Spiritual Defilement
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

In our last lesson, you will recall that we did not have the opportunity of finishing what we started, so we are going to have to have a bit of review, not only in a general way, but in a more specific way as far as our lesson is concerned, so let us keep in mind that we are studying the book of Deuteronomy, which consists of a number of messages which Moses delivered to the children of Israel over a period of forty days as they camped on this side Jordan, waiting to go into the Promised Land.

Moral Law

We are studying at the present time the second message which Moses delivered. We discovered that this second message was divided into three distinct parts. The first part of this second message was related to what we called the moral law of God , or what we know more familiarly as the Ten Commandments . As we studied this portion of the message, we discovered there was no change to speak of in what was given in Deuteronomy and what was given in the book of Exodus because the moral law of God never changes. God's principles are the same whether they are in this century or whether they are in another century.

Ceremonial Law

Then we began the study of the second part of this second address which, of course, we referred to as the ceremonial law of God , the rules and regulations related to the religious ceremony which the children of Israel were to observe. It began with chapter 12 and will go through chapter 16, verse 17.

We said that the ceremonial law was such that there are some very definite changes made, differences between what you find in Exodus and Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The reason for those changes, we pointed out to you, lay in the fact that the ceremonial law was related to religious practices. Religious practices could be carried on one way in the wilderness and yet in another way in the Promised Land when they all were settled down. We gave as an illustration of the fact that while the children of Israel were traveling about in the wilderness, they had the Tabernacle in which they could worship. They took it up and they put it down. The worship places were in many different areas, but when they moved into the land, eventually they built a permanent place of worship. God said that no longer should men worship just any place that they pleased; they should worship in the place where God had appointed His name.

Complete Obedience

We looked with you, when we began the second portion of this discourse, at the things God had to say in chapter 12 of this book related to the things that would keep the children of Israel from worshiping God. In chapter 12, God demanded complete obedience to His Word. In chapter 13, there were listed various enticements which would keep men from obeying God's Word completely.

The reason that God wanted His Word obeyed completely without any interruption at all was that the people of Israel were His own peculiar people, and in order for them to be His peculiar people, they must give Him unresisting obedience. We said that as the children of Israel were God's peculiar people in the Old Testament, so the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is God's peculiar people in the New Testament. We emphasized the fact that in the book of Titus, chapter 2, we found that God had delivered us and redeemed us by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and purchased for Himself a peculiar people.

We emphasized that that word peculiar did not mean that the individuals who belong to the Body of Christ are peculiar in the sense that they act in an odd fashion, but they are peculiar in the sense that they are God's own particular possession.

Practices to Avoid

As we looked at chapter 14 of the book of Deuteronomy, which we began to do last week, we noticed that there were certain signs of a peculiar people listed for us. We want to review those signs, saying just a word or two about them since we were not able to finish the discussion in our last lesson. The signs of a peculiar people, we said, represented what we might refer to as practices to be avoided . One of the practices to be avoided was defacing the body in any manner which would relate to the heathen. In chapter 14, verse 1, there is described this practice:

Deuteronomy 14:

1Ye are the children of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.

This represents defacing the body in a manner which would relate to the heathen. We emphasized by examining a number of passages of Scripture that we as believers should be very careful that we do not yield to the customs of the world and become so allured by the customs of the world that we forget that we are a peculiar people. We said that this first verse indicated another suggestion, and that is that we as Christians should not manifest despair without hope because the defacing of the heathen was an indication that they had no hope as far as their dead was concerned. They wanted to do something to indicate their deep grief, so they cut themselves and marred themselves because there was no hope for them. We who are believers should sorrow, we learned, but should not sorrow as men who have no hope.

Another practice which was suggested in chapter 14, which should be avoided, was dieting on that which is predominantly unclean. This is as far as we got in our last lesson, and we had time only to mention a few things about it. For example, we read with you, and we are not going to take the time to do so again, the long list of animals which were described as being both clean and unclean. We said that some of the dietary regulations from a very practical standpoint were given in the Old Testament for health reasons. Some of these animals should not be eaten because they were unclean from the standpoint of the health welfare of the nation of Israel. Others of these particular animals were not to be eaten because they were related to heathen sacrifice. For example, in verse 21, we read the very last statement: “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.”

The reason that this was a prohibited practice was that it was observed by the heathen as a rite of worship, and God was very careful to emphasize that these things should be avoided so that the Israelites might not be considered in any way at all to be related to heathen practices.

Let us recognize something that we need to have emphasized lest we get too far afield in our discussion of these dietary regulations, and that thing that we wish to recognize is in Paul's letter to the Colossians, chapter 2, verse 16. Turn there with me in your Bibles so that you might see the truth as it actually is. In Colossians, chapter 16, we have described for us the complete work of Christ. It might be wise for us to begin our reading with verse 9:

Colossians 2:

9For in him [that is, Christ Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 [Now notice carefully] Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
18Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

We will stop our reading right there and notice particularly verse 16:

Colossians 2:

16Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

These verses of Scripture should settle once and for all forever that the regulations which God gave to the Jews concerning their diet is not binding upon us today. They are not something we should be concerned about obeying from a religious standpoint. They are not binding upon us. However, we suggested to you in our last lesson that we should interpret, and we were interpreting, the book of Deuteronomy on the basis of the injunction given in I Corinthians, chapter 10—that all of these things in the Old Testament were written for our admonition and for our exhortation. We suggested to you for that reason that if the nation of Israel was to have their peculiarity marked by the things which they avoided diet-wise, then we as believers should have our Christian testimony before the world marked by that which we avoid diet-wise or practice-wise in relation to the defiling of the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

We examined together in our last lesson such passages as I Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 19, where our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we suggested that we should give very careful consideration to those things which defile this body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. For if Israel, an earthly people were given such instruction, how much more should we, a heavenly people, whose bodies are indwelt by the blessed Holy Spirit, be careful about the physical defilements of the body.

We said that we were going to talk with you about the real defilement which Christians should avoid in relation to dietary regulations. I would like for you to turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 15, and notice a discussion which the Lord Jesus Christ had with the Pharisees who were religious men, but not spiritual. They were men, legalistic in the sense that they thought that outward observances of certain rites and ceremonies would make a man spiritual; and as was proven by their own lives, the more they adhered to these ceremonial regulations, the less evidence of real spirituality could be seen in their lives.

The same thing is true today. There are people who are very ritualistic about observances in relation to religious things, and they mistake this ritualistic observance for spirituality; and instead of their being spiritual, they are only religious. The Lord Jesus Christ dealt with the problem here in Matthew, chapter 15, verse 11, where he said:

Matthew 15:

11Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

For the sake of time, we will skip down to verse 17 and read:

Matthew 15:

17Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

In our last lesson, when we were making some suggestions to you concerning certain things that might be laid aside for the sake of our Christian testimony, we were talking about the physical defilement of the body and we said that Christians could very definitely injure their health by the things that they did do and the things that they did not do and such procedures would be dishonoring to the Lord. We, a peculiar people, should be anxious to do whatever we do for the glory of God.

Be Careful of Your Spiritual Diet

We want to talk to you now about a spiritual defilement which is possible—not a physical defilement. A physical defilement may be possible by the things you eat physically, the diet of physical food, but a spiritual defilement is possible by the things upon which you feed from a mental standpoint. You will notice that in this paragraph we read, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” That immediately suggests to us that we are speaking of the heart as the physical organ, but we are thinking about the seat of the emotions—the mind, the soul, the real man, the inside. Out of it comes the things which actually defile—evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies.

I am going to suggest to you that we ought to avoid those things in our spiritual, mental diet which feed the appetites suggested by the things to which we have just referred. I would like to suggest to you that one of the problems that Christian people face today in relation to walking in the Spirit is that they are not careful of their diet in this particular manner. Let me give you a few illustrations of what I mean. On the newsstands of our land everywhere, there is every kind of literature imaginable (and beyond imagination in some instances), which if purchased and followed could certainly feed an appetite that would be contrary to the characteristic of God's people who are the people of His own possession.

The same thing might be said concerning television, movie houses. You name it; we will not take the time to. Whatever you feed upon is the thing that is going to color your thinking, and that which colors your thinking is going to affect your life. So we are saying to you that one of the signs of God's peculiar people is that God's peculiar people avoid the diet that will feed the appetite of the flesh, for remember: The appetites of the flesh are with us, and the more we feed the appetites of the flesh, the more problems we are going to have.

A person can't go hungry, can he? For example, it would do no good for God to say to the these Israelites, “Do not feed upon certain animals.” He listed not only the so-called unclean animals; He listed the clean animals as well, and that is exactly what we want to do. We want to list for you that upon which you should feed as a believer instead of all of the unclean things which are made available for you everywhere you go.

Feed Upon Things of Good Report

Open your Bible, please, to Paul's letter to the Philippians, chapter 4. We read the paragraph which begins with verse 8:

Philippians 4:

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Notice the emphasis in the paragraph: “…think on these things.” If you want to judge what your diet ought to be in relation to any of the media which feed the mind, then take this passage of Scripture and put to the test the things upon which your mind feeds, whether it is music you hear on the radio, pictures you see on television or movies or what have you. Use this for a test. If the Israelites, God's peculiar people, were given certain dietary regulations in a literal fashion, then I suggest to you there is a lesson for us. We are given certain dietary regulations in a spiritual fashion, and we should feed upon the things which are pure. We should feed upon the things which are lovely. We should feed upon the things which are of good report. If we do not feed upon these things which are true, which are honest, which are just, then we can expect to be defiled; for certainly the feeding of the things opposite from this will cause the things which we read in Matthew, chapter 15, to grow and produce and come forth. What the Lord Jesus Christ said would be true then—that it is what comes forth from a man that defiles a man and not the physical food that goes into a man.

There is something I would like for you to notice if you go back with me to Deuteronomy, chapter 24, verse 21, and that is that even though we as a peculiar people are expected by God to observe these dietary regulations figuratively, spiritually speaking, we do not force this upon individuals who are not believers. For example, the Israelites were given very strict instructions as to what they should do in relation to these physical dietary regulations, but they were told in Deuteronomy, chapter 14, that though they applied to them, they did not apply to the people who were not Israelites. For example, look at verse 21:

Deuteronomy 14:

21Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

This sounds rather strange, doesn't it? God said, “You can't do this yourselves, but you can let other people do it.” It sounds as though God is not interested in the other people. But you read the verse in relation to its whole context and you will see that God is laying down a principle which, if the Christians of our day would be very careful to observe, a great deal of trouble could be avoided. I, as a Christian, may refrain from doing certain things because I am a child of God; but I have no right to insist that people who do not belong to the Lord Jesus Christ refrain from doing those same things. I have no right even to try to stop them. That is the reason (Some of you are going to misunderstand what I am going to say right now, but I must say it because I believe it.) that I am never too interested in legal reforms to control the moral habit of unsaved men.

For example: The question of the wets and the drys. I always voted dry because I wanted to choose the atmosphere in which I live. I wanted to choose the atmosphere in which I brought up my family. That is the reason that I voted dry when wet and dry elections, local option-wise, came to the floor. But actually I, as a Christian, have no right to insist that a non-Christian not imbibe of intoxicating beverages. I think the use of tobacco is inconsistent with a Christian testimony. I think that the use of intoxicating beverages is inconsistent with a Christian testimony, and I can back it up with the Scripture. We don't have time now. Our time is gone, but I do not insist that unsaved people adhere to those rules because I have no right to and I don't insist Christians adhere to them. I do have a responsibility as a teacher of the Word of God to point out where God places the emphasis, and then it is the responsibility of the person involved to obey or not obey as the question might be.

Conclusion

We have some things that we want to consider together yet along this line in chapter 15, which we will be doing in our next lesson, and I hope that you will read chapter 15 so that you will have that information before you because we are going to discuss practices to which God's peculiar people should adhere. We have been thinking about practices which should be avoided; we will be thinking about practices which should be followed.


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