Clean or unclean? The ideas around holiness and purity change from the time of Moses to the time of Jesus. The good news is that cleanliness before God is not based on my actions or thoughts. It is not based on my performance as a person. It is based on God’s grace!
45 “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
When the earth passes away and God reveals the heavenly city – the New Jerusalem – nothing unclean will ever enter the city (Revelation 21:57). I’m a goner. I have no chance. If heaven is for the clean and the undefiled and the perfect, then how will a guy like me make it in?
In Moses’ time, when people had skin conditions which made them unclean and/or contagious, they had to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” while they walked to make sure they didn’t infect others. Then when Jesus started teaching in his time, he showed great mercy to the unclean, actually healing them and touching them. He changed our thinking about what it means to be unclean, moving from the physical to the moral:
“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” It is our heart and thoughts which are the source of uncleanliness – the evil thoughts of our hearts.
So how can I ever enter heaven, then? As much as I try to live clean and think clean, I am a human. I sin. I think evil thoughts. I do things which are unpleasing to God. I am as defiled as the person shouting, “Unclean! Unclean!”
The good news is that my cleanliness before God is not based on my actions or thoughts. It is not based on my performance as a person.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
As long as I admit that I am imperfect – admit that I am a person who sins like everyone else – and confess those areas of my life where I know I am offside, God is faithful to forgive and purify me. My ability to live in that eternal city of heaven forever is based, not on my performance; rather, it is based on God’s forgiveness and purification of me.
Thank you God. Help me realize those areas of uncleanness in my thinking and actions to bring them before you for forgiveness.