How to Live a Separated Life Part 1

Pastor Mike will be speaking on How to Live a Separated Life Part 1. He will be reading out of 2nd Corinthians 6:11-18.

Church, if we’re going to reach the world, we’re going to have to build some relationships with people that are unchurched. We’re going to have to share Christ. We’re going to have to have those spiritual conversations.

And sometimes you can’t have that spiritual conversation until you build trust. Welcome to Hope Worth Having. This is Pastor Mike Sanders, and I am your host and excited that you are with us today. Looking forward to a great opportunity for us to study the Bible together.

We’re going to be in 2 Corinthians chapter 6. Now we’re coming to a harder passage, verse 11 through 18. I’ve entitled how to live a separated life. And so I want you to join me as we look at this passage, and the Lord teaches us how we are to be separate in today’s world.

When we come to 2 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 11 through 18, and counting chapter 7 verse 1, the apostle is challenging the believers at the church at Corinth to have a heart that is pure, a heart that wants to honor God, a heart that wants to be dedicated and fully committed to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now we have this struggle in this world. You know that in chapter 5, the apostle has taught us in 2 Corinthians that we are new creations in Christ. Old things are passing away. Behold, all things are becoming new.

But there is the challenge of the old life continuing to contaminate the new life. There is this conflict that exists in every believer’s heart. And this is true in the life of each one of us as we…

We follow Jesus Christ, that we are continuing to deal with the flesh. The Apostle Paul said, oh wretched man that I am, who can deliver me from this body of flesh? God desires that each and every one of us would live a life that is honorable and pure before Him.

He only wants what is best for each one of His children. And in order for us to live up to the potential that God has created us with, it is essential that we hear the words of God when He commands us to separate ourselves from those things that are going to stain our lives.

I want you to note in verse 17 and verse 18 of chapter 6 of 2 Corinthians, the Apostle is quoting an Old Testament passage. and he says therefore come out from among them and be separate says the Lord do not touch what is unclaimed and I will receive you I will be a father to you and you shall be my sons and daughters says the Lord almighty so the question is how how do we live this separated life we understand that God’s motivation is that we would live honorably unto Him and that He desires nothing but the best for us and He does not want to allow us to find ourselves in a position where we are constantly defeated by the flesh and the world but God is calling us to a higher standard a standard of living for the Lord Jesus Christ so let me share with you some principles this morning that will help each and every one of us to live that separated life now let me remind you I always think it’s important to bring things into context that you know as a pastor you preach you teach and you try to say what you can you only have a limited amount of time and people can only contain so much information and so you can’t just go on these long explanations about every detail what you mean about every statement that you make and so you always have to take the pastor in the context of the life of his teaching as he’s trying to bring out certain truths but I want you to remember this in context that God is not calling us to isolation but rather insulation He is not calling us that we are to live in such a way that we have no connection with anybody and that we’re trying to isolate ourselves from the community and the culture of the world in which we live in but He is calling us to be insulated from the world and the culture that we live in so how do we do that?

Number one, we must be relational. We must be relational. And I want you to jump back and I want you to look at verse 11 of chapter 6 and I want you to hear the heart of the Apostle. He says, oh Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you.

Our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same, I speak as to children. You also be open. Perhaps you have heard it said that rules without relationship leads to rebellion.

And that’s a true parenting principle. It’s a principle in all of our life. It’s a principle in our relationship with God. Is that it’s hard for us to understand all the guidelines and all the and all the things that God either wants us to do or does not want us to do, the things that God wants us to attach ourselves to or he wants us to distance ourselves from, it’s hard to sometimes fully grasp all that without a authentic relationship.

And that’s why I say to you that part of living a separate life in the community and the culture that we live in requires us to have a strong relationship not only with God, but with each other in the family of God.

And so the appeal that God is making to us this morning, as he calls us to be separate, is an appeal very similar to the wife who is separating herself from all other men only to be devoted to her husband or vice versa, that the husband is separating himself from all other women only to be devoted to his wife.

God is calling every believer that they understand that their allegiance is not to the world, not to the flesh and their allegiance is to God and God alone. And it’s important that we recognize this relationship and that we live in a constant relationship of reconciling ourselves to God.

Because you and I understand that as we wrestle with the flesh, as we deal with the temptations of the world, as we go through just the ordinary life of this world that we live in, it’s easy to become stained by the thinking of the world or the value system of the world.

And it’s essential that we keep coming back to the foot of the cross in our hearts and that we symbolically are coming to Christ and we are… being open with him. How is it that I can be relational?

Note that the Apostle first is honest with the Corinthians. He starts out by saying, oh Corinthians, this is an expression from his heart, and he says we have spoken openly to you and our heart is wide open.

Speaking openly, frankly, candidly is what he means. He’s transparent with them. He is sharing his heart with them. He is sharing his struggles with them. He is sharing his challenges with them. There is nothing that he is holding back towards them.

And this is an amazing thing because the Apostle has already been dealing with the mischaracterization and sometimes the misunderstanding of the Corinthians towards him in how they have tried to maybe discredit his ministry.

And yet, instead of being bitter and angry at the Corinthians, he comes to them and he opens his heart to them, and he reminds them again that he is a man who has spoken openly to them. The apostle is calling the Corinthians, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, to live a separate life.

He is challenging them to align their hearts with God, and that they would embrace his value system that God has given to us. But in order for him to have the credibility and the trustworthiness of the Corinthians, he rises above the animosity.

He rises above the hurt and the struggle of ministering to them and the disappointments of their responses to them, and he says, oh Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you. We’ve held nothing back.

Our heart is wide open. Jesus teaches us for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. There’s no doubt when the Corinthians heard what the apostle had to say to them, that they truly saw his heart.

He was not duplicit. He was not fake. He was not a pretender. He was not wearing a facade in ministering to the Corinthians, but was very open to them. And then he goes on to say, if you’ll note in the passage again, that his heart is wide open.

The King James says that it is enlarged. What he is literally saying is I have room for you. I still have room for you, even though you have hurt my heart, even though you have mischaracterized me, I still have room for you.

His heart is enlarged. His heart is wide open for the Corinthians. The apostle is expressing. his genuine love for them. Though they have mistreated him, he still loves them, and he has room in his heart for each and every one of them.

The second thing we see is not only was the apostle honest in his relationship with the Corinthians, but he was affectionate. Look at verse 12. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.

The apostle wants them to know it’s not him that’s holding back, but rather it’s them. They’re restricting themselves. They are the ones that have put up these emotional barriers. They are the ones that have created these walls or the distance that’s between them, and he is inviting them again to return the affection, for there’s no inner barrier in Paul’s heart towards them, even though they’ve said certain things.

He still incredibly loves them. And let’s see that again, just manifest it. I want you to flip back in 2 Corinthians chapter two in verse four. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears.

Not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. I want you to jump over to chapter three in verse two and note again that the apostle says you are our epistle, meaning you are our letter.

The life that you are living, you are reflection of our ministry. You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men. Their life was written in the hearts of the apostle. On his heart is engraved each and every one of their lives.

And then we come to chapter six and he says, oh Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you. Our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affection. Then I want you to see the fellowship.

How is it to be relational? The fellowship. Now look again in verse 13. Now in return for the same. I speak as two children. You also be open. The apostle is not being condescending. He is not being demeaning when he refers to the Corinthians as children, but he is being affectionate to them and he is reminding them that they are his spiritual children, that he has this platform in their life in which he can speak frankly and honestly in their life, that he desires nothing but the best, just like a person.

a parent wants nothing but the best for their children. So it is that the apostle wants nothing but the best for the believers. That’s what he desires. And he tells them at the end, be open, or some translations put it like this, open wide your hearts.

And he’s saying, I want you to enlarge your hearts, make enough room for me in your heart. Even though we disagree, make enough room for me in your heart. Even though we don’t see eye to eye on every matter, I want you to open your heart towards me.

Why would Paul want to say that? Because he’s getting ready to lay down some very tough messages to them. But this message is not just coming out of the blue. It’s not just the apostle just ranting and he’s having a bad day.

And so he’s taking it out on the Corinthian church. He’s not shearing the sheep and attacking them for whatever he doesn’t like, but rather he is first establishing the relationship, and he’s helping them to understand that all that he has to say is in the context of this relationship that we have with one another.

There are times in our life as believers that we have to have those tough conversations. We have to communicate things in ways that are difficult, and sometimes the emotions are there, and we know that there’s going to be maybe perhaps conflict, or maybe someone’s not going to receive it well.

They’re going to misunderstand it. What is the key? It is to be relational. It is to understand that all that you and I must communicate, not only to our family and to each other as believers in Christ, that it is our relationship with them that impacts our ability to be able to influence them in the right direction for the Lord Jesus Christ.

And this is what I’m trying to say to you this morning, is that the key on both ends for us as believers, if we’re ever trying to communicate and we’re calling people to make changes in their life, and we’re calling them to step up their game, if you will, and to align their hearts with what the Scripture says, if you try to do it without being relational, it will crash and burn.

And if you do it by being relational, you will have so much success that you’ll be shocked. And that if you would follow the pattern by being honest and affectionate and showing that fellowship, that connection, that desire to want to be together, even though we don’t always agree, friends, you cannot persuade someone when you’re not with someone.

You’ve got to have it. have those connections, and this is why the Apostle Paul is saying, let me into your heart, let me into your life, let me be a part of it. That way I can continue to influence you for God.

This is what the Apostle wants, but on the other end, as I’m the receiver of God’s commands, as I’m the receiver of sometimes reading the scriptures with tough commands in it, sometimes things that Christ is teaching that it’s difficult for me to be able to say, I don’t know if I can step up to that level.

I don’t know if I can make that commitment. Here’s the key, it’s my relationship with God. It’s my relationship with God. That as I am growing in my love for him, my loyalty to him, my allegiance to him will blossom.

We cared more about our children, have having a relationship with God, walking with God, spending time with God, connecting with God, that meant more to all of us than any rule that man could make up.

And I fear that sometimes parents are more concerned about the length of the hair of their children rather than the depth of their heart. And if you would focus on the heart, guess what? The Spirit of God lives in every believer, and the Spirit of God will take care of what needs to be changed.

God’s word is poignant. God’s word is direct. God’s word does not beat around the bushes, and when that person is living in the word of God, their love is growing. And when God has to say, hey, look, I need to be straight with you, Mike, and there are some changes about your attitude that need to happen, and there’s some things in your heart that you need to deal with, my response to that will be rooted in my love and relationship with God.

As I am submissive to the Lord, and what he has to say to me. So this call to live separated for me as a believer is directly linked to my relationship with God. I will not be resistant. I will not throw up the wall when God says, Mike, make this change in your life.

And it’s based upon my relationship with him. Now the second thing that I want us to learn is that we have to be rational. How to live a separated life not only requires me to be relational with God and others, but to be rational in understanding what God is teaching me.

And so we come to verse 14, and here comes the heavy teaching, the direct teaching of the apostle. He says these things not based upon his desire to limit their life, but God gives them these words to speak and to write to the Corinthians.

that they may be able to prosper for the Lord, that they may be able to live separate and not stained by the world. Though he says in verse 14, do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness and what communion has light with darkness?

And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 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. Now the apostle gives us several questions for us to consider. Now, friends, can we just be honest this morning and know that there’s nothing that God doesn’t know?

And why would God ask a question who is infinite in his knowledge and understanding? He is omniscient, he understands everything, and yet God came to Adam and he said, where are you? Friends, questions used to minister to others.

God used a question to minister to Adam because God already knew where Adam was. And God wasn’t interested in where Adam was physically, but he was interested in where he was spiritually. There are times that we need to think and we need to learn.

And we’re not gonna always learn by someone coming after us and telling us, you gotta do A, B, and C, but questions, ministering through questions. And when I come to this text this morning, I see the apostle using skillfully the principles of God the father had used in the book of Genesis.

Ministering through questions. And he starts out and he teaches us several questions. And these questions are for us to think about, to consider, and this is deeper. Because when you consider the question and you come to the understanding of what the right answer to the question is, listen, it is from your heart, it is from within rather than outside.

We know that people can conform on the outside. Jesus taught the Pharisees that on the outside, they were beautiful and on the outside, they look pure and on the outside, they look like they were doing everything right religiously.

But he said, your heart is far from me. The impact of a question on each and every one of us is a huge difference. that it causes us to reflect and evaluate our hearts, not just our actions, but the why behind everything that we do.

So the apostle was using this skillfully after teaching the commandment to not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. He quickly jumps in to questions to help them to think rationally about why God would give us such a command.

He tells us that we’re to make sure that we are not unequally yoked. This is a metaphor of two animals plowing together. The Old Testament says you shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together, why?

Why would that be true? Because the ox was considered by the Jewish people as a clean animal, and the donkey was considered to be unclean. But not only in that sense, you could not put them together because they had different natures.

If you’ve ever had to work with a donkey, you know that they can be stubborn, they can be feisty. And then an ox is usually cooperative and very obedient. So Christians are not to be brought together in a yoking relationship that is detrimental to the testimony of their own Christian life, but it is detrimental to reflecting the very nature and the character of God.

And so he says in his first question, what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? The word fellowship means to have something in common. It’s the sharing together. And here is what he’s trying to say is, how can righteousness and lawlessness be together?

It’s impossible. It’s not rational. The scriptures teach us in James chapter four and verse four, you adulterous people, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Now, I know that sometimes we read these verses and we just immediately jump to conclusions, but we need to always take the scriptures in context of other scriptures. Remember the Bible tells us that Jesus was a friend sinner.

Remember that Jesus said to the Pharisees, I didn’t come for those who are whole, but those who are sick. Jesus was rightly accused of eating with drunkards and harlots. Jesus was one to reach out into his community and to reach out in building relationships with unbelievers.

Here is what God is. condemning. He is not condemning that you would be a friend to an unchurched person, but rather he is condemning any relationships that we might build with unbelievers in the world that would lead us as believers into sin, that would lead us to contradict the values that God has taught us in the world.

And this is what’s important, is that we try to understand the distinction of that. And sometimes what happens as Christians is we run to one end of the spectrum to the other, rather than choosing to live a balanced life.

Church, if we’re gonna reach the world, we’re gonna have to build some relationships with people that are unchurched. We’re gonna have to build some friendships and invite people to our special ministries or programs or services.

We’re gonna have to share Christ. We’re gonna have to have those spiritual conversations. And sometimes you can’t have that spiritual conversation until you build trust. And that takes time. And as you build trust with that unchurched person, then you can lead them to Christ and there you can share Christ.

So church, God is not telling us, hey, I don’t want you to reach out to the unchurched. But he’s saying, I don’t want you to be in a relationship and a partnership. I don’t want you to be in a circumstance where your values are subservient to the world’s values.

I don’t want you to find yourself that you are partnering with someone where you have to compromise your integrity and that it leads you down a path of sinful behavior. Or that you are no longer reflecting this newness that is in Jesus Christ.

Because righteousness and lawlessness cannot have fellowship. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4, verse 14 through 15, that we are to not enter into the path of the wicked and go not in the way of evil men.

Avoid it, pass not by it. Turn from it and pass away. Here’s what you have to determine sometimes, church, and I know this is going to be difficult for us to digest. But remember that when you struggle with the commands of God and you’re struggling with what the apostle is calling us to consider and evaluate and to rationalize through in our minds and our hearts, go back to your relationship with God because that will settle everything in your heart.

And the apostle is saying to the believers, your loyalty has to be to the righteousness of God and you have to make sure that you do not abandon your loyalty to God by associating yourself with lawlessness in this world.

This is not what God has called us to be. as believers. He continues to go on and he teaches us what communion has light with darkness. What communion has light with darkness. Again, the word communion has the idea of koaniah, which is common ground.

What we are sharing together very closely to get connected to the word fellowship that he just used. But again, he is saying that we are to avoid aligning ourselves with principles or programs or associations that walk in darkness.

We are the children of light. The apostle has already taught us in Philippians 2 .15 that you may become blameless, harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine as light in the world.

God does not call us. to be like the world, but He calls us to be in the world. As we are in the world, we are reaching the world with the gospel, but the people in the world are not attracted if we’re just like them.

There must be a hope within our heart that is distinct and different. This is Pastor Mike reminding you that in Christ, there is hope worth having.

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