2Co 6:17-18 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
In the verses immediately prior to these, Paul has told us something most wondrous. He has declared to the Corinthians (and to us as the church) that we are the temple of living God! It is important to remember that Corinth was a place full of pagan worship and idolatry. While under Roman rule, the Corinthians worshipped the Roman gods, which were a mix of several different cultures.
The king of the Roman God’s was Jupiter (called Zeus by the Grecians). According to the belief of those who worshipped these idol gods, Jupiter had a sister (Juno) to whom he was also married. Even with this brief glimpse, it is easy to see why Paul warned the church in Corinth about idolatry and why he was particularly concerned in his first letter about their nonchalant attitude toward the brother in their midst who had committed fornication with his father’s wife (1Co 5:1-2). Since this was the sort of behavior that was attributed to the pagan gods of the time, it was deemed acceptable behavior for the people who worshipped these gods.
There were also Jews at Corinth who were still (at least publicly) following the legal traditions of the Jew’s religion. While they may not have run wholeheartedly after the gods of the Roman culture, they still rejected the truth of the resurrection of Christ and denied that He was the Son of the living God. People of both groups despised and rejected Paul and those who preached with him. Yet, God told Paul to preach boldly there because He had “much people” in this city (Act 18:1-17).
We can see now why Paul reminded the believers that the Lord had told them to “come out from among them” and be separate. The word translated as “separate” literally means “to set off by boundary.” God has called His servants to His kingdom, and that kingdom has boundaries. It is a serious misconception to think that because God’s grace saves us from every sin that God’s grace makes it acceptable to Him for us to willfully continue in sin (Rom 6:1).
We cannot sanction the unclean things of the flesh and expect to be acceptable to Him. It will not keep us out of Eternal Heaven, but it will certainly prevent us from rejoicing in His kingdom here. There is a great reality for us that we are, by His choosing, sons and daughters to Him: this was sealed by the blood of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. However, this was not what Paul was looking at here, because it is not according to what He did at Calvary. Instead, Paul is looking at a relationship that is hinged on our walking within the boundaries the Lord has set.
In heeding the words of Paul to the church in this instance, we find an acceptable way to live with the Lord here on this earth. It comes with the promise that, in coming out from (not living like) the unbelievers and avoiding the unclean thing, our Lord Jesus will receive us. He will be a Father to us in this world. We will enjoy a manifest, familial relationship with the all-ruling (Almighty) Lord!
May we seek His face that we may walk within the boundaries of His love and grace!