The apostle Paul cared so much for the truth of the gospel and for those who had received it that he was at pains to demonstrate both the integrity of his ministry and the sincerity of his love for the believers. The long list of hardships and trials that he patiently and lovingly endured was convincing evidence that the suspicions and criticisms that they had held against him and which caused their hearts to be closed and restricted towards Paul were groundless. Having reassured them that his heart is open wide towards them he strongly warns them against spiritual compromise through too close an association with unbelievers - a warning that is cushioned between the warmest appeal for the Corinthians to open their hearts towards Paul in the way that his heart is opened towards them (6:11 & 7:2). Paul is not just about cleaning up unholy alliances â€“ he is not simply trying to tidy up the church. Paul is no moral policeman â€“ he is a true spiritual father who longs that his children in the faith are living in the full enjoyment of their covenant relationship with God as obedient sons and daughters of the Father not partnering with the disobedient who have no share in the Kingdom of God. This call to be separate from the world is no harsh, repellent thing, which denies the goodness of God given pleasures and makes life bleak and barren; nor is it a total withdrawal for fear of contamination; it is the condition under which the heart is free to really enjoy life from the Fatherâ€™s hand â€“ where the joy of obedience is the greatest pleasure and the door through which all Godâ€™s gifts can be freely enjoyed for His glory and purpose.
John DUNKLEY BTh, Dip.Min. and Dip. Pastoral Studies. He is an ordained Baptist minister and has pastored a number of Baptist churches. He has also ministered at Westcare Baptist Mission - an inner city ministry and served as a voluntary Police Chaplain.