2 Cor 6:12 "You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections."
Out of all of the well known verses in chapter six, this one stuck out. Why? Because there is so much truth in it. Oh, yes, all of the other verses are filled with truth, but this one just kind of hits who we are and why things happen in our lives. Really?
Paul was still writing to a church that needed work. Even though he was in their face in his first letter, and even though he softened up in his second letter, he was still reminding them that they needed to change. Apparently they were still playing around with the world. They were still sitting on the fence, playing both sides, trying to see how far they could go and not get burned. Paul reminded them: "Don't go there. Don't be unequally yoked, don't have fellowship or communion (common union) with unbelievers." (vs14-18) He was not saying that they should not be in the world. He was not saying that they should not minister to the world. He was not saying that they should not develop friendships with unbelievers. If that were to happen we would never reach our world. He was saying that they should never become one with other believers. This can apply in business relationships. It can apply in marriage. It can apply anywhere where two become one unit. Apparently this was going on and Paul was once again in their face and telling them to stop.
And why does this go on? Why do we form business partnerships with people who have a totally opposite worldview? Why do we date and marry individuals who do not share our beliefs? Why do we argue over who is the best? (I Cor.) Why do we have illicit relationships? (I Cor.) Why are we enslaved to habits that we seem to be unable to break? Because of our affections. The word for affections in the KJV is bowels. That which is in the deepest part of our lives. That inner portion of our lives that drives what we do.
The Corinthians were probably grumbling about how restrictive Paul was…how he was telling them that they should or should not do certain things and this was his reply: "Hey, your lifestyle isn't cramped (the word for restricted) by me, your own inner desires really restrict you." Your own affections have you bound and you can't get away from them.
How true. I do things because of me. I make dumb decisions because of some inner desire that I have. I get stuck because of me. I can't live a life of freedom because of my own fear, or my own desires, or my own habits. What we need to be is open. As a response we need to enlarge our hearts. We need to say: "God I am open. Work in me. Change my heart. Change my affections. Change my inner person." That is what verse 13 is all about: "Now in return for the same…you also be open."
I know the dumb things that I do. I know that I get stuck because of various cages that enslave me. I need to break out. And I know of others who are right there too. They think that another drink will just calm them down. They think that getting out of a marriage will just solve all of their problems. They think that playing that video game or spending time on facebook will make them happy. The problem is that we are enslaved by our own affections. Instead we need to surrender and be open to what God wants.
Tough stuff. True stuff. Open up.