As we think this week about recovering a biblical worldview, there is a desperate need to do just that. We as Christians would like to think that Christians in general, certainly evangelical Christians, have a biblical worldview—but that’s not the case. In fact I was reading a survey recently that said about 30 percent of Christians—confessing, professing Christians—about 30 to 40 percent of them have a biblical worldview. I’m not sure what it means to be a Christian without a biblical worldview. It may mean that you’re only a Christian in name, or it may mean you’re a rather infantile Christian, because a biblical worldview is what you come to when you study the Word of God. So we could understand if it was a new believer who hadn’t really gone through the Word of God to have a fully orbed understanding of God’s revelation, so that he would be able to interpret everything in the world in a biblical fashion. But to be a Christian, to declare yourself a Christian, and to reject the notion of a biblical worldview would be an absolute contradiction in terms. And having said that, part of what contributes to the absence of a Christian worldview among professing Christians is that there are so many in leadership who don’t have a Christian worldview—and I mean leadership in some way in Christianity. And where it shows up in particular is in the willingness of evangelical people, professing Christians, to cooperate with the world.
There’s no fellowship between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness; we’re going to see that this morning. So we have to understand that to have a biblical worldview is to be completely set apart from the world, to make no alliances with the world, to have no cooperation with the world; and I’m going to try to show you what the Word of God has to say about that. I have a lot on my mind and a few things in my notes here, so settle in, get your Bible ready, and let’s look together at the Word of God.
And I want to start by way of an introduction in 1 John chapter 4, 1 John chapter 4, with the great reality that God is perfect love, God is perfect love.
In 1 John 4 and verse 7 it says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” God is love. God is perfect love, as He is perfect in every righteous element of His nature. Down in verse 11 it again says God loves us, and “if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.” Then again down in verse 16, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” So I just want to establish that God is love, He is perfect love, and in the Word of God, God’s perfect love is revealed both in common grace and in redeeming grace.
But having said that God is love, I want to move to the opposite of that and also say—and this will be a little different in terms of how you receive it—that God is also capable of perfect hatred, perfect hatred, necessarily. If God is perfect love, then He must necessarily hate anything that harms or threatens the object of that perfect love. And to make that clear biblically, Psalm 97:10 says, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord.” If you want to be like God, you hate evil.
And then in Psalm 119 there are a number of passages that express this. Verse 104, the psalmist says, “I love Your law”— “therefore I hate every false way.” Verse 113, “I love Your law”; “I hate those who are double-minded.” Verse 128, “I love Your precepts”; “I hate every false way.” Verse 163, “I hate and despise lies, I love Your law.” The more perfect your love, the more perfect your hatred. You hate anything that opposes or threatens or harms the object of love. So the perfect love of God for all that is holy and righteous and good means that God also perfectly hates everything that is unholy, unrighteous, and evil. This is an established foundation for understanding the church’s relationship to the world.
Now you will recall in Proverbs—and as I said, I want to look at a lot of Scriptures this morning—in Proverbs chapter 6, familiar words we all know and have read many times, but let me remind you of them. Verse 16 of Proverbs 6, “There are six things which the Lord hates”—just the footnote at this point: You don’t hear a lot about the hate of God, do you, the hatred of God. But “there are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes”—which is an expression of pride—“a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” Those are evil intentions and evil expressions and evil actions, and God hates them.
In Malachi chapter 2 it says God hates divorce. In Isaiah 61:8 it says God hates wickedness. Jeremiah 44 it says God hates idolatry. In Amos 5:21, God hates hypocrisy. And you find in Scripture a number of places culminating in revelation that God hates false religion.
This is the foundation for understanding how we as the church relate to the world. God loves His own; God loves all that is holy, just, and good, which is the description of His Word by the apostle Paul; but God hates anything that opposes that. And having gone to 1 John 4, I want you to go back to chapter 2, 1 John 2, verse 15, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Notice the mutual exclusivity of that statement: If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” The contrast is stark; there is exclusivity here: You can’t love God and love the world. All that is in the world is evil, and the world is headed for destruction; “but [he that] does the will of God lives forever.” The contrast is obvious.
Six times in those three verses—15, 16, and 17—the world is mentioned. What does it mean? The Greek word is kosmos, and it’s the opposite word to chaos. Chaos means just that: “chaos, disorder.” Kosmos means “order”; it’s a system. And the Bible talks about the world basically in three dimensions. There is the physical world, the created world; and the created world is obviously the work of God, and so we respect the creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God”; we know that—Psalm 19, and many other psalms. So the physical world is something that we can love and appreciate and admire as the creation of God. Even though marred by sin, His creation still comes through in its majesty and glory.
The second use of the word “world” is for humanity, like John 3:16, “God so loved the world.” He’s not talking about the material world. He’s talking about the immaterial world; he’s talking about people. And we need to love people as God loves people.
But the way John uses the word here in verses 15 to 17 is not the physical world, and it’s not the human world, it is the world system of evil. It is the structure of the evil system that dominates human life.
Ephesians 2:1 through 3 describes it this way: “The course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” The direction, the structure, the complexity of this world is under the control of the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience, the spirit who is “the prince of the power of the air.” This is Satan. So Satan runs the complex evil system that dominates a fallen world. And Ephesians 2 says the people in that system are driven by the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, and they are not only children of disobedience, but they are children of wrath. This is the entire world viewed in its evil nature, headed for final judgment. That is the world we hate. We love the creation, we love the people; we hate the evil system. That’s just a definitive starting point.
Why do we hate the world? First of all because of what it is. What is it? It is full of “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life,” and it “is not from the Father.” We hate it because of what it is. It is the enemy of God, it is the enemy of Christ, it is the enemy of Scripture, it is the enemy of the truth, it is the enemy of the gospel, it is the enemy of salvation, it is the enemy of sanctification—all of that.
We also hate the world, not only because of what it is but because of who we are. We belong to the Father. If you go back to verse 12, in verse 12 John tells us that we are children of God. The fact that we are children is broken into three categories: Some of us are spiritual fathers who have known Him who’s from the beginning, some of us are spiritual young men who’ve overcome the evil one, and some of us are still spiritual children; but we all know the Father.
What does it mean to be a spiritual child? You know the Father. You don’t know much more than maybe the basics. You’re connected to God; you know Him. You become a spiritual young man when you know sound doctrine; and by the knowledge of sound doctrine you overcome the evil one, because the evil one operates in false doctrine. But you want to even go beyond that to become a spiritual father, and that’s not just to know doctrine but to know the God who is being revealed in the doctrine. So there are levels of spiritual growth, but in every case, we are all categorically described as the children of the Father; and so we have no part in the world. That is why it tells us if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. If you love the Father, you can’t love the complex of evil.
So we hate the world because of what it is, because of who we are; we hate the world, thirdly, because of what it does. It dominates people in inciting them to sin. “All that is in the world . . . is not of the Father”; it just is a complex of temptation driven at “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the . . . pride of life.” And then finally, we hate the world because of where it’s headed, verse 17, “The world is passing away, also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
The reason I wanted to start in 1 John, just as an introduction, is to have you understand the fact that the kingdom of God and the world are absolutely mutually exclusive. Here are the words of our Lord now in John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be delivered over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this [world].” Again the mutual exclusivity. You can’t have the kingdom of God and the world in any alliance because they are antithetical to each other.
Now this plays out in a very familiar and very well-known incident between Jesus and Peter. So turn to Matthew 16, Matthew 16. And you’re very familiar with this, verse 13: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’”—“What are you hearing? What’s the crowd feedback?”—“And they said, ‘[Well] some say [You’re] John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ [But] He said to them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Peter’s amazing confession, absolutely the truth: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” “The living God” because all other gods are dead; they don’t even exist. The one true, living God.
Peter’s theology proper was on target. Peter’s Christology was on target. He said the truth. “And Jesus said to him”—in verse 17—“‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona’”—son of Jonas—“‘because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven’”—“You just received a divine revelation; you spoke the truth of God from heaven.” That is the highpoint of Peter’s life. And Peter’s life had its highs and lows, right? It had its extreme highs and extreme lows, and this is maybe the extreme high of all highs. Peter was used by God to speak divine revelation and the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing. “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven”—the high point of his life.
But keep reading. Verse 18, our Lord declares that upon the confession that Peter has made, He would build His church, and that His church would hold the keys to the kingdom of heaven because the gospel is the key that unlocks the kingdom of heaven. Then He warned them “that they should tell no one that He was the Messiah”; the time was not right. God’s timing was yet in the future to make that declaration. So this is the highpoint.
Then in verse 21 we read this: “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” You have to try to imagine what a shock this is, because they have just heard from heaven that Jesus is the Son of the living God and the long-awaited Messiah. And the expectation would be that the Messiah has come, and certainly you would cooperate with all the religious leaders; you would want the Messiah to have access to the religious community at its broadest and highest level. And so the disciples would assume that somehow the Lord is going to make an alliance with the leadership of Israel, the religious leadership of Israel, become prominent among them, and take His prominent place in the Temple and in the religion of Israel, and then bring deliverance from all their enemies, and establish His glorious, promised kingdom, as the prophets had said. But no. Jesus says His relationship to the leaders of Israel—elders, chief priests, and scribes—is going to be so antithetical, so hostile, that they will kill Him.
So at the very outset it is crystal clear that there is nothing in the most religious element of human society that necessarily adds anything to the purposes of God for His kingdom. I can’t imagine that if we would have told this story about some evangelist who showed up in Jerusalem at that time that he would not want to get the cooperation from all the religious leaders. That’s typically what evangelists through history have wanted to do in the modern era. But at the very outset, as soon as Jesus has declared that He is the Messiah, He declares immediately that the religious establishment is going to kill Him.
“Peter took Him aside and he began to rebuke Him.” This is Peter going from the highpoint of his life to the stupidest point in his life in a few verses, and now he’s commanding the Lord. He just declared that Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Messiah, and now he’s going to tell Him what He has to do. So he begins to rebuke Him. And while rebuking Him, he makes this statement: “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”
“He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me’”—what’s the next word?—“‘Satan!’” How do you do that? How do you go from speaking to God and speaking for God to speaking for Satan, in five verses? “Get behind Me, Satan!” He just said to him, “Your Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You were speaking for God, now you’re speaking for the devil.” Why did He say that to him? Because Peter wanted the success of the messianic kingdom without the necessary suffering.
Peter was happy to make some kind of a strategy, some kind of an alliance with the religious leaders that wouldn’t necessarily mean that Jesus had to be killed at all. Jesus says, “Get behind Me, Satan!” And here’s the problem: “You’re a stumbling block to Me; for you’re not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”—“You’ve crossed over. You’ve crossed over from the kingdom of God to the kingdom of this world.”
“Get behind Me, Satan!”—very strong language. Hypagō—strong, intense, fierce rebuke; fierce. It’s the very same word Jesus used when He dismissed Satan in His temptation in Matthew 4:10. The temptation is to get the crown by some alliance with the darkness. “You’ve taken up Satan’s cause. You’re in partnership with the devil. You are a skandalos, you’re a stumbling stone. You have gone from being a rock to becoming a stumbling stone in just a few moments.” And that is true of anyone who crosses the line to avoid the necessary suffering, the expected suffering, in the establishment of the gospel and the church and the kingdom. “You’re not setting your mind on God’s interests”—same verb as Colossians 3, “Set your mind on things above, and not on things on the earth.”
This is the worst rebuke imaginable, for a loving disciple like Peter who just wants to help Jesus by avoiding suffering. His intentions may have been noble, but the devil’s way is to try to get Christians to think that the kingdom of light can advance by avoiding suffering, that the kingdom of light can advance by making concessions or finding compromises with the dark kingdom. And Peter’s sin has been incessantly repeated throughout all of church history. Christians have been trying to help Jesus build the kingdom by striking a deal with the devil. Every effort to advance the kingdom by means of worldly schemes is just another of the same sin as Peter committed.
In very powerful words, the apostle Paul shows the distinction in 2 Corinthians chapter 2, verse 14. He says, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ”—he understands that the gospel will accomplish the purposes of God without any alliance with the world. It “manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. . . . We are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”—and then he says this—“to the one an aroma of death to death, to the other an aroma of life to life.” Understand this: that preaching the gospel is, for those who believe, an aroma of life to life. For those who do not believe, it is an aroma of death to death, and necessarily so. There’s no way to mitigate that. We lose our lives for the gospel, and then in the end we win. We lose our lives for the gospel, and then in the end we win. We don’t win now. Good intentions, even love for Christ, prompting efforts to advance His kingdom by political lobbying, by pragmatism, by social change, by shallow gospel, by entertainment, by emotional manipulation, by tolerance of sin, is to cross over into the kingdom of darkness and try to make an alliance. Our Lord’s way is to stay on the side of the kingdom of light and understand that they will reject you. Jesus said, “They hated Me because I told them they were sinful,” John 7.
If you want them to like you because you think that’s a better way to reach them, then you don’t tell people they’re sinful. That alliance with the devil is pretty common. But our Lord knew that the kingdom of light advances on the truth and only the truth, with no alliance with the kingdom of darkness; and suffering is inevitable: “All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer”—what?—“persecution.”
The kingdom of light needs no help from the darkness. The world in its corruption is on the way to destruction. We don’t court it, we don’t borrow its strategies, we don’t adopt its ideas; rather, we warn the world of judgment. I’m afraid evangelicals have become like Peter, offering a better way than bold, compassionate proclamation of the gospel that offends the sinner, terrifies the sinner. Instead of that, they have tried to find a popular way of acceptance to avoid hostility, to avoid rejection, and to avoid persecution.
The apostles turned the world upside down with no help from it—no social action, no alliances, no cooperative strategy. The evil kingdom of darkness hates everything that God loves and loves everything He hates. It is no friend to the Light. Our evil rulers are dominated by lies, immorality, deception. They worship the creature rather than the Creator. They will not submit to the truth; they are under judgment. They are described in Romans 1 as characterized by a reprobate mind. Godless rulers, all of them, throughout human history are previews of the final Antichrist. God-truth-Christ/Satan-lies-Antichrist don’t make a good alliance.
So what I’m trying to stress to you is this: A biblical worldview, by definition, necessarily, is in opposition to the world. There are so many ways to point this out to you, I’m going to have to edit myself as I go a little bit. But listen to Paul, for example, in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 5: “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” This is unregenerate people; they have no part in the kingdom of God. Therefore, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience”—there we are echoing what he said back in chapter 2, as I pointed out earlier. “Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light . . . in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” The separation is crystal clear.
Now all of that is just to sort of lay the groundwork for a text of Scripture that I want you to look at with me. It’s 2 Corinthians chapter 6; and we’re going to see this definitive portion of Scripture, 2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 14. Let me read the text down through verse 1 of chapter 7.
Second Corinthians 6:14, “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? For we are the temple of the living God; 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. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty.” The contrast here is profound. You have a kingdom of righteousness, a kingdom of light, the kingdom of Christ, a kingdom of believers, the kingdom of God. Then you have in opposition to that: lawlessness, darkness, Satan, unbelievers, and idols. There is no possibility of those two working together in any kind of partnership, any kind of ministry alliance or fellowship, any kind of common cause.
So let’s just start in verse 14: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers.” It doesn’t mean you should divorce if you are married to an unbeliever and you come to Christ. First Corinthians 7 says if a non-believer wants to stay, stay married. It doesn’t mean isolation—and I want to make that very clear.
So the words of our Lord speak to that in John chapter 17; and you know these words, but let me remind you of them. John chapter 17, verse 15, “I do not ask You”—this is Jesus praying to the Father—“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” So it’s not isolation. “Keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world”—“I don’t want them out of the world, I want them in the world. Send them into the world, Father. But sanctify them by Your truth.” So we’re not talking about isolation.
Paul even tells the Corinthians, “I don’t want you to separate from sinners, I want you to separate from those who say they’re believers but are categorized by the same sins”: “Do not be bound together, yoked unequally.” Now that prohibition, by the way, again from 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers,” is drawn from Deuteronomy 22:10. Deuteronomy 22:10 gives a prohibition, and here it is: “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey.” Now, you have enough agrarian insight to know you can’t pull a plow with an ox and a donkey; two completely different creatures. And that is the illustration that is borrowed from the Old Testament to show the ridiculous nature of any alliance between a believer and a non-believer in any common cause.
In the prophecy of Jeremiah—and I’m going to cover a lot of these Scriptures, but there are some I’m going to try to leave out, but it’s hard because they’re pertinent. But in Jeremiah chapter 2, verse 5, we read this: “Thus says the Lord, ‘What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?’ They didn’t say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of deep darkness, through a land that no one crossed and where no man dwelt?’ I brought you into the fruitful land to eat its fruit and its good things. But you came and defiled My land, and My inheritance you made an abomination. The priests didn’t say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ And those who handle the law didn’t know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that did not profit.
“‘Therefore I will yet contend with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and with your sons I will contend—with your sons’ sons. For cross to the coastlands of Kittim and see, and send to Kedar and observe closely and see if there has been such a thing as this! Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.” In other words, “You switched from the true and living God to an idol.”
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this, shudder, be very desolate”—this calls for a reaction on the part of heaven. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water”—going from God to an idol. You can’t link God to the world system in any spiritual enterprise. Satan bent on destroying the work of God.
Satan seeks to join the church. We know that. Our Lord said that an enemy would sow tares, right, in the field of wheat. So you have the true believers, and the enemy, Satan, sows tares. Satan wants to join the church; this is true. Satan wants to join the church. And Satan also wants to seduce the church to join the world. We see that in the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Satan wants to join the church, so we have to face the fact that the church is made up of believers and unbelievers.
That is no surprise. I know sometimes people ask me the question, “Why is the church the way it is? Isn’t it rather embarrassing to God to have such confusion in Christianity that people don’t even know what a true Christian is?” This is no surprise. This is within the framework of God’s divine intention because it is Jesus who said in Matthew 7, “Many will say unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord, I did this, I did that.’ And I’ll say, ‘Depart from Me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity.’” And in Matthew 13, He gave all those parables about the mixed kingdom externally. So Satan wants to join the church, and Satan wants the church to join the world—that’s his strategy.
Currently the church has literally been sucked into the world of critical race theory. We all know that. Social justice, feminism, homosexuality, racism—all these things, all this collective vengeance, anger that has nothing to do with us. In Ephesians 4 we are told to “put away all anger, all wrath, all vengeance, all clamor, all evil speaking, and be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
The kingdom of light has no role to play in bitterness, no role to play in racism, vengeance, the graceless philosophy of intersectionality, “me too” movement, feminism, spawned out of human philosophy for the sake of retaliation and money. You can’t have the world which hates God, hates Christ, hates the gospel, hates the family, hates moral purity. You can’t take up their cause. Partnering with the world in efforts to placate their sense of retaliation against history is to hear from heaven, “Get behind Me, Satan.” To join in common cause with the world to accomplish anything that advances the kingdom is pure folly.
So what I’m saying is that a biblical worldview is necessarily exclusive in its separation from the world. Now Paul is going to prove this point to us by looking at the past, the present, and the future. So let’s go back to the text.
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers,” OK, “Don’t be bound together with unbelievers.” And that’s borrowed, I told you, that’s borrowed from Deuteronomy 22:10, the ox and the donkey. And that Old Testament analogy reminds us of the Old Testament prohibitions with regard to Israel and the surrounding nations. So let’s look at the past using that Deuteronomy passage as kind of a trigger to go to the past.
Listen to the instruction that God gave Israel—and we’ll go back to the twenty-third chapter of Exodus, at the time of the giving of the Law, Exodus 23 and verse 31. This is God telling His people what He expects in terms of relationships to the nations around them: “I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.” Now that’s about as exclusive as you can get: “You go into the land, and I’m going to give you those people, and you drive those people out.”
“You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me.” The separation was essential. “They will make you sin against Me.”
In chapter—well, there’s a number of places we could look, but I’m thinking of chapter 34, verse 12: “Watch [yourselves] that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you’re going, or it’ll become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, cut down their Asherim—for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God—otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.” “You can’t do that. Make no covenant, make no alliance; they will cause you to sin.”
In Deuteronomy chapter 7, familiar words as that chapter opens: “When the Lord your God brings you”—and this is when they’re on the edge of the land—“brings you into the land where you’re entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them.” Amazing. The presence of those idolatrous nations threaten the very existence of Israel. “You shall make no covenant with them, show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, hew down their Asherim, burn their graven images with fire.” Verse 6, key: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the people who are on the face of the earth”—“You are unique.” There can be absolutely no alliance with the world, none. And God isolated Israel with their diet, with their clothing, with their calendar. He didn’t need the help of the culture to advance the kingdom.
That’s the past. Going back to 2 Corinthians 6, let’s look at the present. In verse 14, speaking present tense, “For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, what fellowship has light with darkness? What harmony has Christ with Belial, what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” They’re just mutually exclusive. Five comparisons here:
“What partnership have righteousness and lawlessness?” That’s looking at behavior. The behavior is distinct. “What partnership”—“partnership,” metochē, only used here, by the way. A related word to this was used to describe Peter’s fishing business back in Luke 5. What alliance? What do we do when we are tempted to have business with the world? You can’t have a partnership with lawlessness and righteousness. In fact, just thinking about 1 John for a minute, this is really powerful, 1 John chapter 3 and verse 4: “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. [And] you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the work of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he’s born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who doesn’t practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who doesn’t love his brother.” You can’t have a common enterprise between the children of Satan and the children of God, between the righteous and the lawless. I don’t care what the cause is; that partnership is impossible.
The second comparison: “What fellowship has light with darkness?” What koinōnia? Now we go from behavior to character or nature; this is internal. Light is a metaphor for truth and virtue, darkness is a metaphor for deception and sin. You can’t bring the children of light and the children of darkness together; they have different behavior, and that’s because they have different character.
In verse 15, he adds a third comparison: “What harmony has Christ with Belial . . . ?” That is a jarring statement, by the way. “Belial” is the ancient name for Satan, used twelve times in the Old Testament. It essentially means “wicked.” It has the overtones of “worthless.” It is unthinkable that wicked, worthless Satan would be linked with Christ in any enterprise. No “harmony”—beautiful word in the Greek: sumphōnēsis, from which we get “symphony.” You can’t have a symphony with the children of the devil and the children of God.
That is how the Lord wants us to work in the world. But being sure that as we work in the world, we are recognizing the absolute incompatibility of any alliance with the enemy. I don’t care if it’s political. I don’t care if it’s moral causes. What has a believer in common with an unbeliever? We’re so different. We live by faith; we’re believers. They live by sight. Our trust is in God; their trust is in themselves. Our behavior is different; our character is different. Our faith is placed in the Lord, and that’s distinct from the world. We trust in God; they trust in the flesh. We don’t trust in politics, we don’t trust in power; we trust in preaching and truth.
And then in verse 16 he adds, “Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of . . . God.” This is a very dramatic statement also. This would remind Jews who were familiar with the Old Testament of the eighth chapter of Ezekiel. In the eighth chapter of Ezekiel you have one of the most graphic illustrations of the decline of the people of Israel. You can follow along, if you’re in Ezekiel, at verse 4. This is a vision of abominations in Jerusalem, and this is what Ezekiel sees in the vision, verse 4: “And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain.
“And He said to me, ‘Son of man, raise your eyes now toward the north.’ So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold, to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the entrance.” This is a vision of the Temple, of the Temple. And in the entrance to the Temple in the vision, Ezekiel sees an idol. “And He said to me”—the Lord said to him—“‘Son of man, do you see what they’re doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary?’”—“They’re sending Me away.”—“‘But yet you will see still greater abominations.’”
There’s an idol in the front entrance. And so “He brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, now dig through the wall.’ So I dug through the wall, and behold, an entrance. And He said to me, ‘Go in and see the wicked abominations that [are committed] here.’ And I entered and looked, and behold, every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around.” Idols inside the court of the Temple? And “standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, each man with his censer in his hand and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising.” This is some kind of false worship. “He said to me, ‘Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, “The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken us.”’” Secret, cultic; who knows what things are being depicted inside the Temple. And verse 13, “He said to me, ‘You’ll yet see greater abominations which they are committing.’
“Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.” Idolatry all through the house of God, which is where this phrase is drawn: “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of . . . God.”
The word “temple” here is naos in the Greek, and it refers to the Holy of Holies, the inner place where the presence of God was symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant. We are the temple of God, we are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit; we know that from 1 Corinthians. John 14:20, Jesus said, “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” We are the temple of God. We have no alliance with idols, no alliance.
Everything about the kingdom is distinct; everything about it is exclusive. Can’t be bound together with unbelievers. Can’t be bound together with the lawless, the unrighteous, those in the darkness—with Satan. There’s no common cause. The kingdom of God does not advance with help from the darkness.
There’s one more final note here, and that’s a look at the future—and this is powerful. Back to verse 16. We saw the past from verse 14, when we looked back at Deuteronomy 22 and saw the separation texts that Israel was to maintain in the past. We looked at the present and the present tense verbs in those five comparisons. And now we’ll look at the future. Verse 16, pick it up in the quote there in verse 16: “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” I just want to stop there.
What is this? What is this talking about, “I will dwell with them and walk among them; I will be their God, they shall be My people”? And down in verse 17, Paul adds, “I will welcome you,” speaking for God. Verse 18, “I will be a father to you.” “I will”—five future tense verbs, “I will, I will”—four, rather, “I will, I will, I will, I will.” This is sovereign purpose for the future, sovereign purpose for the future.
How do you know it’s the future? Look at chapter 7, verse 1: “Therefore, having these promises.” These are promises. God is saying, “I will dwell in them. I will walk among them. I will be their God; they will be My people. I will welcome you. I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
What is this talking about? It’s talking about the future kingdom. It’s not a call to salvation, it’s talking about the future kingdom. It’s promises. Jeremiah 24, “For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up . . . and I will plant them and . . . I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.” That’s the promise of future salvation for Israel.
Jeremiah 31:33, “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after these days,” says the Lord, “I will put My law in them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Again, the promise of future salvation to Israel. Ezekiel 37, “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant . . . . I will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
All of those are just exactly what is being said in this passage. It’s the promise of the earthly kingdom, the promise of the millennial reign of Christ; the promise of the regeneration, as it’s called in Matthew; or the time or refreshing, as in Acts; or the time of restitution, as in the book of Acts; or the day of Christ, the time when Christ returns, Revelation 19 and 20, where He sets up His earthly kingdom.
So listen, we have that history already written. God will establish His kingdom in the world, right? Christ will reign. So what is the point of making alliances with the darkness? He doesn’t need the help; He doesn’t need the assistance. All those “I wills”: “I will, I will, I will, I will, I will. And sometimes you hear people say, “Well, do you think God is going to save Israel in the future?” What? How many times does He have to say that? “Do you think Christ is going to come back and establish a kingdom?” He said He was, and He said it over and over and over again. And God is a God who keeps His word.
The King is coming. Amen? We don’t need to help Him by making alliance with the world. We need to love the creation because it reflects God’s glory, we need to love the people enough to give them the gospel; but we hate the complex system of evil, and we don’t need their help. We don’t need it politically; we don’t need it academically; we don’t need it on a moral level. Those alliances play no role in the advance of the kingdom.
Isaiah talks about global worship, worldwide worship of God as King: Every knee will bow to Yahweh; all nations will see His glory. Perfect justice and fairness. Perfect righteousness and truth, peace everywhere, economic blessing, long life, no wars, safety, joy. That’s the kingdom, followed by the new heaven and the new earth. I love Zechariah 14:9, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.” So what is the point of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? The world is going down, folks; it’s sinking.
You know, I’ve heard frequently over the last few years that the church has an “urban mandate,” an urban mandate to redeem the cities—very popular. And we are to engage in social causes. Yes, we are to love people; yes, we are to be charitable; yes, we are to be kind. But what is the urban mandate? What is the message that we should have to the cities?
Let me tell you what it is; it’s in Matthew 11. Here’s Matthew 11:20, speaking of Jesus: “Then He began to denounce the cities”—did you hear that? “Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they didn’t repent.” That is the urban mandate: Tell them if they don’t repent, they’re going to be under judgment. That is the message. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it’ll be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you it’ll be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” Really? Sodom was destroyed because of homosexuality. “You mean it’s going to be a worse judgment on Cincinnati, Ohio, than it was on Sodom? Why?” Because Cincinnati, Ohio, has heard the gospel. The urban mandate is, with love and compassion, to proclaim the gospel; that’s the mandate.
So because of what God has told His people in the past in Israel’s separation, what God is saying in the present in those five comparisons, and because of the future plan of God, “Therefore,” verse 17, “‘come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean.’”
The kingdom of God, Paul says in Romans, is—I love this—righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are aliens and strangers in the world, aren’t we? We’re like the nation Israel; we’re isolated. And the great warning of God to that people was not to allow themselves to be amalgamated. And one day the Lord will set up His kingdom, and He will welcome us, and He will be, in the fullest sense, a father to us, and we’ll be His sons and daughters.
This is where history is headed. The world can’t change it; the world can’t help it. Only one response is possible to all this, verse 1 of chapter 7: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved”—now he’s talking to us, isn’t he—“let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” It’s plural: “Let us,” talking to the church, “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness”—really molusmos, and that always refers to an unholy alliance with Satan’s kingdom—“perfecting holiness in the fear of God”—anticipating the perfection of the kingdom that is ultimately climaxed in the return of Christ.
We need no alliances with Satan; he doesn’t help us advance the world to a better state, nor can he help us advance the light. Our calling is clear: Call men out of the darkness, warn them of judgment to come, and tell them what it says in Mark 1:15, Repent and believe the gospel.” I’ll let Peter sign off: “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you’re not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” Let’s pray.
Our Father, through the precious Word, You have swept us up and carried us to heaven. We have heard the message from the beginning of Holy Scripture all the way to the end. We thank You that You always, always remain faithful to Your people. And all You ask out of us is obedience, love, service, worship, and evangelism; and You will build Your kingdom, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. But the way is always the same: It is the cross before the crown. We don’t win here. We may appear to be losing here. The true church, the faithful church, the separated church may appear small, and even weak. And it may be looked down on, and it may even be condemned as out of touch, unsophisticated, irrelevant. But we know that it is the purity of that separation that protects the church and keeps its identity pure and its message pure.
So Lord, may we have by Your kindness a restoration of a biblical worldview. May we love the people. May we weep over the lost as Jesus did. May we hate the system and confront it to indict it, and even to terrify the people caught up in it, knowing that terror over sin and judgment is the first step in the direction of seeking deliverance. Use us for Your glory. We’re so amazed to be a part of what You’re doing. And we say with John—we long for the day when the Lord comes to set up His kingdom, and we say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Be glorified in all the earth. Help us by Your Holy Spirit to be faithful, and we’ll give You our thanks and our praise. Amen.
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