Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
~ 2 Corinthians 6:17
It use to be when a person was saved that nearly every aspect of a person’s life was touched. Converts got a new language, new habits, and new associations. It was universally understood there was a way Christians talked and didn’t talk and places they would go and not go. If you were a Christian you were in church on Sunday. During John Bunyan’s day it was expected that Christians would even give up sports. I hear modern preachers rail against legalism and the legalist lurking to rob Christians of their freedom. Quite frankly I don’t know what they are talking about. Who and where are they meeting all these legalist?
As far as I can tell the moral standard of the world and the current moral standard of the church is about the same. The church says don’t do illegal drugs and the world is in agreement, in fact my work place has random drug tests and it is not known to be a Christian business. The church says that you shouldn’t lie and the world really doesn’t care for liars either. The church says don’t cheat on your spouse, push old people down stairs, steal things, hit women, and a few other things which are all well excepted standards of the world. It has come to a point where the only way a person looks and acts any different than they did before they were saved is when their life was a complete train wreck, but for the “good” person there really isn’t much difference.
It has become in fashion for even ministers to go and belly up to the bar. There was a popular pastor recently out west who was known as a cursing preacher. The Bible warns us that in the last days there are going to be those who have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof. We are living in those days. The Bible says that the Christian is a new creature, old things are passed away and behold all things have become new. We make a mistake when we take Biblical realities and turn them into goals or what we are working for or looking forward to. In a sense that type of working to fit some mold is more legalistic than insisting that God has not lied and when we are truly born again, we become a new creature.
If we are truly saved, we are going to be to different. If God has done a work it is going to be a God sized work and we will not be the same. We are called to come out from the crowd and be separate, to be set apart, to stand out in contrast to a sinful dark world. If there is no contrast between the church and a sinful world there is something wrong–seriously wrong. This passage is a reference to Israel when they were led out of Egypt into the wilderness, striking out from the rule and authority of Pharaoh to follow God, where He may lead. This event was call the Exodus. The Exodus is a picture or shadow of salvation in Christ Jesus. The first thing that has to change in order to even become a Christian is repentance. Repentance is not simply listing off all the things you use to do and now you aren’t going to do anymore. People do that every day and get self help books to assist in their self improvement goals. Jesus is not a self-help guru. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is king. Repentance is at its very heart a change of government. Before Jesus most are ruled, by self. Life is all about personal goals, one’s own desires, and pretty much whatever we want to define as all important. When we come to Christ we are told to repent and believe the gospel. In repentance we hand over the reigns of our life, all our hopes, dreams, goals, and desires to Jesus and let Him do whatever He desires, go where ever He leads, do whatever He wants. We go from self rule to God’s rule.
If that change of government has not occurred in your life, you may as well stop right here and deal with that rebellious heart of your’s before you go any further. But if you have turned from self rule and received Jesus as Savior and Lord you will be a different person and you will live differently. Because when a person is born again they become a new creature, with new desires and instincts. The difference is so profound that God says “behold all things have become new.” This is not something that is merely superficial. If it is God doing the work, it is going to be supernatural. Again looking at the shadow of the Exodus we see God moves in salvation with a strong arm, administering supernatural deliverance.
Still looking deeper into the example set in the Exodus, Charlton Heston (Moses) goes up to the mountain and receives God’s law (the Ten Commandments) written on stone tablets. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that in the new convent (which is salvation) God writes His law on our heart and then causes us to walk in His ways. Now what is that law? There is the Ten Commandments, which is often referred to as the moral law. Jesus expanded on the moral law drawing a line between action and motive. In the act of murder, He points to the heart condition of anger and the act or adultery, He connects the dots to the heart condition of lust. But there was also the ceremonial law. In the ceremonial law there were things that were clean and then there were things that were unclean. If someone were to touch something that is unclean they would have to be cleansed before entering the presence of God which was most profoundly experienced within the inmost temple, in a room called the “Holy of Holies.” This was a picture of what is saying here in Corinthians, “touch not the unclean thing.”
The average Christian robs himself of much of the experience of God’s presence, because every time he or she goes to God he has to go through major detox before he is even in a position to enter into His special presence and worship. Yes, I know that God is every where and we are all in the presence of God, in some sense, because of that all present presences. But there is a special presence, where we become especially aware of God. In the Old Testament this often occurred in this special room called the Holy of Holies within the temple. This translates into the new Testament, where there is no more a building called a temple. When Jesus died the barrier separating the Holy of Holies was physically destroyed. Under the new covenant Christians are name the temple of God. So within us there is that special place where God will meet with us in a powerful way.
Here is the problem with many: we spend much of our time in the outer court and very little with God in the Holy of Holies. Because we have touched the unclean thing or things, dabbling with every matter of temptation that we stumble across, corrupting our hearts and minds.
So how do we avoid the “unclean” thing? What is the unclean thing? First let us look at the last question to answer the first question. The unclean thing, place, conversation, thought, or action is that which would not encourage us to think more of Jesus.
Secondly how can we avoid it? The question has a simple answer: do everything for the glory of God. We need to be asking our self constantly, would Jesus be pleased with this conversation, where I am, and what I doing.
If you live like this you will most likely get labeled as strange or a fanatic, but we are meant to be separate as a Holy Nation, a Royal Priesthood, and a peculiar people. If you find our self standing out as different take courage, because you are in obedience to God’s will.
God Bless You,