Yokes :: By Nathele Graham

“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).

We all know what a yoke is. It’s used to bind animals together so they will work as a team to accomplish a purpose. We’ve all seen pictures of a pair of oxen yoked together to plow a field or pull a wagon. When the team is well-matched, they work together without a problem, but sometimes, one of the team isn’t willing to work with the other. The animal will pull away or try to run ahead. This makes it difficult to plow a straight line or to comfortably travel down a road. It’s not wise to unequally yoke a Clydesdale horse together with a Shetland pony. That just isn’t a good match.

In life, we all become yoked to something, whether it be a job, marriage, or friendships. In making choices of who or what to be yoked to, Christians need to make choices based on Scripture. We have freedom in Christ, but that isn’t a license to sin. If you join yourself to people who don’t know Jesus, even if they claim to be Christian, then you are unequally yoked and will be led along the path of the world, and the burden of sin is great.

Jesus told His disciples of the tough times they would face, but He also gave them hope. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). All who have yoked themselves to Jesus have this same promise. So be of good cheer!

Sin is a yoke that is heavy. It may start out as “harmless fun” and not seem burdensome. Time passes, and white lies become bigger, and one or two glasses of wine become martinis and whiskey until the bar closes. Having a glass of wine isn’t a sin, but drunkenness is. The yoke becomes heavier and heavier. One sin will lead to another, and the friends you have yoked yourself to will pull you away from the path you should be following.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). 

Sin always has consequences. Alcoholism will cause liver damage, sexual encounters other than within the confines of a one man/one woman marriage will bring about disease, and lying will cause hurt feelings and trouble. The death caused by sin can be physical (you may be killed in a drunk driving accident), or it can be eternal if you don’t know Jesus.

Let’s set up a scenario. You’re happily married and have 2 children. You enjoy spending family time together, and every Sunday, you and your family show up to worship God at your neighborhood church. Then, you have to stay late at work one night in order to finish a big project. Your secretary also stays. After you’ve finished your job, you ask if she would like to grab a bite to eat. She agrees, and the conversation is interesting, and you enjoy her company very much. You go home, and your wife has kept your dinner warm for you. You tell your wife that you and a co-worker went to dinner after work. That isn’t a lie, but it is misleading.

The next week, you have to work late again, and the same scenario plays out. Pretty soon, you are dining with your secretary even though you don’t need to work. The lies you tell your wife are growing. That yoke of sin is getting heavy. Then the kids have a t-ball game, but you’ve made plans with your secretary. That yoke is getting very heavy.

You begin enjoying more than dinner with her, but you aren’t the only one she’s seeing, and you get a sexually transmitted disease. What do you tell your wife? More lies? Your marriage breaks up, and you now only see your children every other weekend. All because you have yoked yourself with a very heavy burden of sin and bad company.

The good news is that Jesus is very forgiving. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Confessing your sin doesn’t mean to run to a priest. We only need to confess our sins to Jesus and truly ask Him to forgive. He will. You must confess to Jesus and repent of your sin. Turn away from it. He will break the yoke that sin has forged. Faith in Jesus isn’t a “get out of jail free” card like in Monopoly. Sin comes with a price, and there will be consequences in life. But Jesus paid the price of our transgressions, and eternal life is still there for the true believer. Don’t treat that gift of salvation lightly.

God doesn’t want us to yoke ourselves to the powers of evil, and He has tried since He created Adam to keep us away from evil. We are surrounded by supernatural powers, both the ones of God and the evil powers of darkness. Because God knows how hateful the powers of darkness are, He has warned us not to yoke ourselves with that evil.

It’s impossible to live in this world and be totally isolated from the evil that spills into it, but we choose if we want to be a part of the evil or to follow Jesus. Movies and music are big influences on most people in the world, so choose wisely what you fill your mind with. The subject matter of many movies and songs is blatantly full of non-Christian ideas of violence, drugs, drunkenness, unbridled sex, and pure evil. Turn away from the evil and draw closer to God.

“But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works” (Psalm 73:28). 

Don’t yoke yourself to the world, but draw nearer to God each day.

When the Israelites were captive in Egypt, there was a god for everything, and the one true God’s chosen people were influenced by the evil. God called them out of Egypt and warned them to stay away from the gods they would encounter. These demon gods were worshipped by the inhabitants of the land which God promised to Abraham.

“I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen, and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright” (Leviticus 26:13). 

God demonstrated His power to the Israelites on many occasions, but throughout history, they chose to yoke with the evil rather than God Almighty. They should have felt that a heavy yoke had fallen away when the Egyptian bondage was over, and they should have turned away from the gods which were worshipped there.

“When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). 

God will never completely turn His back on Israel, but it’s time for them to turn back to Him. Christians, we need to pay attention to the full counsel of God’s word and turn away from these things too.

The prophets of old spoke of the coming Messiah, and Isaiah spoke quite a bit about Him. The Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Syrians. God allowed this fall because they had yoked themselves to the evil worship of idols and demonic gods promoted by King Ahab and Jezebel. The Southern Kingdom of Judah would also fall. In Isaiah chapter 8, we read the prophecy about Assyria invading and capturing Judah. It was their disobedience to God’s law that caused them to be taken captive. God has never forsaken Israel, and He promised them hope.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian” (Isaiah 9:1 & 4). 

God would provide the only way of redemption for Israel and the entire world. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This is one of many prophecies about Jesus. The Jewish people were chosen to bring Christ into the world. Thank God He never goes back on His word.

Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies during His first coming. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Isaiah 10:27). 

Jesus broke the yoke of sin for anyone who turns to Him in faith. When we turn to Jesus, we need to turn away from the world. We need to yoke ourselves to Jesus rather than being yoked to the evils of the world, which is under the yoke of Satan.

Jesus spoke of how it was easier to follow His path instead of yoking to the world. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Brothers and sisters, we have come once again to October, and Halloween is upon us. How do you plan to celebrate? Will you dress your children in costumes that glorify evil? Witches, ghosts, or some other horror figure.

Wouldn’t it be better not to yoke yourself or your children with the powers of darkness, but rather remember Martin Luther? He is the man who broke the yoke of the Catholic Church for many people and sparked the Protestant revolution. There were many things he found in error with Catholicism, and he taught the Biblical truth of grace through faith and not works. He had some unbiblical beliefs, such as his anti-Jewish views and soul sleep, which are not God’s views. Nevertheless, on October 31, 1517, he is said to have nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg.

Martin Luther took a stand and chose to be yoked to Christ instead of following the ways of the world. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Christ alone is our High Priest, and we should only bow our knees to Him.

Be diligent to study Scripture so that you will know God’s word and be better able to decide with what or whom you will yoke yourself. A wise person only yokes with Christ.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham


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All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.

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