What fellowship has light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 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.
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.
7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. 3 I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. 4 Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction.
5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.
If Paul were alive today and preached the same message he shared to the Corinthian church, some would say that he was unloving and intolerant, that he did not represent the love and grace of God and Christ. He says: 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? Those words certainly go against what the world, our culture and society expects from the church. The world suggests that in order to love, we must accept, tolerate and include. They would say that the church must partner with and have fellowship with everyone. Paul quotes God the Father, from scripture saying of His people: “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. Yet we see in the things Jesus did, that He absolutely touched what was unclean. He touched lepers. He touched the woman with the issue of blood. Jesus touched prostitutes. He did fellowship with them. He was accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners. So was Paul wrong in what he encouraged and exhorted the church to do? Had he so soon, after himself receiving the grace and forgiveness of Christ, forgotten the need to forgive and give grace to others?
We must remember that Paul’s words, his instruction is to the church, not to unbelievers. There is a difference between reaching out to sinners, interacting with them, even having fellowship with them and fellowshipping with darkness. Jesus Himself says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:18-19) Jesus said of His own interaction with the outcasts, the sinners; the unlovely: “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Jesus did touch what was unclean, but the purpose of His touch was to redeem and restore. Jesus may have embraced the sinner and the prostitute, but He did not embrace their sin. Just as He says to His disciples in John 15:19: “I chose you out of the world”, He called those He touched, those He embraced, those He fellowshipped with out of the world, out of their sin.
Jesus gives us a great example of how we are to love and touch the unclean, without judgment or condemnation, but to call them to redemption and restoration, in the account of the woman caught in adultery, in John 8:7-11. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” Jesus defended the woman from her accusers. There was no condemnation, either from those who accused her, or from Jesus. But Jesus did not defend her actions. He did not embrace or tolerate her sin. He called her out of her sin saying: “Go. From now on sin no more.”
Paul says: Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Many today in both the world and the church confuse love and grace with tolerance, acceptance and inclusion. Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) If we are to love the world, others, our neighbors it is critical that we understand how we are to love them. First and foremost, we must remember that the commandment to love our neighbor is the second. We cannot do the second without having done the first. If we are to love our neighbor, we must first love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. We can only love God because He first loved us and: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) We love God because of and through Christ, who died for us. The second commandment says: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ We are to love others, our neighbors as we love ourselves. We are to love them as they have first been loved by God. We are to love them as Christ has died for them, we love them for the same reason and in the same way that we love ourselves.
Just as Jesus did not condemn the woman, neither are we to condemn. As He loved her, He called her out of her sin, out of the world, out of darkness into the light. That’s how we too are called to love others. Paul asks: what fellowship has light with darkness? Jesus answers saying: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16) Our fellowship should shine light into the darkness. Our touching and embracing sinners should be with the redemption of the cross of Christ, without judgment or condemnation, calling them as and through Christ, out of the world.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You that You first loved me, that You demonstrated Your love for me through the cross. You did not condemn or judge me, but You did not leave as I was. You called me out of the world and redeemed me from my sin. I love You Lord, with all my heart, soul and mind. Holy Spirit lead me and guide me that I might love others as I myself have been love, with no condemnation, but that the light of Christ may be evident, to the glory of the Father. Amen