Text: Ephesians 5:1-8
I. Under the Old Testament, there is a series of rules dealing with unclean things
A. I am finding that people are condemning as unclean things that God never mentioned.
B. The rules confuse people, mostly because they do not understand what uncleanness was about.
C. Uncleanness predates the Law of Moses
1. Noah carried on the ark both clean and unclean animals - Genesis 7:2
2. So what makes some animals clean and others unclean?
II. Uncleanness under the Old Testament
A. Examples of things declared unclean
1. Contact with something dead - Leviticus 5:2; 17:15-16
2. Contact with human waste or uncleanness - Leviticus 5:3
3. Certain animals, fish, birds, and insects - Leviticus 11:4-23, 29-30
4. Bearing children - Leviticus 12:2, 5
5. Diseases that cause a discharge or a decaying of the skin - Leviticus 13:3, 8, 14-15; Leviticus 15:2-3
6. Some mold or decay in material - Leviticus 13:47-51
7. Semen - Leviticus 15:16; Deuteronomy 23:10
8. Menstruation - Leviticus 15:19
9. Improper sexual relations - Leviticus 20:21; Numbers 5:19
10. Impure actions of people - Ezra 9:11
B. God said it was important to distinguish between holy and unclean - Leviticus 10:10
1. Thus unclean is the opposite of holy - Leviticus 11:43-45
2. Holy is something treasured, something special that is set apart for use in service to God.
3. Therefore, unclean is the other extreme: things you don’t want or find disgusting, something that has no value to you - Deuteronomy 14:3
4. The laws separated the Israelites from the rest of the world - Leviticus 20:25-26
5. It made the Israelites acceptable to God - Deuteronomy 23:14
III. What uncleanness taught
A. The universal nature of sin and how it spreads
1. By selecting things whose nature was disgusting or without value, God illustrated that sin was disgusting and without value in life.
a. There is no sin in God - I John 1:5-7
2. You can become unclean by contact with the unclean - Leviticus 11:24
a. Even when creating the water used for cleansing - Numbers 19:6-10
b. That is why there is a need for separation - II Corinthians 6:14-7:1
3. You can become unclean without intention - Leviticus 5:2-3
a. This is why there are warnings about presumptuous sins - Psalm 19:13
b. People sin in ignorance, but they sin none the less - Ephesians 4:17-23
4. Something clean can become unclean on contact - Leviticus 7:19; 11:32-35; 15:4-12
a. Good things can be corrupted by evil things
b. Evil companions can corrupt - I Corinthians 15:33
c. Sin spreads - I Corinthians 5:6
d. Sin spread to all men - Romans 5:12
5. The impact is that everyone realizes they are unclean - Isaiah 64:6
a. Some things made a person unclean by the choice they made, such as the eating of pork
b. Some was forced on a person because they had to choose to do what was right, such as the burying of a body.
c. But some things, such certain bodily functions, made a person unclean whether they were willing to be unclean or not.
d. To claim no sin is to lie - I John 1:8-10
e. All have sinned - Romans 3:23
B. How to remove to impact of sin
1. You can’t make something clean from something unclean - Job 14:4
a. It is one of the reasons that it took the sinless son of God to save us - II Corinthians 5:21
b. Redeemed by the unblemished blood of the Lamb - I Peter 1:18-20
2. While a person was unclean, he was cut off, isolated from the rest of the people - Leviticus 13:44-46; 15:31
a. Not to keep company with sinners - I Corinthians 5:9-11
b. The reason is to reduce the spread of sin - I Corinthians 5:6-7
3. It requires a clean person to help an unclean person become clean - Numbers 19:18-22
a. But the clean person became unclean in the process!
b. Both weren’t instantly clean, but remained unclean until evening
c. The spiritual to restore the sinner, but with care - Galatians 6:1
4. It required washing to purify himself - Numbers 19:12, 17
a. Purified by washing - Ephesians 5:25-26
b. Wash away sins - Acts 22:16
c. Death to the old man, life to the new - Romans 6:3-7
5. An unclean person could not serve or worship God - Leviticus 7:20-21; 22:3; Numbers 9:10
a. We know that God doesn’t hear sinners - John 9:31; Proverbs 15:29; 28:9
b. Draw near with a heart of faith and a cleansed conscience - Hebrews 10:22
c. Cleanse yourself before drawing near - James 4:8-10
d. We purify ourselves - I John 3:2-3
e. Confidence before God - I John 3:21-22
6. It required an atoning sacrifice to God before returning - Leviticus 14:19-20; 16:15-16
a. Jesus gave that sacrifice - Hebrews 10:5-14
b. Jesus gave himself as an offering - Ephesians 5:1-2
c. Presenting ourselves as living sacrifices - Romans 12:1-2
d. When we sin, all God asks is for us to confess our faults - I John 1:8-10
C. The rules regarding uncleanness had a side benefit. Following the rules tended to cut down on the spread of disease.
IV. Uncleanness in the New Testament
A. Uncleanness remains the opposite of holiness - I Thessalonians 4:7
B. Instead of using external things, the focuses switches to what makes a soul unclean - Mark 7:18-23
1. While many of the items in the Old Testament were selected because they were disgusting or useless in and of themselves, the items were not sinful.
2. It was the breaking of the laws of uncleanness that was sinful.
3. A pig has a dirty lifestyle and is willing to eat anything. Thus it became the poster animal for uncleanness. But it wasn’t sinful. Eating pork under the Old Testament was a sin, but the pig itself wasn’t sin.
4. The laws of physical uncleanness came to an end - Colossians 2:13-17
5. God has cleansed the animals used for food - Acts 11:6-9
6. All meats are now sanctified - I Timothy 4:4-5
C. Nothing is unclean of itself, but it can be unclean for a person - Romans 14:14
D. Uncleanness now refers to the affect of sin – that it dirties the spirit - Romans 6:19
1. That is what “unclean” means in the Greek. Akatharsia refers to moral impurity or things that dirty the mind.
2. While all sins dirty a person, uncleanness is often reserved for those sins that particularly sullies a person’s character.
3. That is why you find reference to demons being called unclean spirits. They were evil spirits that caused the person they occupied to misbehave in various ways.
E. Sexual sins, in particular, often considered as unclean because they impact the person - I Corinthians 6:18-20
1. The body is to be the temple of God. Thus, it is sanctified or set apart for a holy purpose.
2. Sexual sins dirty the very thing that is supposed to be kept holy - I Thessalonians 4:3-7
F. Often uncleanness is found in lists with other sexual sins - II Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Colossians 3:5
1. Just as fornication technically includes adultery, but is broader, uncleanness is a broader category than fornication
2. Romans 1:24-25 - God gave them up to uncleanness which is referring to sexual sins.
3. Uncleanness is not restricted to just sexual intercourse outside of marriage. It includes actions that lead to sins or encourages sins, especially sexual sins. It is things that ought to be disgusting to someone trying to live a holy life.
4. Especially in the category of sex, there are a number of people willing to do things that ought to make people go “Ewwh!” at that very idea, but their minds are so dirtied by sin, they don’t see it that way.
G. Uncleanness is also connected to covetousness because personal desire or greed is often the motivation behind the actions - Ephesians 4:19
H. Uncleanness along with actual sexual sins are not be associated with Christians - Ephesians 5:3-7
1. Christians are not to be involved in “dirty talk,” “crude jokes,” or “sexual jokes” because they dirty the speaker and the listener – filling the mind with improper thoughts or ideas.
V. God calls us to a holy life - I Peter 1:13-16
A. It means having nothing to do with the filth of sin.
B. Though sin still creeps into our life, we actively work against sin - I Peter 5:8-10
C. Are you doing something about the filth in your life?