2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Why come out from among them, and be you separate, said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,