14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
Rival values vied for the allegiance of the Corinthian church. False apostles sought to woo the Corinthians away from biblical standards (2 Co 11:2-4).
14 Do not be [become] unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
“Do not be” means to not become something that you were not previously. A Christian should not be unequally yoked with false teachers, who were unbelievers (2 Co 11:13-15). The unbeliever has beliefs, values, and practices antithetical to Christianity. The believer has to make a binary choice, an either/or decision, regarding which he will follow. Fellowship with God and His Word excludes all other systems of belief.
As yoking a clean animal with an unclean is wrong, believers cannot yoke themselves with others who differ with Christian life values. An “unbeliever” is someone who rejects Christ as Savior. In Deuteronomy 22:10, a clean animal could not be yoked together with an unclean—such as an ox, which was clean, with a donkey, which was unclean. They do not have the same nature, gait, or size. There will be no success with this combination. This combination will dull spiritual sensitivities. There is little in common between a Christian and non-Christian except eating and the ordinary course of providing for the household.
Once a person becomes a Christian, he becomes part of a new breed. It is essential to take that into consideration when making a values-oriented decision. The believer is under a new command and a new orientation. He has a different purpose than the non-Christian. He is not to insulate from social contact with an unbeliever, but he is to isolate himself from his values. Any binding contract such as marriage or a business deal that ties the values of two people together is the issue here.
There is a vast chasm between the values of Christ and the kingdom of Satan.
The Christian and non-Christian values are not compatible in a marriage, business partnerships, attitudes, religion, ethics, and social life. Unequal yoking is an intimate association with non-Christians that undermines Christian values.
Since there is a vast chasm of values between Christ and the world, believers need to take care of the extent to which they form their associations. It would be wrong for a believer to marry an unbeliever because it affects every area of life: their social life, raising children, whether they go to church, and many other areas of life.
The Christian should not have an undue alliance with a non-Christian in business because the believer may be tempted to make decisions based on a non-Christian worldview. This is not an injunction against all associations with unbelievers. The argument of this verse is not to have no contact with non-Christians. Paul argued against that in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. He assumed that they would shop in the marketplace (1 Co 10:25). He encouraged believers to have dinner with non-Christians (1 Co 10:26). His point is that a Christian is not to form his values from the culture around him.
The idea of separation from the values of non-Christians is not a set of taboos but a statement of principle, which governs the direction of the believer’s behavior. The issue revolves around two spheres of life, God’s life in the Christian and life without God. One sphere is the Christian way of life; the believer thinks, behaves, and acts within that sphere. This is what Jesus called the “abundant life.” This is a life that belongs to high and holy things. Christianity is not merely a higher level of human life; it goes far beyond the religious profession. To sustain new life in Christ and make it vibrant, we separate it from anything that would contaminate it.
The only proper yoke for a Christian is to be yoked to Christ (Mt 11:29-30).
Dear Dr. Grant,
Under “Do not be unequally yoked…”. The sentence – “They do not have the same nature, gate, or size”. Shouldn’t it be gait?
Rose, thank you again for catching that error. Appreciate your help.