Holiness And Defilement

a brief study by Terry Somerville


" If anyone purifies himself from what is ignoble, he will be a vessle for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work." 2 Timothy 2:21

What IS Defilement?

Most of us have thought that defilement was the same as sin, but this is not so. Defilement is uncleaness due to contact with the world. It is to be polluted in the sight of the Lord and can exist even though sin is forgiven. Haggai the porphet said the what the people offered to God was defiled by their contact with unclean things. This was why the Lords blessing was held back. We would do well to understand holiness and defilement since we are said to be both a temple of the Lord and the Royal priesthood. Holiness was critical in both these areas in Israel. It is time we saw it is critical in the church as well.

While sin always produces defilement, not all defilment comes from sin. Most Christians readily understand sin, repentance and forgiveness under the blood of Jesus, but this second type of defilement is relatively undealt with. It is defilement by our daily contact with uncleaness. For instance, if a priest touched a dead body, or an unclean animal, or simply had a blemish on his body he was unclean. (Leviticus 21) It was not sin, but it defiled him. It made him unclean and unable to approach God. He would sin if he tried to approach God in this condition. We see that defilement is passed on by simple contact.

Unclean By Contact

""If one of you is carrying a holy sacrifice in his robes and happens to brush against some bread, or wine , or meat, will it too become holy?" The priest answered ,"No," the priest replied. "Holiness does not pass to other things that way." Then Haggai asked, "But if some one touches a dead person and so becomes ceremonially impure and then brushes against something does it become contaminated?" The priests answered, "Yes"'

Our experience tells us that defilement is passed on by contact. Have you noticed how difficult it is to enter into worship after watching television? Or how the stress and attitude of others at work can press you down all day long? The images and gossip on the evening news can pollute us. We've made the mistake of thinking we can come to church for a dose of holiness and shake off this load we fee, but Haggai 2:11 says holiness is not passed on that way. What is the remedy?

In Leviticus 21 the remedy for the priest defiled by a dead body was either a waiting period or to wash. In any event, the priest washed at the lavar of water before entering the presence of the Lord. Though this obviously deals with physical uncleaness, the imagery is clear: We need to be washed from daily contact with the unclean flesh nature. We cannot go into the presence of God unless we are cleansed of the defilement of the world.

Be Clean!

In the gospels Jesus washed Peters feet and said we are to wash one another's feet. Much has been made of this regarding humilty to one another, but one point is usually missed. Jesus told Peter that he was who had bathed was already clean, except for his feet. Feet are dirty by continual contact with the world. We know the Lord was not concerned with clean feet, but with washing from defilement. The instruction is clear, we are to wash each other clean from this defilement. How? By the "washing of water with the word" (Eph 5:26 ) It is how Christ washes and cleanses His church. Without washing, the Levite would die if he came near the holy things. Apparently we, likewise, are in danger if we draw near without discerning the defilement in us and washing with the word.

Paul attempts to wash the Corinthians with the word. Apparently they approached the communion with great worldliness and profaned (defiled) the body and blood of the Lord. (Remember how defilement passes on according to Haggai). They came with division, factions, impatience and they despised the poor among them. All these worldly was are so defiling yet they excercised no discernment in these matters and reaped the results.

This IS Serious Business!

"For anyone that eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill and some have died.But if we judged ourself truly we should not be judged. But when we are judged we are chastened, so that we may not be condemned along with the world." (1 Cor.10:30-32)

It appears God is quite serious about us approaching Holy things with defilement. I believe we are seeing God dealing with us in these matters with greater seriousness and urgency. We are experiencing judgement, but it is for our own good.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.


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