"Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
I. THE CHRISTIAN MUST BE IN THE WORLD. He cannot, he may not, get free from outward and physical relations. His present sphere of life and duty is earthly; and his Master did not pray that his disciples should be taken "out of the world."
II. THE CHRISTIAN NEED NOT BE OF THE WORLD. In the sense of adopting its principles or its maxims, yielding to its fashions or seeking its ends.
III. THE CHRISTIAN MAY BE ABOVE THE WORLD. In the sense of having a Divine life, which masters worldly principles, resists worldly influences, and even makes him a quickening and healing power on the world, as Christ himself was. This is expressed in plain terms by the apostle, in Romans 12:2, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The separation from the world is not to be effected by any mere watching of our acts and habits. Let us realize the higher transformation in the renewal of our minds, and we shall find it easy to reach a true nonconformity to the world. He who glorifies God in the spirit will be sure to glorify him in the body too. He who is daily more renewed in mind will most readily discover, in practical details, what is the "good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." - R.T.
Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate.
(T. Gisborne, M. A.)I. IS A DISTINCT ACT.
1. It is a change of masters.
2. It is a change of companion. Worldly men are not suitable, healthy, or possible companions for Christians.
3. It is a change of views, and habits, and ways.
II. IS A DISTINCT EXISTENCE. It involves a separateness. The Church is separate.
1. As an institution.
2. As a community.
3. As a moral influence.
III. IS A HOLY CONDITION. "Touch not the unclean thing." Although this at the first applied only to idolatry, we may take it as applying to every unclean thing.
1. Evil is offensive to God.
2. Evil hinders all good in the soul. It is as the thorns which destroy and choke the wheat.
3. Evil is incompatible with good. Fire and water cannot coexist.
IV. BRINGS THE ACCEPTANCE AND REWARD OF GOD. Acceptance involves —
2. Restoration to privileges.
3. Complete forgiveness, peace, and happiness.
(J. J. S. Bird, M. A.)I. WE MUST RENOUNCE ITS CORRUPT MAXIMS AND DOCTRINES.
II. WE MUST FORSAKE THE UNHALLOWED PLEASURES AND AMUSEMENTS OF THE WORLD.
III. WE MUST BE SEPARATED FROM THE WORLD IN ITS GENERAL SPIRIT AND CHARACTER.
(J. Richards.)I. THE PRECEPT. In order to a Christian position there must be a special act which determines on which side of one fixed line the rest of our actions shall stand.
1. This act is the same deep necessity now that it was in Corinth. The human heart is the same, and the same temptations, with only slight variations in their form, still beset men. Every age brings its new brood of vices and adds to the funded stock, but very few that have once got a foothold die out. History hardly tells of one extinct species in the flora of guilt. If civilisation multiplies the refinements of culture, so does it the refinements of iniquity. Nay, men are just as eager to climb up some other way, instead of entering by the lowly door of repentance and faith. And therefore the responsibility of choice is just as pressing. It is impossible to evade it and slip into any third way. On one side we must be — Christ's or Belial's. We do assort with the unbelievers, or come out from among them and be separate, and the Judge knows which we do.
2. The Church has sometimes made a mistaken use of this truth. It has done so whenever it has stood, a Pharisee, aloof from the throng of humanity, saying scornfully, "I am holier than thou." It has done so whenever it has made dress, badge, ritual, feeling, professions the line of distinction rather than a principle ruling the life. The right way for the Church to distinguish itself from the world is as its Head distinguished Himself — by a purer holiness and a warmer zeal to help and save the world. Christian men should be known by every nobler disposition, lovelier trait, and holier deed.
3. Nevertheless, it will be true that there is a distinction or a "coming out," that mankind are of two armies under two leaders, that outward decency cannot be taken for inward renewal, self-cultivation for the upward-looking faith which works by love and through Christ receives the Spirit.
4. Till each individual soul has chosen to clear itself of all entangling alliances with the one of these two opposing forces and pledged itself to the other, how can it imagine it is safe?
5. A beginning and a continuing, a revolution and a habit, a new principle and a new life is this great decisive act. A "coming out" from irreligious associations is one part. It implies energy of purpose kindled by faith. Being "separate" implies the maintenance of the ground thus taken against all opponents, whether they frown or laugh, sneer or slight, reason or threaten. "Touch not" the renounced pollution, is an adjuration to the sanctified conscience. And these are the three daily heroisms in the discipline of the soldier of Jesus Christ.
II. TO THE STERNNESS OF THE LAW IS ADDED THE TENDERNESS OF GRACE.
1. If man will do his part, God does His. God "worketh within us to will and to do," prompting holy desires and stirring the stagnant fountain. "No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him." When that dinner of husks is fairly ended and the prodigal's penitence has directed his feet towards home, the first form his lifted eyes see is his father's, meeting him "while yet a great way off." An infinite benediction falls on the returning child; you feel the power of the promise, "I will receive you," etc. Sons and daughters! Not "children" merely, losing individual consolation in the generality of the family! God uses names that come nearer to personal affection and meet a personal want. He calleth His own by name. And whereas it was the Lord that said, "Come," it is the Lord "Almighty," with His onmipotence the guarantee of His promise, that says, "Ye shall be My sons and My daughters."
2. The practical results upon character.(1) Confirming, and chiefly by fostering in the heart a keener abhorrence of sin. Under the witnessing of that Divine Guest impurity, selfishness, uncharitableness grow insupportably hateful.(2) Supporting: by supplying heavenly arms under the agitations of sorrow.(3) Quickening: by fresh spiritual communications out of His own fulness, giving to your growing holiness an increasing power of life.
(Bp. Huntington.)I. WORLD RENUNCIATION. "Come out from among them." The renunciation must be —
2. Entire. "Touch not the unclean thing" — i.e., sin, in all its forms and phases.
II. DIVINE ADOPTION. "I will receive you," etc. As a father, what does He do for His children?
1. He loves them.
2. He educates them.
3. He guards them.
4. He provides for them.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Homilist.The text demands a change in human life, of all changes the most urgent and glorious-the change without which all other changes are not only worthless, but disastrous. It involves —
I. AN URGENT SEPARATION. "Come out from among them." "Them" — the carnal, idolatrous, corrupt men of the world.
1. How? Not by personally withdrawing from all communication with them. This, if possible, would neither be right, generous, nor useful. It means "come out from them" in spirit. Let your intercourse with them be like that of angels, who had no sooner discharged their errand than they flew back with rapid wing to the pure heavens again.
2. The Divine command implies —(1) Urgency. So long as you mingle in sympathy with the ungodly you are degrading your nature, imperilling your interests, incurring the displeasure of your God.(2) Strenuous effort. Heaven will not drag you out against your will; you must marshal your own energies and struggle away from the magic dominion of evil. He who would be free, himself must strike the blow. "Come out" from this moral Egypt; flee from this Sodom; forsake this Babylon!
II. A GLORIOUS IDENTIFICATION. "I will receive you," etc. Here is —
1. A Divine reception. Here is a compensation for all the sacrifices you may be required to make. What matters it that you leave old fellowships, even father, mother, children?
2. Divine affiliation.
And will be a Father unto you
Homilist.I. THE PROMISE.
1. "I will be a Father unto you." Some may inquire, "How is it that God here promises to be what He is?" The text is an assurance that God will act the part of a Father. There is, alas! many a parent who does not act the part of a father to his children. "But can God, the Father of spirits, act in an unpaternal way toward any of His children?"(1) No. He treats none with unkindness or injustice. His offers of mercy are to all; for all Christ died.(2) Yes. In so far as His children refuse to allow Him to act a parental part. Consider the Prodigal Son. The father is still the father, but he does not act the part of a father, just because that child has chosen to betake himself to the far country. So soon as he penitently returns, the parent in loving welcome shows himself to be what he really is — a father. So God remains under all circumstances the Father of our spirits; and the question is, whether we will permit Him to be a father to us. It is one thing to have the conviction that God made us, and another to be assured that He loves us with as much individual tenderness as if no other created being existed. Do any ask, "How can this be?" How can it not be? If a man has seven children, does he love each only one-seventh as much us he would do if he had but one? Nay, if there be any difference, he will love each the more, because of the expansive influence on his heart of the love of the many. The infinite God does not love me less because I am one of millions. Let me place myself where I may rejoice in its manifestation.
2. "And ye shall be My sons," etc. Is not this a needless tautology? No, God may be a father to us; but except we act as His children we cannot be happy. The love that a mother lavishes upon her wayward children avails not for his joy, but rather acts as a painful rebuke so long as he returns it not and leads an unfilial life. So with regard to God and man. How gracious, then, this twofold promise! He will not only show us parental affection, but give us a filial heart.
II. ITS CONDITION. Some ignore this, and then complain that in their experience the promise is not fulfilled.
1. Separation unto God is demanded (ver. 17). This does not imply a monkish seclusion. If the Church be so withdrawn from the world, how shall it leaven it with a holy influence? "Touch not the unclean thing." Contagion is the idea conveyed. In time of plague it were cruel indeed if all were to flee, but it would be equally their duty to avoid, if possible, contracting the malady, for then their ability to help would be gone. The physician should attend the sufferers, but it would not be well for him to sleep in the infected apartment. "But exactly from what amusements, societies, and occupations are we to separate ourselves?" Each must be guided by conscience and Scripture. From all that is condemned by God's Word, that is injurious to our spiritual welfare, that which, though not unlawful, is not needful for us, and may set a bad example, and that about the lawfulness of which we are in doubt we must withdraw ourselves. If the mother is uncertain as to whether some berry for which her child cries is poisonous or not, she will assuredly withhold it; and if we are undecided as to whether some occupation or amusement for which inclination clamours will prove harmful to our soul, let us give God, not our hearts, the benefit of the doubt.
2. "Wherefore," thus referring to what he has already said —(1) "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?" None, and the believer removing not therefrom is involved in contention which belies his Christianity.(2) "What communion hath light with darkness?" None. If there be, it is to the detriment of the light. How has the brightness of many a Christian life been dimmed by intimacy with the ungodly!(3) "And what concord hath Christ with Belial?" None. So is there none betwixt those who are Christ's disciples and Satan's servants. The withdrawal is not to be comprised in a single act, but must be the habit of the life. Pliable found it easy to run from the City of Destruction, hard to continue his journey.
(Homilist.)1. We have here one of the many instances in which the apostle quotes from the O.T. and applies it to Gentile Christians. "Now having these promises" — we, you, "having" them! The apostle identified the Jewish and Christian churches, and considered the Scriptures of the first, the inheritance of the second, and that promises addressed to the Jews, and having relation to local and temporary circumstances, have yet an eternal principle in them which makes them applicable to the church in all time.
2. Every thoughtful person is conscious, immediately the idea is suggested of men being the children of God, of the feeling that this relationship is common to all men. Paul himself adopts the saying of the Greek poet, "And we His offspring are." Simply considered in their human character men are the children of God, but some men are the sons of God in a sense different from others.
I. THE ORIGIN AND SOURCE OF THIS PECULIAR RELATIONSHIP, Christianity is a supernatural intervention of God, and it teaches that men become the sons of God in a sense which cannot be predicated of them in their previous natural condition (John 1:12, 13). They are not born "of blood," of one particular race; it is not because of being either Jew or Gentile, of the family of Seth or of Shem, which makes men sons of God. "Nor of the will of the flesh." This privilege is not an inherent element in humanity which only requires development. "Nor by the will of man" — i.e., in respect to external acts, rites, or sacraments, which a man has power to dispense or to keep back; neither of caste, induction, or ritualism, but of God — you are born of Him. There is through Christ, and in connection with the truth of Christ, a direct influence and operation of the Spirit of God upon the soul of a believing man, infusing a new spiritual life into the conscience, and that spiritual living man is a son of God, and shelters himself under the Divine Fatherhood in a sense altogether unique.
II. ITS PRIVILEGES.
1. Honour, nobility. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!"
2. The conscious utterance of sentiments and feelings appropriate to this relationship. "Because ye are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
3. The indwelling of the Spirit — the Spirit which regenerates and sanctifies, not only enters, but makes the heart His home, filling it with light and peace.
4. A life of filial confidence; the belief that they shall have from their Father what is necessary, both for temporal and spiritual life. Why take you thought for raiment, etc.?
5. Heirship. "If children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ."
III. ITS DUTIES.
1. A perpetual, calm, grateful joy. I think it a great thing to be born into this world — to be a man. To be possessed of these senses and faculties, to have God's universe spread before us with all the intellectual and moral force that we have within us, even life, with its warfare, its work, and its vicissitudes — about all these things there is joy. Aye, but to be born again, to have the spiritual eye opened to those things which are only realised by faith, to be born into this new and spiritual world, to awake up to a consciousness that through Christ we are the sons and daughters of God — how we ought to rejoice in that!
2. A ready acknowledgment of the relationship. Men are not ashamed to own a relationship with illustrious ancestors. And there is something wrong when Christians are ashamed of their relationship to God, of that highest nobility that God can confer.
3. Obedience.(1) The obedience of children. A little child does not ask reasons, or if it does it is told to wait. Christians should apply this to themselves, and remember that part of the duty of sons to their Divine and loving Father is prompt obedience.(2) But added to that there must be the obedience of men — I mean that with enlightened reason, and with high and glowing purpose, you shall determine that, God helping you, you will live and act worthy of your parentage.
4. Contentedness with our lot, and a using of our spiritual privileges — delight in the intercourse with our Father, acquiescence in chastisement, and an exercise of filial faith in what is to be the end proposed by Him.
5. A gradual preparation for that great day when the Son shall appear in the presence of the Father, and when there shall be a blessed realisation of the hope which has sustained the child from the beginning.
IV. ITS ULTIMATE CONSUMMATION.
1. The glorification of your entire nature. You look for your Saviour to sanctify your souls, and you took for Him to change your body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body. This is to be the beginning of the consummation, and will lead to the period when there will be the whole family in heaven.
2. Positive and conscious association with the elder sons of creation, who "kept their first estate," and who "rejoice over one sinner that repenteth." Their joy will be full when the two races — the fallen and the unfallen... shall be brought together in visible companionship before the throne of God.
TopicsCause, Forth, Impure, Midst, Myself, Nothing, Receive, Says, Separate, Separated, Touch, Unclean, Welcome, Wherefore, Yourselves
Outline1. That he has approved himself a faithful minister of Christ by his exhortations,
3. and by integrity of life,
4. and by patiently enduring all kinds of affliction and disgrace for the gospel.
10. Of which he speaks the more boldly amongst them because his heart is open to them,
13. and he expects the like affection from them again;
14. exhorting them to flee the society and pollutions of idolaters,
17. as being themselves temples of the living God.
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Corinthians 6:17
5395 lordship, human and divine
8273 holiness, ethical aspects
6603 acceptance, divine
LibraryBlessed Prosperity Meditations on the First Psalm.
INTRODUCTORY. There is a prosperity which is not blessed: it comes not from above but from beneath, and it leads away from, not towards heaven. This prosperity of the wicked is often a sore perplexity to the servants of GOD; they need to be reminded of the exhortation, "Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." Many besides the Psalmist have been envious at the foolish when seeing the prosperity of the wicked, and have been …
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