Last week we looked at our need for unity, and that we were given sacred gifts to accomplish this. Now we are going to look at our need to be ceremonially clean, Just as the physical temple needed to be kept ceremonially clean at all times, it was necessary to purge that which was unclean from time to time. Now that which is unclean must be purged of our souls.
As we become the temple of the Holy Spirit we must know what is unclean, and to first century Jews (those who kept the physical temple clean) nothing was more obvious than that the Gentiles were unclean. All of their ways were repugnant to the teachings of the rabbis. The rabbis ruled that the people could not even go in to the homes of Gentiles or eat their food, for then the people would become unclean. This is why Peter had to be given a vision so he would talk to Cornelius. [Acts 10] He simply had not got his head around “good news to All peoples.” It is also why we are adopted sons of Abraham and no longer considered Gentiles. [Gal. 3:7]
17 Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; 18 they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; 19 they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.
Gentiles and all their ways are unclean. Anyone coming in contact with something or one that was unclean was to wait till the sun went down and bathe before going to the temple. The New Testament never wants us to separate from these people physically, however we must separate from them spiritually. We must not live like them, with darken minds and ignorance. We must open our hearts to seek truth. For ignorance of God’s ways leads to hardness of heart, callousness, greed and licentiousness. All these things are unclean.
20 You did not so learn Christ! — 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. 22 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Now Paul advises us to live a sacred life and remove ourselves from our former unclean life. This new life is righteous and holy and must be maintained, and the way to maintain that is give up the old unclean ways.
25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
There is nothing cleaner than Truth. All these things that keep us on the right path toward spiritual growth, must come from Truth. However right there in the middle is a warning of what happens when we do not keep out walk pure. The devil has an opportunity, and as the father of lies, he is not likely to ignore an opportunity when it comes his way. [John 8:44]
Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 1Pet. 5:8 (See Also Earth dust, Star dust)
Many a believer has lost their way, and has been devoured as a result. Just read some church history and you will see them everywhere. A little lie here, a little lie there, and soon they are acting in their own self interest. Then the whole body of Messiah suffers.
Unfortunately there is a chapter break here, leading many to think that there is a change in thought. However the thought continues and is the same spiritual purity and growth as before.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph. 5:1
Just like all those sacrifices of the Old Testament were a pleasing odor to God, so our lives are to be a pleasing odor as Messiah’s. We are no longer our own, but servants of the living God. Freedom in bondage, something that is hard to grasp, until it is lived.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1Cor. 4:1
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 1Cor. 6:19