“Nothing outside a man can make him unclean by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean… Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean?”
Being abused makes you feel unclean. That’s another word for dirty, cheap, creepy, filthy, defiled, violated, and loathsome. It isn’t pleasant. When your spirit feels uncleanness, your body actually can feel dirty, ready for a shower.
Jesus was talking about eating when He said the words at the top of the page, but the principle is the same for abuse. You don’t have to think very hard to come up with things that can enter your body, but Jesus assures us that what enters our bodies does not have the power to defile us. We may feel defiled. We may feel unclean. But Jesus declares twice that something physically entering our bodies cannot make us unclean. I hope you are cheered by this fact because it is spectacular.
Sometimes, people who know our stories will be tempted to view us who are recovering as unclean, even in the church. A woman tells her story, and, suddenly, the men and women around her view her as untouchable. If it was sexual sin that attacked her, Christians seem to put a large sign over her head that flashes “Impure!” She is immediately labeled with her abuse as though she committed it. This is worse than unfortunate. It is sinful. If Jesus does not view us as unclean, neither should His followers. If a sister tells you her story, weep with her and keep her secret! And if you are telling your story, be discerning and discreet about whom you share it with.
It is our reactions, however, that can make us unclean. It is our anger, our rage, our wish for revenge, our gossip, our hate, our own sins in reaction to another’s sin that have the power to dirty us. We are in control of our own uncleanness!
Obviously, the child’s natural reaction to her abuse is, among other things, anger. But when we become adults and realize our sin is in the hate and in the desire for revenge, we are responsible to go to God for help. It is our turn to ask God to forgive us for our wrong reactions. “If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed a female goat without defect” (Leviticus 4:27–28, italics mine). I don’t happen to have a supply of female goats hanging around the house, but I do have in my life the Lamb who was slaughtered. It is only through His power that I have been able to ask Him to forgive me of some very natural sins I harbored in my heart as a child and that I kept as an adult as a reaction to someone’s sin against me.
Write down the very natural reactions you had as a child as you were abused. Some of them are sins. Ask God to forgive you now that you are aware of them. They have kept your heart in bondage.
I hope you believe what Jesus said because He was telling the truth. If you still feel unclean, consider this: “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (Jesus in John 15:3). The Word of God will make you clean. What a precious promise!
This a page from the book When God Roared. Each page will be published, one per day, on this website. We pray that God uses it mightily in your life to swaddle you in His love and heal your precious heart.