LESSON 7
COMMITMENT FOR MINISTRY
(2 CORINTHIANS 6:14--7:16)

Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: We ended our discussion last week with Paul's plea
for fairness.  He said to the Corinthian church, we have opened our
heart to you, we have given our all to you, isn't it fair that you
open your heart to us?  This week Paul continues with a discussion
of the reason why all the Corinthians may not be opening their
hearts to God.  Let's dive in to see what we can learn about
keeping our own hearts open to God!

I. THE YOKE

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.  We have a very famous phrase
     here: "Do not be yoked with unbelievers...." The KJV says
     "unequally yoked with unbelievers...."

          1. When we talk about "yokes" today, we are generally
          referring to eggs. What yoke do think Paul is talking
          about? (The kind of yoke that harness animals wear. For
          example, you have oxen "yoked" together.)

          2. When Paul says do not be "yoked" with an unbeliever,
          what kind of relationships do you think he has in mind?

          3. Keep your finger in 2 Cor. 6, and turn with me to 1
          Corinthians 5:9-12. Read.  When I was studying this
          lesson I put the 1 Cor. 5 text up on my computer screen
          with the 2 Cor. 6 text so I could look at them at the
          same time.  I wish I could do that here to let you look
          at these two together.

               a. Does Paul tell us in 1 Cor. 5 that we can (and
               must) associate with unbelievers? (Yes -- as long
               as they are not pretending to hold the same values
               we hold.)

               b. In 2 Cor. 6, however, we are told not to be yoked
               with unbelievers. How can you reconcile these two
               texts? How do you draw the line between being
               "yoked" and "associating?"

     B. In the verses that follow 2 Corinthians 6:14 we find some
     hints.  Let's go through the questions that Paul asks to see
     if we can understand the "problem areas" for yoking:

          1. 6:14: What do righteousness and unrighteousness have
          in common? Does this focus on an area? (This is pretty
          broad, but seems to ask, "Is there any spiritual area or
          goal that you have in common with an unbeliever?")
 
          2. 6:14: What fellowship can light have with darkness?
          What do you think "fellowship" refers to? Would
          "fellowship" refer to spare time, recreation?

          3. 6:15: What harmony is there between Christ and Belial
          (Satan)? In what context would you need to have harmony
          with someone? Marriage? Close business relationships?
 
          4. 6:15: What does a believer have in common with an
          unbeliever? This seems to apply to everything. We
          normally seek a friendship with those with whom we have
          something in common.  Do we have things in common with
          unbelievers?  Should we?

          5. 6:16: What agreement is there between the temple of
          God and idols? What context does this question raise?
          (Worship.)

          6. After going through this list, does this help us to
          understand what Paul means when he tells us not to "yoke"
          with unbelievers, but to "associate" with them? (We
          clearly see a worship and recreation context. The most
          intimate relationships, such as marriage seem to be out.
          (But see, 1 Corinthians 7:13-16.)

               a. How about deep friendships?

               b. How about business relationships?

               c. How about schooling for our children?

               d. How about entertainment?

               e. How about clubs? Unions?

     C. Does this advice seem difficult to accept?

          1. Compare your "work" friends with your "church"
          friends?

     D. Let's remind ourselves of why we are looking at this. Paul
     says that these relationships with the world can prevent you
     from opening your heart to God.

          1. Do you find this to be true?

          2. Look at the each of these relationships in your life
          and ask yourself, "Is this relationship going to draw me
          closer to God or further away from God?"

               a. What do you find?

               b. Asking yourself this question will give you a
               pretty reliable guide as to which relationships
               should be out of your life.

     E. In v.17, when Paul recites Isaiah 52:11, of what are you
     reminded?  What do you think of when we are told not to
     "touch" an "unclean thing?" (It sounds like the list of
     unclean food in Leviticus 11.)

          1. Do you think Paul is talking about food here? (The
          context tells us that he is talking about people.)

          2. Do you remember the story of Cornelius, the sheet and
          unclean animals in Acts 10:10-28?  Doesn't that story end
          with Peter saying (v.28) "God has shown me that I should
          not call any man impure or unclean?"

               a. Do Paul and Peter disagree (once again)? (I do
               nothing think Paul and Peter disagree here.  In
               Leviticus 11:44 we find God telling us that the
               whole basis for this discussion about "unclean"
               animals is because our God is Holy and He wants us
               to be holy. 1 John 1:7 tells us that the blood of
               Jesus "purifies" (cleans) us from sin and that we
               should "walk in the light." The last of the verses
               that we read, 2 Cor. 7:1, explains that we are
               "purifying" ourselves from what contaminates. Paul
               is telling us is that we should take care about our
               relationships so that we can walk with God and be
               His "sons and daughters." (2 Cor. 6:18)  However,
               the Acts 10 story about Peter and Cornelius clearly
               shows us that mingling with unbelievers who are
               interested in the gospel is not condemned.  Quite
               the opposite, bringing the gospel to those who do
               not know is part of walking in the light.)

II. JOYFUL WHILE IN TROUBLE

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 7:4-7. Paul tells us in verse 5 that he
     felt harassed "at every turn" by "conflicts on the outside,
     fears within."  What do you think Paul means by:

          1. "Conflicts on the outside?" (People were giving him a
          hard time.)

          2. "Fears within?" (The conflicts were getting to him. It
          made him fearful.)

     B. Have you heard people say that if you are a Christian you
     should have no fear? "Perfect love drives out fear..." (1 John
     4:18).

          1. While I was still in law school I interned with the
          Department of Justice, in the U.S. Attorney's office.  We
          were prosecuting federal crimes.  As a result, we had to
          appear before federal judges and magistrates.  The first
          time I had to argue before the court the assistant U.S.
          attorney I worked with told me, as we were walking to the
          argument, that I would do the argument! Talk about
          instant fear! (I think a couple of DEA agents would have
          liked to have shot me after the argument.)  This
          assistant that I worked with told me something that I
          will never forget.  He said (about these court
          appearances), "Everything makes me nervous." What an
          encouragement it was to me to know that he got nervous
          about these things too!

               a. Are you encouraged by the fact that Paul tells us
               that the conflicts in his life caused him to feel
               fearful?

     C. Let's read on to see what good can come out of conflict and
     fear. Read 7:8-10.

          1. What came of Paul's conflict and worry? (Joy.)

          2. Why did joy come out of conflict? (There seem to be
          two angles to this. First, conflict can bring us closer
          to God. In Paul's case he experienced conflict because he
          was standing up for God's will. The outcome of this
          conflict was positive.  Second, Paul seems to say he was
          creating conflict in the lives of those who needed to
          repent.  Because they repented, the outcome of that
          conflict brought joy.)

          3. Notice in v.10 the reference to "Godly sorrow" and
          "worldly sorrow."

               a. What is the result of each? (Godly sorrow leads
               to repentance, salvation and joy. Worldly sorrow
               brings death.)

               b. How would you describe "worldly sorrow" versus
               "Godly sorrow?" (Read 2 Corinthians 7:11 for a
               better idea of "Godly sorrow."  Worldly sorrow is
               the unhappiness that comes from sin.)

                    (1) Can "worldly sorrow" bring about "Godly
                    sorrow?

     D. Read 2 Corinthians 7:12.  Why did Paul write those things
     to the Corinthian church that caused "Godly sorrow?"

          1. Was it for the benefit of the sinner? (Paul says,
          "no.")

          2. Was it for the benefit of the "victim" of the sinner?
          (Paul says, "no.")

          3. So for whose benefit did he write? (Paul seems to say
          that his letter was a test of the membership as a whole
          to see if they really were faithful to God. When they
          arose to the occasion by seeking repentance, joy was the
          result.)

     E. Sometimes we hate to let go of our sins.  Paul tells us
     that letting go of sin and sinful relationships will result in
     joy!

III. NEXT WEEK: "The Ministry of Generosity." Study 2 Corinthians
8:1-15! bsp;         result.)

     E. Sometimes we hate to let go of our sins.  Paul tells us
     that letting go of sin and sinful relationships will result in
     joy!

III. NEXT WEEK: "The Ministry of Generosity." Study 2 Corinthians
8:1-15!