- Verse 1 ...we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
What does it mean to receive the grace of God in vain? Well, we know that the grace of God comes only through the death Jesus Christ. To receive the grace of God in vain, then, means that you didn't sincerely accept that Jesus died for your sins. Have you turned your back on Jesus? Do you sincerely love Him?
Paul and his co-ministers of the gospel endured trials of many kinds. Let's look at them again:
- great endurance
- affliction (troubles)
- calamities (distresses)
- labors (hard work)
- sleepless nights
- they were dying
- having nothing
WOW. Read through that list again. Can you imagine? Would you continue to run that race? Would you stay firm in your faith if you suffered all that he did? He says that he got through it all with:
- the Holy Spirit
- genuine love
- truthful speech
- power of God
Do you think you could get through his hardships if you you had the above strengthening you?
I love the following verse:
- Verse 10 Treated...as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
- Verses 14-16 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?
First I want to point out that Belial is another name for Satan. These verses can be very troubling, discouraging or even insulting to a believer if they are dating, or even married to, an unbeliever. According to Scripture, in a few places, followers of Christ are not to associate closely with unbelievers- this may be in a close friendship or dating relationship. The term "yoked" means to fasten two animals together, typically oxen, so they work together and move as one in the same direction. In these verses Paul is using the term "yoked" to define one person united with another- they move as one in the same direction. If we think again to the oxen- both binded together, and one animal moves left, the other is pulled in that direction. If one stops, while they are in motion, the other will either need to stop also or the one who stopped needs to start moving again. They are one driving force. The same is with a believer yoked to an unbeliever. Granted, we are not fastened to eachother by a physical harness- but we bound to one another in emotions and possibly a physical wedding ring. If a believer is yoked with an unbeliever, it is possible that the unbeliever would strongly influence the ways of the believer. This is dangerous, which is a reason Paul warns against such a thing here. God does not want for a believer who is married to divorce an unbeliever. Although you chose to marry an unbeliever, or you became a believer while already married, God is still in control of all things. I believe that if you surrender your marriage to God, that He, in His time, will call your spouse to Himself. As it says in 1 Corinthians 7:12-14 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
If you, a believer, are in a relationship with an unbeliever- that is not bound by marriage- I would strongly urge you to pray and ask God to show you how to deal with this. It is clear through Scripture that God does not want you in this relationship. If you love this person, you can still pray for their salvation while being separated. Would you risk your eternal life because of an earthly relationship? Other places in the Bible where this text is confirmed:
- Deuternomy 7:3-4 (Moses is talking of the people in the promised land that the Israelites will conquer to take over the land- they are not followers of God) You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.
- Joshua 23:12 For if you turn your back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you...(Obviously God was disapproving of them associating and marrying the people who did not follow God)
- Nehemiah 13:23-27 In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, andMoab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he wasbeloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women? Solomon was one of the wisest men of all time and even HE was influenced by an unbeliever. When they speak of foreign women here they are also referring to women who do not believe in God.
- Ephesians 5:7 (As Paul describes the sexually immoral and people of impurity and coveteousness, he says): Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
What an incredible chapter- I hope you feel the same. If you have any questions, please email me.