Causes of Uncleanness

Ezekiel 44:23 says, “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” NKJV

Leviticus describes in detail the causes of uncleanness and how to be cleansed.  Being ritually cleansed was necessary in order to approach God and to prevent the Tabernacle from becoming defiled.  Conditions resulting in ritual uncleanness include:

  • Touching a human corpse.
  • Anyone who has tzara’at (translated as leprosy but this is not Hansen’s disease).
  • Seminal emission or other male discharges.
  • Women who are menstruating or have other persistent bleeding.
  • Women who have recently experienced childbirth.
  • Eating ritually unclean meat. This makes you abominable.
  • Eating ritually clean meat from animals that died naturally or that had been killed by wild animals.

As you can see, becoming unclean can be a normal process in life. This is not necessarily a sin.  Ritual uncleanness that results from disobeying the dietary laws is sin.  Certain forms of uncleanness can be transmitted.  It was especially important to avoid contaminating the Tabernacle by transmitting uncleanness to it. Fortunately God had a plan to deal with that possibility.  The Day of Atonement was necessary once a year to remove any contamination that inadvertently made its way into the Tabernacle.

God has commanded us to be holy because He is holy.  He does not want us to be common.  He does not want us to blend in with the world around us but to live separately from the world.

God justifies us (declares us holy) when we receive Jesus as our Savior.  Sanctification is the process of being holy.  It is the result of obeying God’s commandments.

The chiastic structure of Leviticus 11:41-47 emphasizes that certain things you eat can make you unclean and that we are to choose to be holy by obeying the dietary laws.  This is one way of being physically holy.  First Corinthians 7:34 indicates we should be concerned with how to be both physically and spiritually holy.  We often attempt to be spiritually holy without worrying about being physically holy.  God desires both in our lives.

For now, do not think the dietary laws have been abolished.  Mark 7:19b (NIV) leads us to believe that all food is clean but this phrase is not in the Greek version of the New Testament but was added by Bible translators.  For now, please bear in mind Deuteronomy 13:1-4, Matthew 5:17-20 and Roman 3:31 until we can take up that discussion in another post.

Do you think the causes of uncleanness listed above can still make us unclean?  Why or why not?

If they do, how does Christ’s sacrifice address that uncleanness?

Since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we be concerned about doing anything that might defile or transmit uncleanness to our bodies?


  1. This post is very interesting. It’s true that the law still takes place but spiritually. Then what are those causes of uncleanliness for the church by the scriptures?

    In my opinion, the only way to keep ourselves holy and follow the law of God according to Jesus, is by walking in the Spirit, not pleasing the flesh, but pleasing God.

    In the sermon of the mountain Jesus declare all the law for the church. In Mathews 5 to 7.
    Also in Matthew 22:36-40 (New International Version)

    36″Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
    40’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”


    1. I believe the Torah contains the marriage covenant which is now written in the hearts of believers. It is physical laws for both the physical and spiritual realms. That’s how God teaches and relates to His people. I believe it is spiritual milk that we’ve ignored for too long. We’ve been eating only from the New Testament and we’ve managed to develop an allergy to the Old Testament.

      The basic teachings of the Beatittudes are found throughout the Old Testament. Jesus’ discussion on salt, light, and eternal covenant of Torah describe the meaning of the grain offerings. Jesus’ discussions on murder, adultery, marriage, oaths, enemies, etc. is His commentary on a large portion of Leviticus. Jesus is teaching from His own authority and not on the authority of other rabbis from the past. Combining the two testaments can give us a depth of understanding and appreciation we’ve never had before and give us a depth of intimacy with our Savior we’ve never known before.

      You’ve answered correctly in saying we must deny the desires of the flesh and show our love to God by obeying His commandments…just consider learning more about all of them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.