2 Corinthians 6:16
“For you are the temple of the living God.”
Although this verse is tucked away in a passage not well trodden, this portion of the text is fairly well-known. It is not uncommon to hear this verse quoted, even among those who have not chosen to surrender their lives to Christ. When donuts are on the table and we are about to indulge, we might hear someone say, “You know our bodies are the temple of the living God, we should not defile the temple.” While it is true, what we eat can have an effect upon how we feel, and thus distracts from what we are capable of accomplishing, that is not the primary message of this passage. Paul is talking about the danger of establishing relationships that will lead us astray. He wrote,
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
Then he went on to quote from Isaiah,
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” Isaiah 52:11
The greatest pitfall for the children of Israel, was establishing relationships with those who did not follow the ways of God. Once those relationships were started, it was not long before the people of God were departing from the Word of God, and practicing the ways of the ungodly. While this is a danger in any type of relationship, it is especially deadly with romantic relationships. Too often, Christians who are single, will settle for someone who is not really committed to the Lord, rather than being lonely and alone.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
When it comes to relationships, this verse is especially critical. Instead of making a relationship our goal, and seeking to find someone, we should spend our energies seeking the Lord and trusting His promises to provide all that we need. I remember hearing Pastor Jon Courson sharing on the idea of trusting the Lord, when it comes to finding the right person. He used Adam and Eve as an example. When it came time for Adam to find his mate, the Lord had him go to sleep. There, as he rested, the Lord brought along the only person designed especially by God, just for him. Jon went on to say, “had Adam not rested, and ran around looking, he would have ended up with an ape.” Some are seeking a relationship, instead of seeking the Lord. Loneliness is pushing them to seek in places where they are only going to find the wrong person, and ultimately get hurt. Remember, you are the temple of the living God, and there are places where your feet should not take you, and relationships that should never start.
Paul is not suggesting Christians all huddle together and avoid contact with anyone who is not a follower of Jesus. In fact, Paul spent his life making relationships where he could share Christ with others. The difference is influence. We should establish relationships with those who don’t know Christ, and seek to win them to Christ (dating is not the way to do that.) At the same time, we should establish relationships with those who have committed themselves to Jesus, and seek to pattern our lives after them. Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Questions for 2 Corinthians 6
- Paul tells the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain. The Greek word translated “vain” could also be translated as “empty-handed”, or “purposeless”. In other words: do something with the grace that God has shown you. Is your life substantially changed from when you were not a Christian? Do you labor for the kingdom with a sense of purpose?
- Read verse 2. When should we begin to give God our best? Although life has seasons, and we must wait on the Lord for His timing on many things, we can pursue knowing Him and actively showing love to people at all times.
- Paul essentially says in verse 3 that his whole life was lived in such a way that it reflected well on Jesus and that he would be able to serve others without them questioning his sincerity. Examine your own life. Are there areas of your life that do not reflect well on your Savior? What is God calling you to do to have a more effective witness with others?
- Read verses 4-10. Make a list of all the ways that Paul’s life was demonstrating the authenticity of his ministry and his relationship with God.
- In verse 10 you can really hear Paul’s love for the Corinthians. As you seek to minister to others, do you seek to speak openly, freely, generously? Are you clear with them that your motive is love?
- Paul tells the Corinthians that they are not restricted by him, but by their own affections. In other words, the only limitation on us is how much we let God work in us. Are there ways that God might want to work in your life that you are restricting? Are you giving too much affection to anything, and if so how does that affect what God would do with you?
- Being unequally yoked means connecting together two different animals that are not compatible because of the differences inherent to their nature (size, strength, temperament). In verses 14-18, Paul deals with the subject of our deepest relationships and commitments, and how these need to be with other believers. Jesus himself was a “friend of sinners”, so this does not mean that we cannot have relationships with unbelievers. However, our best friends, husbands/wives, business partners, really anyone we join ourselves to, should love Jesus. What are the types of problems that can come up if this is not the case? This passage says to be careful about the commitments we make. However, if you have already made such commitments, God’s instruction from 1 Corinthians 7 is that we should honor these commitments, seeking to be a witness to the other party.
- Paul refers to us as the temple of the Holy Spirit; this is an awesome thought! God almighty lives in us! Everywhere you go, you bring God with you. Spend some time thinking/praying about that. What does that mean for what God wants to do with you wherever you go?