Uncleanness

<<filth, pollution>>

In the OT period various animals such as rabbits and pigs were pronounced unclean by God and their flesh was not to be eaten while others were declared clean and their flesh could be consumed (Lev 11:1-47). Later this distinction between meats was removed (Act 11:9).

At various times people were also considered unclean, and directions were given for dealing with each situation. These included menstruating women, dead bodies, and those with leprosy (Lev 12:1-15:33; Num 5:1-4). God even accused the Israelites of polluting the ground by their evil conduct (Ezek 36:17). Our best, most honourable efforts are tainted with sin and compared to God’s righteousness are like filthy rags and don’t measure up to His standard (Isa 64:6).

In the NT the term unclean is applied to evil spirits and an impure lifestyle (Mt 12:43; Rom 1:24; Gal 5:19; 2 Pet 2:10). Rather than give ourselves to uncleanness, as typified by the corrupt nature, we are to give ourselves to God and be holy, for He is holy and as His children, we should express His nature. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” is an incentive to walk uprightly (Rom 6:19; Eph 5:3; 1 Thes 4:7; Heb 12:14; 1 Pet 1:15,16). We are instructed to “touch no unclean thing”, staying clear of what would defile our spirits, because of the powerful, infiltrating effect of sin, spreading widely (1 Cor 5:6; 2 Cor 6:17; Gal 5:9; Jas 1:27; 1 Jn 2:16).

No ‘unclean person’ will be in heaven, only those who have come in repentance to Jesus, been cleansed from sin and endeavoured to walk in fellowship with Him (Gal 5:16-24; Eph 5:5). There can be no close intimacy with God when a person is aware of unconfessed sin in their life, so there is an ongoing need for cleansing. "Your iniquities

   Have you been “washed in the                             blood of the Lamb”?

have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isa 59:2). The Lord God said, “I have dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offences, and I hid my face from them” (Ps 32:3-5; Ezek 39:24). Do I have unclean lips, speaking what is not honouring to Him, being polluted and stained by sin, rather than uplifting words to bless others and praise to Him? (Isa 6:5; Jas 3:9,10). How about my lifestyle?

Your personal responsibility is to “Cleanse yourselves…purify your hearts” (2 Tim 2:21; Jas 4:8). We are to guard our heart more than any treasure for it is the control centre of our lives and our thoughts need to be constantly monitored as they influence us in powerful ways (Prov 4:23; Mt 15:18,19). Not that we are able to bring about change

Use the Scriptures as ‘soap’ to help                       remove the daily grime

without divine help, but we must continually desire to be clean, and follow through by making right choices and being disciplined in our conduct. David prayed, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from me from my sin” (Ps 51:2). It is as we do our part in putting off the old life and replacing it with the new, that God, by His grace and mercy, will assist us to walk in the newness of life in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:4-14; Eph 4:22-25; Col 3:8-12).

While we are to keep ourselves from being defiled by the pollution of sin, this does not mean we are not to associate with sinners, because how else can we hope to influence them for Jesus; rather we are not to needlessly expose ourselves to their ways or go to questionable places (2 Cor 6:17). If we do soil ourselves by sinning, the right course is to repent and ask for forgiveness and cleansing (1 Jn 1:9).

The Pharisees maintained (and even added to) the strict OT purity rituals, following the requirements of the law ‘to the letter’. This superficial, outward show of devotion to God brought them into conflict with Jesus who taught that their visible lifestyle must come from the correct inner foundation of a right relationship to God (Mt 6:1, 9:10-13, 23:5; Lk 11:37-52). Although Jesus did not abandon the OT ritualistic, purity laws His emphasis was on inward, spiritual cleanliness. He declared it is not the food that goes into our mouth that makes us unclean, but what we think, say and do that defiles us (Mt 15:11,17-20).

Contamination or uncleanness is the cause of many diseases and infections, especially through polluted drinking water in developing countries, which alone is reported to be responsible for the death of some 6,000 people per day throughout the world.

See also: clean and unclean, defile, evil spirits, holy/holiness, pure/purity, thinking/thoughts, un-confessed sin.


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