(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Purity ReFramed: God’s View Of Cleanliness
By Brisa Aguirre
Purity is a broad subject. It is an umbrella and beneath that, you can find cleanliness and sexuality. It can even be associated with food. But most of these, if not all, are emphasized in the Old Testament. God was big on purity.
These days, purity is not so much discussed in terms of cleanliness or in sustenance as it is with sexuality. So what does God say about the former two in the New Testament? How does it relate to us today in the New Covenant?
Then VS. Now
God had many “rules” for His people for the sole purpose of distinguishing them from others. “Between the clean and unclean.” (Leviticus 10:10). Some of those rules required washing or abstaining from certain foods.
Cleanliness of the Body
Sin, evil, and wickedness are often related to uncleanliness and impurity. So to be as sinless or pure as possible one needed to wash and be clean.
Let’s go back in time to the era of the book of Exodus, where many cleansing rituals take place. Cleanliness plays a big role in the Old Testament. We see one of the first examples of purity in Exodus 30:17-21. There a washbasin is placed “between the tent meeting and the altar.”
The altar was used to bring offerings, sacrifices, gifts, and to encounter God (Exodus 20:24). Men were required to wash their hands and feet so they would not die.
Then: One needs to be clean first before coming to the altar. It is a matter of life and death.
Now: You will not be rejected for your lack of purity.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
– John 6:37
“You may have heard the popular phrase, ‘come as you are.’ And that is how it is with Christ. Jesus will not mind the state of your purity before coming to Him for He will make you clean.‘The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.’”
– 1 John 1:7
Cleanliness of Food
In Leviticus 11, God gives a list of animals His people can and cannot eat. Not eating pork to this day appear relevant as both Jewish and Muslims do not consume it. Some Christians choose not to eat pork based on what God said in Leviticus.
Then: Eating unclean food will make you impure.
Now: All foods are clean.
“‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.’ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean).” This is from Mark 7:18-19.
We now know whatever we eat will not define our state of purity. It all comes down to what is in our thoughts and hearts (Mark 7:21) and what comes out of our mouths.
“Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.”
– Romans 14:3
The Christians who choose not to eat pork should not look down on those who do. And the Christians who do eat pork should not regard them with contempt.
God will look at what is in your heart over what is in your stomach.
The Heart and Body
To tie both of these topics together here is an example from Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.
“‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.”
– John 13:10-22
Jesus looked at the heart of His disciples and called them clean. Except for the one who was to betray Him who had an impure heart.
Food can never defile you and the heart reflects if a person is pure or not. If you feel you are in an impure state pray this from Psalm 51:10. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”