The Path To Holiness
THE CLEAN AND THE UNCLEAN
Jerry A. Collins
We may not often think that God is concerned with the ‘mundane’ things of our lives like what we eat of drink or issues of personal hygiene. But we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. How is one to eat his dinner, for instance, to the glory of God? Leviticus 11-15 provides some insights into this aspect of holiness in our lives. These chapters reveal a series of unclean foods, emissions, diseases, illnesses, environments and situations that illustrate the essence of holiness. Leviticus 15:31 gives us the basic principle that underpins all of these issues of uncleanness before the Lord. It says Thus you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness so that they will not die in their uncleanness by their defiling My tabernacle that is among them.
TYPES OF UNCLEANESS
1. CLEAN AND UNCLEAN FOOD 11
We have a mixture of unclean foods for a number of reasons. (1) Some are unclean because they are problems for diet in the wilderness and God was preserving them from disease. (2) Others are unclean because of their nature as predators or because their diet was of unclean, diseased or dead creatures. The main point seems to be that the Israelites were to take meticulous care that their diet was strictly according to the Law of God. The fact was that the holiness of God was to be taught every day in every way including your diet. It did not mean that everything unclean was sinful but that it mite be simply diseased and for their safety not to eat or common. At any rate, it cannot enter the presence of the glory of God. this will be true of unclean foods, diseased persons, foreign substances and strange fire (Chp. 10). Unclean includes abnormal, unnatural, weak, ill, contaminated and at times sinful. So diseased persons are not necessarily ill because of sin. Clean would include normal, natural, hardy, whole, undefiled and at times righteous. The point is one should be striving toward the glory of God and anything leading in the other direction, toward sin, disease, illness, defilement, or idols must be avoided. For the Israelite, he is to strive to conform to the Law of God! Eating only clean foods would be a sign of fellowship with one another and the Lord because they could eat together but also that which they eat will be held in common. Daniel, for instance, could keep the integrity of the dietary laws and his testimony at the same time by not eating the unclean food (Daniel 1:8).
2. CHILDBIRTH/PURIFICATION 12
Pregnancy is an abnormal situation in everyday life--it is normal in procreation but is an interruption of other activities as well for it barred women from the temple when the child was born. Actually, what did it was the flow of blood and fluid. The point in Leviticus was that only one kind of blood could be brought into the sanctuary and that was sacrificial blood. Any other including childbirth in Israel would defile the sanctuary and make it common. It is not that the woman who had a child was a sinner. Jesus’ birth caused Mary to go through the same custom (Luke 2:21-22). In Israel the temple was the actual presence of the glory of God in the midst of the people. Nothing commo9n, dirty, diseased or foreign could enter. Only those pronounced clean could qualify to come into the courts and then they had to go through the ritual purification by sacrifice. This was the presence of the glory of God. they could worship, pray, praise, study Torah, participate in any form of spiritual activity only they could not go in to the courts near where Gods Shekinah Glory was--that was holy. It is that which was barred to the women when they had their children. It was off limits for everyone at various times including the diseased, and males at certain times.
3. SKIN DISEASES 13-14:1-33
In 11-15 are basic principles of holiness in every aspect of physical life. Here we are talking about leprosy but also includes all other kinds of skin diseases. It is not limited to just leprosy. We must also be careful not to convey that leprosy indicated a disease due to sin. In Jesus’ day some did that when they wanted to know who sinned that the man was born blind, his mother or father. Jesus said neither (John 9:1-5). There are times when illness is effected by sin in the Bible but it is not always the reason. Of course, disease and sickness is an advance toward death, proof of corruption in the world and evidence of the fall. The fact that there is illness, disease and death should perpetually remind us that sin entered the race and from the time we are born we begin to die. While there may not be an immediate cause of the sickness in sin there will always be a general reminder that it is caused by sin.
4. MILDEW AND MOLD 13:47f-14:33f
Here is the principle, God spends time on the things that touch peoples’ lives, things that they must cope with daily. Mold, f8ungi, mildew could creep into anyone’s dwellings and in such an environment the people living there could become unclean if the priest determined it so. These things were part of the corruption of this world. they were decay. Of left uncontrolled, the material or timber would rot and crumble. Israelites would then become contaminated and not fit for temple service or worship. Any form of decay in the world was incompatible with God’s presence. His holy habitation is perfect, spotless, without decay or blemish.
5. DISCHARGES 15
Here is menstruation, urinary infections, and emissions of various kinds. These would make a person unclean to enter the temple. Blood associated with menstruation was not permitted in the temple since only one kind of blood could enter. Dead blood that the body rejects are all part of the process of physical life
and women were graciously removed from the requirement of temple observances until the difficult period was over. There also appears to be cultural significance for sexual activity being unclean. Sexual practices were so common in Cannanite religion of the surrounding culture that it was even part of their ritual sacrifices like temple prostitution. God had a distinct purpose for sexual relations and they were not to be part of the temple ritual in Israel. God was saying that sex must be kept completely apart from the holy place. He is not saying sex is dirty. He created it. he is restricting it from the temple and forcing the Israelites to use it as it was intended. Other types of practices and infections are included as unclean too.
DEMAND OF HOLINESS
1. FOODHow does one drink a glass of water to the glory of God? He would drink it in gratitude to God for the benefit as well as in humility and self-control. The message for us today could be along the lines of gluttony. If god interested in us eating to His glory then self indulgence of gluttons is a worthy topic. Fasting says no to the appetites of the flesh and gives oneself over to spiritual matters. Living blamelessly before God extends to our eating and drinking to His glory. It is not an issue of trying to be like the world--how much we can get away with and still be Christian.
2. CHILDBIRTH For a woman as well as her husband would learn that things bound to earthly living, including things like bodily functions, were not permitted into the glorious presence of the spiritual God. Everything had its proper place. One day we will dwell in heaven. The Bible says that nothing that harms or defiles may enter. There will be no disease, no corruption, no illness, no bodily defects, no births, no unclean thing at all. All of these things are earthly but we will be in heaven, in eternity.
3. SKIN DISEASES God is interested in what we eat, how we wash, how we take care of illness, how we survive as we long we can here. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and so is important to God. Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, has taken away our sins, our infirmities, in his own body which guarantees our ultimate glorification because forever we will be freed from this. He has taken everything about our sin-filled lives upon Himself and guarantees our glorification in heaven. While here Jesus did not heal everyone but the healings He did were tokens and pledges of the great day when we will appear before him with incorruptible bodies forever!
4. MOLD While the environment around us is in decay, due to the presence of sin we also note that the creation groans waiting for the day of redemption (Romans 8:20-22). We see mold, decay, deterioration, filth and corruption in this world. The physical is an outward sign that spiritual corruption is rampant. We must take every precaution to remain separate from it since it is incompatible with God’s presence in our lives.
5. DISCHARGES Jesus healed the woman suffering from a chronic discharge (Mt 9:20). He would not become defiled when he contacted her since he was holy. Instead she became pure by his touch. Jesus stands as the great solution for all uncleanness. He is Gods complete remedy for mankinds total ruin. Probably only time Jesus ritually unclean when God made him to be sin for us. All these laws showing how sin/sickness separate from God were pointing to Jesus.