Read: 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1
Consider: Paul’s concern for the Corinthians is that they might live holy lives, correctly reflecting their new life in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! The key to this verse is not ‘… the new creation has come’, nor is it ‘… the new is here’. The focal point of this verse is the words ‘… in Christ’. This is where the Christian life starts and it is through the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that gives us a desire to live a holy life.
Notice in 2 Corinthians 7:1 that Paul gives us a reason why we should want to ‘… purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit’. He tells us that it is because we ‘… have these promises’. We need to refer back to 2 Corinthians 6 to see what these promises are and how they apply to us. Paul brings together a number of Old Testament promises and uses them as his reasoning for encouraging the believers to live pure and holy lives. In 2 Corinthians 6:16 he quotes God saying: I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (6:16). Later in 2 Corinthians 6:18 he again quotes God’s words: I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
Paul is saying that out of reverence for God we should want to purify ourselves, because God is our Father and we are his sons and daughters. Can you see the closeness of the relationship that Paul speaks of when he uses phrases like ‘make my dwelling among them and walk among them’ and ‘I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters’?
When Paul talks of purifying ourselves from things that contaminate body and spirit, he is referring to anything that can have a negative effect on our spiritual welfare. Some things might be considered major and as such should be avoided at all costs (e.g. sexual immorality). Others might be things that appear harmless on the face of it, but which over time draw us away from God. It is these things where we need to be extremely vigilant, primarily because they can weaken our faith and commitment to God. As it says in Hebrews 2:1 – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Think of a boat that breaks free from its mooring, or drags its anchor. The drift can happen almost imperceptibly, but builds to a point where the boat can be quite a distance from where it should be. So it can be with the Christian life, if we are not careful.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Pray: Father, help us to confront any issues in our lives that might cause us to drift. Give us a desire to live pure and holy lives that reflect our new status in Christ. Amen