Leviticus 14:33-57 – Lessons for Dealing With Household Sin

Introduction. The second half of Leviticus Chapter 14 deals with the rules a priest had to follow when mold was found in a person’s house. In Hebrew, the same word is used for leprosy and mold. Yet, through the context of the chapter, it is clear that these passages refer to mold. Today, instead of calling their pastor a priest, a believer faced with a mold infestation would simply call their insurance company, a contractor, or possibly an industrial hygienist. Thus, few people bother to study the rules for removing household mold. But this view is a mistake. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16). God’s instructions for removing mold in a person’s household are relevant for two reasons. First, they show that God protected His people in Old Testament times from deadly microorganisms that the Jews did not understand. The lesson is that God’s rules are meant to protect you. Even if you do not understand the logic behind a rule, you are wise to obey them. Second, Jesus revealed that microorganisms like yeast, leprosy, and mold are symbols of sin. Thus, you can look to these verses for instruction on dealing with sin in your household. From these passages, God provides seven important lessons.

First, through these verses, God instructs that you have a duty to search for sin inside your household. Second, when you discover the existence of sin in your household, it is your duty to seek the help of other believers. Third, when sin exists in your household, it is your duty to submit your family to monitoring and accountability. Fourth, when you discover sin inside your house, you must remove the things that cause the sin to spread. Fifth, when the sin cannot be removed, you must take drastic steps to protect your family. Sixth, to keep your household free from sin, your family must wash in the Word of God. Finally, whenever sin is present in your household, you must turn to Jesus and repent to forgive your family of their sins. When Jesus heals your family’s sins, you should respond by making a “thank offering” by rededicating the family to serve God.

1. Your Duty to Constantly Look For Signs of Sin in Your Household. Lev. 14:33-35.

  • God’s warning about the dangers of mold in a believer’s house. After giving the laws for recovered lepers, God warned of the danger of mold (also called leprosy) in a person’s home: “ 33 The Lord further spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: 34 ‘When you enter the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a mark of leprosy [mold] on a house in the land of your possession, 35 then the one who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘Something like a mark of leprosy [mold] has become visible to me in the house.’” (Lev. 14:33-35). A household in the Bible symbolizes one’s family (Gen. 7:1; 17:23, 27; 20:18; 30:30; Acts 16:31). It might seem odd that God returned to the subject of infectious growths (i.e., sin) immediately after giving the rules for a healed leper. If a human were to have written the Bible without inspiration, the logical thing to have done would be to place this at the end of Chapter 13 after discussing the dangers of mold on a person’s clothes. Indeed, many commentaries discuss 14:33-57 after discussing chapter 13 as if these verses appeared in their current location by mistake. Yet, there is a reason for everything that God does. He reveals through these passages that He wants a consecrated, healed sinner to make the family his or her first ministry. He may use you for greater things if your family life is a mess. Is there any “mold” growing within your family that you need to deal with?

  • Biblical order within the family is central to God’s means of procreation and education. God provides rules for protecting the family because the family is central to many parts of God’s plan for believers. First, the family is God’s institution for procreation and for raising children. Second, the family was God’s intended mechanism for teaching His Law from generation to generation (Dt. 4:9-10; 6:7; 11:19; 31:12-13; Prov. 22:6; Ps. 78:4-6). Third, a person’s family was God’s means of protecting its members and ensuring that justice is done through the proper channels when a member is wronged (Dt. 19:11-13; Ro. 13:1-4). Fourth, the family was the means for adult men and women to find companionship and support (Gen. 2:24). Because the family is so important, God warns: “He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, and the foolish will be servant to the wise hearted.” (Prov. 11:29). Thus, every believer should consider the family his or her first ministry.

  • Satan’s goal is to break down the family. Satan’s first attack in the garden of Eden caused people to question God. His second attack was to set Adam and Eve against each other (Gen. 3:15). He seeks to set parents against each other (Dt. 28:54-57). He also seeks to create self-destructive acts between parents and their children (Dt. 28:53). A leader who cannot manage his household may be temporarily disqualified from being a leader for God: “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.” (1 Tim. 3:4; 3:12). When Satan creates conflicts between a husband and wife, he can also cause their prayers to be “hindered.” “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7). His ultimate goal is to place people into bondage and cause them to turn away from God. He seeks to make us slaves to the flesh. Are you allowing any sin in your life to fester that might put either your family or your marriage at risk?

2. Seek the Help of Other Believers For Your Family Problems. Lev. 14:36.

  • The role of the priest when mold (sin) exists in a household. If a believer discovered mold, a believer was to bring a priest to his or her household at the first sign of the mold: “36 The priest shall then command that they empty the house before the priest goes in to look at the mark, so that everything in the house need not become unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to look at the house.’” (Lev. 14:36). In God’s eyes, a family’s sin and conflict is not merely a private matter. It had to be brought to the attention of God’s priests. Today, any believer is part of God’s “holy priesthood.” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Thus, God directs that you bring sin in your household to the attention of other believers who can help you. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11). “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). Are you ignoring your family sin and allowing it to fester and spread like mold in a household? Or, have you brought the needs of your family to other believers for prayer, counseling, and encouragement?

3. Submit Your Family to Monitoring and Accountability When Sin Exists. Lev. 14:37.

  • The priest’s duty to quarantine a mold (sin) infested house. In Old Testament times, there was no treatment for mold. Like leprosy, the only thing a priest could do after discovering mold was to quarantine the house. At the initial stage, the priest quarantined the house for seven days where he observed it and determined if further action was needed: “37 So he shall look at the mark, and if the mark on the walls of the house has greenish or reddish depressions and appears deeper than the surface, 38 then the priest shall come out of the house, to the doorway, and quarantine the house for seven days.” (Lev. 14:37-38). If we translate the meaning of this passage to the existence of sin within a person’s household, God instructs believers to submit their household to the inspection and supervision of another believer to contain the family sin. This may run afoul of modern day feelings of privacy, but this is what God requires. He does not submit His laws to popular opinion. ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). Are you willing to allow other believers to monitor your family? Or, are you willing to intervene in another family’s conflicts to help restore Godly order?

  • Submit to Godly leadership. God expects order. He commands that we submit to His appointed leaders as His “avengers” against injustice (Ro. 13:4). They also are supposed to “watch out for your souls.” (Heb. 13:17). First, you submit to God through his Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14), His Word (2 Tim. 3:16), and His church leadership (Matt. 18:17-20; Heb. 13:17). Second, you submit to your civil authorities (1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:1-2). Third, you submit to God’s family order (Eph. 5:22-25; 6:10). Only when your authorities refuse to follow God’s Law can you ignore them (Acts. 4:19). Thus, opening your home to the inspection of other believers and your church is not a question in God’s eyes. Yet, the Church has sadly abandoned any oversight in this area. Few churches would assign pastoral staff to make house calls and investigate open sin within a family. Indeed, many churches have even dropped church membership lists. People are free to float in and out of church. No accountability or oversight exists. This may appeal to a privacy-minded generation, but this is not how God intended the Church to operate. God expects the Church to act like a shepherd for God’s sheep. The Church falls far short of its duties as a shepherd if it simply opens its doors once a week for those sheep who show up to be fed. The Church also has a duty to make sure that God’s sheep are protected.

4. Remove Things from Your House Which Cause Sin to Spread. Lev. 14:39-42.

  • The priest’s duty to order the removal of mold infested things. The priest’s first treatment for spreading mold was to rip out the infected areas: “39 The priest shall return on the seventh day and make an inspection. If the mark has indeed spread in the walls of the house, 40 then the priest shall order them to tear out the stones with the mark in them and throw them away at an unclean place outside the city. 41 He shall have the house scraped all around inside, and they shall dump the plaster that they scrape off at an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then they shall take other stones and replace those stones, and he shall take other plaster and replaster the house.” (Lev. 14:39-42). God sought to protect the believer by mandating that mold be quickly removed from a person’s household. Although the Jews did not understand how dangerous mold spores are to breathe, God was protecting them. The message in these verses is that sin cannot be tolerated in a believer’s life. This is what Jesus meant when He used amputation as a metaphor for the importance of removing sinful influences in your life: “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matt. 5:29-30; 18:8-9; Mk. 9:43, 47). If TV, the internet, gambling, alcohol, drugs, or friends with bad influences are causing sin or conflict within your family, are you willing to cut those negative influences out of your life?

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5. Take Drastic Measures if the Sin in Your House is Widespread. Lev. 14:43-45.

  • The priest’s duty to order the destruction of a house when mold (sin) cannot be removed. If the sin continued to spread, the priest was to tear the house down: “43 If, however, the mark breaks out again in the house after he has torn out the stones and scraped the house, and after it has been replastered, 44 then the priest shall come in and make an inspection. If he sees that the mark has indeed spread in the house, it is a malignant mark in the house; it is unclean. 45 He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place.” (Lev. 14:43-45). Jesus’ advice to cut out the influences of sign are again instructive here (Matt. 5:29-30; 18:8-9; Mk. 9:43, 47). Yet, this guidance from Leviticus reveals that there are different kinds of amputation that might be required depending upon the type of sin involved. Disconnecting the television or internet will not resolve all kinds of sin. Sadly, some children and wives live in abusive homes. Likewise, some children are trapped in failing schools where temptations to engage in drug and alcohol abuse or sexual promiscuity cannot be monitored by their parents. As another example, young boys without fathers in disadvantaged neighborhoods frequently turn to gangs to find acceptance. With these types of strongholds of sin, prayer coupled with drastic action is required. A parent should consider moving to a different home or school district if the parent cannot free the child from sinful influences in either the community or school. Likewise, a battered spouse should flee the home if she and / or her children are in physical danger. Under the Law, a family member was in fact required to cut off contact with a family member who encouraged idolatry: “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.” (Dt. 13:6-8). Are you monitoring what your children are being exposed to in school, on the internet, and through their friends? If your children are becoming enslaved by sinful influences around you, will you take drastic steps to protect them?

6. Wash Your Family in the Word. Lev. 14:46-47.

  • Wash yourself after exposing yourself to family conflict. If a member of a quarantined house returned to lie down in his or her sins, that person was to be washed: “ 46 Moreover, whoever goes into the house during the time that he has quarantined it, becomes unclean until evening. 47 Likewise, whoever lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.” (Lev. 14:46-47). Laying down in a quarantined house symbolizes a believer who reignites family conflict. That person must repent of his or her sins. The clothes of the believer symbolized his or her outward acts (Is. 64:6). The washing of the clothes or the person’s actions of sin was done by reading the Word of God: “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” (Eph. 5:26). Through the reading of the Word, the Holy Spirit exposes your sins. If you confess your exposed sins, God promises to forgive them (1 Jo. 1:9). Does your family wash itself by reading the Word? If you only wash once a week in the Word, should you expect your life offering to be pleasant before God?

7. Make a Thank Offering For a Healed Family by Rededicating It For God. Lev. 14:48-57.

  • The law of cleansing a family after being healed of its sin. Much like the leper, the cleaning of a sin-infested household required the symbols of the blood of Christ and a rededicated believer: “48 If, on the other hand, the priest comes in and makes an inspection and the mark has not indeed spread in the house after the house has been replastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean because the mark has not reappeared. 49 To cleanse the house then, he shall take two birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop, 50 and he shall slaughter the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. 51 Then he shall take the cedar wood and the hyssop and the scarlet string, with the live bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird as well as in the ]running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He shall thus cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and with the running water, along with the live bird and with the cedar wood and with the hyssop and with the scarlet string. 53 However, he shall let the live bird go free outside the city into the open field. So he shall make atonement for the house, and it will be clean. 54 This is the law for any mark of leprosy—even for a scale, 55 and for the leprous garment or house, 56 and for a swelling, and for a scab, and for a bright spot— 57 to teach when they are unclean and when they are clean. This is the law of leprosy.” (Lev. 14:48-57). The laws for a cleansed house are the same as for a cleansed leper. Like any wound, a family ripped apart by sin needs to heal properly. Through symbolism, these rules instruct how a family should heal itself.

  • Dedicate your family to serving God. From the final passages on this chapter, God reveals seven steps to rededicate your family to serving God. First, as symbolized by a sacrificed bird inside a clay pot over running water (Lev. 14:49), you are instructed as a believer to let the old flesh of your family die off. Second, as symbolized by the living bird set free after being dipped in blood and then cleaned with water (Lev. 14:52), God instructs that your family be set apart in the Spirit or sanctified for Him. Third, as symbolized by the cedar wood (Lev. 14:51), your family should live by the strength of the Holy Spirit. Fourth, as symbolized by the hyssop branch (Lev. 14:51), your family should be meek before others. Fifth, as symbolized by the scarlet wool yarn (Lev. 14:51), your family should be clothed in Christ’s righteousness by living for His Kingdom. Sixth, every family must make atonement for its sins (Lev. 14:53). This can only come through faith in Christ. Finally, as symbolized by the bird freed from sin living in the open field (Lev. 14:53), your family should be a living example for all to see as you walk with Christ and stay clean or sanctified from the unclean sins of the world. Any family torn between the influences of the world and God can take inspiration and direction from the words of Joshua: “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in who land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15). Is your family torn between the influences of God and the world? Is there any family sin or broken relationship that you need Jesus to heal?