Believers and Unbelievers

My message today should not be taken as a license to be set free from anything.  Nor is it a message to make you feel like you must stay tied to something that isn’t working.  It should help you see how to pull together or to work together when the time comes that you cannot go at things alone.

In the beginning, God created for Adam a helper comparable to him.  This helper was Eve.  Of all the things God had created until then, He knew that none would be an equal yoke to Adam.  Eve was the first symbol of being joined together with someone comparable.  Genesis 2:20.

A yoke is used to join two things together so that they pull and work together.  The yoke in some ways makes a man and a woman to become one.  Because of the yoke, a man and a woman lose the identity of having ever been separate individuals.  They come to share a vision of what is ahead for their life.

But the need to pull together and the need to work together happens in more than just a marriage.  That is why Paul warns us to be careful how and to whom we bind ourselves.  2 Corinthians 6:14 says. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness.”

Here Paul is saying to believers, believers should be careful not to join themselves with unbelievers.  Such an arrangement will make for a hard and difficult way forward.  We mostly apply this scripture to the idea of marriage, but it has greater implications and value to us.

A believer is not the same as a nonbeliever.  And a nonbeliever is not the same as an unbeliever.  Believers working together with other believers should be easy for us to see.  When yoked together, what you see ahead is the same for believers.

You share the same reasons for moving forward and you respond to the things around you in much the same ways. Zacchaeus was a believer.

Believers working together with nonbelievers is different.  A nonbeliever is simply someone who has not yet made a decision to believe.  They are belief neutral.  They don’t deny the existence of God or the work of the cross.  They simply have not come to a place in their lives where they can believe what they do not deny.

Believers and nonbelievers can coexist and work together because the nonbeliever is not necessarily going to attack the believer’s beliefs.  In fact, they may look ahead after they are yoked, and they may be amazed at what they see and are drawn to it.  Nicodemus was a nonbeliever.

Believers working together with unbelievers is different and probably impossible.  I believe this is what Paul was warning against.  An unbeliever is someone who denies that God exists and actually works against your belief to prove they are right, and you are wrong.  An unbeliever will do anything and everything they can to undo what is believed about God and Jesus.

Pharoah was an unbeliever.  Goliath was an unbeliever.  Haman from the book of Esther was an unbeliever. Pilate was an unbeliever.

The unbelievers are the problem for the believers.  From these examples we should see why we are warned never to be voluntarily yoked to an unbeliever.  The path forward will be difficult or even impossible.

Goliath tried to make a deal with the Israelites.  If they defeated him, the Philistines would serve them and their God.  But if Goliath defeated the Israelite’s champion, then the Israelites would have to serve the Philistines and their God.  Do not be yoked to unbelievers like this.  The yoke is meant to share a burden not to be a burden.

So, how do we guard against becoming unequally yoked?  We learn to develop how we think, and we learn to be discerning about how others think.  And we help others to see how we think more than to just helping them to see what we want to do.

Yoke yourself to the Lord first. The Lord is on every path there is, but He only wants you on the path that He chooses for you.  Make sure you are on the right path so that you pull in the right direction.  

If you find yourself yoked to someone who fights against God, or against your belief in the Lord or against the path He has chosen for you, then you may be yoked to an unbeliever.  If the unbeliever’s way causes you to stray from God’s desired way for you, then you probably should consider if warning of Paul’s scripture is meant for you.

Whether in marriage, or friendship, or work, or play, or whatever the situation where you cannot go at it alone, pray for help that is comparable to you.

If your circumstances cause you to live like you are an unbeliever, then you may be unequally yoked.  In this case, pray that the Lord will help you change your yoke.

Live a Delivered Life.  Love you.