Remember Who You Are

For two years I devoured 2 Corinthians, memorizing every word—line after line of insights I’d overlooked when reading it. This morning while reviewing several chapters, these words refreshed me and spurred me on:

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

Paul concludes a section that begins with, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” When under a yoke, two animals must go in the same direction. Paul uses this metaphor to exhort believers not to put themselves into situations where they end up being pulled into places they should not go. The Corinthians were defiling themselves by participating in various Greco-Roman mystery cults. They often rationalized that what they did with their bodies did not affect their spirits. Paul disagreed.

His argument roots itself in this fact, “For we are the temple of the living God.”

Paul refers to these promises, which correspond to that fact:

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people.”

He follows with this exhortation “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.”

Sound like Old Testament? Yes it is—promises from Isaiah and Ezekiel written to those in exile in Babylon, in danger of being defiled while living among unbelievers. So applicable today because we too live in an unbelieving culture bent on pulling us where they want us to go, both body and spirit.

But we must not go there, either in body or in spirit, because of who we are. We are God’s holy people. He lives in us. He walks among us. We are his daughters (and sons). We are called to bear the family likeness, and to represent our Father.

“Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit” leads us to ask what those things might be.

Wrong thinking. Wrong affections. Wrong behavior.

With the help of the Holy Spirit you fill in your own blanks. I know mine.

Paul is not advocating Christian communes. He’s saying “You are God’s holy people—now live like it.” He concludes with the goal: “Perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” Paul puts this responsibility on us. And I now borrow from another of Paul’s letters, “For it is God who works in you, to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

I’ve shared my thoughts with you; now I’d love to hear yours.

3 comments to Remember Who You Are

  • Shirley Snoeyink

    Excellent Scripture to pay today as the Supreme Court hears debate about Same sex marriage.

  • Phyllis Williamson

    Thank you for words that bring forth praise to our God – how precious are your thoughts to me O God…. Those things in my life that may need “purification” – what a goal- perfecting Hioliness – not to build up myself. But in humble reverence to my God. Thank you Lord that we are your people – bought by your love! may I live like I am loved!!