Fighting the Works of the Flesh: Uncleanness
In the third post in this series covering the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21, we look at several strategies for combating uncleanness.
When the word unclean is mentioned in conversation today, many immediately relate it to not having taken a shower or not having done the laundry. But usually, when the Bible speaks of “uncleanness,” it refers to the absence of spiritual purity and holiness. This work of the flesh destroys our efforts to please and love our Creator.
Here are some lies that the great deceiver has broadcast to the world regarding being spiritually unclean or unholy.
Lies about uncleanness
Lie No. 1: “It doesn’t matter to God how you choose to worship Him; how you eat; or how you talk, think and behave. God is happy with you as you are.”
This lie encourages people to disregard what God reveals in the Bible. It leads people to believe that whatever they do physically is okay as long as their heart is in the right place. But the Bible says differently: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
We are to be clean! That means that we are to remove anything in our life that God declares “filthy” or “unclean.” This includes unclean meats (Leviticus 11), wrong thoughts (Matthew 5:28), bad language (Ephesians 5:4) and even false worship (Mark 7:7).
God hates uncleanness because it prevents human beings from living the fulfilling and abundant life He intends for usLie No. 2: “God doesn’t care anymore about the old rituals that ancient Israel did in the Old Testament. Christ has freed us from so many things that used to be considered ‘unclean.’”
The majority of mainstream Christians believe that Christ abolished everything in the Old Testament on the cross. To properly understand this topic, read our article about the New Covenant. God’s command to be holy as He is holy is consistent from Old Testament to New Testament. We are to be holy, just as God is holy (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16).
Strategies to combat uncleanness
1. Let the Bible define what is holy and clean, not society.
The Bible sets very clear definitions for being holy (clean) and unholy (unclean). Satan the devil, who deceives the world, wants to influence people to live based on their own human reasoning and tradition instead of God’s revelation (Genesis 3:4; Revelation 12:9). Jesus Christ Himself warned that the ideas of man can never substitute for the commandments of God (Matthew 15:9). Prove to yourself—from the only source of truth we have from God (the Bible)—what is actually holy and clean, and what is filthy and unclean.
2. Understand that uncleanness can invade any aspect of your life, and be ready.
Society exerts a major influence on us to live uncleanly. These influences can make living according to God’s definitions of holy very difficult. If the Bible says that some foods are unclean and should not be eaten, then those foods need to be avoided (no matter how popular they are or how good they may taste). If the Bible says that impure and even blatantly false ways of worshipping God are unclean, then those customs and traditions need to be thrown out as quickly as possible (even if all our friends and family members observe those traditions). If the Bible states that some behaviors and thoughts are impure and unholy, then we have to change our lives (even if those behaviors are practiced by everyone around us).
3. Learn to despise and hate uncleanness as much as possible.
“But why?” you might ask. God hates uncleanness because it prevents human beings from living the fulfilling and abundant life He intends for us (John 10:10). We should hate any idea or behavior that holds human beings captive to a filthy and unclean way of life. God wants us to share His very character! That character is pure and holy, not filthy and unclean.
We should want all people on the planet to have a deep and meaningful relationship with the God who made them. Uncleanness blocks that at every turn and deludes far too many into thinking they are actually pleasing God. It’s time to take the Bible seriously and “cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts” (James 4:8).
You can begin this process by studying the Bible and learning about the pure way of life God desires us to live. If you would like to go further, the Bible reveals a unique ceremony designed to help us become spiritually clean: baptism. To learn more about this, read “A Clean Start.”