”As God has said: “I will live with them
and walk among them, and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”[c] 17 Therefore, “Come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”[d] 18 And, “I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”[e]
Like a good exegetical preacher, Paul uses scripture in his message. He doesn’t just use his own words of wisdom (which are actually the Lord’s) but he refers to what was the Jewish Bible, what we know as the Old Testament. I always love when Scripture quotes Scripture. Jesus did this often when he would say, “It is written…”
Paul is talking about holiness. Just previously he referred to being yoked with unbelievers and how it is incomparable with Christian teachings. Now he quotes from Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27, Isaiah 52:11; Ezek. 20:34,41 and 2 Samuel 7:14; 7:8, to support his teaching.
The Lord promises to walk with us, to be our God and our Father but called the early Jews to be separate. Holiness means to be like God and to be set a part. They were to “touch no unclean thing” and thus the Lord would “receive” his people. And as a result, the people would benefit from God being our Father and us being his sons and daughters.
Evidently, the Corinthian church was becoming one with the pagan culture around them. Allowing the outside influence of non-believers to mix with them in unhealthy ways. Paul is reminding the people to be holy as God is holy. To be set a part and to realize the benefits of this obedience is blessing.
So what is the balance between reaching out and doing evangelism to those who don’t know Jesus and being yoked to them? We are to love all people as Christ loved the church, but we are also to only be faithfully involved with believers. We must keep healthy separation between those who have the mind of Christ and those who do not yet know Jesus. To be God’s people mean we are to be called forth and to be separate as He called the Jew’s to be so many years ago.
What would Paul says to us today in regards to holiness? Love all people but find strength and encouragement only inside the walls of Christ’s community where people have the Spirit of God residing within. Be holy as I am holy, says the Lord.
“O Lord God, I give thanks for you today. For your Spirit, for your salvation and for your Son who died and rose upon the cross for my sins. Come now, Holy Spirit, reach into the hearts of those who are distant from you. Call them to yourself. Enter into their dreams and reveal your presence to them. I love you Lord and thank you for this season of gratitude and for your power to bless. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen