BE NOT UNEQUALLY YOKED
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel, and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
According to the covenant God gave the children of Israel, through His servant, Moses, we find these things that the Israelites were not to do: Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed, which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together (Deut. 22:9-11). Different seeds were not to be sown together in the same vineyard. Wool and linen cloth were not to be used together in the making of a garment to be worn. And, in between these two "thou shalt not(s)" is found the commandment that they were not to plow with an ox and an ass together.
God separated the nation of Israel from the rest of the world for the specific purpose, of serving as the heritage of His Son, Jesus Christ. To accomplish this, God required the purity of the Israelites, sufficient to confirm the linage of Christ in order to fulfill the prophesies of His chosen, inspired prophets. The reason for the commandments noted above was to firmly establish purity in all aspects of Jewish life. Purity within their vineyards would be destroyed if various seeds were planted together and allowed to cross-pollinate resulting in hybrid plants and fruit. Similarly, two different pieces of cloth sown together would form a garment that would not keep its form when washed. One cloth could shrink more than the other, and distort the form of the garment; or one cloth would wear out before the other. Such a garment would not be pure.
Like these examples of impurity, so it is when two work animals, such as an ox and a donkey, are yoked together to perform agricultural tasks. One is, no doubt, larger and possibly stronger than the other. Teamwork would be totally missing in getting the specific task accomplished. A task, such as plowing, cannot be accomplished unless both animals are pulling with the same effort and in the same direction.
It is this Old Testament commandment that Paul uses as an example for the Christians at Corinth, as well as all Christians today. That commandment is, be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. One is led by worldly influences, and the other by righteous, godly desires. Their work ethic is totally different; their goals in life are opposites; one seeks worldly treasures, while the other labors to lay up treasures in heaven; one worships God, and one worships the works of Satan. A believer and an unbeliever are just as opposite to each other as a team of work animals made up of an ox and a donkey. Nothing can be more pure, or successful, than a relationship on earth between two strong, faithful Christians.
James wrote, ...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4b). In his previous letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul told them, Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils (1 Cor. 10:21). Paul warned the church at Ephesus to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (See Eph. 5:6-11). The writer of Proverbs gave us this advice regarding associations with others: An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked (Prov. 29:27).
Must Christians crawl into a hole, hide in secret places, or become isolationists? Paul says no - this is not possible. To disassociate yourself from the covetous, or extortioners, or ...idolaters, you need to do the impossible - go out of the world (See 1 Cor. 5:9-10). Association is necessary with sinners in order to convert them to Christ. However, friendship and fellowship with sinners is the problem here addressed by Paul. Intimate relationships with unrighteous people often destroys the effective influence of a Christian's character. Therefore, Paul warns: Be Not Unequally Yoked with sinners!