For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Philippians 3:18-19
"Never come between a man and his belly". Sad but true. The flesh is a terrible force to reckon with. Take away a mans freedom, take away his liberty, you can even take his privacy without nothing more then a little whimper out of him, as we have seen, but God forbid you suggest to take away the bone he chews on.
"For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not REPENTED of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed." 2 Corinthians 12:20-21
Out of all the Divine Law, the biggest thing most have trouble swallowing is the forbidden lists of unclean foods. So much debate, striving and contempt is born from the idea of needing to repent of uncleanness. We see above Paul, in the New Testament, after the advent of Christ and Peter's Vision, still noting that uncleanness is something to repent of. When trying to engage this discussion it becomes abundantly clear how God's Law is so despised and how easy it is to rely on the idea that the invention of a refrigerator removes all necessity for God and his Will.
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise God's government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities." 2Peter 2:9-10
Sadly there are those who still could walk away from Peter's Vision insisting it wasn't about uncircumcised men like Peter declared. Self-willed to hold fast to the pleasures of the flesh rather then hold true to the Creator of all things. The good news is it is never to late:
"I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness." Romans 6:19
So let’s forget about all this food business for a bit. A greater lesson is missing that needs told. The lesson of course is of things unclean and most of our corporate clergy teach this to be just old ceremonial stuff that only has to do with the keeping of the temple and has no bearing on a Christian's walk with God.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
It seems greatly overlooked that Paul clearly declares the topic of uncleanness an utmost important issue to understand considering the practice of it can interfere with the gift of Christ and the inheritance of heaven:
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21
For us the warning above was something that made us want to know more about this topic of uncleanness that very clearly seems a forbidden lifestyle choice in the New Testament. We find that the Pharisees where condemned for their lack of understanding on the issue of uncleanness. Aside from Peter’s Vision correcting the Pharisees tradition to believe that uncircumcised men where unclean, Christ himself called them out for their traditions on hand washing before meals:
“Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mark 7:5-9
It’s clear all throughout the New Testament that the Pharisees rejected the commands of God and worshipped him through their own traditions on matters. It would be wise to not follow in that “tradition” and pray we can glean an accurate understanding of what is this uncleanness God will not bestow the inheritance of the Kingdom of heaven to, as Paul declares.
Let us begin with some simple word definitions.
- In the Hebrew- to be foul morally and/or religiously: defiled, pollution, to be polluted, contaminated
- In the Greek- impure morally, religiously or demonically, foul
- Modern definition- lacking moral, spiritual, or physical cleanliness; having a physical or moral blemish so as to make impure according to Biblical laws
- In the Hebrew- to be impure, filthy
- In the Greek- physically or morally impure
- Modern definition- not clean; dirty, morally impure; evil; vile: unclean
And since this word is usually associated with the act of presumptuous uncleanness:
- In the Hebrew- to be filthy, to loathe, pollute, abhor, make abominable, have in abomination, detest
- In the Greek- a detestation, to stink, to be disgusted, abhor
- Modern definition- anything greatly disliked or abhorred, a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc.
We can see that our modern language holds pretty true to what these words originally meant in the Bible. Keep all of this in mind as we discover just what Scripture determines is unclean. Many believe that unclean only has to do with food, but we quickly find that uncleanness has more to do with a whole standard of physical living.
Things that are Unclean
- Eating prohibited animals- Lev. ch.11 and Deut ch.14
- Touching the carcass of dead animals- Lev. ch.11
- All non-metallic dishware and clothing that touches the carcass of unclean animals- Lev. ch.11
- A woman who gives birth- Lev. ch.12
- Skin infections, sores, disease, scabs, blisters and open wounds- Lev ch.13
- Specific molds and fungus- Lev. ch.14
- Bleeding, semen and fecal, along with anything they touch, including a woman's menstruation- Lev. ch.15
- Sexual relations with a woman who is menstruating- Lev. ch.18
- Incestual relations- Lev. ch.20
- Touching dead human bodies- Num. ch.19
First thing we need to do is look at all of these things and discern the similarities between them. The first thing we notice is they all have something to do with one’s physical condition, and more specifically ones wellbeing and health. We also see a really basic model for practicing the prevention of disease and other such sickness if we abided by the quarantines associated with many of these unclean acts.
In our modern times we accept some of these as real matters of disease and hygiene, but we miss the whole connection of what is clean and unclean only due to our modern language. We now use words like hazardous waste, bio-hazard, bacteria, viruses, infections, disease, unhealthy and other such descriptive words to define what God and the people who loved him simply referred to as unclean in the Bible.
Now for some reason, animals are basically the only thing the church completely rejects. If we were making that case that incestual relations are forbidden or that our toilet plumbing should not be allowed to drain in our drinking water, no one would argue the point that God called these things unclean for a reason. In fact we get the concept very clear. It’s not until Scripture conveys its standards to food before we begin to redefine what unclean really means to suit our dietary desires. It’s to our detriment too that we denounce the forbiddance and take on diets we were never intended to eat just to please our taste buds.
Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for pleasure! Ecclesiastes 10:17
We live in a time where the church has abolished God's Law at the pulpits and men don't strive anymore to truly understand all the things written in the Word of God. Sickness and disease are at all-time highs and its rise in our culture seems to parallel the free fall of our countries Christian moral values.
"If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed." Deuteronomy 28:58-61
We dont see very many people dying naturally of old age anymore. In fact, today it seems an epidemic that almost everyone dies tragic, suffering degenerate deaths way earlier then what was once considered old age. Scripture declares that this is because of our abandonment of God’s Law, and in regards to the issue of uncleanness and our modern church’s full rejection of it, it seems the cause and effect relationship of this dilemma couldn’t be any more obvious.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." Romans 1:18-25
Now not all of these items of uncleanness are completely the same. There are varied prescriptions to remedy the uncleanness they produce, just as there is recourse on how to deal with natural uncleanness within our communities. For instance, eating unclean beasts, incestual relations, drinking blood, and sexual relations with a menstruating woman are considered abominable practices. People who do such things without remorse were to be cast out from among the community permanently, and in the case of the sexual transgressions, put to death.
In the case of eating unclean food you were to bathe, destroy with fire all that came in contact with the food and quarantine yourself from your community for the remainder of the day. While this seems extreme it only goes to show how God’s standards of maintaining a healthy community are a lot higher than ours today. It could also explain why loving your neighbor was one of the two greatest commandments.
In the cases of wounds and other bodily bio-hazards that come naturally with sickness or infection, the remedy is usually more extensive. One must bathe and dress their wounds and be quarantined a longer prescription of days, until the uncleanness has healed or been resolved. While our modern practice of hospitalization seems to be a little closer to this practice, it’s completely not uncommon to go to a store somewhere and have to deal with a clerk or cashier who has a horrible cold but can’t call out of work for it. A true testament to our cultures commitment to money over a commitment to God’s will, or even more generically, a commitment to each others well being.
Anyone who directly refused to follow the required prescriptions for public safety and public health were always cast out of the public body they threaten with their unclean lifestyle.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:29-30
We read earlier in the study a quote from Peter who explains that our lust for uncleanness is a flesh walk born by our refusal to heed God's Law. Paul sheds a light on the reasons why living after the flesh puts us at odds with God and cannot be in harmony with God.
"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwell in you." Romans 8:5-9
Our modern church believes they are not subject to the Law of God based on a doctrine that they live under a spiritual relationship with God. How does the Law fair for one who lives in the spirit?
"The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good... For we know that the law is spiritual:" Romans 7:12-14
We suggest great heed should be taken when coming to terms with these issues. It is the nature of the flesh to make logical and add reason to a lifestyle of presumptuous sin, and even as Paul witnessed in multiple letters to the folks of the early congregations of believers, these lifestyles have no place in heaven.
" For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them." Ephesians 5:1-7