God's Team Must Stay in the League of Holiness

Teams in this world perform in a limited way. One team plays in one league, but not in every league. When you join a team, you are joining the league it plays in as well. And as some say, “He is out of my league” or “She is out of my league” or “This is out of my league,” likewise there are many relationships or activities that are out of our ballpark as Christians because they are unholy. Many things are out of our league. As you will see below, staying in the league of holiness primarily comes down to the kind of relationships we join, enter, or maintain in various stages or aspects of our lives.

PERFECT HOLINESS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

Mature[Perfect] Separation[Holiness] in Your Relationships 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? 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. ‘Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE [be holy],’ 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. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 6:14—7:1)

This section of Scripture is mostly about certain kinds of relationships that members of God’s team decide to avoid or get into, remove themselves from or stay in. So when it concludes by saying, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor 7:1),” it especially means in regards to our relationships. We are to perfect holiness in our relationships. As studied in Lesson 1, “holiness” means to be separate or set apart. But what does “perfecting” mean?
   • A making fit
   • To bring to completion or an end
   • To mature or ripen something
   • It implies a process leading to consummation
So when it says that we are to be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God”, it especially means that we are to be maturing [perfecting] separation [holiness] in our relationships. We must stay within or get within the league of holiness. This is to be done without fear of man, but in reverence for God. Disciples must more perfectly complete their separation from unholy relationships with the kingdom of darkness. We have commandment to: “... cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness... (2 Cor 7:1)”, meaning that we have the responsibility to wash ourselves from any and all defilements, corrupters, bad influences of both our (1) flesh, (2) and our spirit; both internal and external, inside and out; the outside of the cup and the inside of the cup. Now think about how to perfect holiness in your relationships. Think about how to stay within the league of holiness.

1. PREVENT Yourself from Getting into Binding Agreements with Unbelievers

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers...” (2 Cor 6:14)

Here we have commandment to avoid certain binding agreements with unbelievers. Below are important examples of this.

(a) Jehoshaphat Brought Wrath Upon Himself “Should you help the wicked... and so bring wrath upon yourself from the LORD?” (2 Chron 19:2) This was the strong rebuke that God spoke to a righteous man, King Jehoshaphat, because he entered into certain agreements with a wicked person, King Ahab, who was an idolater. To set the stage of our attitude for reverence towards our holy God, and not toward unholy agreements, partnerships or business relationships, study this example of Jehoshaphat from the Old Testament. It teaches us, it warns us that when a righteous person agrees to help or form a partnership with certain wicked individuals, it can bring wrath on him from God. So take heed in making agreements with certain individuals. (1) Jehoshaphat was a righteous person. “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David’s earlier days and did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did.” (2 Chron 17:3, 4) (2) Jehoshaphat made two unholy agreements with a wicked person. “Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab. Some years later he went down to visit Ahab at Samaria. And Ahab slaughtered many sheep and oxen for him and the people who were with him, and induced him to go up against Ramoth-gilead. Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, ‘Will you go with me against Ramoth-gilead?’ And he said to him, ‘I am as you are, and my people as your people, and we will be with you in the battle.’ “ (2 Chron 18:1-3) “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up against Ramoth-gilead.” (2 Chron 18:28) Jehoshaphat made a binding marriage agreement with this wicked king and his idolatrous nation. And later when Ahab asked for help from Jehoshaphat, he did not refuse but entered wholeheartedly into an agreement to be war-bound with Ahab, to fight his battle. Because a righteous person’s goal must be to stay within the league of holiness, he must refuse to help a person who asks him to do things that would be considered unholy. So a righteous person must not respond favorably to everyone who asks him for help, like Jehoshaphat mistakenly did with Ahab. Has someone ever asked you, “Can you help me?” Being the helpful Christians that we are, we say, “Yes.” But should we have said, “Yes”? Sometimes the answer must be, “No.” Or, “No, I cannot do that.” “I cannot support that.” The reason for this is revealed below. (3) Jehoshaphat was rebuked/shamed for helping the wicked. “Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned [from the battle] in safety to his house in Jerusalem. Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD and so bring wrath on yourself from the LORD? But there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have set your heart to seek God.’ ” (2 Chron 19:1-3) Remember God’s words to us: “... what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Cor 6:16) Ahab was as an idolater. So why would Jehoshaphat make binding agreements with him, like marriage and war? At some point, God will rebuke and put to shame disciples for entering into unholy agreements. Are you helping the wicked accomplish their wicked goals? Prevent yourself from entering into certain agreements with the wicked or else you might just bring God’s wrath upon yourself. A Christian Should Marry a Christian (b) Marriage Is a Binding Agreement The most important binding agreement that anyone can enter into is marriage. Marriage is binding for all peoples, especially in the sight of God. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (He 13:4) God will judge anyone who dishonors marriage, regardless if they believe in God or not. So when God said, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers...” (2 Cor 6:14), this would specifically apply to marriage because it is binding. You should prevent yourself from entering into a marriage with an unbeliever. Consider how a minister’s daughter prepared herself to marry only a Christian, and therefore prevented herself from marrying an unbeliever. On the wall of her room she put this framed sign, “If I get married, I will marry a Christian.” While growing up as a child, she had a constant reminder to only marry a believer. Children, if you plan to get married, you should plan on marrying a Christian. Say, “When I grow up, I will only marry a Christian.” Christian widows who want to get married again, are clearly commanded to only marry in the Lord, which means a Christian, a believer (1 Cor 7:39). Prevent yourself from marrying an unbeliever. For Those Who Married an Unbeliever Since marriage is to be honored by all, regardless of a belief system (He 13:4), you should not try to separate or unbind a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever. It is still a marriage in God’s sight. It is still an honorable union. Otherwise, when you unbind a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever you will set both of them up for committing the sin of adultery if they marry another. Their second marriage union will be adulterous, regardless of a belief system. Adultery is adultery regardless of whether someone believes in God or not. Or else how will God judge the world? So no one should deceive themselves in this and put away their unbelieving spouse. You should not unbind that marriage unless it is an adulterous marriage union, like King Herod’s (Mt 14:4). John told this unbelieving king that it was not right for him to have this particular woman as a wife. She was not a valid candidate for marriage even though the king married her. Her first husband was still living (Ro 7:1-3). Likewise, there are many unbelievers, and disciples for that matter, who get married even though one or both of them are not valid candidates for marriage in the eyes of God. This results in the wicked sin of adultery. They should separate. (c) Slavery Is Binding “Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Cor 7:21-24) Some are slaves of their own free will (Ex 21:5), but others have been forced into slavery, like Joseph (Ge 37:26-28). But eventually, Joseph was freed. If you can get your freedom by some righteous way, get it. Christians are not to become slaves of men. If it is within your power, prevent yourself from becoming a slave. (d) Some Work Arrangements Are Binding Consider this statement that was made by two leading wicked men. When they met Jesus, they cried out: “What business do we have with each other, Son of God?” (Mt 8:29) In another situation, one said, “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God.” (Lk 4:34) It seems that these leading ones in the kingdom of darkness readily understood, as soon as they met Him, that they did not want to be in business together with the Son of Light. They questioned even the hint of that kind of relationship. “For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness?” (2 Cor 6:14) But do the leading people in God’s kingdom readily question, realize, or admit that they have no partnership with lawlessness? Learn to refuse certain business agreements. Refuse Certain Business Agreements There are certain business arrangements that do not make sense for any Christian to be involved with at all, like being in business with demons. You must refuse to enter into certain business agreements. Be discerning. For example, what does a spiritual person have to do with a sensual business? What does a moral person have to do with an immoral company? What does a decent soul have to do with an indecent trade? What does a wholesome person have to do with an unwholesome commerce? What does a sober person have to do with the business of intoxication? Consider Ross Perot, American Businessman Ross Perot demonstrated some admirable business mentality. For example, before he sold his pioneering software outsourcing company, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), to General Motors in the 1980’s, his company would not enter into certain contracts to provide their services to businesses that were morally questionable or unholy, like the distribution of filthy content, gambling, etc. But after Ross left and was replaced by another president, the company started to get into some questionable business agreements and contracts. [In 1989 I joined EDS, which was about four years after Ross left. For the next ten years I worked mainly as a software engineer supporting banking, health care, and telephony contracts before resigning to pursue my calling full-time.] I remember attending a company-wide teleconference that was being conducted by some high ranking company executives. It was sort of a “town hall” type meeting with all the other employees. During the meeting, I was struck by what a software engineer said during an open question and answer session between the employees and the officials of the company. He had the courage to say something like this: “EDS has always been a company of high moral standing. Why are we now getting into contracts to support gambling, etc.” A company lawyer responded and tried to justify the involvement with these companies. If I remember correctly, he claimed that these things are more accepted now by the culture. As a side point, beware of leadership changes. It may result in a shift to the left or degradation of moral clarity, standards, and propriety once held, had, and maintained. Not all leading men are able to refuse certain business agreements because they have a morality problem themselves. Some are greedy and primarily seek money and profit, regardless of the type of business agreements that they get into. Some people think that business has nothing to do with morality. OfficeMax In 2006, I knew a Christian man who applied for a Job at OfficeMax, an American office products store. The company was interested in hiring this man, and expected to put him to work within a few days. But during the hiring interview, the manager said that, as a condition of full-time employment, the company would require him to sign a one hundred percent flexibility agreement, meaning that he would have to work any time they wanted him to work during the seven day week. The man thought to himself that if he signed this agreement, he would then be binding himself with unbelievers to work anytime that they wanted him to work, even Sunday morning. So the man told the manager that he could not agree to work on Sunday morning because it is the day that he attends church. He told the manager that he was committed to God and to the church. Because of this, the manager started to lose interest in this potential employee, and this potential employee started to lose interest in this company. The man decided not to sign the agreement. Unfortunately, this binding policy did not allow for employees to be fully committed to God and church. Who is the devil at the top of this company who wants to bind people from going to church on Sunday? This policy is anti-Christian. It disrespects God, His people, and God’s word, which directs those who worship Him to not be in the habit of missing church (He 10:25). Do you want me to agree in writing to give up going to church to work here? If God expects us to go to church, then why would we let anybody else, especially unbelievers, try to distract us from this by making us commit or bind ourselves to them in writing? “At Will” Employment This is an understanding or agreement that many businesses have with their employees. It means that either the business or the employee can sever or quit that relationship at any time, at the will of either the one or the other. So it is not binding in that sense. It seems like an equitable yoke. But some employment agreements are not “At Will.” Soldiering in America Soldiering is not “At Will.” For example, if you sign up to be a soldier in America, you must sign up for several years at a time. You are bound and cannot be discharged easily. Plus you must go wherever they want you to go, whenever they want you to go, without your family. And you must fight whomever they want you to fight. Soldiering is very binding.

2. SEPARATE Yourself from Any Unholy Relationships with Unbelievers / Believers

“Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE [be holy],’ says the Lord. AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.” (2 Cor 6:17) If you want to be welcomed by God Himself, if you want to be His son or His daughter, you must do what He said to do. You must come out from, separate yourself from, and do not touch certain unclean or unholy relationships. Many disciples have not been wise enough to do what the first point of this lesson said to do, to prevent themselves from getting into binding agreements with unbelievers. So obviously these disciples must now think about their current relationships and whether or not they should separate or distance themselves from any of them, and if so, how they should separate from them. This can be a tricky thing to properly figure out simply for the fact that many disciples need to add to their faith moral excellence (2 Pe 1:5). If you are not fully knowledgeable about morality according to New Testament standards, then you will have a difficult time evaluating your current relationships. So you must first get very knowledgeable about morality according to Christ’s standards. This may take some time because to excel at moral excellence is not an easy thing for disciples to do. Many disciples are lacking in moral excellence. So if one of your relationships is in question, you must add to your faith moral excellence. Get knowledgeable about Christ’s high standards of morality and then become Christ-like in morality. Find out what Christ considers unclean in regards to certain relationships. If you find yourself in an unholy relationship with an unbeliever, or even a believer, for many disciples have a problem with morality and wickedness, you must remove yourself from that relationship. As God said, you must come out from the middle of it (2 Cor 6:17). Come out from being housed with it. This is how you become holy. Your own flesh and spirit must be properly distanced from an unholy relationship. Consider these examples.

(a) Unholy Marriages There are certain people who are not valid candidates for marriage. You could have married one of them. Man, you could have married an adulteress. If you did, this would make you adulterous as well. Woman, you could have married an adulterer. If you did, this would make you adulterous as well. These unholy marriage agreements were studied in the lesson on repentance in the Bible Study on the Basics for Beginners and Christians. Refer to that study for further information. (b) Unholy Living Arrangements When Jesus offered the water of life to a Samaritan woman, she responded by asking for that water (Jn 4:15). So Jesus then tested her on her current living arrangement. “He said to her, ‘Go, call your husband and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.’ ” (Jn 4:16, 17) Many people are like this woman at the well. She wanted what Jesus had to offer her in regards to eternal life, but she was having a man without being married to him. This is immoral. She could have been living together with him, co-habiting. Since she was married five times already, would she be a valid candidate for marriage? Did she herself have a morality problem? There are plenty of women who have a man without being married to him. There are plenty of men who have a woman without being married to her. They just shack up, live together, co-habit or have sexual relations without living together. These are unholy relationships because they violate the Biblical idea of marriage (He 13:4). They are immoral relationships. Disciples must separate from them. (c) Avoid All Appearance of Evil “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thess 5:22 KJV) It appears evil or immoral when a man and a woman live together without being married to each other. They look immoral to the world. They look immoral to the church. They cannot change that perception without moving completely out from the same house. This is what it means to come out from the midst of an unholy living arrangement [of course parent-child or brother-sister relationships are excepted]. But some men and women refuse to do what God said to do, to come out from the midst of certain unholy relationships. They want to stay close to the middle of them and not separate from them completely. And so they continue to appear immoral. For example, some men and women will still live together in the same house, claiming that they are not having one another. Some pledge as a solution to their immorality that they will just sleep in different rooms of the same house. Others say that they need to live together because of financial reasons or health care reasons even if they claim that they are not having one another. All of these excuses are not good enough; they are not acceptable. No one should live together or co-habit without being married. And if you should not be married, then you need to separate. God is faithful, with every temptation to be immoral or appear immoral, God provides a way out of it so that you will be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13). You have a way out from your situation. You very likely had a way or ways out before you got into it. You can endure your financial hardship without appearing to be immoral. You have a way out. Remember Jesus said that He would never leave us or forsake us. If you want to be in a saving relationship with God, to be one of His holy sons or holy daughters, you must avoid all appearance of evil in your relationships. You cannot just live together with someone. It appears immoral. Remove yourself from what appears to be evil. (d) Unholy Work Arrangements or Community Involvement There are some businesses, employments, or community volunteer efforts that disciples find themselves in that are unholy. Take time to carefully think about these areas of your life. Consider everything that has been written about holiness in this study for a broader understanding of our call to live a holy life. Make all the necessary changes as quickly as possible in the sight of God to become holy. Do not lag behind in holiness. (e) Separate Yourself from Scoffers Psalm 1 indicates that a blessed man does not sit, stand, or walk with certain types of unholy individuals. Instead, he devotes himself to holy things, like the word. From whom are you getting counsel, advice or guidance? With whom are you walking down the path of life? With whom are you standing around or loitering? What gang are you a part of? What memberships do you have? With whom are you sitting with on the couches, stools, and bleachers of this life? Where are the wicked, sinners, and scoffers of today? Are they in your community, school, on T.V., etc.? (f) Despise a Reject Psalm 15:4 indicates that we should take no pleasure with him who is a reprobate in God’s eyes. With whom are you enjoying, drooling over, esteeming, spending companionship or having friendship? Is he or she a reject in God’s eyes? (g) Leave the Presence of a Fool From whom should you separate from? Proverbs 14:7 says you should separate from a fool. (h) Be in the Company of the God Fearing You must have the same goal as the Psalmist. To be a companion of all those who fear God and keep His commandments (Ps 119:63).

Conclusion

Members of God’s team must stay within the league of holiness or make adjustments to get into that holy league. You need to prevent yourself from getting into unholy relationships with unbelievers or believers. You must separate from any unholy situation you find yourself in.

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