“With the pure you show yourself pure.”—PSALM 18:26.
1-3. (a) Why does a mother make sure that her young son is clean? (b) Why does Jehovah want his people to be clean?
IMAGINE a loving mother getting her little boy ready for school. She makes sure that he has bathed and that his clothes are neat and clean. This keeps him healthy and shows others that his parents are looking after him.
3 What does it mean to be clean? And why is being clean good for us? As we examine these questions, we may see some changes we personally need to make.
WHY DO WE NEED TO BE CLEAN?
4, 5. (a) Why do we need to be clean? (b) What does creation teach us about how Jehovah views cleanness?
5 Creation teaches us much about how Jehovah views cleanness. Jehovah created natural cycles that keep our air and water clean. (Jeremiah 10:12) Think of the many ways that the earth cleans itself, even after humans have polluted it. For example, Jehovah designed tiny living things called microbes, which can only be seen with a microscope. Microbes can change poisonous waste into harmless material. This is a powerful process. Scientists even use some of these microbes to reverse the effects of pollution.—Romans 1:20.
6, 7. How did the Law of Moses show that those who worship Jehovah must be clean?
6 We also see how important being clean is from the Law that Jehovah gave the Israelites through Moses. For example, the people had to be physically clean for Jehovah to accept their worship. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to bathe twice. (Leviticus 16:4, 23, 24) And before the other priests could offer sacrifices, they had to wash their hands and feet. (Exodus 30:17-21; 2 Chronicles 4:6) In some situations, the penalty for disobeying laws on cleanness was death.—Leviticus 15:31; Numbers 19:17-20.
7 What about today? We can learn much about Jehovah’s standards from the Law. (Malachi 3:6) It clearly showed that Jehovah’s worshippers needed to be clean. Jehovah’s standards have not changed. Today, he still expects his worshippers to be clean and pure.—James 1:27.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CLEAN?
8. In what ways must we be clean?
8 From Jehovah’s point of view, being clean means more than just keeping our body, clothes, and home clean. Cleanness involves our whole life. It includes our worship, conduct, and thoughts. Yes, for Jehovah to view us as clean, we must be clean and pure in every aspect of our lives.
9, 10. What does it mean to be clean in our worship?
9 Pure worship. We cannot be involved with false religion in any way. When the Israelites were prisoners in Babylon, they were surrounded by people who were involved in immoral pagan religion. Isaiah prophesied that the Israelites would return home to Israel and reestablish pure worship. Jehovah told them: “Get out of there, touch nothing unclean! Get out from the midst of her, keep yourselves clean.” Their worship of God could not be mixed with the teachings, habits, or customs of the false religion of Babylon.—Isaiah 52:11.
10 True Christians today also avoid false religion. (Read 1 Corinthians 10:21.) All over the world, many popular traditions, customs, and beliefs are based on false religious teachings. For example, in many cultures, people believe that there is something inside of us that keeps living after we die, and there are many customs based on this belief. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10) Christians need to avoid such customs. Our family members may pressure us to share in some of these. But because we want Jehovah to view us as clean, we do not give in to such pressure.—Acts 5:29.
11. What does it mean to be clean in our conduct?
11 Pure conduct. To be viewed as pure by Jehovah, we must avoid sexual immorality of any kind. (Read Ephesians 5:5.) In the Bible, Jehovah tells us to “flee from sexual immorality.” He makes it clear that those who are immoral and do not repent “will not inherit God’s Kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, 18; see Endnote 22.
12, 13. Why do we need to be clean in our thoughts?
12 Pure thoughts. Thoughts often lead to actions. (Matthew 5:28; 15:18, 19) Pure thoughts will move us to act in a pure way. Of course, we are imperfect, so we will have wrong thoughts from time to time. When we do, we should reject them right away. If we do not, in time we may find that our heart is no longer pure. We may begin wanting to do the things we keep thinking about. Instead, we must fill our mind with pure thoughts. (Read Philippians 4:8.) So we avoid such things as immoral or violent entertainment. We carefully choose what we read, watch, and talk about.—Psalm 19:8, 9.
13 To remain in God’s love, we must be pure in our worship, conduct, and thoughts. But it is also important to Jehovah that we be physically clean.
HOW CAN WE BE PHYSICALLY CLEAN?
14. Why is it important to be physically clean?
14 When we keep our body and surroundings clean, we will benefit both ourselves and the people around us. We will feel good, and others will like to be with us. But there is a more important reason to be physically clean. Our being clean brings honor to Jehovah. Think about this: If you see a child who is always dirty, you may think badly of his parents. In a similar way, if we do not take good care of ourselves and keep ourselves clean, people may think badly of Jehovah. Paul said: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, so that no fault may be found with our ministry; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers.”—2 Corinthians 6:3, 4.
15, 16. What can we do to keep ourselves clean?
15 Our body and clothing. Keeping ourselves clean needs to be part of our daily routine. For example, we bathe regularly, every day if possible. We wash our hands with soap and water, especially before cooking or eating and definitely after using the toilet or touching something dirty. Washing our hands seems like a simple thing, but it is necessary in order to stop bacteria and disease from spreading. It can even save lives. If we do not have a toilet or a sewage system, we can still find effective ways to dispose of waste. The ancient Israelites did not have a sewage system, so they buried their waste in the ground, far from people’s homes and water sources.—Deuteronomy 23:12, 13.
16 Our clothes do not need to be fancy, expensive, or the latest fashion. But they should be neat and clean. (Read 1 Timothy 2:9, 10.) We always want our appearance to bring honor to Jehovah.—Titus 2:10.
17. Why do we want to keep our home and surroundings clean?
17 Our home and surroundings. No matter where we live, we keep our homes clean. We also make sure that our car, scooter, bike, or whatever vehicle we have is clean, especially if we use it when we go to meetings or when we preach. After all, in the preaching work, we speak to others about life on a clean paradise earth. (Luke 23:43; Revelation 11:18) The appearance of our home and surroundings can show that we are preparing now for life in that clean new world.
18. Why do we want our place of worship to be clean?
18 Our place of worship. We show that cleanness is important to us by keeping our meeting place clean, whether the Kingdom Hall or the place where we have assemblies. When people come to a Kingdom Hall for the first time, they often notice how clean it is. This brings honor to Jehovah. As members of the congregation, we all have the opportunity to help clean our Kingdom Hall and keep it in good repair.—2 Chronicles 34:10.
GETTING RID OF UNCLEAN HABITS
19. What do we need to avoid?
19 Even though the Bible does not name every bad habit we should avoid, it does provide principles that help us to understand how Jehovah feels about such things. He does not want us to smoke or to abuse alcohol or drugs. If we are God’s friends, we will avoid doing these things. Why? Because we deeply respect the gift of life. Such habits can shorten our life, damage our health, and harm the people around us. Many people try to stop these bad habits for the sake of their health. However, as Jehovah’s friends, we have the best reason to stop—our love for God. One young woman said: “With Jehovah’s help, I cleaned up my life and broke free from my addictions. . . . I think it would have been impossible for me to make these changes on my own.” Let’s discuss five Bible principles that will help someone to stop harmful habits.
20, 21. What kind of habits does Jehovah want us to be free of?
20 “Since we have these promises, beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) Jehovah wants us to be free of unclean habits that could damage our mind or body.
21 A powerful reason to “cleanse ourselves of every defilement” is stated at 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18. Jehovah tells us: “Quit touching the unclean thing.” Then he promises: “I will take you in. And I will become a father to you, and you will become sons and daughters to me.” Yes, Jehovah will love us as a father does his children if we avoid anything that would make us unclean or impure to him.
22-25. What Scriptural principles can help us to avoid unclean habits?
22 “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matthew 22:37) This is the most important commandment of all. (Matthew 22:38) Jehovah deserves our complete love. How can we love him completely if we choose to do something that could shorten our life or damage our brain? Rather, we do everything we can to show respect for the life he has given us.
23 “[Jehovah] gives to all people life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:24, 25) If a friend gave you a special gift, would you throw it away or destroy it? Life is an amazing gift from Jehovah. We deeply appreciate this gift. So we want to use our life in a way that will glorify him.—Psalm 36:9.
24 “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Unclean habits do not hurt only us. They can also hurt those around us, who are often the people we love most. For example, a person who lives in the same house with a smoker can develop serious health problems simply from breathing the smoke. But when we stop bad habits, we show those around us that we love them.—1 John 4:20, 21.
25 “Continue reminding them to be in subjection and to be obedient to governments and authorities.” (Titus 3:1) In many lands it is against the law to possess or use certain drugs. Since Jehovah commands us to show respect for governments, we obey such laws.—Romans 13:1.
26. (a) What do we need to do for Jehovah to accept our worship? (b) Why is keeping clean in God’s eyes the best way to live?
26 If we want to be Jehovah’s friend, we may see that we need to make some changes. If so, we should start right away. It is not always easy to stop an unclean habit, but we can do it! Jehovah promises to help us. He says: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One guiding you in the way you should walk.” (Isaiah 48:17) When we do our best to keep clean and pure, we can be sure that we are bringing honor to our God.