2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 27
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|The Importance of Right Relationships – Part 1. Now we’ve been talking about being workers together with God; we’ve been talking about being ambassadors for Christ; now, what’s the importance of right relationships in the body of Christ. And today’s message is going to be “The Recipe for Right Relationships.”|
The Recipe for Right Relationships
Turn with me today to 2 Corinthians 6:11-18. We’re going to take a large portion of Scripture today, much more than I normally take, and we’re going to finish up chapter 6. We’re going to start a new little mini-series as we’re going through 2 Corinthians, and we’re going to be talking about the “Importance of Right Relationships.” Now we’ve been talking about being workers together with God; we’ve been talking about being ambassadors for Christ; now, what’s the importance of right relationships in the body of Christ. And today’s message is going to be “The Recipe for Right Relationships.”
Now, a recipe is important if you want something to turn out right. I was in church recreation for about 15 years. We had a gymnasium, and one day I decided I was going to clean the carpet. I found out how much it would cost to have the carpet cleaned and I said, “I can do that.” So we rented a great big commercial carpet cleaner. Now I had to put the solution in to it and it was something like four parts water to one part chemical. I never read directions very well, and so I reversed that and I put four parts chemical to one part water.
I don’t know if you know anything about the cleaner that cleans carpet, but it has an ammonia substance to it. And I remember when I started and cranked that machine up, I started crying. I mean, it was like amazing. Wow, this is strong. And I was just working on that carpet. Well, several of the guys on staff came over and they couldn’t even stay in the building. They said, “Wayne, what have you done?” I said, “No, it’s this carpet cleaner I’m using.” Well, come to find out I didn’t understand the recipe very well. In fact, for months after that we didn’t have to put any cleaner in it at all. We just put water in it and did it because there was enough cleaner on the floor that it carried it for about a year.
A recipe is important to know what’s involved in order to make something turn out right. Well, today we’re going to see the recipe for right relationships. How do we know that it’s a right relationship? Relationships are very important to the believer who wants to walk and to work together with Christ. All of us, you see, are influenced by the people we choose to associate with from day to day. Now, you try to teach your children this, and I understand that, but we as adults need also to get a grip on this thing. The people we choose to associate with influence us either for the good or for the bad. It’s in this area of who we choose to associate with that many of us have made our biggest mistakes.
In fact, this is where the wrong information is passed from person to person in the body of Christ. And it’s this wrong information from people we should not have chosen to associate with that ends up ruining our relationship with Christ and our relationships with one another. It’s a very hurtful thing when you base your feeling on wrong information that came from wrong relationships. In fact, I got an email—and I kind of like this—how to cure a gossip: “Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed monitor of the church morals kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extracurricular activities but feared her enough to maintain their silence. She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar for a whole afternoon. She emphatically told George and several others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing. Well, George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and then just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing. But later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house, walked home and left it there all night.” Don’t you just love old George?
The apostle Paul knew that the Corinthian believers had wrong feelings towards him. He knew that. I mean, this has been a church that has caused him a lot of grief. But he also knew that the wrong feelings came from wrong information. The wrong information was freely offered by the false teachers with whom they had chosen to associate. That’s the saddest thing. Paul was the one through which this church began, and now they have chosen to listen to the false teachers.
In verses 3-10 of chapter 6, and we’ve already studied them, Paul has bared his heart and for a reason. He wants to counter this wrong information about him and his team. He also wants his relationship with the Corinthians to be healed; that’s so heavy on his heart. He tries to show them that he’s not what the false teachers said he is. His life did not bring discredit to the ministry in anything that he did. In fact, he and his team, as it says, always presented themselves, commended themselves to others as servants of God and they did this by the way that they lived. Now this was displayed as we studied by how they endured in everything and the way that they endured in everything reflected the character of Christ living in them. Their purity of heart that was so obvious to everybody. And the power of the Holy Spirit working in them pointed directly to the fact that they were working together with God.
The perception of the Corinthians which came from the hateful false teachers was so far from the reality of who these men really were. So Paul says in verse 7b that the righteousness that Christ produced in him—and it was so good for him to know this—protected him on the left and protected him on the right. Verse 7b says, “by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left.” We learn from this why it’s so reasonable, as Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, for the believer to present his body a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, his reasonable service of what worship really is. Then daily, why it’s so important to do that; because, you see, only in this lifestyle, only when Wayne is yielded to Christ, only when you are yielded to Christ, only when we’re willing to walk in that covenant, that binding covenant that we have with God the Father through Jesus Christ, do we have protection on the right and on the left. And this protection is especially needed and Paul has alluded to this, when people say things about us. This is the whole problem he’s dealing with here. This is the most difficult thing that we all go through. And I’ve confessed to you that it’s the hardest thing I have to deal with.
It says in verse 8, “by glory and dishonor,” that’s what they say to you. And then he says, “by evil report and good report,” that’s what they say about you. And he says you’re going to have to be protected, and only the righteousness that Christ produced in you protects you on the right and on the left. The promise is that whether it’s to our face or behind our back, we are protected and the paradox is that God’s reality of what really is real, is totally the opposite of the perception that men have, the false teachers particularly.
In verses 8b-10 Paul uses seven little couplets to show the difference in the way things appear and the way they really are when you’re walking with Christ. He’s showing the difference that Christ has made in their lives and how that contrasts the false teachers of that day. In verse 8 it says, “regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing yet possessing all things.”
Well, today he’s going to get into those relationships, because again he’s seeking to get a unity between him and the Corinthian believers. Christ in us enables us to have right relationships in the body of Christ. But there’s a recipe for it. There are some things that are involved in it that make it turn out right. And we need to know what that recipe is for right relationships in the body of Christ.
The recipe for a right relationship involves a desire to be open and honest with one another
There are three things I want you to see in the text of verses 11-18. First of all, the recipe for right relationships involves a desire, a desire to be open and honest with one another. Look at verses 11-13. “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also.”
Now in order for God’s people to have right relationships there has to be a reciprocal openness and honesty among the people, a transparency that only Christ can enable. Now, let me ask you a question: have you ever had a friend that shut you out and here you are trying to open and bare your heart to them and be open and honest, but they refuse to reciprocate? Have you ever had that happen? You’ve opened yourself to them but they will not open back to you.
Now, that’s painful, isn’t it? They choose not to let you in. Why? Because of the feelings they have towards you. Well, don’t feel by yourself. Paul had opened up in verses 3-11 in total honesty with the Corinthians in an effort to help them see the purity of his heart. He says in verse 11, “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians.” The word “spoken freely” is the word anoigo. It refers to something that has a lid or a cover over it protecting it, and now the lid has been taken off. It’s like uncovering a box, the lid of a box, that has a treasure on the inside and the idea is that Paul had freely, openly uncovered what would otherwise have gone unseen if he had not shared it.
Paul had been totally honest and transparent with them. He had made himself vulnerable to them; and for that relationship to be honest and right, they’re going to have to reciprocate. And if they don’t reciprocate then there cannot be the right relationship between the two of them. Verse 11, “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians,” and this is even more important, “our heart is opened wide.” Now when you receive somebody without any reservations it is when your heart is open wide. It’s not restricted, it’s not restrained.
This involves laying aside all that would restrain the relationship. Now, in our context, what Paul is saying is “I’m laying down the pain, I’m laying down the hurt, I’m laying every bit of it down in order for us to have a right relationship.” He wants to clear the air. He says, “Our hearts have been opened to you, O Corinthians.” You see, in fact he further clarifies this in verse 12. He says, “You are not restrained by us.” In other words, “We’ve gotten out of the way.” This is so key in right relationships: We’ve got to get out of the way. We’ve got to be open and honest, lay it all down, be willing to forgive, be willing for it to be under the blood.
He said, “You are not restricted by us, you’re not restrained by us.” The only thing that is restraining them is them. He says, “but you are restrained in your own affections.” Now Paul is hoping that they will open their hearts to him just like he is to them, but he knows something. He knows that the thing that is restraining them in their relationship with him and which fuels their suspicions about Paul was their own affections. Now this is an important thing. The word “affections” is the word referring to the deepest kind of love.
It was kind of interesting, in their culture they would take an organ in the body and they would use that as a symbol of the emotions. The bowels, for instance, would be the deepest part of a person’s affections, and that’s the word that’s used here. You see, their affections had changed. They used to love the truth that Paul taught them, but now their affections had changed. They now loved the teachers and the false teachings that they had gotten into. And if you’ve ever studied 1 Corinthians you remember that they are totally enamored by the world and the way the world does everything. They’re in love with man and man’s ability and there were all kinds of immorality, promiscuity, adultery, everything else going on in Corinthian and their affections had changed.
Now when their affections changed that also broke a relationship with them and Paul because Paul stood for the truth. So Paul is saying “Our relationship is not in any way restricted on our part. I’m not the problem. I’ve opened my heart wide to you; I’ve been open and honest. The problem is with you. You and your choices,” he says to the Corinthians, “are the problem.”
So he encourages them to open themselves up to him. Be honest about what you’ve done. Be willing to confess it, open up to him as he has done for them. He says in verse 13, “Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also.” Paul speaks with the tenderness of a father when he says “as to children.” He’s not saying as to the immature children as chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians would indicate that they were very immature. They just never came out of the nursery. They would rather live off of what they could do for God rather than let Jesus be Jesus in them. That’s not what he’s talking about.
What he’s saying is, “I feel like you’re my children, and as a father I’ve done everything I know to make this relationship right. And I’m asking you now to open yourself up and stop restraining yourself. It’s your affections: you’ve chosen to go a different route and that has caused a broken relationship between the two of us.” It’s amazing how so many relationships are soured by associating with the wrong people who are filled with the wrong information. How quickly that happens in a church.
But it’s Christ in us that enables us to lay aside the hurt. You see, He lives in us to give us those kinds of relationships, but we’ve got to be willing to allow Him to do what He wants to do in our lives. We’ve got to be willing to admit, “Yes, I listened to the wrong person; yes, I got the wrong information; yes, I took it and used it and shared it with other people; yes, I am the problem. And if a person is not willing to do that there cannot be that wonderful cohesive unity that God wants in the body of Christ.
So if we’re going to have right relationships we have to be willing to have openness and honesty with one another, which means dealing with sin, which means calling it what it is, which means yes, I erred, my affections changed, I’m no longer enamored with Christ and His truth. I’m enamored with something over here and it’s caused a brokenness in relationships with others. So open up and lay aside that which has been founded on wrong information and that will be the first step in having right relationships.
The recipe for a right relationship involves a discipline in avoiding poisonous people
So a desire to be open and honest with one another is the first thing that goes into this recipe of making relationships right. But secondly, what’s involved in this recipe is a discipline in avoiding poisonous people. There’s got to be a discernment and a discipline in us to avoid people that we know are poisonous in the body of Christ or who at least come and affix themselves up next to the body of Christ.
It only takes one person full of venom to disrupt a relationship. That’s all it takes. Let me illustrate it this way maybe to get us down on the right page. A mother and a daughter have a great relationship until one day the daughter befriends someone who is a bad influence on her. Suddenly what was a good relationship between the mother and the daughter is disrupted because there is now friction between them because of this newfound friend. This newfound friend is filling the daughter with lies and filth. This has changed her way of thinking about her mom and overnight there’s a broken relationship; and the only way that the relationship can ever be restored is for the daughter to break ties with this poisonous friend.
Well, this is exactly what Paul is talking about. You can’t peacefully coexist with the wrong doctrine and the right doctrine. You know, I’ve noticed something. Help me, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the doctrine is not important to anybody anymore. “Oh, come on. He believes that, we’ll believe this. We’ll just love each other and we’ll just get along together.” No, you can’t get along; when somebody goes with poisonous doctrine it automatically breaks relationships with those who stand for the truth. There can be no cohesiveness there. There can be no unity there.
That’s what had happened to the Corinthians. The Corinthians had made the mistake of listening and accepting the doctrine of the false teachers who really were unbelievers. They were buying into something that came from an unbeliever. This wrong information of their false teachings, the lies that they had believed about Paul had soured their relationship, first of all with God, and secondly with Paul. Most importantly with God, but secondly with Paul.
So he says in verses 14-16, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” Now the relationship that was being harmed the most and I want to make sure that we keep that ahead of everything, is the relationship with God. God is truth and doctrine and devotion have to go together. If you can find people with the right devotion, it’s never right if it’s the wrong doctrine. You’ve got to put the two together.
So Paul says don’t be bound together with unbelievers. Now the word “bound together” most translations, I’m using the New American Standard 1995 update, it pulls the word even a different level but it’s the word “yoked,” unequally yoked. And most translations say that. That’s really what it means. The Greek word is heterozugeo. It comes from two words, heteros, which means “another, a different kind,” and then the word zugos, which means “yoke.” Don’t be yoked together with somebody who is unequal to you in the sense of their not believers. They’re not like you.
The word allos means “of the same kind.” It refers to a believer. He’s referring to unbelievers here. And this is open ended here. He says, “Don’t be yoked or bound to someone who is an unbeliever.” Now this is, like I said, open-ended. It can go any way. In the context it means don’t be bound to a relationship with false teachers, with unbelievers, with someone who does not honor Christ in their life. The word “unbelievers” is the word apistos, and it refers to somebody who is really undependable. But in the context, because they have no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they don’t live by His Word, they don’t think out of His Word, they don’t respond from having been seasoned in God’s Word.
Paul is saying don’t be around them. He’s not saying don’t be around them for the purpose of sharing Christ with them. That’s not what he’s saying. A boat in the water is by design; water in the boat is by disaster. He is saying don’t form a binding relationship with them. Don’t enter into what we would call a “covenant” with them. You say, “What’s an example of that?” Marriage is an example of that. This is why it is so important when two people come to get married that you find out first of all, above everything else, do they know Christ; because if one of them doesn’t know Christ, they’re entering into a covenant with an unbeliever. They’re entering into a covenant with somebody who is unequal as far as it comes to their position in Christ.
Now listen, let me tell you this: if you have done that you can’t go back and unscramble eggs. That’s not what he’s saying. You can’t walk away from a marriage just because you made a mistake back there. But I’ll tell you this: God’s grace and mercy will get you through it. But I’ll tell you this: the people that have done that will be the first ones to stand up and applaud what Paul is saying because they have to live in this every single day. He’s trying to do some preventive things here. And they were yoked to these false teachers. Now they can break that yoke. They can walk away from it.
Another example is this, don’t enter into a business relationship, into a business partnership, with somebody that doesn’t know Jesus, that is an unbeliever. That’s the biggest mistake you can ever make, because they don’t think the way God thinks. Don’t form a partnership with them.“Oh, come on, Wayne, that’s not what he’s talking about.” Excuse me? In fact, everything he says after that supports what he just said. For instance he says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers.” Then he starts off, “for what partnership,” that’s a covenant, that’s a binding relationship, “have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
Now Paul begins to show some examples of how absurd it is to form a binding covenant relationship with people that are unbelievers. In the first example he contrasts their lifestyles. He says, “for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness.” The word “lawlessness” is the word anomia, and it describes the lifestyle of an unbeliever. It is one who has no respect for God’s Word and lives under nobody’s authority except his own. But the believer lives righteously, which means that his daily walk allows Christ to live His life through them. He lives by what the Word of God says; he allows the Word to renew his mind. He’s a man under the authority of the Lordship of Christ and he says, “form no alliance, form no binding relationship with a believer, because he’s lawless.” And you can never come to a point of agreement with an unbeliever.
The second example, Paul shows the source that is behind that believer and the unbeliever. He goes a step further; he’s taking you out of just the lifestyle and going back to where the motivation of it comes from. Behind the believer who lives righteously is light. Of course, that’s the Word of God, that’s the Spirit of God. God gives us understanding; we can walk on this earth. And behind the unbeliever who lives lawlessly is darkness. Now, how in the world can these two fellowship? He says, “or what fellowship has light with darkness?” You see, this is even more profound. Light and darkness cannot exist together. By their very nature they exclude each other.
When we walk into a room we turn the light on and when we do the darkness has to disappear. The two cannot peacefully co-exist. Paul goes on and shows that they do not and cannot agree in word, purpose or thought. There is nothing there that will agree. He shows us this by identifying the true power behind the light, behind the righteousness, the true power behind the darkness, behind the lawlessness. And he shows this by saying in verse 15, “Or what harmony has Christ with Belial.” Now the word “harmony” is the word sumphonesis. We get the word symphony from it which is the word, that synergy, when things come together to make a beautiful harmony and melody.
I know that you don’t think I’m very cultured but I really am. I really am. You just don’t know. I love classical music. I used to be an usher for a Philharmonic Orchestra. At all the different performances I was there and I enjoyed the classical music; I liked that part of it. But if you ever heard those different sounds of the music, and finally somebody steps up and he causes all these uncertain sounds to come together in the most beautiful harmony and agreement and concord that you can possible find.
And what he’s saying is that’s the word he’s using here. He said, “There is no harmony, there is no melody, there is nothing that comes together. There is no agreement with Christ and Belial. You say who in the world is Belial? It’s a transliteration of a Hebrew word. Belial is translated in the Septuagint as “a transgressor, as a foolish man.” It is used by the ancient writer to describe one who had no regard for God nor man and who was totally wicked. It’s a vile, licentious person.
Now the Jews picked up on that word and used it in reference to Satan, and Paul does exactly the same thing right here. The archenemy that all of us have is Satan and there can be no agreement between Jesus and him. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. There can never be an agreement between the two which are the powers behind the one who lives righteously and the one who lives lawlessly. He says, “Don’t you think about making a binding agreement with an unbeliever.”
Paul next says, “Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” Boy, Paul quickly shows us the answer. “For we are the temple of the living God.” Now, God is a very jealous God. He does not tolerate other idols in our life. We know this from the Ten Commandments. We’re the temple of God. God lives in us. If there’s something else that’s going to be worshipped, if there’s something else that is going to enter in, there will never be a peaceful coexistence. God does not allow it; God does not tolerate it.
You see, we’re in covenant with God. We cannot enter into covenant with unbelievers. Covenant is a love word; he uses the word “affection.” In fact, we ask the new members to sign a covenant. People say, “No, that’s a creed. That’s legalistic.” No, no, no, no, it’s a bond of love. It’s something that says, “I agree with you. I am a believer and want Jesus to be Jesus in my life and I want to put my name down and I want to be a part of those who walk that way.” It’s not a contract; a contract can be broken. It’s not a creed; that’s legalistic. It’s a covenant and if you don’t understand the word “covenant” you have missed, you have missed so much of what you have in Jesus Christ. And you can’t with your affections, pull it away from Christ and move it over to the world of the unbeliever who lives lawlessly. There can never be an agreement between the two.
All of these examples that he gives, the bottom line is that when a believer forms an alliance, a covenant, with an unbeliever, especially one who teaches false doctrine, he has just made a choice to enter a self-destructive covenant. And it is going to come back to haunt him from that point on. I was just listening on the radio coming in today and it reminded me when we studied Joshua of how they went up to Ai, they were in covenant with God and they were to do everything God’s way. They were to inquire of God, but they didn’t. And they went up to Ai and they were miserably destroyed. And they were laying on the ground saying, “Alas, alas,” and the speaker on the radio said, “You know, that word ‘alas’ in the Hebrew has the idea of ‘it’s over, it’s over. God, you’ve got a real problem because everything is over.’” And God said, “You get up off the ground, get yourself up off the ground. There is sin in the camp. Somebody has transgressed My covenant.”
And that’s what happens when you enter into an agreement with an unbeliever. You have transgressed the covenant that you are to be in with God. That’s why you only enter into covenants with believers, because you’ve already been in covenant with them because you’re in covenant with God.
Well, a person that has done this foolishly has chosen to receive their poison and that individual by his own affections shifting to that which God does not tolerate is now a cancer in the body of Christ. That is the one filled with wrong information. That is the one who is going around like Mildred the gossiper in that illustration, that’s the one spreading all the garbage that’s dividing people rather than uniting them.
Something has captured them; something has taken their affection away from walking yielded to Christ. And the apostle Paul says, “Listen, you want to have right relationships? First of all you’re going to have to be open with one another and confess it: be gut-honest about it. Deal with the problem both of you,” and then he says there has to be a discipline to avoid poisonous people; they’re everywhere. God gives us the discernment now we have to make the choice.
You know when you’re around somebody who is a poisonous individual. That word in Ephesians says, “Let no unwholesome word be in your mouth.” That word “unwholesome” has the idea of rotten. It’s my son’s tennis shoes when he puts them in the garage and the car backs out by itself. I mean smelly, rotten, rotten. And God will give you discernment when rotten things come out of people’s mouths; the poison that can give wrong information which will affect relationships.
You know how to stop the gossip in the church besides parking your car in front of their home? One of the ways to stop it is when somebody calls you up and says, “I was in my quiet time this morning and [that’s your first clue] God put it on my heart to call you [that’s your second clue] to tell you this, and I know you don’t want to hear it but I just feel a need to tell you.” Look out; you better have enough discernment to know who the poisonous people are. That’s the time that you say, “Excuse me just a second. Do you smell that? Something is rotten in here. I can’t stand it. I’ve got to hang up, I’m so sorry.” You just killed all the gossip right there. You just avoided the poisonous person who is going to fill you with the wrong information and I guarantee you it will break relationships if you choose to covenant with them and listen to what they have to say.
The recipe for a right relationship involves a determination to honor god in every choice we make
Thirdly, the third thing that’s in this recipe for right relationships is a determination to honor God in every choice that we make. A determination in our heart. The whole focus on right relationships is not with man, the whole focus is with God. Who would be so foolish to walk away from the promises of God in order to enjoy a poisonous relationship? If you put it that way nobody would raise their hand. They’re not going to do that, and yet we do when we listen. In 2 Corinthians 6:16 God gave us a fourfold promise. There are four things He promises if we’ll choose to walk in covenant with Him. If we’ll choose, instead of letting our affections drain over here to the things that are of the flesh, He says He will dwell with us, He will walk with us, He will be our God, and He’ll make us His people.
That’s precious—you talk about relationships. That relationship starts with Him. Now it says in verse 16, “just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” Now that’s not just one passage in the Old Testament. It’s capitalized if you have a good translation. It’s a hodgepodge of verses from times that God spoke to His people. But Paul’s bottom line is that Paul is saying that God promised this. You see, Moses didn’t say it, Paul didn’t say it, it says “just as God said.” Yes, God said it through His prophet but God said it. And in the old covenant He promises to be with them; He walked with His people.
But in the new covenant He lives in His people. Bottom line: He’s always with those who are willing to say yes to Him. But you see all the promises of God are conditional; they’re conditional in a particular respect. Verse 17, “Therefore,” now anytime you see a “therefore” always look to see what it’s there for. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” get away from them; avoid them, “says the Lord. And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you.” Boy, the beautiful reception of God when we’re willing to honor the covenant that we’re in with Him.
See, God’s promises are conditional in the situation that they depend upon our willingness to obey Him. In obeying Him we separate ourselves from that which is unclean. You don’t have to worry about what’s unclean. Just say yes to Him and you’ve just said no to that which is unclean. Saying yes to Him automatically says no. Victory is not me overcoming the poisonous things in my life. Victory is Jesus overcoming me. Pagan idolatry was rampant in Corinth, and if these believers did not come out of it, if they did not break their affection for false teaching and wrong doctrine and to follow the way of the world then all the promises that God had made to them, they would not enjoy.
God is a jealous God and will not tolerate any other gods in our life. If we live separate unto Him by yielding ourselves to Him, then look what He says in verse 18, “And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.” Talk about relationships. When we refuse to open ourselves to one another in honesty and integrity and when we choose to form binding relationships with the unbelieving of this world, worshipping the very things that God hates, then we have forfeited the joy of walking and enjoying His promises. And when He says, “I’ll be a Father to you,” that’s the beautiful picture of “I’m always there. I care for you. I’ll tell you the hard things because I’m a Father, but I’ll love you in the midst of it.”
But the “sons and daughters” doesn’t mean you’ll become a believer. The words “sons and daughters” have reference to the fact you’ll get to enjoy all the full adult privileges of being in the family if you’ll just walk and honor the covenant that you’re in instead of breaking that covenant and forming a binding relationship with that which God says is anathema. So you can live in the fullness of what God offers to you and He will be a Father to you if you’re willing to come away from it; avoid the poisonous people because they infiltrate our minds with that which our affections grab hold of and as a result the wrong information always breeds wrong relationships.
Well, most importantly, when we choose not to do this we have soured our walk with God, and that’s what I said earlier. With one another, that’s just a no-brainer; the problem is we’ve soured our fellowship with God, our unity with Him. Relationships are so important to our walking and working together with God.
So the recipe for right relationships. What’s in this recipe that makes them right? First of all, a desire to be open and honest with one another. And if that involves confessing sin, yes, I have sinned, I have messed up, that’s fine. That’s open and honest. Paul hadn’t sinned and Paul opened his heart to them. Then he says, “Now you open your heart to me.” But he said, “You’re only restrained because you don’t want to give up what you’ve gotten hold of. You don’t want to come full turn. You don’t want to do that; that’s what is holding you back.’
Then the second thing that has reference to that is that once you’ve done that, you’ve got to start avoiding and discerning and deciding to avoid these people that are poisonous; and then thirdly coupled with that is a determination to honor God in all our choices. All it is is that little chorus we sing, “Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, Lord. Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, Lord.” That’s it: that’s the simplicity of the whole thing.
So in conclusion, let me ask you a question; because we’re coming up to chapters 8-9 and we’re going to find out where the idols of people’s lives are. What are the idols in your life that have taken the place of Christ being your Lord? See, 8 and 9 are on giving. He’s laying the foundation right now; he’s laid it for six chapters and now we’re going into chapter 7. He’s trying to help them understand that when you walk in covenant you don’t own anything. And so what are the idols in your life that’s taken the place of Jesus today and you don’t want to come away from it? Maybe it’s a doctrine, maybe it’s a wrong doctrine and you’ve grabbed hold of it. What is the poison you have received from those whom you should have avoided but you listened to and it got into you and now it’s been used to break relationships? And how has that poison affected your relationship with your true brother in Christ?
Well, let me close with this thought. I want to make sure you understand that when he says make a binding relationship he’s not saying “don’t be out there with them.” He’s saying, “Don’t form a binding relationship with them.” I love this quote from Vance Havner. Here’s what he said, “We’re not to be isolated from the world but we’re to be insulated from the world, moving in the midst of evil but untouched by it. Separation is contact with contamination. If you’re going to separate yourself you’re still in the midst of it. Jesus was wholly harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, yet He was a friend of the tax collectors and the sinners.”
So don’t be isolated from the world but be insulated from it. Don’t ever form a binding relationship with unbelievers. That’s what poisons relationships in the body of Christ; it will come full circle. What goes around comes around.