Clean and Unclean

Dear Brethren,

Why did God designate some animals as "clean," and others as "unclean?"  One reason is that God did not create all animals as food for humans - only the clean animals may be eaten.  Unclean animals are not to be eaten.  Only clean animals could be used as sacrifices to God.  Most importantly, it is God's intention that His people be set apart as a holy people who are special to Him.  Unclean animals defile a person (Leviticus 11:43).  God says that we are to be a people sanctified and set apart from others.  "I am the Lord your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.  For I am the Lord that brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."  (Leviticus 11:44-45)

The clean and unclean animals are listed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.  God made animals clean and unclean from the very beginning.  Even before the flood of Noah's day, the designation was clear.  God told Noah to bring into the ark of every clean animal seven pairs, but of those animals which were not clean only two pairs (Genesis 7:2).  Again, the reasons for preserving more clean animals was that they were to be used for food and sacrifices.  Please realize that only clean animals were used in sacrifices - and this was hundreds and hundreds of years before Leviticus and Deuteronomy were written.  "Noah built an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean animal, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar."  (Genesis 8:20)

The meaning of clean and unclean for the people of God today is even more profound.  Not only are we to recognize that God intends for us to make the physical distinction between clean and unclean meats, but He especially intends that we make the spiritual distinction between holiness and filthiness.  As members of the New Testament Church of God, we are directed by Jesus Christ to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."  (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1)

If we look closely, we can see the deeper spiritual implications in clean and unclean laws as given in Deuteronomy, just before the children of Israel took possession of the promised land.  "You are an holy people unto the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a special people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. You shall not eat any abominable thing."  (Deuteronomy14:2-3)

God is reproducing Himself.  Now is the time for us to learn to discern the difference between those things that are spiritually clean, and those things which are spiritually unclean." They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean."  (Ezekiel 44:23) 

How different are we from the world?  The better the environment we place ourselves in, the less we are exposed to wrong influences.  Paul said,  "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners."  (1 Corinthians 15:33)  Those in the world who do not appreciate the goodness of God's way of life can influence us in a wrong way, if we are not careful.  Close friendships with those who habitually violate Godly principles can pull us down  - even to their level.Do we think we can rub shoulders with the unconverted and remain unaffected?" There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness."  (Proverbs 30:12)

How do we, as Christians, turn the situation around so that our lives reflect the true way of life?  How do we advance the cause of the Gospel and promote the right way of Life?  The clear command is for us to be lights to the world, and not allow the world to pull us down to its level.  Our very actions must promote the Gospel - not indicate that we are ashamed of our faith.  Jesus Christ said, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."  (Mark 8:38)

Paul understood that it was impossible to completely avoid those who sin as a way of life."I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world."  (1 Corinthians 5:9-10)  Paul gave these instructions for us so that we do not become too involved with those who would be spiritually detrimental to us: 

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion [fellowship] hath light with darkness?And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."  (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

God's clear instruction to us is to keep our distance when it comes to the degree of association we have with those who are not a part of the body of Christ.  We are not to "enter their world," and they cannot enter our world - unless they are called by the Father.  In a spiritual sense, we are to guard our minds and keep our distance, because there is a clear and present danger to us when we interact on their level.  "Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee."  (Proverbs 2:11)  Business and social interaction is okay to the extent that we fully uphold God's Truth in all that we do.  When friends in the world ask us to meet them half-way by "giving a little," and they agree to give a little, too, it is a trap!  Certainly, it seems reasonable to them - but it is not acceptable for us. God says we must continually uphold His highest standard. "Be ye holy, [set apart]  for I am holy," God says.

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."  (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1)

God's laws of clean and unclean meats are among the best kept commands of Church people.  But, let's not neglect the deeper spiritual intent of God's law.  do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  (Romans 12:2)


Sermon:  "Clean and Unclean