Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Many believe that Paul is only speaking about a marriage union between believers and nonbelievers. Actually there’s much more to this verse and the subsequent verses than most people like to believe. Corinth was a city full of pagan worship. Every deviant sexual practice and every form of satanic worship was there.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was to people who had accepted Christ but had not separated themselves from these pagan ways. Paul was not wishy-washy in his admonishment of their sins. The context is not marriage, but in fact it is about our Christian walk.
Christians are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers in anything. That means if you are a Christian don’t be married, don’t be in partnership with, and don’t be buddies with non-believers. So, why do we try to ignore this admonition or try to limit it to just marriage? Why do we try to justify fellowshipping with Belial? Because we don’t want to: leave our pagan ways and serve Christ.
This idea of not being yoked together with unbelievers is not new to the New Testament. In the Law it is written:
“Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together” (Deuteronomy 22:9-11).
These were pagan practices and God called the Israelites out of pagan ways. These things may seem trivial, but like us, the Israelites were to be separate and not unequally yoked to the pagan world.
As believers we are to live our lives as close to the way Jesus would have us live as possible. Not as a works oriented faith, but as how we show our love for Jesus. It is the lifelong sanctification process. Like the Corinthians we live in a society that glorifies ungodly ways, but Christians are admonished to not take part in worldly activities.
Before we became born-again we were a part of this pagan world and as such we were a part of the ungodliness. Now that we profess Christ as our Savior, that has changed…or should have. We are now to present ourselves to an unbelieving world as new creatures bathed in Christ. Christians are only sojourners passing thorough this life in an infinitesimal period of time and we need to represent Christ well, no matter what those in the world think.
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Corinthians 6:15)
The word “Belial” is from an Old Testament word that meant worthless or wicked and later became synonymous with Satan. “It is set in contrast to Christ and represents a personification of the system of impure worship connected especially with the cult of Aphrodite” (Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). In other words we shouldn’t be yoked with Satan.
Everything that isn’t of Christ is of Satan. Influences and temptations are too powerful for us to combat…peer pressure abounds. If we are mingling with those who don’t have the moral guidance of God, then our own walk is hindered. For instance we are not to lie, but if our non-Christian buddy sees no problem in sidestepping the truth we usually find ways to see his lying as okay and begin to lie ourselves. Our own Christian beliefs are compromised and we are taking the path to fellowship with Belial.
Many Christians believe that they can live as the world does and still be separate from the world, but in all actuality they are being dragged down to a level not at all in standing with the high calling of Christ. Have you ever been with friends and foul language is spewed? Even though this is offensive you don’t say anything and soon you, too, are using those foul words. You are unequally yoked and are being influenced by the unrighteous.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7, emphasis added).
Believers aren’t to continue in fellowship with the world, for the world will dominate. The evil ungodly influences will eventually become a part of the believer’s life.
There are many ways we fellowship with Belial. Do your friends have tattoos? Do you? “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I [am] the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). Now, before you hit me with heated emails saying that we are not under the Law, let me just say that you are correct. But the Law tells us what God thinks.
Cutting ones flesh and tattooing were pagan practices. These things were part of the requirements of the demonic gods they worshipped. The one true God called the Israelites out from the pagans and required them to be separate. It’s the same for Christians. If you say with your mouth that you are a Christian but practice things that are pagan, whom are you fellowshipping with?
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
We are not under the Law, but under grace. That is not a license to fellowship with Belial.
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Did you catch that? “I will dwell in them”. Once a person becomes reborn God indwells that individual by the Holy Spirit. Every time we lie or are sexually impure or in any way are unequally yoked with the non-believer, we drag God right along with us into the perversion of fellowshipping with Belial.
I’ve noticed that many Christians keep one foot in the world in their actions and understandings. The born-again believer must step away from worldly influences and allow God to influence and renew his/her mind. Idols are many in this world of materialism. What music do you listen to?
What TV shows and movies do you watch? I have not watched television for many years, but from hearing what people say is broadcast none of it should be watched by a Christian…not even most of the so called Christian programs. Our minds and thoughts need to be filled with Christ, not with comedies about sex or shows about vampires, zombies, and other satanic creatures.
In my commentaries you will notice that I don’t use the word “church” when talking about believers. I use the word “Ekklesia” instead. Why? The word church is a building, but it is also a word used to indicate a doctrine or belief system. The Presbyterian Church interprets God’s Word differently than the Methodist Church which is different than the Catholic Church and so on
All of these (and every denomination) pick and choose which part of God’s Word they feel needs to be followed, or needs to be updated to agree with modern life. We can be sitting in a pew every week and be fellowshipping with Belial if the doctrine of that “church” does not conform to God’s word. On the other hand, the word “Ekklesia” means to be called out, and this is the word used in the original language of the New Testament and mistranslated “church” in most Bibles.
Why is Ekklesia important? Because God’s word emphasizes that Christians are called out from the world and are not to be a part of the world. Our lives need to reflect Christ, not Belial.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
This isn’t Paul or me saying this. No, the Lord Almighty said it. He said it many times to the Jews. Abraham lived in a very pagan culture and his family was heavily into idol worship. “And said to him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew the” (Acts 7:3).
Did Abraham obey? Sort of, he went a ways from his home, but took his father and nephew with him. He dwelt in Haran until his father died then went on with his nephew Lot to the land God promised him.
“For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foe’s shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:35-37).
We are called out. When we accept Christ we need to put Him and His ways first, even if it means we must leave our family…or friends.
Whether you are a new Christian or you’ve been a Christian for years there are ways to help someone else in their walk. Using God’s Word we must admonish those Christians who are still walking in the world. We must also avoid fellowship with non-Christians. It’s not judging someone when you admonish a fellow Christian using God’s Word as a standard.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
We must prayerfully study our Bibles and use Scripture to correct doctrine that is in error. But we also use the Scriptures to correct lifestyles that are in error…including our own.
There are many Christians who are living a lifestyle contrary to Scriptures. Do you have a friend who professes Christ yet is “living with” their girlfriend or boyfriend? This is contrary to God’s word and needs to be confronted. This is fellowshipping with Belial. You need to stand firm and not fellowship with them. By not confronting sin you are agreeing with it.
When we confront someone who is sinning, we can be accused of being “holier than thou” or being judgmental. What does God’s word say? Sexual activity outside of a one man, one woman, marriage, is sin and according to Old Testament Law they would be stoned to death.
Does that tell you anything about how God feels about sexual immorality? Many times we will be verbally attacked if we confront sin because so many people want to stay in their fellowship with Belial. But it would not be showing Christian love to allow them to continue heading in the wrong direction by keeping silent. These confrontations need to be done in love.
When a woman who had been caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, what transpired? First Jesus quietly convicted the accusers and then He showed love to the accused. But He did not pat her on the back and say to keep on sinning. No, He said “…Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).
As Christians we need to make it a priority in our own lives to keep ourselves right with Christ’s teachings.
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
This means we need to know what the Bible teaches, and even though our human urges want to fellowship with Belial and tell a “little white lie,” have sexual encounters, etc., we must deny these Satanic urges and follow Christ even if we lose a friend: Holier than thou? No, just following Christ.
Does this mean we are to have no contact at all with unbelievers?
Jesus commanded: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
He also prayed to the Father concerning the disciples, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15).
How can we reach the lost if we don’t have contact with them? We can’t. Jesus never said to be isolated, but we are not to be yoked with the world. We are to preach the gospel so the lost will come to know Jesus and be saved. If we are only preaching the Gospel with our mouth but living unequally yoked lives─fellowshipping with Belial – what good will our preaching do?
Whether you believe as I do that the Rapture will happen soon, or if you don’t believe in the Rapture at all, understand that none of us know when our life on this earth will end. If we are not living for Jesus in all our ways then we are living with one foot in the world and fellowshipping with Belial.
If we are condoning sin in others by fellowshipping with them and not admonishing their sin, shame on us. If you are a believer then represent Him well. If you have not accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation, now is the time. Begin today to study God’s Word, fellowship with Christ, and stop fellowshipping with Belial.
God bless you all,