Sun, Sep 14, 2008

"LORD, CLEAN MY HOUSE!" LEVITICUS 14:33-53

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
LORD, CLEAN MY HOUSE!”
LEVITICUS 14:33-53

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Leviticus chapter 14 as we look at the law concerning leprous houses. I know, you are wondering how this relates to you, your house may need cleaning but it is not that bad! But as you will see, it does relate to you, your family and your church!  To set the stage for what we will be looking at this morning, let me share this article with you by Carl Kerby, who is a speaker and author from Answers in Genesis. In his article, The Trouble With TV, he wrote:

What do the TV shows The SimpsonsFamily Guy, and The Sopranos all have in common?

A. They portray dysfunctional people and families.

B. They mock Christians and creationists.

C. They’re among the most-watched TV shows at Christian colleges.

D. All of the above.

E. A & B

The correct response is E. Surprised? It’s a trick question. Let me explain. After the many conversations I’ve had with Christian college students, I would have answered “D” … that Christian students were watching these three (generally bad) TV programs at their Christian colleges.

Frankly, it’s scary to know what these students are watching in Christian schools (and also the movies they attend). My son showed me something he had found at a website where students can fill out a survey on their TV/movie-viewing habits. I compared my son’s Christian school with Harvard, MIT, Oxford—and even one of the so-called party schools in America, Arizona State. And you couldn’t tell his Christian school from the secular ones! When I looked at other Christian schools, the results were the same. The Simpsons andFamily Guy were in the top five shows being watched in almost all schools, Christian or not.

The gangster series The Sopranos didn’t make the list (and that’s why the answer “E” above). But, here’s why. Christian college students would tell me: “But that’s on HBO, and we don’t want to pay for it on campus. So we watch it when we go home!” So their parents aren’t discerning about what their children watch. In other words, the situation is even worse than the quiz suggests.

- Carl Kerby, The Trouble With TV, January 2007 Answers Update

Why do we see this happening? Why are Christians not living out what they say that they believe?  Why is there no difference in what Christians and non-Christians watch on television, watch at the movies, the things they say and do? I think George Barna hit the nail on the head when he wrote:

“The vast majority of Christians do not behave differently because they do not think differently, and they do not think differently because we have never trained them, equipped them, or held them accountable to do so.”

            My prayer as we go through this study is to help you to think with a Biblical worldview instead of a secular worldview.  In Psalm 101:2-4 we are told, I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.  That truly is the focus of our study here this morning. That we would cleanse our house – OUR LIVESOUR FAMILIES, and OUR CHURCH and as we do we will impact those around us for Jesus Christ. If we don’t, we will not shine for Him but blend into the culture we are living in!  With that said, let’s begin reading in Leviticus chapter 14, starting in verse 33 and see what the Lord has for us as we look at the subject: “LORD, CLEANSE MY HOUSE!”

LEVITICUS 14:33-53

Many look at this and laugh at all these rules regarding a house that might be diseased and these same people will go home and use their antimicrobial soap, put their Neosporin ointment on their cuts, try to avoid people who are sick, why?  Because they don’t want to get an infection!  Thus, what God told the children of Israel to do was for their own protection, to protect them from getting sick, to help stop the spread of various diseases.

This morning, as I have said, I want to focus on three areas that we need to deal with because if we don’t, the infection of sin will spread. First of all we are going to look at OUR LIVES. Then we will look at OUR FAMILIES. And lastly, we will be looking at OUR CHURCH. These are all important areas that I believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to us as He shows us the law concerning leprous houses. So let’s look at these three areas and see what we can glean from them this morning.

1. OUR LIVES

            Leprosy begins under the skin, usually starting in the extremities and it then works its way to the core of the body. It starts out small, maybe not even noticeable to some people but it will spread and affect the entire body.  This disease also destroys the nerve endings so you can’t feel anything and thus, as the flesh is rotting away, at night, rats could come into your tent and eat your fingers, toes, ears and you would not even be aware of it, you couldn’t feel it. Finally, leprosy will consume your life until it finally destroys it!

            In the Scriptures leprosy is a type of sin and the way sin affects our lives seems to pattern what leprosy does in people’s lives.  You see, sin may start out small in our lives, and maybe family and friends are not even aware of it.  Maybe it is having a few drinks to unwind, or finding that porn sight on the Internet, or flirting with that co-worker, or just taking something that is not yours, or gossiping about another person, and as you can see, the list can go on-and-on!

            Now here’s the thing.  If you allow a little sin in your life it will spread until it consumes you!  Some of you may be thinking, “No, not me! I can handle it!” You are dead wrong. Remember the story of Cain and Abel. They both brought their sacrifices to the Lord and Abel’s was accepted and Cain’s was rejected. And that ate at Cain.  Jealousy, anger kept growing inside of him, something I believe that may have started out small, now it has grown to consume his life. So much so that we read in Genesis 4:6, So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?’ God was aware and God wanted Cain to be aware also so he could do something before it was too late!

            Thus, in Genesis 4:7 the Lord tells Cain, If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.  In other words, sin wants to control Cain’s life, it is at the door of his heart and if he lets it in it will consume him! But Cain did not listen to the Lord and opened that door of sin to come into his heart and it caused him to kill his brother Abel! We need to heed the warning that God gave to Cain because He is also speaking to us, don’t let sin master or control your life, let God!

            In John 8:34-36 we are told, Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.What God said back in Genesis chapter 4 to Cain He is saying to us, don’t open the door to sin or you will become a slave to it!

Look at alcoholics, the drug abuser, the gambler, the person addicted to pornography, the liar, the thief and-so-on. I’m sure they never thought they would become slaves to what at first satisfied their flesh, but now they are!

            What is the solution to this problem of sin that has ensnared people, made them slaves to it?  It is as Jesus said, Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.John 8:36. In other words, Jesus can break that bondage that sin has you in and instead of being a slave to sin, you can be free in Christ. I know, many today see us Christians in bondage to our faith, but I am not in bondage, you are not in bondage. We are able to do whatever we want but we choose not to do some things and we choose to do other things. We obey what God says because we know that He knows better and He wants what is best for our lives!

Paul, in Romans chapter 6 tells us beginning in verse 4, Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:4-14.

Don’t feed the flesh but crucify it!  We need to hate sin, be dead to sin and that will allow us to be free in Christ.  But, if we allow sin to reign in our lives and not the Lord, if we open the door to it and not the Lord, we will be slaves to that which would thought would make us free!

Back in Leviticus 14:40-42 we see what was done when a plague was found in a home, then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which is the plague, and they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall cause the house to be scraped inside, all around, and the dust that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other mortar and plaster the house.

Folks, we too must remove sin in our lives and replace it with the things of God! It is as Paul said in Colossians 3:1-4, If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Don’t let sin cause you to become a slave to it – be set free in Christ!

2.  OUR FAMILIES

            Folks, if you haven’t noticed, Satan is trying to destroy families and he is doing a good job, even in Christian homes as he places sin at the door and many allow it to come into their homes! And it may start out small like leprosy does, but each compromise will cause it to spread until the family is in chaos!

            God laid out the order for the family. In I Corinthians 11:3 Paul tells us, But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. So the man is the spiritual leader of the family, not because he is better or smarter or more spiritual, but that is the order that God has established for the family.  Tragically, Christian men today seem to negate this role that God has established and thus, the enemy has a foothold to allow ungodly things to come into the home.

            Now I am speaking to all of us here this morning and especially to the husbands who are to be the spiritual leaders of the family. Are you allowing things into your home that can destroy your family?  What kind of movies do you allow in? What kind of television shows do you watch? What kind of games do you play? What type of web sites do you allow in? And again, the list can go on-and-on, but if you are allowing ungodly things into your home, it will affect and consume and finally destroy the family!

            Let me give you an example with television.  Many of your remember The Dick Van Dyke show with Rob and Laura Petrie. They were married but they had separate beds, the never slept together on the show.  But, over time Hollywood has pushed the line of decency farther and farther away and today, everyone is sleeping in the same bed, men and women, multiple partners and men and men and women and women!  Sadly, many today have no idea how far we have fallen. You see, as the door of sin opened, it flooded in and like leprosy, it is consuming our families to the point where they don’t know what is right and what is wrong any more.

            In the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem to see how the work was going in rebuilding the city as they returned home from their Babylonian captivity, and things were not going well. So he returns to help them out in this work, to rebuild the city walls to protect the people from the enemy. And folks, there was much opposition to what they were doing, discouragement, the work was overwhelming and Nehemiah tells them, And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’ And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their counsel to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.  Nehemiah 4:14-15.

            Are you going to fight for your family, because if you don’t, the enemy will get in. Yes, the world tries to discourage us, tell us we are wrong standing up for the things of God, they tell us we can’t do it and they try to force us to follow their ways!  What are we to do?REMEMBER THE LORD Nehemiah said and that is what we need to do, He is still on the throne! You need to build that wall of protection around them just as the walls of the city were built to keep out the enemy!

            You see, if you allow there to be a break in the wall, a compromise, you have now opened the door for the enemy to come right in. Folks, like with leprosy, if some plague is in your house, you need to remove it and put in the things of God to replace it.  If you don’t remove it, remove that evil, it will eat away at your family and in the end, it can destroy your family.

            Let me give you an example with another television show, South Park. Now I have to admit I have only seen commercials of this show, but that is more than enough for me.  It shows me that in this show kids are disrespectful to parents, to teachers, to anyone and everyone they want. If you allow this in your home, allow your children to watch it, what do you think it will do to your family? It will infect them with this deadly poison!

            Think about it. Your children see that garbage and then they start talking and acting like these characters on South Park!  Yes, you will tell them not to act like that but they are getting mixed singles. It is okay to watch this show but don’t be influenced by it!  Folks, I don’t care what you might think, television will affect your life or commercials would not go for millions of dollars to be played on the air. They put these commercials on to influence you to buy their products and thus, television shows will affect the way you think and act, especially your children but also you!

            Here is the order that God has established for the family and it is orderly, filled with love and obedience is born out of that love for God and for the family.  In Colossians 3:18-21 Paul tells us, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

            You may agree with this or disagree but that is not the issue. God knows what He is talking about and if you truly love the Lord and desire all that God wants for your family, you will obey His words. And as you do it is like putting up a wall of protection for your family, protecting them from the evil that is out there.

            Let me share with you this article by Bill Barnwell called, “Christian and Cultural Mediocrity.” He wrote:

Many Christians do their best to simply cut off the popular culture from their lives. They refuse to watch movies or listen to secular radio. They are unable to sift through various forms of entertainment and discern what is and isn’t edifying within it, opting instead to just toss it all out. Unless a particular movie is explicitly Christian or a G-rated film, plenty of Christians want nothing to do with it. It’s hard to deny that there are plenty of films and songs that have nothing edifying within them whatsoever and are basically culturally harmful (even most honest non-Christians would have to agree with this!), but if some Christians had their way their kids would be watching Barney until they were 21.

Plenty of well-meaning Christian parents who want to shield their kids from the bad influences of the world have produced kids who are even more dependant and less socially adjusted than their secular counterparts. Their parents baby them to ridiculous degrees and as a result they have inadequate social skills or life experience. No wonder so many of these same kids grow up and either become rebellious or buckle under pressure and temptation when faced with things they were shielded from their entire lives. They have no idea how to respond to it.

- Bill Barnwell, Christians and Cultural Mediocrity

            Now I understand what he is saying, but I don’t completely agree. We are to guard our children from things that will hurt them just as God does with us. You don’t have to allow your children to take drugs to show them it is wrong, to have them experiment with it. And the Lord has placed us as overseers of the family, of our children and to allow them to watch things that are harmful, do things that are harmful, take things that are harmful is wrong, it is a huge mistake. Let me share this with you. A few weeks back I was talking to a friend and she told me she liked this one song by a certain singer so she bought the CD.  To her shock it was filled with vulgar language, it was horrible and she could not listen to it, even though this one song was really good and clean. She then went on to say that she gave the CD to her nephew since he likes that kind of music.  I started to laugh and told her, “You gave that to your nephew?” She knew where I was coming from and the foolishness of that. You see, if it is so vulgar for you, why would you want to give it to anyone, use it as a Frisbee or burn it, don’t give it away!

            Thus, we are to protect our families, fight for them, warn them of the dangers that are out there, building a wall of protection around them or as Paul wrote in Colossians 3:12-17,bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Fill your house, your families with the things of God; it will be a wall of protection against the evil that is out there!

3.  THE CHURCH

            We are also to cleanse the church from the evil that might infect it.  You see, the church is not an organization as some may think, but it is an organism, a living organism made up of believers.  Peter tells us in I Peter 2:4-5, Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

            Today we see false doctrine infecting the church and it has lead many astray, even into sin! In an article in Our Daily Bread, we are told:

In its natural state, asbestos is a soft rock consisting of compressed fibers. Because of its fire-resistant qualities, it has had thousands of uses in home and industry over the years. Almost 30 million tons of the material have been used in the United states for insulation since 1900.

I remember being impressed as a child with that amazing kind of cloth that doesn’t burn. But even though it has served a beneficial purpose, recent findings show it to be a severe health hazard. According to a Harvard Medical School report, more than 500,000 Americans will die from exposure to the air-borne particles of asbestos. It stated that just because there doesn’t appear to be an immediate problem, the public must not be fooled. Asbestos disease becomes a medical problem when it’s too late to cure it. The symptoms may not show up for 30 years or more.

- Our Daily Bread

            That is how false doctrine works. It seems good, it is a good idea some think to bring people to God, but in the end it is deadly!  As a pastor, as a body of believers, we need to protect the church from false doctrine entering into the church.  It is that important!

            Jim Putman had this to say in regards to the church. He wrote:

The statistic that breaks my heart is the one Josh McDowell cites in his book, The Last Christian Generation. He says 85 percent of kids who come from Christian homes do not have a biblical worldview. Most of those 85 percent are leaving the faith between ages 18 to 24, and most may never return. Many of the churches that do list conversion numbers actually report the number of children baptized from their Christian families. Sadly, we find many of those young converts do not keep their faith past their 18th birthday.

While the church loses people, cults are growing. America is one of the most spiritualcultures in the world. The growth of other religions offers proof of this. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world and is growing rapidly in the United States. Mormonism is the fastest-growing religion in America. It is amazing to see Mormon churches being built before housing developments have even been completed. Eastern philosophy permeates our society and emanates from universities. Sadly, Christians embrace many of the doctrines of these religions without even knowing it.

            He goes on to write:

When I look at how the church operated in the first century and how it operates now, I wonder if any of the apostles would recognize it. The Word of God’s influence is diminishing in our churches. We are often trying to please our culture instead of our God. Somehow the church has become about a building you attend 1.6 times a month. The church has become a show led by paid entertainers, and the people are “fans” who come to watch. Growth occurs from having the best show in town, instead of personal contact and face-to-face discipleship.

Pastors give up pastoring people in pain, and put all their energy into video, amazing music, and sermons that “Wow!” people. Having good tools is one thing, but when the production becomes the focus, people never encounter relationships with others. It’s these relationships that could lead them to a relationship with their God.

Too many ministers don’t know their people, don’t chase their strays, and don’t counsel their hurting (Ezekiel 34). People don’t know other Christians, so they are doomed to non-Christian relationships that are often more influential than the ones they have with believers. Discipleship has become about curriculum and programs rather than the relational process modeled by Jesus.

- Jim Putman, Coaching God’s Team (Part 1) 3/18/2007

            Not only false doctrine but contentions within the church, within the body of Christ need to be dealt with or it too will infect and destroy a church! In other words, sin needs to be dealt with in the church and if it is not, it will be its downfall!  Listen to what Paul said in Galatians 5:13-15, For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! In other words, contentions, fights within the church are like spiritual cannibalism where the body of Christ is eating each other up!

            What can be done about it?  Paul goes on to say, I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.  Galatians 5:16-26.

            In other words, let love reign in your life, AGAPE love, the love of Christ and that is only going to be accomplished as you submit your life to the Holy Spirit. If you don’t, then the works of the flesh will be evident as you bite and devour each other!

            These things need to be removed from the church because a little leaven will leaven the whole lump or this sin will infect the whole church. Remove the evil influences, the evil teaching, the evil behavior and replace it with the love of Christ. That is how the church is to be protected!

            As I close this morning, listen to these rules to live by, not out of the law, but out of love for Christ and love for others. We are told:

In this house . . .

1. We obey our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. We love, honor and pray for one another.

3. We tell the truth.

4. We consider one another’s interest ahead of our own.

5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.

6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.

7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.

8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.

9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.

10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.

11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.

12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.

13. We take good care of everything God has given us.

14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.

15. When we open something, we close it.

16. When we turn something on, we turn it off.

17. When we take something out, we put it away.

18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.

19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.

20. When we go out, we act just as if we were here.

21. When we disobey or forget any of the rules of this house, we accept the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

- Gregg Harris, Bits of Sonshine, April/May 1992

            Thus, in your own life, in your family, in the church, don’t allow sin to come in but fill these areas with the love of Christ, walk in the Spirit, and see the glorious things the Lord will do in you and through you, in your family and through your family, and in your church and through your church for His glory! It is as Solomon said in Psalm 127:1, Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.  May we not forget that! And my prayer for us this morning is not only to be thinking with a Biblical worldview but also, “LORD, CLEAN MY HOUSE!”

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