God expects us to live spiritually clean lives. What does God define as spiritually "clean" and "unclean"?
[Roy Holladay] In Western society, today very little seems to be taboo or wrong or forbidden or considered sinful or unclean. You can hear profanity and obscenities used very freely in the workplace at times or on the streets, in movies, in music, whatever. People burn the flag and think nothing of it. Here, recently a professor had his class write the name Jesus Christ on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and stomp on it. To stomp on the name or the idea of Christianity and Jesus Christ. A lot of times there's a flap over censorship when it comes to art. Some people think what they consider art, you know, they might put something in a test tube filled with urine and think that that's art and they get all upset if anybody wants to censor them for that. Many people will rent pornographic videos and look at it. You can get pornography on computers today, young people are exposed to it.
We live in a society where it just seems that nothing is off limits. More than one-half of the people today in society get together and live together before they get married, and they don't think anything about it, that this is just normal, this is the way it should be. Now, if you tend to say anything negative about these situations, you'll be criticized as self-righteous, a self-righteous religious nut, judgmental, trying to impose your values, your standards on others. “You don't understand diversity. My opinion is as good as your opinion. Who's to say that you're right and I'm wrong,” and the idea is that there are no absolutes. There are no really lasting true values. Who you are is the way you live, and nobody's going to tell me what's right or wrong.
Now, the Days of Unleavened Bread are important to us because they tell us that there are rights, there are good things and there are wrong things, and that there is a way that God expects us to live. We find during this period of time that there are things that God calls good, some others are evil. There are things that God says are unclean, and there are things that God says are clean. When we think of clean and unclean, we normally think of animals, clean and unclean animals, but the topic goes much deeper than that. It's a topic, I think, that we seldom give much attention to. So today, I want to focus on this in the context of the Days of Unleavened Bread, about what does God consider clean and what does He consider unclean?
You find today that people seem to have little shame over what they do. Let's go back to the book of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 6:13 Jeremiah 6:13For from the least of them even to the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest every one deals falsely.
American King James Version×, because I think what was going on back at this time in Jerusalem is a type of what our nations are going through today. You find that when nations, states, cities, peoples, decline that the same problems are personified and what takes a country down a thousand years ago are the same things that will take the country down today—it's moral depravity.
Let's notice here beginning in verse 13, Jeremiah 6. "’Because from the least of them even unto the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness,’ God says. And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. They've also healed the hurt of my people slightly saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abominations?" Are people ashamed when they do things that are wrong? Depraved? God says, "No, they were not ashamed, nor did they know how to blush." Didn't even cause them to be red in their face, didn't even know how to blush over certain things. "’Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall at the time I punish them, and they should be cast down,’ says the Lord."
Now, notice over here in Chapter 8 of the book of Jeremiah and verse 12. This is in essence, a repeat. I won't read the whole section again but verse 12, "’Were they ashamed when they had committed abominations? No, they were not at all ashamed nor did they know how to blush. Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall in the time of their punishment and they shall be cast down,’ says the Lord." Now, something that is an abomination to God is something that He loathes, that He hates. So you'll find God when He looks down and He looks at the lifestyles, the sexual practices, the religious practices, the economic—anything you want to think of in our society today—and He has to be absolutely appalled at it.
Back in Jeremiah 3:1 Jeremiah 3:1They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return to her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, said the LORD.
American King James Version×, Jeremiah the third chapter and we'll begin to read here in verse 1, "They say if a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man's, may he return to her again? Will not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers.” God says you've gone off many times after other nations, other lovers and you’ve come back to Me. “’Yet return to Me,’ says the Lord. ‘Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see, where have you not lain with men? By the road, you've sat up for them like an Arabian in the wilderness and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and with your wickedness.’" Now, you might remember that we are not to... When it comes to the Days of Unleavened Bread, we are to put out malice and wickedness out of our lives, but God is talking here of the... He's talking about the nation as a whole. And verse 3, "Therefore, the showers have been withholden or withheld and there have been no latter rain and you have had a harlot's forehead. You refuse to be ashamed."
So God says our people are not ashamed of their actions. They actually think that they're okay, that there's nothing wrong with it. How can a people come to the point, supposedly with a Christian background like our nation, come to the point to where they go just the opposite of what the Bible saysk and there is no shame. There's nothing that they feel that is wrong. Notice in the book of Habakkuk. Excuse me, I think I meant to have Haggai, not Habakkuk. Let me change that in my notes so if I speak in Rome I'll have the right book here.
Haggai, chapter 2. If you know where Zephaniah is and Zachariah, look in between them and you'll find Haggai right square in between. Verse 11, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Now ask the priest concerning the law saying, if one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil or any food, will it become holy?’ And the priest answered and said, 'No.' And Haggai said, 'If one who was unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?' And so, the priest answered and said, 'It shall be unclean.' Then Haggai answered and said, 'So is this people and so is this nation before me,' says the Lord, 'and so is every work of their hands. What they offer there is unclean.'"
Now, notice: “what they offer.” Now, they would go up to the tabernacle or the temple and offer up sacrifices. They would bring offerings to God but God says what they offer there is unclean. If we do not worship God according to the way, the standard, and what He says, then God does not accept that religious service. How often are there people in our society say, "Well, it doesn't matter which day you keep. It doesn't matter what customs you keep, what traditions you keep"? Well, with God it matters because God says that if we offer to Him things that we consider to be clean and they're unclean, He does not accept it. God does not accept our traditions, our customs, our way of worshipping Him that we see in society around us today.
Isaiah, chapter 5, let's bring this down more to us individually. Isaiah 5:20 Isaiah 5:20Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
American King James Version×says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, and woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink who justify the wicked for a bribe and take away justice from a righteous man." Many think that sinful acts are normal in our society today. The unconverted mind thinks that sin is normal. How many people who think, well, just getting a little intoxicated is not too bad? Or a little, you know, whatever it might be, of compromising. Today in our society, we have all kinds of sexual lifestyles and approaches. You see sexual scandals, a way of greed, as we find here in verse 23, and people think nothing of it. They just go along with it.
Now, in 1 Timothy chapter 4 and verse 1, 1 Timothy chapter 4 and verse 1, we are warned about the age we live in here at the end time. Says, "Now the Spirit speaks expressly saying that in the latter times," this is 1 Timothy 4:1 1 Timothy 4:1Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
American King James Version×, "Some will depart from the faith." So let's notice, this is talking about those who are in the faith. That means who believe, who practice what God says, “giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” So why do people leave the Church? Well, one of the reasons is because they're deceived. They become deceived and they give into doctrines and teachings and ideas of demons. "Speaking lies and hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron."
Now, the one thing that we must always do, brethren, and this is what the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread teach me every year, and that is that God is looking for a people who can be touched, who can still repent, who can still look at themselves and feel sorry for something they've done wrong, who can go to God and occasionally with tears in their eyes cry out to God and say, “Forgive me." So in other words, they can repent and that they're not all hard-hearted. The word “seared” here means to cauterize or brand with a hot iron, making them seared or hardened in their conscience. The one thing that God is looking for in His people… How can God deal with us? How can He change us? If our consciences become seared, they become hardened, God can't deal with us. But if we are tender in conscience and we can still be reached and God can touch us, then God can work with us through His Spirit and He can change us.
So as we come to the Passover every year, that's one thing that we think about, we reflect upon. We are reminded again of what Christ went through so that we don't take that for granted. The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us that we are not in the Kingdom yet, we need to change.
Now, let's take a look, as I said I want to focus on the topic of clean and unclean. What does the word “unclean” mean in the Bible when the Bible talks about being unclean? When I mention the word unclean, what comes to your mind? What springs to your mind? Well, let me give you a dictionary definition of it to start with. Dictionary says number one, moral or spiritual impure. That's a pretty good definition: morally or spiritually impure. Number two, dirty or filthy. You say, “I'm unclean, I need to take a bath.” But, what about being spiritually dirty or filthy? And then three, infected with a harmful supernatural contagion prohibited by ritual, law, or with contact.
Now, when you begin to look this up in the Bible, you'll find the Bible contains an extensive vocabulary with reference to the notion of clean and unclean, as well as related concepts. Related concepts to this would be pure, impure; holy, defilement; sacred, profane; clean, unclean. All of these are in a sense synonymous with one another, there are differences.
The Hebrew word for uncleanliness, there are two basic words. Number one is tame, meaning defiled, polluted or unclean, that something can become ceremonially unclean. And then, there's the other word, taher, and it's the most common word used in the Old Testament to indicate that something or something is ritualistically clean or unclean, meets the standard or doesn't meet the standard of correct worship. So one of the Hebrew words that deals with clean and unclean has to do with meeting the right standards of worship of God. You see, we can't worship God in any old way we want to. That's why it's important for us to understand that we need to attend the Holy Days, we need to attend Sabbath services. We can't just pick and choose how we want to worship God. He is the one who tells us.
Now, there are three different ways these words are used. Number one is ceremonially defiled. In the Old Testament, somebody could become ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body. You might remember again when it came to taking the Passover, that the reason why the second Passover was instituted was initially the question came up, “Well, these people are ceremonially unclean, they've touched a dead body,” and so therefore, they're not going to be cleansed in time to be able to take the Passover. That was one way of becoming unclean.
A person would be unclean through any number of things. You could be unclean by a disease, an emission of the body, by leprosy, by touching a house that had leprosy, there were a number of things. So people were... There was a lesson as we will see as we go along in being ceremonially defiled or unclean. You become unclean by eating unclean or contaminated food, that was another way. Touching something that had a disease.
Now, spiritual uncleanliness was idolatry, having idols, pagan religious practices and sin. These defiled a person. Any sin, any action that was sinful or wrong in a sense became unclean. Now, in the New Testament, the term most often used in the Greek means to make clean or unclean, and it really ties in with the word used in the Old Testament. There are several words that are used in the New Testament. One means to be pure from defilement. Now, we will see as we go along how pure are we in our actions, in our thoughts, in everything that we do? Another one is to be sincere. To be pure, holy, is being free from a mixture of error. One who observes duties towards God or who is God-like would be somebody who would be clean, honorable, sacred, outward, associated with God. So knowing right and wrong is not a normal practice for the average human being.
If you ask the average human being, "Is there anything wrong with Christmas?" They're not going to think there's anything wrong with Christmas. If you ask them if there is anything wrong with Easter, they won't say anything. Well, is there anything wrong with this church or that church? Most, “Well, I'm not going to judge.”
It is not normal for a human being to know completely the standard that God wants us to live by, to abide by in order to be in His family. Let's go back, well, and I've quoted it so often, Proverbs chapter 14 and verse 12, says that, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death." Now, we think of that too often when it comes to how we lived in the past, and that's true. But do we stop and do we think that we've overcome that tendency in our lives today, that there can be a way that seems to be right to us? Well, I never assumed that. I look at myself and I realize that there are a lot of things that I still have to struggle with. When it comes to moral purity, holiness, cleanliness and righteousness, these are all areas that we need to look at.
Colossians chapter 2 and verse 14, excuse me, 1 Corinthians 2:14 1 Corinthians 2:14But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
American King James Version×. 1 Corinthians chapter 2 and verse 14 tells us what the problem is. Says, "The natural man, the unconverted man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him. Nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. The carnal man cannot know the things of God, the natural man cut off from God." Without God's law, brethren, we cannot know right from wrong. We cannot know good from evil. Without the Holy Spirit guiding us, we cannot understand God's law. You see a lot of people have God's law, the Jews had the law. The Jews could quote to you all day long about the Holy Days, clean unclean meats, tithing, but they were white-washed sepulchers because they did not clean the inside of the vessel, only the outside.
Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. One of the commandments of God says “thou shall not kill,” right? But what does society say? You don't kill somebody unless they're trying to kill you, then you can kill them. There's always a reason why. You can't kill somebody unless your country asks you to go to war, and then you can kill. So there are always exceptions being made to what God says. You're not supposed to murder, but you can have an abortion in our society today. There'd been something like 50 to 60 million abortions taking place in this country since the law was changed concerning abortion. Is that murder, is it not? Maybe you've heard about this doctor that they're trying right now, who has performed a number of late-term abortions and actually babies being born alive and would take a pair of scissors and kill the child. These are the type of things that you see going on. That's not called murder; that's just called abortion.
Many people today think it's okay to cheat and lie especially when it comes to your taxes, right? One can cheat a little bit on his taxes, well, a lot of people think. Premarital sex is wrong unless it's a person you love and you're going to marry, then it's not wrong. Now, I'm not saying that is the truth, but that's the way society reasons. That as long as you love the person, you're going to get married, it's okay to have sex with him. As if that okays it, and that's not correct. I think all of us can think of things that would fall into that category.
Now, what about ourselves? Is there anything that we justify in much the same way? You know, “Well, it's okay for me. God understands that I just don't have a whole lot of money, so therefore, God will understand that I don't have the funds to save my second tithe.” Or “this time I won't pay 10%, I'll give 2% or I'll give 5%” instead of what God has commanded us to do.
The human mind is wonderful at reasoning ourselves astray. We deceive ourselves in so many ways and it's easy to look at society out there and to see the obvious ways this society goes wrong, but we need to turn that around, the mirror around so to speak, and look at ourselves and see what are we doing to justify ourselves into, whether we don't attend church or we're just going to compromise with the law of tithing or whatever it might be. Now, God Almighty commands us as His people to be clean before Him.
Let's notice Isaiah chapter 52. Isaiah chapter 52, and we'll begin to read in verse 6 here. Isaiah 52:6 Isaiah 52:6Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that does speak: behold, it is I.
American King James Version×, "Therefore, My people shall know My name. Therefore, they shall know on that day that I am He who speaks. Behold, it is I. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news," that's what the Gospel means, the good news of the coming kingdom of God, “who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ Your watchmen shall lift up their voices and with their voices they shall sing together. For they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion." So this is talking about the future when God begins to deal with our people. "Break forth into joy. Sing together your waste places of Jerusalem for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem."
Now notice verse 11, "’Depart, depart, get out from there. Touch no unclean thing,’ God says. ‘Go out from the midst of her, be clean you who bear the vessels of the Lord.’" So those who bore the vessels of God were told to be clean. Now, brethren, you and I today are the temple of God. The vessels of God were placed in the temple, and you and I today are the temple of God. We're also the vessels of God. We are the ones that God is using to do His work, and God is working through us and we are to proclaim to this world, to the society around us, the holy things of God. That's where our tithes and our offerings come in, that's where the booklets, the articles, the programs going out. We proclaim God's Way to the world around us. And so, God says here that we are to be clean and those who bear the vessels of the Lord. We're the ones doing the work of God today and we are to be clean.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 6, 2 Corinthians 6 and verse 16... 2 Corinthians 6:16 2 Corinthians 6:16And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
American King James Version×, notice, "What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the Living God. As God has said, 'I will dwell with them.'" So brethren, God dwells in ancient Israel. He dwelt with them. He was among them. His glory would appear in the tabernacle to start with and then later on in the temple. He said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them," and God dwells in us today. The Church is the temple as it says here, "You are the temple of the Living God and I will be their God and they shall be My people."
So what does God command us to do? "’Therefore, come out from among them,’ God says, ‘and be separate,’ says the Lord." To be separate means to be sanctified, to be set apart. God has set us apart as His holy people. And just as Israel was called as a nation, anciently, by God out from the other nations and they were to be a holy people, they were to be a separated, a sanctified people, so we are to come out of this world and its ways. "’So come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and do not touch what is unclean.’" Now, do we know what is unclean? God says, "’Don't touch what is unclean and I will receive you and I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and My daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty." So you and I are to be a sanctified people today and we are to be able to recognize what is clean on one hand and what is unclean on the other.
Now, the thrust of this sermon is what is clean? What is not unclean? Here we are in the Days of Unleavened Bread and for this seven-day period, leaven pictures being unclean, that pictures sin; unleavened bread pictures being clean. So we are to be clean, we're not to be unclean.
Let's go back to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 23 and verse 14. Deuteronomy chapter 23 and we'll read here in verse 14, now you can read all around this, but I'll just refer to it. It says, "For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to give your enemies over to you. Therefore, your camp shall be holy." Deuteronomy 23:14 Deuteronomy 23:14For the LORD your God walks in the middle of your camp, to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore shall your camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in you, and turn away from you.
American King James Version×, "Your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you and turn away from you." Now, part of the instructions that God gave to them was as they were wandering, that they were to take a shovel with them or if they were out in a military campaign, they were to always have a shovel, so that if they had to relieve themselves that they would not leave it on the ground, they would cover it up. And this is what proceeds what we're reading here. That God was going to walk in the midst of them and He did not want to see things that were unclean.
Now, the same thing is true of us today. God lives in us individually. Each one of us individually is a temple of God. God lives in us collectively as a congregation. Here, we have the Chattanooga congregation. God lives in us collectively as the greater body of Jesus Christ, all of those who have God's Spirit. When God looks at us, lives within us, walks within us so to speak, what does He see? Does He see any impurity? Does He see any dirt? Does He see any filth? Or does He see holiness, purity, righteousness, goodness, what is right? The Church must be clean if God is going to walk in our midst. I mean that's exactly what He was telling the people here. You find the physical in the Old Testament, the ceremony, the ritual, the physical, were all types of what we see today as a spiritual.
Go back here to Numbers 19, Numbers chapter 19, verse 20. Numbers 19:20 Numbers 19:20But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.
American King James Version×says, "The man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean." Now, I want you to notice several things about here. That at this time and of course, this is talking in a ceremonial sense, that people could become unclean. But if somebody was unclean and he did not purify himself, he didn't take the trouble to come and to be purified, that person was to be cut off from the camp of Israel since because he has defiled the sanctuary. He has defiled the temple, the sanctuary. Now, how was he to be clean? Well, with water. There was water of purification. Now, they were put outside the camp until they were purified.
Today, if we are spiritually unclean, spiritually impure, and we refuse to change, we refuse to come to God to ask God to cover our sins, to forgive us and we refuse to change, we may have to be removed from the congregation. In the Old Testament, it was a requirement and so I think God is very clear. Again, you have the parallel, the duality, the analogy between the two. You find that God commanded His priests to teach the difference between the clean and the unclean.
In Leviticus chapter 10, let's notice in Leviticus 10:9 Leviticus 10:9Do not drink wine nor strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest you die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
American King James Version×. Leviticus chapter 10 and verse 9, well, let's back up, you know, verse 9, He said, talking here to Aaron, God talking to Aaron, He says, "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting lest you die." So when I come up here, this is not supposed to be vodka. Thankfully, this has a little lemon squeezed in it for your throat, but it's not a whiskey sour or vodka. God says, "Look, if you're going to handle the Word of God, if you're going to perform the job of the ministry,” it wasn’t a matter that they can never drink. But when they were performing that duty, they were not to be drinking.
So He says, "You nor your son or you when you go into the tabernacle of meeting lest you die. This shall be a statute forever throughout your generations." Why? Why did God say this? “That you may distinguish between the holy and the unholy,” because you may give advice to somebody and advise them in something and forget what's holy and what's unholy. And maybe your senses may become dull, “and then between the unclean and the clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.” So you see, they were to teach and they were to be able to judge the... see verse 10 is talking about judging and being able to distinguish right from wrong, the holy and the unholy, the clean and the unclean. So God was very concerned about that.
Now in Malachi, go back here to the book of Malachi 2:7 Malachi 2:7For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×. Malachi chapter 2 and we'll read here in verse 7, says, "For the lips of the priest should keep knowledge and the people should seek the law from his mouth." See in the Old Testament, you would go to the priest and the priest, the Levites and the priests, but especially the priests were to be able to teach the law of God, the way of God. They made judgments. "And the people should seek the law from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts, but you have departed from the way, you have caused many to stumble at the law." What happened back in ‘93 and ‘94 and ‘95 to those who at one time had taught the law, had taught God's way and they changed it? And how many people did they cause to stumble over God's way? That's what He's talking about here. “You have corrupted the covenant of the Levi.” They had corrupted the covenant of God that God has made with His people. So here again, the priest was to know God's law, be familiar with it, teach the people and was to be the messenger of God.
But brethren, the Church today has a responsibility of being a messenger and carry the message, the truth, the way of God to this world and each one of us by our light, by our example, by how we answer questions are likewise to be. Now, I won't read all of this but back in Leviticus chapter 13 and 14, you might just take note of Leviticus chapter 13 and 14. The priest was to judge or to examine if a person or a house that was unclean from leprosy. He was to look at the skin, look at how deep the white was, how the hair follicle was in the middle of it and determine if it was leprosy or not.
Now, they would put them outside of the camp for a while, bring them back and see if it was still there, if it had been removed. And if it was, they were removed from the camp. Same thing of a house, they would come in. They had to examine the walls. They'd see the streaking in the walls. They'd take everybody out of the house. Seven days later, they'd come back, see if it had spread. If it had spread, they started tearing the structure inside out and they throw it away. And if it persisted, they would tear the house down stone by stone, throw the whole thing away and they would get rid of the evil. The person could be isolated or the house could be torn down.
Now, the same principle applies today. We are to avoid what is unclean. What is unclean today? What is impure in our society? What about the sexual practices? One of the big problems we have in the church, quite frankly, especially among men is pornography. This is a sin that cuts across all levels of society. That's a problem. What about our young people? It doesn't have to be young people, but what about some of the music we have today, where all kinds of languages, all kinds of things are alluded to. And you know, it was true when I was a young person and it's true today. The way people talk, almost every aspect of society, God tells us to come out, to not go along with, not to agree with it.
In fact in Ezekiel 44:23 Ezekiel 44:23And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
American King James Version×, Ezekiel 44 and we'll read here in verse 23. This is talking about the Millennium. This is a millennial setting. "They shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy." And calls them to discern between the unclean and the clean, talking here about the priest. But you know what in the Millennium? Who are going to be the priests in the Millennium?
What about Revelation 20 and verse 6? Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×tells us that one of our jobs, we're going to be a kingdom of priests. It says, "Blessed and the holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection; over such the second death has no power, and they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years." So brethren, we're going to be priests in the Millennium and we're going to have to teach people at that time the difference between what's holy, what's unholy, what's clean and what's unclean. So we need to put uncleanness out of our lives and we need to understand also what is unclean. This is what the Days of Unleavened Bread picture, putting the sin of malice and wickedness out of our lives and putting in truth and righteousness, doing what is right.
In Hebrews 5:14 Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
American King James Version×, there's an admonition given to all of us. Hebrews chapter 5 and verse 14, well, let's back up to verse 12 to get the context here. Hebrews 5:12 Hebrews 5:12For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
American King James Version×, and this is something that all of us need to think about. It says, "For though by this time, you ought to be teachers, you have need of someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk," notice, "is unskillful in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe." Babies live almost exclusively on a diet of milk. But solid food, steak—chateaubriand, porterhouse, filet mignon, prime rib, whatever—“solid food belongs to those who are” what? “Of a full age.” That means those who have matured, who have grown, who progressed. “Solid food belongs to those who are of a full age, that is those who by reason of use—or practice here—have had their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” But I think can we discern what is good, what is right, and what is evil? Do we know? I mean is it something that we struggle with? We need to think; in other words, we need to be mature to become able to spiritually discern the right and the wrong, the good and the evil.
Learn to think in terms of clean and unclean, so to speak, in the way we think, that our minds become pure. Not polluted, not tainted, not dirty, but pure. You know when you look at things today... I've talked to people and then, "Well, how can you know if something's right or wrong or pure and impure?" Some things are always wrong. Taking cocaine and heroin is always wrong, period. You know, it's just wrong. Taking a bath in sewage is always wrong. Yeah, that's not a good thing. Coveting, that's wrong. Idolatry, that's wrong. Adultery, that's wrong. I mean, you know those things are wrong.
But some things are unclean only if it's used in a wrong way and see this is where the discernment begins to come in. What about those organizations that say you shouldn't have music in church? Somehow "music" is wrong. It's not the music that's wrong, it's the type of music that the Bible would criticize. What about alcohol? It's not wrong to take a drink, but we should not be drunkards. We should not come under the domination of it. TV is not wrong, but boy, there's a lot of things on TV that are wrong. It's not wrong to get angry if you don't sin—be angry and sin not—but boy if you lose your temper and get angry and do sin, you're wrong. Sex is not wrong but wrong sex is wrong, used in the wrong way. Food, nothing wrong with good food, but you can become a glutton and you can abuse food.
So we need to come to the point to where we can discern between right and wrong. Now, the problem is people want to discern the first category I mentioned. Some things are always wrong; they're just wrong, and if God says it's wrong, it's wrong. But there are areas you have to judge, and that's where the job of a minister, and that's where all of us have to grow in maturity. If the job of a minister was... well, if it's just black and white, that's sort of like what the Pharisees and Sadducees did, black and white. Well, if that's true, I'd have my encyclopedia. “Okay, what's the problem? I'll go over here and look it up. Yeah, says it's wrong, don't do it.” Well, there are things that you have to judge. We need to learn to hate sin, to detest what is unclean and impure. We wouldn't bathe, as I said, in polluted sewage type of water. Sin should be just as disgusting to us as the sewage would be. Watered-down sewage is still sewage. It's not just a better form of sewage, it's sewage.
James 1:27 James 1:27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
American King James Version×has this to say. James chapter 1 and verse 27, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this.” Ask ourselves how pure is our religion? How undefiled? You know the word “undefiled” means that which has nothing that is defiled, or unpolluted or unstained or unspoiled or undefiled by sin. So “pure and undefiled religion before the God and the Father is this, to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” The word “unspotted” means pertaining to being without that which might mar one's moral character, to be morally spotless or pure. So you and I are to be pure. Now, notice it talks about visiting the widows and the orphans. It's talking about being involved with others and giving to others and serving others. Our lives are not islands. We are part of a body. As part of the body, we are to be serving one another.
Mark 7:14 Mark 7:14And when he had called all the people to him, he said to them, Listen to me every one of you, and understand:
American King James Version×. Mark chapter 7 and verse 14 tells us about what we're to avoid when it comes to being defiled. Mark 7:14 Mark 7:14And when he had called all the people to him, he said to them, Listen to me every one of you, and understand:
American King James Version×... verse 15, "There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him," now, whereas he's talking about eating with unwashened hands, "but the things which come out of him, these are the things that defile a man." So you and I can be defiled spiritually. It says, "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." And of course, the crowd, his disciples didn't fully understand verse 18, so He said, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatsoever enters into a man from the outside cannot defile him? Because it does not enter his heart but his stomach and it's eliminated, purifying all foods." That means if you eat something that has got a little dirt on it, the dirt is cast out and it's eliminated.
“But what comes out of a man, that defiles a man.” What comes out of us makes us unclean or defiles us. "For from within, out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness and evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within and defile a man.” So our defilement comes from within. This is why we are to have what? A clean heart, O God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God” And have a right spirit, we'll see that.
2 Corinthians 10:5 2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×. Quickly here, 2 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 5 says, "The weapons of our warfare," verse 4, "are not carnal, but mighty in God through the pulling down of strongholds and casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." It's easy for us to argue and justify ourselves, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Now, that's something that I find is exceedingly difficult to do and this is where we need God's help and we need to pray daily to bring every thought into captivity where you've got it, you've got it captive and you're ruling over it.
So we need to ask ourselves a question, “Is this something Christ in me would do? Is this something that Christ would think?” So brethren, how are we supposed to become clean? You know, anciently at the temple, they sent guards... 2 Chronicles 23:19 2 Chronicles 23:19And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the LORD, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter in.
American King James Version×. 2 Chronicles 23:19 2 Chronicles 23:19And he set the porters at the gates of the house of the LORD, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter in.
American King James Version×, they sent guards at the temple to keep out the unclean person.
Ephesians 5:5 Ephesians 5:5For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
American King James Version×tells us that no unclean person is going to be in God's Kingdom. It's not a matter of having a physical gatekeeper, but God Himself will not allow into His Kingdom. So how can we become clean? Well, in the Old Testament, the Old Testament ritual was always washing. They had to go and wash. There was a reason for that. If they touched a dead body, it could be disease. Touched a dead animal, it could carry some type of contagion, who knows why it died? So when they would go, they would wash their body. Same principle we find today. God already knew you can have germs, you can convey these type of things. So they would they would wash.
You and I are to be washed today and how do we start out being washed? We're baptized. Now, we know that symbolic, but when we go under the water, symbolic, we are burying the old man, the old way of life, all of our sins, we rise up to be a new man and to follow God.
Let's notice in Romans chapter 6. This is the chapter that deals with baptism, Romans 6:17 Romans 6:17But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
American King James Version×. Notice this from verse 17, "But God be thankful that though you were slaves of sin yet you obeyed from the heart." So God is looking for a people who will obey Him from the heart. And verse 18, "And having been set free from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness." And again, that's what the Days of Unleavened Bread picture, we become righteous. "’I speak,’ he says, ‘in human terms because of the weakness of the flesh, for just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness,’" this is the way we were before baptism, "and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness.” Why? “For holiness, that you and I are to be holy." So it is through Christ's sacrifice that we can be cleaned up.
Back in Psalm 51, Psalms 51:1 Psalms 51:1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness: according to the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
American King James Version×, remember here again, here is the repentance of David. And David says in verse 1, "Have mercy upon me, O God. According to your loving kindness and according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities, cleanse me from my sins." And that's what we should be asking God to do daily, to clean us up, cleanse us from our sins. And then verse 10, "Create a clean heart, O God. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." So notice he asks God to purge him, to wash him, to create a new heart and his steadfast spirit, and that's what these days picture, us coming to the point where we do this.
And Ephesians 5, one last scripture, and verse 25. Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×, we find that God has given us a tool to help us to do this. Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×, "Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church, gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify or set her apart," and do what? "And cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word." So what is it that we take to clean ourselves up? It's the Word of God. We are to be washing ourselves daily in the Word of God, opening the Bible not just to argue or to try to prove something. But every time we read the Bible, we ask ourselves, “how does this apply to me? How does it apply to society? How does it apply to the Church? How will it be applied in the world tomorrow?” And we need to think about it, but it all begins with how does it apply to me?
And so, by so doing, we find that we can be cleaned up. As verse 27 says, “that He might present her,” talking about the Church, “to Himself a glorious Church, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” So we want to be holy and without blemish, and so God has given us the Days of Unleavened Bread to teach us that in order to put sin out, we have to grow. We have to mature as Christians. We need to be able to discern between good and evil, right and wrong, clean and unclean. As kings and priests in the world tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to teach the whole world right from wrong. So brethren, let's use this holy day period that God has given us, the Days of Unleavened Bread, to focus on the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.