When a New Testament apostle wrote a letter to a church, the letter was designed to inform two entities: 1) the church to which it was addressed and 2) the entire Church of God. The letters were routinely passed from church to church for much of what the writers wrote affected all of the churches to some degree. Without this letter-sharing system, the Bible would not exist today. The messages in both the Old and New Testaments eventually came into the possession of the Apostle John who codified them into one book. The Word “Bible” means “book.” For this reason the Israelites anciently and the Jews of modern times have been called “the people of the book.”
Which brings us to 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. Here we find the Apostle Paul writing TO THE CHURCH ABOUT THE CHURCH. In the focal passage we find Paul telling the church a truth that many parishioners then and almost all in the Institutional Church today reject out of hand. The message is that there are strict qualifications that must be met in order for one to have “Christ in you.” Contrary to near universal opinion, faith alone does not prompt God to fill a church member with His Holy Spirit. Faith alone does not save the believer in that faith without works is dead (Jam. 2:14,17-20). Works–obedience to the Word of God–is necessary for salvation. Concerning faith, James tells us that Satan and his demons have faith. In fact, they have great faith, for they know God’s Word and know that it is true. Would that professing Christendom had the faith of Satan and his evil spirits.
As the Corinthian passage will reveal, receiving and maintaining the presence of Christ within ourselves involves choosing Jesus as one’s Master then obeying His Words. The highlighted passage begins with a command from on high. “Be you (true saints in the church) not unequally yoked (associate with) unbelievers (in the church), for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord (agreement) has Christ with Belial (Satan)? For you (true saints) are the Temple of the living God. As God has said, I will dwell in THEM (His Temple) and walk (manifest Himself) in them. I will be their God and they will be My people. Therefore, come ye out from among them (false saints) and be separate from them, touch not that unclean thing (false religion). THEN (AND ONLY THEN) I will receive you and will be a Father to you and you shall be my sons and daughters.” All others–unbelievers, unrighteous, darkness, infidels, idol worshipers in the church–are disqualified. See The Church, the Gospel and the Goats.
Note that the Lord promised to LIVE IN HIS SAINTS. In another place He promises to walk–think, speak and act–in them. But we know that He lives in the northern heavens and is in only one location at a time. He resides in His true saints in the form of His Holy Spirit which, as David said, is everywhere at all times. He noted that it mattered not where he might be or when he might be there, God, in the form of His Holy Spirit, was there. Neither the Godhead nor Their Spirit have changed.
The lesson God is teaching us in the Corinthian passage is that He will not abide where sin abides. GOD IS NOT IN THE “SINNER SAVED BY GRACE.” Also, without the Holy Spirit within there is neither a present conversion nor a future salvation. One’s religiosity has no effect on this Truth. Having been “saved,” having “joined the church,” having been “baptized,” having been “called to the ministry,” etc. are all meaningless without strict obedience to God’s Word. This fact is brought out in 1 Peter 4:17,18: “For the time has come for judgment to begin in the church. And if it begins with us (true saints), what will happen to those (false saints) who do not obey the gospel of God. If the righteous scarcely (barley) be saved, what will happen to ungodly sinners” in the church?
In Revelation 3:14-20 Jesus Himself addressed the false Christians who would be in the church during the Laodicean era (modern day Catholicism/Protestantism). Here He echoes the words of Peter. He says to the Counterfeit Church of today that, though they claim have everything they need, they are in reality “… wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” He also makes it clear that He is not among them either individually or corporately: “I stand at the door (of the church) and knock (calls out to the people inside).” If anyone comes out of the church He promises to fellowship with him. Note it, Jesus refuses to reside within a sinning individual. Nor will He enter a sin-accepting church. Therefore He commands the true God seeker to “Come out” of Satan’s church system and be separate from it. We are not to get close enough to it to “touch” the unclean thing. This truth has been in effect from the beginning. See Genesis 3:3 where Eve tells the Serpent (Satan) that God forbad her and Adam to “touch” the forbidden tree. The tree represents the Institutional Church; the fruit is symbolic of her heathen beliefs and practices. See the Introduction to this website for some examples of forbidden fruit on which the church routinely dines. L.J.