The Contagion of Uncleanness

Haggai 2:10-19

Does a holy vessel make holy that which it touches? No. Does an unclean person make the priest unclean? Yes. Holiness is not transferable. Therefore we must learn the difference in the “clean and the unclean.”

I. The meaning of cleanness.

A. Cleanness is a critical principle in OT religion.
1) Laws on cleanness of animals, houses, and people.
a) Leviticus 11 to 15 focuses entirely on it.

2) Not hygienic but symbolized holiness for Jews.
a) Unclean objects are variously associated with death, disfigurement,
and abnormality.
b) Jews were to focus on what promoted life, wholeness, and normalcy.
c) Holiness was given a physical expression in every encounter with the
animal kingdom and at every meal.

3) In time, the moral element was lost and the laws were seen as an end
in themselves.
a) If your hands were properly cleaned, you could worship.
b) Even if your heart was filthy.

II. Laws on cleanness had a dividing effect on people.
A. God’s holiness demanded they live differently. 20:24-26
1) The pagans in Canaan had been horrible. (Sodom)
2) Eating clean foods distinguished the Jews from them.
B. The moral emphasis was soon lost, but not the dividing line.

1) Lepers were shunned with a threefold punishment. Lev 13:45
a) Had to cover themselves.
b) Had to cry out, “Unclean, unclean!”
c) Had to live outside the regular community.

2) Gentiles were untouchable – literally.
a) Jews couldn’t go inside their houses.

III. What Jesus thinks of uncleanness.
A. He was severely criticized for his views.
1) His disciples ate with hands that were not (ceremonially)clean.
2) He associated with unclean people.
a) Lepers, whom he healed. Luke 17:14
b) Sinners and outcasts, like prostitutes. Matt 9:10
c) Samaritans, even one that was a woman. John 4:9
3) The religious leaders went into a tizzy.

B. People can definitely be unclean. Mark 7:18-23
1) But not due to outward circumstances like food, illness, social
position (or lack of it).
2) Uncleanness due to inner sin, which finds outward

V. The task of the Church is to declare God’s cleansing power.
A. Peter’s vision: no group of people is unclean due to race. Acts 10

1) The unclean foods reminded Peter of the dividing lines. 10:14
2) But God removed them, and opened the Gentiles like Cornelius to
salvation. Acts 10:34

VI. Cleaning us up is no easy task.
A. We can relate to this in human terms.
Comedian Jerry Clower once told about a lady he knew out in the boondocks. She lived near a construction site, and workers were putting a tar roof on the building near her house.This woman had sixteen “young’uns.”

One day she missed one of her children. She got to hunting him and discovered he had fallen into a 50-gallon drum of black roofing tar at the construction site. She reached down, hauled him up, took a look at him and shoved him back down in that drum of tar.She said, “Boy, it’d be a lot easier to have another one than to clean you up.”

God must feel that way about some of us sometimes.It would be easier to
have another one than to clean us up.

B. Jesus’ death on the cross provided cleansing power from all sin.

REPENTANCE (desire to be clean)
BAPTISM IN JESUS NAME (acquiring the NAME of cleansing)
NOTE: ONLY the FULL plan of salvation (acts 2:38) can REMIT sin!

1) Big sins as well as little.
2) Even the guilt of sin can be removed. Acts 2:38 (REMISSION!), Hebrews
3) We are cleansed, so we can serve. Hebrews 10:22-24