Confessions of a Church: Excrement

Confessions of a Church: Excrement

The Psalm writer wrote:  Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received.   This is the word of God.  It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.  

Deuteronomy 23:10-25 “If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. 11 But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp. 12 “You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13 and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14 Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you. 15 “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him. 17 “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. 18 You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God. 19 “You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20 You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess. 21 “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you. 22 However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have promised. 24 “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. 25 “When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.

This is the Word of the Lord.

Some parts of Scripture are more earthy than others.

This passage definitely falls into the earthy category.

There's nothing like showing up to Church on the Lord's Day, expecting to hear some words of encouragement from Psalm 23 or the Beatitudes, and instead you are confronted with bodily emissions and excrement from Deuteronomy 23.
How comforting.

There are very practical, good reasons to take heed of these earthy admonitions this morning. You could ask the resident Doctor or one of the couple nurses in our midst if hygiene, sanitation, and physical cleanliness are important, and assuredly they would give you a resounding "YES".

Surely everyone here would appreciate it if those with whom they will shake hands with in a few minutes have washed their hands this morning.

How much more ought we consider the state of our souls, our spiritual purity, which this passage is ultimately alluding to?
If physical cleanliness warrants the barring of someone from the camp, how much more does spiritual defilement separate us from the community of God's people, and ultimately,  God Himself?

There are two ditches which we must be aware of here.
One is the idea that the physical condition of our bodies and homes don't matter. All the physical things of this world will turn back to dust one day, so who cares? You have so spiritualized your religion, that you have forgotten that we are called to be good stewards of the things, and people, which God has blessed us with.

Another ditch is when you realize that you can fool people with outward displays of cleanliness and good stewardship, all the while you are full of dead men's bones.
You come to Church on a Sunday, looking the part. Modestly dressed, Bible in hand, you go through the motions like a pro, and no one is the wiser. No one suspects that anything is amiss. You talk about baptism, Calvinism, politics, homesteading, and use all the right buzzwords, reminding everyone how much you love the Church.

But where the rubber meets the road, say in service to the Church, hospitality, giving with a cheerful heart, receiving correction, and genuine repentance,  your life is noticeably void (but know one knows because all they know about you is what you display on Sunday morning). You keep people at a distance because your emissions and excrement, I mean, your sin, stinks. You know it, and we all know it.

Instead of vainly attempting to hide this fact, why not instead take heed of the words of James:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
— James 4: 8-10

If you are able at this time, please kneel as we go boldly to the throne of grace.

Heavenly Father,
All of our sins are before You. Nothing done in the flesh, or the darkest recesses of our minds, are hidden from Your gaze. You know all our thoughts (Psalm 94:11), yea, even our words before they are even on our tongue (Psalm 139:4). You know when we feign worship and devotion to you. You know when the words of our mouths do not match the condition of our hearts. Father, please forgive us for false pretenses, false worship, fake lives, and storytelling, all meant to mask our sin and hide it's stench from the assembly.  Forgive us for the damage wrought to ourselves, our families, and our Church by our hidden sins. Please wash away our sins, and lead us onto paths of righteousness for Your namesake.
In Jesus's name we pray, Amen.

Please stand and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:  

Hebrews 3:1-6 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!