Something struck me as I read this passage for perhaps the thousandth time.
A single word: beloved.
Paul says in chapter 7, verse 1,
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (ESV)
The CSB and other translations often translate “beloved” as “dear friends,” which of course gives the impression that it is Paul who loved the Corinthians.
And certainly Paul did love them.
But I wonder if perhaps in this case, he did not primarily mean “beloved of God.”
When you look at the previous verses, he says,
For we are the temple of the living God, as God said:
I will dwell
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.,
Therefore, come out from among them
and be separate, says the Lord;
do not touch any unclean thing,
and I will welcome you.,
And I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty. (6:16-18)
All these reflect the special relationship, we have with God, and the love that he has for us. And it is immediately after this, that Paul says,
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (7:1)
It is because we are God’s temple, and he dwells and walks among us that we are to be separate from this world.
It is because he is our God and we are his people that we are to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit that comes from sin.
It is because he is our Father, and we are his beloved sons and daughters, that we are to fear him, longing to be holy as he is holy, not being satisfied where we are as Christians, but bringing holiness to completion in our lives.
That is our motivation for holiness. Or at least, it should be. Is it yours?