Unequally Yoked

The last 2 sermons the Holy Spirit gave to me dealt with friends, Godly friends and un- Godly friends. Today He has directed me to speak a little more in depth about relationships in general, marriage in particular, and how we can protect ourselves from being in the wrong relationships. Barry quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 last night at Chris and Liza’s wedding and that is where we are going to start today.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NKJV) 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 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.” 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

So I looked up the passage in a few different translations. The term “un-equally yoked” is translated from the Greek word heterozugeo. It is only found in the new testament once, and once in the old testament. The NLT translates the word a bit differently.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) 14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Is Paul referring specifically to marriage in this passage? I don’t think so. I think he is referring to all relationships that we have. “teaming” up can mean a lot of things: working for or with, business partnerships, teammates, friends, people we hang out with, any relationship where we are putting ourselves in contact with people who do not have the same moral values Christian values that we have.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 359 says this: “Do not form any relationship, whether temporary or permanent, with unbelievers that would lead to a compromise of Christian standards or jeopardize consistency of Christian witness”

Pretty succinct. Do not compromise Christian standards.

Picture this about being un-equally yoked. We have all seen pictures or movies with people plowing fields with a team of oxen, or horses. Imagine if you put a horse on one side and a sheep on the other. Is there any way the sheep would be able to turn the horse or control the horse? What would happen to the team, how straight would the farmer plow? When we are yoked or teamed up with or in relationship with…someone who is in the stronger position, who has control over us, who can influence us to compromise our Christian standards than we are in trouble. Are you the horse…or the sheep? Compromise is treason in the Kingdom of God, we’ve heard that many times. He speaks directly to us about being in relationships where we are the sheep:

1 Corinthians 15:32-33 (NIV)

32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

I personally like the CES translation of this verse…it seems a bit more to the point.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Contemporary English Version (CEV) 33 Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.

Does this mean we have to remove ourselves from the world? Become isolationists? Does God tell us that we can’t be in relationship with un-believers? Not at all, in fact, Paul exhorts us to “preach the word!”

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NKJV) I charge you[a]therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead [b]at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season andout of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Be patient and preach the word…but do not do it as a sheep. What about marriage? Can we be in a marriage with an un-believer? Scripture has this covered…as it always does:

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 (NKJV) 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Peter also encourages wives with un-believing husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-2 (NIV) Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

The reality is that we have to work diligently to avoid relationships with people who are not of the same faith as we are, who try to subvert what Christ has taught us through His word. They want to deceive us, they want to bring us to their faith or faithlessness and they work diligently to convince us that we are deluded in our belief. Avoid them as scripture says in 2 John and 2 Timothy:

2 John 1:7-11 (NLT)

I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT) You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

We must be ready to avoid situations and relationships and “teams” where we are unequally yoked. In our relationship with God we are the sheep, in our relationship with others, we must be prepared to be the horse.

1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

Let’s pray.