Do not be Yoked Together with Unbelievers

ďDo not be yoked together with unbelievers,Ē is one of Godís early commands for His people.  ďYou must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among themĒ (Leviticus 15:31).  We are not to unite with unbelievers in the fellowship of the faith or in the union of marriage.  The following passage makes it clear that the Church must remain separate and undefiled.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Godís command for His people to remain separate has rarely been obeyed for any length of time.  As recorded in Scripture, Israel would obey God for a time, then intermix with unbelievers and participate in their ways.  This pattern has been repeated time and time again, always ending in rebellion and disobedience toward God.  God reveals in His Word the importance of remaining separate unto the Lord.  Here are examples:

"I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you" (Exodus 23:31-33).

Do not worship any other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same (Exodus 34:14-16).

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them (Numbers 33:55-56).

When Yahweh your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you-- and when Yahweh your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you (Deuteronomy 7:1-4).

I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked (Psalm 26:4-5).

After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, "The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness" (Ezra 9:1-2).

God continually warns His people to remain separate and faithful to Him, knowing that when His people mix with unbelievers they become unfaithful to Him.  He instructs us to remain separate (not to be united in fellowship with unbelievers) so we will not fall into temptation and become disobedient.  We are to be perfectly united in thought and spirit. This is how it is written.

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Corinthians 1:7-10).

However, this is not what we find in the organized church today. The organized church is not united in faithfulness (obedience) to the Lord.  The church is a mixture of beliefs and doctrines; believers are united in fellowship with unbelievers.  Most churchgoers donít know what they believe or what is written in Scripture. The organized church is not following even the basic instructions of the Lord as presented in the Great Commission, below.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20)

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Instead of going out, we say come in.

Instead of preparing the followers of Christ to go out into the world and make more disciples, we invite the world into the church. Instead of sending out, we invite in. Itís backwards!

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Instead of teaching everything, we teach only what they want to hear.

Instead of proclaiming the full gospel message, the organized church omits the major parts of the gospel and waters down the rest to make it acceptable to a wider audience.  In this way they attract followers after themselves.  If the church were to proclaim and hold to everything Jesus taught there would be considerably fewer people in church.  Jesusí gospel message was not popular to many people of His day, and it has not changed.  Consider these passages as you think about why the organized church today has become $o disobedient.

Therefore, I [Paul] declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God (Acts 20:26-27).

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Why does the organized church disobey the clear instructions of our Lord? We would rather hire someone to tell us what God says than to search  Scripture for ourselves. Pastors control the message and protect their attendance.  Itís easier to preach to a large group than to actually disciple followers for Christ.  There is more job security in keeping disciples for themselves than to release Christís followers into the world.  In every way our disobedient sinful nature wars against the Spirit of God.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:12-14).

So, how do we prevent being yoked together with unbelievers in the church? Do we become the believer police?  NO!  We prevent being yoked together with unbelievers by continuing in obedience to everything Jesus taught.

First, we must know what the Word of God says. Today there are very few who have even read the Bible for themselves.

Second, we must faithfully proclaim the whole will of God, not just what itching ears want to hear.

Finally, we must disciple the followers of Christ and teach them to obey everything that the Lord commanded in His Word.

If we do this, most people who are not serious about following Christ will leave the fellowship, those who are serious will stay.  Unbelievers will not endure the cost of discipleship, however, a few may stay.  This is what is written.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Ö When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you" (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:18-20).

And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15).

What if you are in an ďitching earsĒ church and they will not repent of their unbelief and disobedience?

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

In conclusion, know the Word of God and faithfully submit to the Spirit of God. In this way you will please Him and receive your reward on the last day.

Richard H Perry