  • Renée Coventry

Holiness & the New Covenant, Pt. 16

Holiness requires division. At its core is separation. Many may argue that this was under the Old Covenant, but recall, Peter reiterates the command to holiness in 1 Peter 1:16, so that argument isn't valid. Next to the resurrection of Christ, how to live holy lives is preached the most. Let's take a look. 2 Cor. 6:12-18 states:

"You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. 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 does Christ have with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 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. Therefore, Come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty."

I recognize that this verse is often used regarding the choice of a marriage partner; however, it is so much more than that, so I want us to take some time to unpack what Paul is telling the Corinthian church. First, Paul openly tells them that the reason that they are in distress, put in a narrow place, and feel cramped has nothing to do with the preaching of the Gospel by the apostles, but everything to do with their inward affections; the war between the godly and ungodly at the seat of their emotions. So, this is not referring only to marriage.

Now, there are a few different types of yokes, but the head yoke prevalent throughout western Asia and eastern Europe must be custom-fit to the horns of the oxen yoked together, and it is only made to fit one set of oxen. You can't use the same yoke with another ox for whom it wasn't made initially. Interestingly, yokes are designed for the team's comfort, not one individual, which increases productivity.[1] Paul is telling us as Christians not to yoke ourselves up with people who aren't of the household of faith. Why? Paul delineates a series of divisions that he supposes has already been made in the believer's life.

1. Fellowship between Righteousness and Lawlessness; as in sharing, participation, and partnership

2. Communion between Light and Darkness; community, as in the proof of affiliation with or having something in common with

3. Accord has Christ with Belial; there can be no peace treaties or harmony of movement

4. Part has the Believer with the Unbeliever; as in a portion of the body as differentiated from the whole

5. Agreements have God's temple with Idols; as in joint decision making and assenting to

The words fellowship, communion, accord, part, and agreement are all words used regarding how we spend our time, the space we allow others, and matter, not only what we possess physically, but the matter of our minds, as well.[2] Paul uses every Greek word to show us that we are called out and separate in every instance. There is no common ground for joint decision-making or peace treaties with the world. There is no room to separate a portion of yourself from the whole to the world or entering a partnership with it. The term double-minded that James uses about answered pray in James 1:6-8 means to be double-spirited, divided in your interests, and is proof of instability. This is stunning!

Returning to I Peter, observe what God had to say to those who will divide properly, separating themselves from the interests of the world.

1. He will dwell in them; to live in and influence for good, often used in regards to God, the Holy Spirit, and the Word

2. He will walk with them; He will walk among our activities and be preoccupied with us

3. He will be their God, and they, His people; He is their deity, their judge, their Counselor, inclusive of entire Trinity; He is available in all of His characteristics to all of them, indicative of the larger body of believers that spans every ethnic group

4. He will receive them; He will treat them with favor and kindness

5. He will be their Father; He will be the originator of all that they are; their nourisher, protector, and upholder of those who will separate themselves [3]

Five ways we are to separate ourselves from the world, and five ways God will reward us. When you compare the two lists, the benefits far outweigh any supposed sacrifice on our part to be holy. Yet, the church today often preaches the benefits without the holy lifestyle. The author of Hebrews makes it clear in 12:14-15 that we are to, "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled."

Without holiness, we can't even look upon God. We sing many songs about seeing the face of the Lord, but that is impossible without holiness. We'll explore this tomorrow.

Let's Pray:

Holy Spirit, I want to walk in holiness. I desire that You dwell in and walk with me. I want You to be my God, receive me, and be my Father. I admit that I haven't met the qualifications for this, but I know that You are a merciful God, full of grace and truth. Please help me separate myself in every way necessary to be a conduit of Your glory to those around me. I want all those around me to see You. I want to be holy because You are holy. In Jesus' Name, amen.

[1] Callene Rapp, "Do-It-Yourself Oxen Yoke," Grit Magazine, Feb. 10, 2015, Accessed May 17, 2021. Do-It-Yourself Oxen Yoke - Grit | Rural American Know-How

[2] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr, "Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words," (Published 1940), s.v. "fellowship, communion, accord, part, agreement." Accessed May 17, 2021,

[3] James Strong, Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009), s.v. "dwell, walk, God, receive, Father." Accessed May 17, 2021,

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