A story from Pastor John Perry, “There was a man named Dave who was blind. For a period of time, we were working with him, bringing him to church and helping him out. Dave began to come along regularly; more than anything I think he liked the fact that people in our church cared about him. One day some of the ladies in our church went over to help clean his apartment for him. When they set to work, they encountered filthiness they never would have imagined. His kitchen cupboards were covered in the evidence of cockroach visitors and cockroaches that had decided that Dave’s place was a good place to die. His bathroom defied description, his entire home was filthy. But the amazing thing is that Dave had no idea he was living in such uncleanness!
It was the masterful touch of the women who volunteered their time and efforts that ushered Dave into a world of cleanliness he’d not known.
I think many of us are a lot like Dave. We’re so blind to the filthiness around us that we don’t see the hazards they’re causing. Abortions are so common now that they have become a viable and to some even moral option to end a pregnancy. Crime is so rampant in some part of the country that the sound of a police car, ambulance or even gunfire is barely noticed. Sex before marriage is almost expected and people are mocked if they abstain.
These are examples of what God considers unclean, making sin normalized. When we fail to head to His warnings for moderation. When we depend on our own self-righteousness, our own self-modified laws and our own strength and wisdom to make our decisions for us about what is righteous and what is unrighteous.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). By virtue of being of the flesh and not of the Spirit, these things are unclean, forbidden and not of God.
So, in our dose, so far we have learned of the ugliness of uncleanliness. I’m sure it no shock to the reader what is on the list. Included by God were also things that were ceremonially unclean, hygienically unclean and varies laws forbidding other things that were considered in the Torah to be unclean (touching the dead, etc.).
But not all is fire and brimstone when it comes to this discussion. To be fair we must go to Scripture and see the other side of our judgement of others. From Romans 14:14, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean.”
This section of scripture has been misinterpreted by many who think it means that anything is ok if we think it’s ok. So, if I can convince myself that I’m not sinning when I watch porn or steal from my employer or shout obscenities to the person who just cut me off in traffic, then it’s not unclean. Clean or unclean is relative to the attitude of the individual.
Of course, this isn’t what Paul is saying here. He is speaking of those who say that things are unclean when there has been no Scriptural forbiddance. Paul goes on to say, “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:15-19).
It’s like walking into a Vegan’s apartment with a side of barbeque ribs. Though Scripture doesn’t say it’s unclean, it is still unclean to the Vegan. The right thing to do is to have an attitude of peace and contentment, not rebellion for what you see as right. God wants us to focus on righteousness, peace, and joy instead of pushing the envelope toward offense.
In a way, cleanliness and uncleanliness is on attitude. Those things which God see’s as unclean we should see as unclean based on an attitude of faith. But it is not our privilege to make up the rules about what other things are clean and unclean. It is not our right to judge our brother on things perceived as sin if there is no Biblical reference. 1 Timothy 4:4 reminds us, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving confers that both parties see the value of something even if they don’t agree on the method by which it has been judged. So, see the things that are unclean through God’s eyes and not your own. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, forgive us for showing the weakness of our faith in our attitudes of uncleanliness and help us to trust in You for all things. Amen.