Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Touch, Taste and Handle

I take pride in the things I do not do: I don't smoke, I don't drink nor do I chew; neither do I hang with those that do!" Indeed, the things that I don't do are noble but they are of no spiritual consequence for me. Let us take a look at regulations imposed by what comes from Mosaic Law:
Colossians 2:16 (NKJV) "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."
As you can see, Paul specifically mentioned three: (1) do not touch, (2) do not taste, and (3) do not handle.


Those things Jews were not to touch were those who were dirty (i.e, the Gentiles). Neither were they to touch lepers or anyone unclean - sinners. Scripture even told the Jews not to touch things which were holy! Now for a list of things not to touch, here it is:
Leviticus 5:2 ' ‘Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty. 3 Or if he touches human uncleanness—whatever uncleanness with which a man may be defiled, and he is unaware of it—when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty."
 You see, the list of untouchable things is ominous - there was a penalty for that! He who touched unclean things was guilty. The blood of Jesus cleansed the dirty things of the world for the Christian. Christian don't have to go around worrying about whether their body is clean or not, because we are now to present our impure living sacrifice to God, just as it is, and not have to sacrifice the most pure and clean animals. By the way, those were dead sacrifices.  Of course, they lived before they were sacrificed but our sacrifice is that we live even more cleanly, after the sacrifice!

In the western world, people, even Christians, have always been dirty in the sense of touching the unclean. While it may be hygienic to wash often and bathe regularly, it does nothing toward cleansing the soul. Americans may look clean but we aren't. We daily touch some extremely dirty things, and think little of it! We are no longer bound by the regulation of cleanliness even though that is the healthy and wise thing to do.

This law was never one of God's commands. The first mention of touching was:
Genesis 3:3 (NKJV) "...but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
God didn't say "nor shall you touch it". That was added by the serpent. Essentially, mankind was told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Touching it had no penalty. Touching was added as a regulation. It was so that man's own sacrifice was clean and pleasing. The blood of Christ made us clean, so that as Christians, we are always clean because sin is under the blood.


Not tasting things were how God's people turned from evil things:
Jonah 3:6 (NKJV) "Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands."
This was here a man-made rule. The king of Nineveh made the rule. It is supposed that he was led by God to command that, because the Jewish people saw denial as the way to shun evil. In fact, the aesthetic lifestyles of isolated monks has always been to serve God by denying themselves. However, we are to serve Jesus best by focusing on him, and not ourselves. We are to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. He  didn't stay in a convent, he went into the world. Denial is good for fasting during prayer, but abstinence does not obtain mercy.

It is imprudent, for instance, to partake of alcohol. We are to remain sober, but yet Paul admonished the people to take a little wine as medicine. Of course, mankind has always abused medicine, and indeed modern society is rampant with abuse. I'm speaking of drug abuse. The term Prozak nation adequately describes America. People put high priority on getting high and low or both, and dismiss Christ as they do. The problem lies not on what they ingest, but the priorities of what is important to them! God calls those who are low in spirit, but if they can't focus on Christ, how can they come?

Abstinence of things we taste is a good thing. If we become fat on Epicurean foods, it's our own "god" which we appease. God wants us to be healthy but we over-indulge. It's not the food that's impure that's the problem, but our hearts are in the wrong place. We choose to overindulge ourselves rather than indulge Christ. What we eat is not dirty, but our hearts are unrighteous.

Michael Jackson called wine "Jesus juice". I have found nowhere in scripture where Jesus imbibed wine. He did make it, supply it, and watch others drink it, but he seemed to have not. Jesus was the pattern for Nazirites, and they were not to drink strong drink:
Numbers 6:1 (NKJV) "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2  “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin."
Nazirites were set apart from the world for God's purposes.  This is today what we would call "sanctification". Wine seemed to contaminate the spirit, and even any food that turns to wine. They induced unclean ingredients of fermentation. However, the wine wasn't the problem, but the contaminants caused by those fruits:
Luke 1: 15 (NKJV) "For he (John the Baptist) will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb."
To be set apart for the work of the Holy Spirit means keeping the temple clean for Him. Rather than alcohol making the temple clean in preparation for the Holy Spirit,  those who are cleaned by the blood, as John was in the womb, had a cleaned temple -  one cleaned by God. Not imbibing is a way for the Holy Spirit to dwell within in seeking to be like Christ. I can drink alcohol of I want. I am at liberty to drink or not to drink, but if I want to set myself apart for Christ, then I choose to keep my temple free of impurities. That is not a sacrament, but obedience as I attempt to show my love.


Handling are the things we do. In Old Testament times, things were done ritualistic in order to please God. We are all guilty of that! We insist that church services follow tradition. Oftentimes, we lose site of Who we worship because of how we worship. Sabbath keeping was a problem for the Jews. They were required to do everything ritualistic - ceremonial washing, not working, walking to the synagogues, praying in public, and all the other burdens.

Christians still do many of those things! Some churches still have candle bearers and a certain order of church. These help set the mood for worship, but if they distract from worship, then they are burdensome. In my own church there is an automatic flow of events from acclimation. When it's prayer time, without being told, everyone just flows forward. I quit doing that because I can pray from my pew. I sit down and rest my head on the pew in front of me. I can pray anywhere.

The altar was used in olden times to bring to God our sacrifice. Now, we are the sacrifice that He wants, and we can present ourselves anywhere. While praying at the altar is worshipful, if it hinders worship, it is of no value. I do like to go to the altar when I desire others to lay on hands and pray for my needs, but it is not a ritualistic thing that I do.

Simon Magus thought there was a ritual in receiving the Holy Spirit. He entirely missed the point. It wasn't the method which welcomed the Spirit, but the will of God. He is  not a genie who requires a bottle to be rubbed. He knows our hearts. The desire for money was in Simon's heart. That was a cardinal sin, I believe, because he was in apostasy. Simon mishandled his salvation, and history shows that he became the enemy in the One in whom he at first believed.


The Ten Commandments are not of the nature of touch, taste, nor handle. They are written on stone for eternity. We must obey the commandments - God's Law because each one of them are how we practice love for either God or our neighbor. Those who think that the Ten Commandments are obsolete fail to understand that they are how we demonstrate love. If we do those things which are forbidden, it's not love which we demonstrate. If we do the commands we are to do, it is a demonstration of love!

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