Scriptural Cleanness and Uncleanness.


As we progress through the Old Testament being clean or unclean and cleansing have more to do with sin and the state of the human heart than externals or ceremonial defilement that debarred the unclean from Temple worship.

The whole of Leviticus concerns the differentiation between clean and unclean concerning foods, disease states and people (Lev.10:10).

When we come to the Psalms David’s definition of clean most definitely concerns the inner man (“create in me a clean heart”) but it is well worth noting that Job, whom many believe was a contemporary of the patriarchs knew that true cleansing was internal and concerned sin (Job 15:14,16, 35:3). He resembles Abraham who was justified by faith (in Christ) while uncircumcised and long before the law, ceremonial, moral and civil, was given. So just as salvation was always by grace, through faith whether B.C. or A.D., so being clean, was always a matter of the heart, conscience and true holiness brought about by justification and not a matter of externals. This is where the Pharisees were so wrong. They cleansed the outside but inside were filthy!

The New Testament makes abundantly clear that:

  1. No foods are unclean (Luke 11:41).
  2. No elect people of whatever race or nation are unclean (Acts 10:15,28) although in God’s eyes the unsaved ARE! (II Cor.6:14,17).
  3. The church and every regenerated person is clean (John 13:10, 15:3, Eph.5:26) but because of indwelling sin, the world and the devil we still need daily cleansing (Jas.4:8, II Cor.7:1 and I John 1:9).
  4. Baptism is the external sacramental sign of the inner cleansing of regeneration (Tit.3:5).
  5. Circumcision, the most important differentiating ceremonial sign (of the covenant) given to the Jews is replaced by baptism and in reality is done to the believer when he is engrafted into Christ (Col.2:11-14). Note that this passage and what follows describe the abrogation of the ceremonial law in its totality.

Law of Issues

Old Testament Ceremonial Law

Law of issues

Sung Psalm 24:1-6 (who shall ascend the hill of the Lord-he who has a clean heart)

Reading Leviticus 15

Does “flesh” in these verses mean the whole body of the male genital organ. By cross-referencing and context e.g. Lev.6:10 we believe, like Calvin, it means the male genital organ. The first set of bodily issues appear to be venereal diseases like Gonorrhoea or Syphilis (and lately HIV), the latter two of which are very contagious and can be fatal.



Clearly these issues/diseases were likely the result of sinful sexual behaviour, as they are today (there is an epidemic of them and GUM Genito-urinary Medicine clinics are overrun).

It is noticeable that even articles touched by the unclean person become unclean. Atonement was required for these unclean issues when they had cleared up because ceremonial uncleanness cut you off from the worship of God.

All these issues in the context of the whole ceremonial system make me think of these verses:

 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4

 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” Job 25:4

 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23.

God’s Sovereign Providence


From controlling the universe where earth is just a blue dot down to microbes that afflict and kill us….

<<<Some very interesting quotes on God’s sovereign providence over good and evil from 16th century reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, as well as the Westminster Confession and some Scripture texts>>>> . . .

“since God moves and works all in all, He moves and works of necessity even in Satan and the ungodly. . . . Here you see that when God works in and by evil men, evil deeds result; yet God, though He does evil by means of evil men, cannot act evilly Himself, for He is good, and cannot do evil . . .” (Martin Luther)

“If God foreknew that Judas would be a traitor, Judas became a traitor of necessity, and it was not in the power of Judas or of any creature to act differently, or to change his will, from that which God had foreseen. It is true that Judas acted willingly, and not under compulsion, but his willing was the work of God, brought into being by His omnipotence, like everything else (Martin Luther, “The Bondage of the Will,” tr. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, James Clarke & Co., Ltd., 1957, pp. 203ff.)

“those things which are vainly or unrighteously done by man are, rightly and righteously, the works of God!” (John Calvin)

“the fall of Adam was not by accident, nor by chance; but was ordained by the secret counsel of God” (John Calvin, “Calvin’s Calvinism”)

“All who are in the least acquainted with the Scripture, know full well that a whole volume might be made of like passages of the Holy Scriptures, where God is made the author, as commander, of the evil and cruel deeds done by men and nations. But it is utterly vain to spend more words upon a subject so well known and self-evident” (John Calvin, “Calvin’s Calvinism,” tr. Henry Cole, Eerdmans, 1950, pp. 207ff.)

“God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established” (Westminster Confession, 3.1)

“The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin” (Westminster Confession, 5.4)

“Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun” (II Sam. 12:11-12 KJV)

“And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” (II Sam. 16:10 KJV)

“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 KJV)

“Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27-28 KJV)

“Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3 KJV)

Thanks to David Hutchings


Song of Solomon 4:4

Thy neck [is] like the tower of David, builded for an armoury,
“The neck of the bride is erect and stately like this lofty tower” (Moody Stuart).

“Likely the strong hold of Zion; or some tower erected by David for an armoury, wherein his worthies or mighty men bring up their shields; because it is ornamented with spoils hung up in it, as golden shields after mentioned, as the neck is with pearls, jewels, and chains of gold, ( Song of Solomon 1:10 );” Compare description of Tyre (Ezekiel 27:10,11). Moody Stuart reminds us that the yoke has been taken off our neck and our neck is erect in holy freedom, these trophies of victory adorn the church triumphant and the church militant, and are available for all future conflict.  “The word for “armoury” is from “alaph” , “to teach”;  it was as an arsenal, in which young learners of the art of war laid up their weapons, as well as what were taken from an enemy; or what were made and laid up here, as a store in time of need. By the church’s neck may be meant either the ministers of the word, set in the highest part of the body, the church, next to Christ the Head, and in subjection to him; to whom they hold, and whose name, cause, and interest, they bear up and support in the world; and are the means of conveying spiritual food from him to the souls of men; and are adorned with the gifts and graces of the Spirit: and may be compared to the “tower of David”, for their integrity and uprightness, and for their strength and immovableness, standing firm and unmoved against the batteries of Satan and the world, and for the defence of the Gospel; ”

whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men:

“No other armour is mentioned, as in this armoury, but shields; they being a principal part of armour, and are especially so called, as in the Septuagint version of ( 1 Kings 14:26 1 Kings 14:27 ) ; these shields are armour of mighty men (or trophies won); mighty, through God and his grace, to perform mighty actions, and do great exploits; being furnished from the spiritual armoury with the whole armour of God, to repel Satan’s temptations, to defend the Gospel, and refute error; particularly the ministers of the word are those mighty men; though it is applicable to all saints.” (Gill).  Jesus the strong man armed has come and defeated Satan, spoiled his armour and given it as an ornament to the bride.


Song of Solomon 4:3

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy lock


Now as lips are the instruments of speech, the words of the church, and of all true believers, may be designed; what is said by them in their prayers, which are filled, not with great swelling words of vanity, exalting themselves, and magnifying their works, like the Pharisee; but with humble confessions of sin, and acknowledgments of their unworthiness of mercy; and they are constant, like one continued thread, they go on praying all their days: and the scarlet colour may denote the fervency of them, whereby they become available with God; and the acceptableness of them to God, through the mediation of Christ’s blood (Gill). The word thread here is the same as in Joshua 2:18 denoting the red rope by which the spies and Rahab were saved. In another blog we saw that this rope (TIKVAH) was hope.* Likewise the lips of the believer are characterized by hope which is in Christ (I Peter 3:15, I Tim.1:11).

and thy speech [is] comely;
which explains the preceding clause; and shows, that by her lips her speech is meant, which is “comely”, that is, graceful and amiable; as it is when believers speak of Christ, of his person, offices, and grace; and for him, in vindication of his truths and ordinances; when they speak to him, in prayer or in praise; and when, in common conversation, their speech is with grace;

thy temples [are] like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks;


Pomegranates are sweet, the temples are the seat of thought-thus my meditation of him shall be sweet (Ps.104:34). “Within thy locks” implies the modesty of long hair as befits a woman (I Cor.11:5). Modesty and shamefacedness in the bride is the opposite of the brazen forehead of the whore who refuses to be ashamed (Jer.3:3).


Law of childbirth


Sung Psalm 51:1-7 (esp. note v5)

Read Leviticus 12


    What we learn from all these laws concerning externals is that sin is all pervasive in humanity. We also learn that God was teaching the Jews like children till they came to maturity at Christ’s coming (Gal.3:24).

    What is outside and taken in can defile (food), what comes from inside to outside can defile (blood and issues) and what defiles outside also causes ceremonial uncleanness (leprosy or a dead body). God’s people learned they had to be separate from these things and holy, separated unto God (consecration) and separate from sin and the ungodly world. This is clearly proved by the New Testament injunctions not to marry or have close business associations with unbelievers (II Cor.6:17-touch not the unclean thing). This is a reference to God’s taking them into his covenant (Exodus 29:46) and bringing them back from Babylon (Isaiah 52:11).

     James (I:27), Peter (II Pet.3:14) and Paul (Eph. 5:27) all allude to keeping unspotted from the world, a clear reference to skin diseases. By nature we are rotten internally by original sin but this is sometimes pictured externally  as in Isaiah 1:16 as loathsome skin diseases, ”  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Christ was clear that what actually defiled a man was not food but rather what issued from his heart, mind and mouth, “ There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him:  that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:15-23 abbreviated)

A mother with a newborn was unclean for a period of time and everything she touched. Why?

Her lochia (discharge after birth) like other issues (Lev.15) and menstruation, made her unclean. This ceremonial uncleanness pointed to original sin. The difference between what happened with a male and female child was typical of the O.T. sex distinctions that were done away in N.T times (Gal.3:28).

Gen.3:15 and the curses brought upon mankind, namely work being a toil and childbirth painful, along with all the other results of the fall that plague mankind e.g. disease, trauma, wars and death are inevitably turned to blessing for believers.

Luke 2:21-24 is the most well-known N.T. incidence of compliance with this law where Mary, being poor, offers her two turtle doves in the temple.

God gave all these external laws to the Jews because spiritually they were children and they were to be separate from the rest of humanity, they learned that sin causes separation between man and God and between men, but that God actually expected them to be separate, indeed he made them thus. Now all these laws concerning circumcision, sacrifices, the priesthood, the sanctuary and what constitutes ceremonial uncleanness are done away  by the cross because they are fulfilled in Christ who is the end or goal of the law, having kept it to the letter and died for all the sins of his people who broke it , whether ceremonially or morally (and continue to break it).


Shalom, Hesed and Tikvah.

Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (future and a hope).”

images rahab-scarlet-thread

God promises his people SHALOM, future and hope in his covenant mercy (HESED). The expected end is hope (TIKVAH) which means a rope of many strands strong and dependable, the sort a mountaineer will trust with his life. The rope which let down the two spies and later hung on the outer wall of Jericho saving Rahab and her family was a scarlet TIKVAH. Believers are bound by this cord to heaven through Christ who is our salvation and hope (Heb.6:19-20). God in Christ is our dependable TIKVAH.

James 2:25-3:2


James 2:25-26

The Example of Rahab and Conclusion

  1. The reason we believe James uses Rahab as an example of faith working is that he has already mentioned Abraham (the father of the faithful and of Israel) and besides, Rahab was a pagan Canaanite Gentile, a natural enemy of Israel, a particularly sinful woman who but for God’s grace was doomed with the rest of her city Jericho. She also is an early example of the catholicity of the church.
  2. She is called Rahab the harlot because that is what she was, and this emphasizes God’s grace (see Heb.11:31).
  3. Her faith and works were based on the fact she had heard about Jehovah’s work in the exodus, had come to believe in him and the result was she welcomed the spies, hid them and sent them away safely thus demonstrating her love for Jehovah and his people (Joshua 2).
  4. She was justified by means of her faith. Her faith gave her subjective justification which she had objectively by her union with Christ in regeneration (the bond of faith). Joshua 2:11
  5. The spirit means the immaterial, invisible part of man or the soul (Eccles. 12:7, Luke 23:46).
  6. The spirit animates, or gives life, to the body and similarly works show that you have a living faith.

James 3:1-2

The Responsibility of Teaching

  1. I think what connects the chapters is that here he speaks of himself being a teacher and this is what he has been doing up till now and indeed what he does throughout the epistle.
  2. By teachers he means primarily pastor-teachers who labour in the word and doctrine (Eph.4:11, I Tim.5:17). But this could be expanded to include elders, Christian school teachers (Matt.18:6) and Bible study leaders.
  3. Stricter judgment of their works is what is meant (Luke 12:48) because their work affects so many other people because as leaders many follow them for good or ill. Hence they may offend and hence the awful condemnation throughout the New Testament of false teachers.
  4. “Beware the leaven (teaching) of the Pharisees. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
  5. I think the sins mentioned here are erroneous doctrine and advice, gossip and hurtful words used in the fellowship of God’s people.
  6. James admits even he fails as a teacher.
  7. Not offending in word is singled out because all teaching is carried out by word of mouth and he is about to launch into an extended section of teaching on the use of the tongue. (see also 1:26).
  8. We cannot become sinless by bridling our tongue but it is a major step in ability to control self, act maturely and growth in holiness.
  9. The whole body means our physical nature which is the vehicle of all the lusts of the flesh (Eph.2:3) and in which we are to put to death it’s sinful deeds.

Next study (DV) Saturday September 10th to look at James 3:3-12.

Song of Solomon 4:1-2

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

Moody Stuart (MS) says, “The singleness of the eye’s aim is even more important than the clearness of the eye’s perception. ” If thine eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). He believes the hair as well as being beautiful is a symbol of subjection on a woman (as I Peter 3:5 states) and also the symbol of consecration to the Nazarite which is his strength.

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All the sheep, like their shorn bodies, are equal in God’s sight and all cleansed by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:8, I Cor.6:11). The teeth of which none are missing are symmetrical and MS says that they represent faith which feeds on Christ and the green pastures. Faith is also  fruitful in terms of righteousness and bringing others into the fold (Phil.1:11, John 15:8, II Peter 1:5-8).