17 However, a Christian who desires to ‘perfect holiness in God’s fear’ should not feel free to marry whomever he or she pleases. Just before counseling his fellow Christians to ‘cleanse themselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear,’ the apostle Paul wrote: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? . . . Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 15; 7:1) As a member of Jehovah’s separate and clean people, a Christian man or woman who wishes to marry will accept the apostolic restriction to do so “only in the Lord,” that is, by choosing someone who is a dedicated, baptized, and faithful servant of Jehovah. (1 Corinthians 7:39)
“Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) In what ways God’s people should be careful to be clean in mind and body will be considered in the next article.
1. According to the apostle Paul, why is cleanness in mind and body necessary?
A PERSON who desires to serve the holy God Jehovah must be spiritually and morally pure. Logically, this also implies being clean in mind and body. The present system of things being what it is, people who come out of it in order to serve Jehovah have to make changes not only in their thinking habits but often in their personal habits too. The apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Rome: “Consequently I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1, 2) What does cleanness of mind and body involve?
2. How could our eyes and heart cause us to engage in loose conduct, and what is necessary to avoid this?
2 Even before the Law was given, faithful Job showed that our eyes and heart can cause us to commit loose conduct if we do not control them. He stated: “A covenant I have concluded with my eyes. So how could I show myself attentive to a virgin? If my heart has been enticed toward a woman, . . . that would be loose conduct, and that would be an error for attention by the justices.” (Job 31:1, 9-11) If we have roving eyes and a fickle heart, we need mental discipline, “the discipline that gives insight.”—Proverbs 1:3.
3, 4. (a) What does the example of David and Bath-sheba show, and what is necessary in order to change bad thinking habits? (b) Why should Christian elders be particularly careful?
3 King David’s eyes led him into committing adultery with Bath-sheba. (2 Samuel 11:2, 4) This example shows that even men who are used prominently by Jehovah can fall into sin if they do not discipline their minds. It may take strenuous effort to change our thinking habits. Such an effort should be accompanied by fervent prayer for Jehovah’s help. After having repented of his sin with Bath-sheba, David prayed: “Create in me even a pure heart, O God, and put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one.”—Psalm 51:10.
4 Christian elders should be particularly careful not to harbor wrong desires that could lead them into serious sin. (James 1:14, 15) To the Christian elder Timothy, Paul wrote: “The objective of this mandate is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.” (1 Timothy 1:5) It would certainly be hypocritical for an elder to carry out his spiritual duties while allowing a roving eye to incite in his heart thoughts of committing uncleanness.
5. What should be avoided in order to maintain cleanness of mind?
5 All of us as Christians should do our utmost to be clean in mind. This means avoiding any movies, TV programs, or reading matter that could have a corrupting influence on our thinking. Mental hygiene involves conscious effort to dwell on things that are “true, . . . righteous, . . . chaste.” The apostle Paul adds: “Whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”—Philippians 4:8.
6. (a) Give examples from the book of Leviticus showing that personal as well as collective hygiene was required in Israel. (b) What was the purpose of such laws?
6 It has been said that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” True, a person who is morally and physically clean may not be godly. But a godly person must, of necessity, be morally and physically clean. The Mosaic Law gave precise instructions on the cleansing of infected houses and on personal bathing in various cases of uncleanness. (See Leviticus, chapters 14 and 15.) All Israelites were required to prove themselves holy. (Leviticus 19:2) The publication Insight on the Scriptures states: “The dietary, sanitary, and moral laws that God gave [the Israelites] were constant reminders to them of their separateness and holiness to God.”—Volume 1, page 1128.
7. What is true of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a people, but what have some traveling overseers reported?
7 While Jehovah’s Witnesses as a people are clean of any defilement by Babylonish false religion and do not condone moral uncleanness in their midst, reports from traveling overseers indicate that some individuals neglect personal hygiene and tidiness. How can we be sure that we are clean in this respect too? A good model for all Christian homes is Bethel, which name means “House of God.”
8, 9. (a) What counsel is given to all new members of the Bethel family? (b) What principles followed in Bethel Homes should govern every Christian household?
8 When a person becomes a member of a Bethel family at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters or any of its branches throughout the world, he is given a brochure prepared by the Governing Body. This publication explains what is expected of him in the way of work habits and personal habits. Under the heading “Room Care and Cleanliness,” it states: “Bethel life calls for maintaining high physical, moral and spiritual standards. Everyone at Bethel should be concerned with keeping himself and his room clean. This contributes to good health. There is no reason for anyone to be dirty. It is a good practice to bathe daily. . . . Washing before mealtime is essential and is expected of all. In consideration of your roommate and housekeeper, the washbasin or tub should be rinsed out after each use.”
9 In Bethel Homes, the toilets are kept scrupulously clean, and provision is made to enable those using them to wash their hands immediately. Members of the family are expected to leave the toilet clean after use, which means checking to see that the toilet is properly flushed. This shows consideration for the next user or for the housekeeper. Should not such fine, loving principles govern each and every Christian household?
10. (a) Why is an elaborate bathroom not necessary in order to keep oneself and one’s children clean? (b) What laws in Israel were conducive to good health, and what lesson can Jehovah’s people today learn from this?
10 Naturally, conditions vary from country to country. In some places, homes do not have a bathtub or even a shower. Generally speaking, though, Christian men and women can find enough soap and water to keep their own bodies clean and see that their children are clean.* Many homes throughout the world are not connected to a sewage system. But sewage can be safely disposed of by burying, as was required among the Israelites even in military camps. (Deuteronomy 23:12, 13) Besides this, Jehovah’s laws governing camp life called for frequent washing of clothes and bathing, the rapid diagnosis and treatment of disease, the proper handling of dead bodies, and the maintaining of clean water and food supplies. All these laws contributed to the health of the nation. Should Jehovah’s people today be any less hygienic in their personal habits?—Romans 15:4.
Tidy Homes and Cars
11. (a) What should be true of even the most humble Christian home? (b) What cooperation is required of all members of the Bethel family?
11 Our homes, be they ever so humble, can be orderly and clean, but this requires good organization at the family level. A Christian mother will want to spend as much time as possible on spiritual matters, including the preaching work, so she should not have to spend time every day tidying up after family members who leave clothing, books, papers, magazines, and so forth, lying around. In Bethel, although there are housekeepers who do the cleaning, each member of the family is expected to make his bed and leave his room tidy in the morning. All of us appreciate our neat and clean Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls. May our homes also testify that we are a part of Jehovah’s clean and holy people!
12, 13. (a) What counsel is given concerning automobiles used in Jehovah’s service, and why need this not be very time-consuming? (b) What spiritual reason is there for keeping physically clean and for having tidy homes and cars?
12 Many of Jehovah’s servants today use automobiles for transportation to meetings and field service. In some countries a car has become virtually indispensable as an instrument for serving Jehovah. As such, it should be kept neat and clean, even as our home is. To be sure, Christians cannot spend excessive time pampering their cars the way some worldly people do. But without going to that extreme, Jehovah’s servants should endeavor to keep their automobiles reasonably clean and in good order. In some countries a car wash at a gas station is neither costly nor time-consuming. As to the inside of a car, ten minutes of cleaning and tidying up can work wonders. Elders and ministerial servants, in particular, should endeavor to be examples in this respect, since they often use their cars to transport groups of publishers in the field service. When a publisher picks up an interested person to take him to a meeting, it is certainly not a good witness if the car is dirty and untidy.
13 Thus, by our efforts to be physically clean and to have clean and tidy homes and automobiles, we honor Jehovah as members of his clean organization.
Cleanness When Offering Spiritual Sacrifices
14. What laws governed ceremonial cleanness in Israel, and what do these laws indicate?
14 Ceremonial cleanness in connection with worship was required in Israel, under the penalty of death. Jehovah told Moses and Aaron: “You must keep the sons of Israel separate from their uncleanness, that they may not die in their uncleanness for their defiling of my tabernacle, which is in their midst.” (Leviticus 15:31) On Atonement Day, the high priest had to bathe his flesh in water twice. (Leviticus 16:4, 23, 24) The copper basin at the tabernacle, and later the huge copper sea at the temple, provided water for the priests to wash in before offering sacrifices to Jehovah. (Exodus 30:17-21; 2 Chronicles 4:6) What about the Israelites in general? If they became ceremonially impure for any reason, they were barred from taking part in worship until they had fulfilled the requirements for purification. (Numbers 19:11-22) All of this emphasized that physical cleanness is required of those who worship the holy God Jehovah.
15. Why are animal sacrifices no longer necessary, but what questions are raised?
15 True, Jehovah’s people today are not required to offer up animal sacrifices at an earthly temple. The sacrifices under the Law have been replaced by “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” (Hebrews 10:8-10) We “worship the Father with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) But does this mean that we have no sacrifices to offer to our holy God Jehovah? And is cleanness less of a requirement for us than it was for the Israelites?
16. How has the prophecy of Malachi 3:3, 4 been fulfilled upon anointed Christians since 1918, and what acceptable sacrifices can they offer to Jehovah?
16 The prophecy of Malachi shows that anointed Christians on earth in the time of the end would be refined, or purified, for temple service. History shows that this refining began in 1918. Since 1919 the anointed remnant have “certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness,” and their gift offering is “gratifying to Jehovah.” (Malachi 3:3, 4) Thus, they are able to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) The apostle Paul wrote: “Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.”—Hebrews 13:15.
17. Although the “great crowd” are not a part of the royal priesthood, why must they be physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually clean?
17 While the “great crowd” are not called to priestly temple service like the anointed remnant, they are “rendering [Jehovah] sacred service day and night” in the earthly courtyard of his spiritual temple. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 15) It will be remembered that nonpriestly Israelites had to be ceremonially clean to participate in worship at the tabernacle or, later, at the temple. Likewise, the great crowd of other sheep must be physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually clean if they wish to serve at the temple and share with the remnant in ‘offering to God a sacrifice of praise’ by making “public declaration to his name.”
Clean and Neat for Field Service and Meetings
18. While engaged in the public witnessing work and attending meetings, what should be our concern regarding personal cleanness, clothing, and footwear?
18 What does this mean in practical terms? It means that it would be most unfitting and disrespectful to Jehovah to represent him in the house-to-house ministry, in the streets, or in someone’s home if we were not physically clean and properly dressed. Hence, we should not be casual about such matters. We must give them careful attention, so that we act in a manner that is fitting for ministers bearing Jehovah’s name. Our clothing need not be expensive, but it should be clean, tasteful, and modest. Our footwear should also be in good repair and of good appearance. Similarly, at all meetings, including the Congregation Book Study, our bodies should be clean, and we should be neatly and appropriately dressed.
19. What spiritual benefits result from our clean and neat appearance as Christian ministers?
19 Our clean and neat appearance while engaged in the witnessing work and at our meetings is one way to “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God.” (Titus 2:10) It is a witness in itself. Many people have been impressed by our cleanness and tidiness, and this has moved them to listen to our message concerning Jehovah’s wonderful purposes for righteous new heavens and a cleansed new earth.—2 Peter 3:13.
20. What further good fruitage comes from our being clean in mind and body?
20 As Jehovah’s clean new system draws near, all of us need to examine ourselves to see if we need to make some adjustments in our thinking or in our personal habits. Paul wrote: “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh: for even as you presented your members as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness with lawlessness in view, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness with holiness in view.” (Romans 6:19) Spiritual cleanness and physical cleanness bring good fruitage even now, “fruit in the way of holiness, and the end [will be] everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22) Let us, therefore, be clean in mind and body as we ‘present our bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God.’—Romans 12:1.