The Rub Off On Principle

Haggai 2:11 – Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,

Haggai 2:12 – If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.

Haggai 2:13 – Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.

Haggai 2:14 – Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.

Hello readers, just a short mid week blog today. I love the book of Haggai, and I have been thinking about these verses quoted above for a good while now. For some reason, I really struggled to understand what the Bible was saying here. Which is fine, but it stayed in my mind and I thought about it, listened to sermons and so on.

And I realized what the Bible is talking about here is an important principle that is violated massively in our own lives and churches today. And that principle is the “rub off on you” principle. Because the Bible teaches what does and does not rub off on you. Salvation won’t rub off onto you, but sin sure will. And with this principle we understand that you can go to church your whole life, and not saved. You can be around Christians, and not saved. Being made clean and holy unto God is not something that can be rubbed off onto you. And sure, “how to be a Christian” may rub off on you, and you may learn the mannerisms, and how to say what you’re supposed to say, and how to act like you’re supposed to act… but actual salvation cannot be transmitted to you by another person or a place or whatever.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We have to understand that true Biblical salvation is a new creature, a new man who is born in you by the Holy Spirit when you repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are saved. Anything less than this is not salvation and you are yet unclean and dead in your sins. Being “around” Christians and around Bible and around the truth cannot and does not make you one bit holier or one bit saved. You can be in the most holy, God fearing environment… and that in and of itself does not make you holy to God. We are only made holy to God by the blood of Christ, if no blood has been applied, you are unholy and unsaved.

I mentioned this principle is being violated, so I will explain, because it’s being violated in how Christians try and minister to this lost and dying world. For example, we create programs and immerse people in church culture, thinking that Christianity and salvation will “rub off” on them. So we don’t tell them the truth, we just “get them there” by compromising on the truth. We think our influence will take it the rest of the way. We think we can change people through being around them, being nice to them, not judging them, tolerating them, accepting them for who they are… but we fail to understand that none of that ever makes them one bit saved. Sure, our influence may augment their behaviour, ie. they change a bit and they may even be a better model of themselves, but it doesn’t change the fact that that person is unholy and unclean before God. Sure, influence may help for someone to be saved, but influence in and of itself is not salvation.

To make sense of this if it’s not clear yet, think of this example. In the Bible, if you came in contact with a person with leprosy, that made you unclean, not them clean. The leper was not made clean by you coming into contact with them. They influenced you… not you them. Leprosy is one of the great pictures of the disease of sin in our Bible, and a man that had leprosy was unclean. They separated from others for the others sake, not for their own sake. And if the man with leprosy hung out with people who were clean, guess what, the people who were clean did not make him clean… he just made them unclean. Wow. Leprosy is what rubbed off on you, not your cleanness onto them. And when you look at who is “rubbing off on” who… you’ll notice sin has rubbed off on Christians, not salvation on this world.

When you look at how professing Christians interact with this unsaved world, you’ll really see how this principle is being so badly violated. God told Haggai to go to the priests who know the law, because they’d know what he was talking about. But Christians today have no idea what he’s talking about, because they don’t believe the Bible, and don’t know or care for what God has said. It is the failure of Christians to obey the word of the Saviour they say they believe in which is why we are in the malaise we are in everywhere.

But here’s another example of Christians trying to win people to Christ with influence rather than truth. Here’s an example of Christians trying to rub their Christianity off on others and it not working. Look at the example in public schools. Christian parents send their kids to an ungodly educational institution and think their Christianity will rub off on the school… but guess what? The only thing that rubs off is the uncleanness of that institution on their children. The institution never gets more holy, but those kids sure do get unclean in a real hurry, and you’re kidding yourself otherwise. Look at the state of schools, God has been kicked out, the Bible is anathema in there, all while evolution and drag queens and sex ed sure are in there. How’d that rubbing off onto go? See we need to convert people with truth, not change them by rubbing off onto.

Look at the Biblical example of Lot, who violated this very principle. He went to Sodom and evidently tried changing the Sodomites a bit. He tried making Sodom less “Sodom”. Don’t do this guys! They said oh look it’s “judge” Lot, trying to bring a bit of judgment to our town! But read his story, because for all his time there, he never made Sodom one bit less “Sodom”. But conversely, look what happened to him. Did he “rub off” on them? Did he influence them to holiness? Not one bit. But they sure rubbed off on him. They sure rubbed off on his family. They changed the way he thought, spoke and lived. The fact is, Lot did not change Sodom one iota, but Sodom sure did change him. He didn’t clean ‘em up, but they sure made he and his family unclean.

This is why the Bible teaches necessary separation between clean and unclean. When you mix the two, the result is unclean… not clean. Christians mistakenly think their “clean” can rub off on the “unclean”… but the only people getting rubbed off on are them. They’re the ones changing… this world isn’t. This world is as wicked and ungodly as it’s ever been. And by the way, it’s worth mentioning that true holiness is different from “put on” holiness. Just because someone “cleans up” their life a bit by your influence doesn’t mean they’ve been made holy by the blood of Jesus Christ and that the new man born of God in righteousness and true holiness is now in them. True holiness is very different from an unclean man living clean. A leper could live pretty clean and be pretty good… but they were still a leper, just ask Naaman.

When we understand the principle that is being taught in Haggai, we realize that in the context of this principle, we ultimately see the failure of modern Christianity in that they’ve divorced themselves from what can truly change people, which is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they’ve resorted to “rub off onto” tactics which have no power to make anyone holy or clean before God aka. saved. So many professing Christians are ashamed of the gospel, they’ve turned their back on the word of God, and they’ve put God to their nose. They don’t speak about sin, hell, wrath, judgment.  No, the preaching of repentance of sin is not the method they’re going to use to influence and impact. Instead they’re trying to change people by rubbing off on and influencing them. And that’s created an unholy mess. They create a church full of Christians who may look and sound rightish, but they’re not one bit holier than they were in their unsaved state.

Before closing, let’s look at the context of these verses in the book of Haggai. Because we see this principle if you are saved relating very closely to our practical day to day lives. Haggai was a prophet during the time of the rebuilding of the temple. But Haggai’s message begins with a rebuke, and a call to “consider your ways” and to turn to God and put him first in their lives. Because they hadn’t been. And as a result, their sacrifices and worship to God was unclean and the work of their hands was cursed. Their sin rubbed off onto their lives, and it had made everything unclean. Note: their bringing of their sacrifices did not make their sin clean, the sin in their lives made their sacrifices unclean. Just meditate on that. And that’s why we need to look at our own lives, because sin in our life is will make everything we do and touch unclean. That’s why sin is likened to leaven, because like leaven spreads through the whole lump, that leaven of sin is going to spread through your whole life. We must all deal with the sin in our lives with the blood of Jesus Christ… unless you really prefer being unclean.

As I typed this, I thought of another illustration of the principle that we are discussing. If you need another illustration of this truth, as I do, think about this. Just because you grow up in a godly home does not make you saved. I grew up in a godly home. It didn’t “rub off on me”. Yes I learnt about the Bible and God and Jesus etc, but that didn’t make me the least bit saved. And the fact is, parent’s faith does not mean children’s faith. Each child and each person must get saved for themselves. Just because you grew up Christian does not make you a born again child of God. And so many kids grow up with this false confidence imparted to them by being in the “right” environment. They may even have got baptized and thought that passing through some water rubbed off onto salvation for them when it did not. So they live in this confidence they’re saved and right with God, when they are most definitely not. Everyone has to be saved for themselves and their own heart made clean through a personal relationship with Christ and being born again.

So we have learnt that being in and around Christianity and church does not mean you are going to heaven, it does not mean you are saved, it does not make you holy. You must be personally saved and born again of the Spirit of God. And when you do get saved, recognize this fact… which is that being in and around sin will make you unclean. Salvation doesn’t get on you, but sin sure can. And you get in the wrong company, get with the wrong people, and you get around people who are disobedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ… and they sure will rub off on you. And that uncleanness will be all over you very quickly. That’s why Christians need to practically wash all the time in the word of God, and confess their sins to Christ.

Practically speaking as a saved man, I need this truth. I need to make sure sin is not in my life that is not dealt with, because that will make the rest of my life unclean. Christians need to live separate lives from this world, and from sin, not in the hermit sense, but in the very clear sense of putting a righteous division between clean and unclean, and the holy and the profane in their lives. It is in 2 Corinthians 6:17 that the Bible says “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” If you start touching the unclean, it will get on you, stop thinking you’re where you’re not in life. You want to be received by God? Don’t get dirty in sin, because that will place a giant wedge between you and holy God.

So hopefully this blog helps you if you’re saved, and if you’re not, know that if you are not personally saved… it doesn’t matter how you were raised, who you were around, or even how good you think you are… that doesn’t make you saved. Nobody can get saved for you and you can’t be influenced and rubbed off on all the way into the kingdom of God. Even well meaning Christians have abandoned God’s formula for conversion and gone down a whole new path… and it’s produced a curse. The only way to God, and the only way in is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, being washed in his blood, and being born again. So let’s get back in line with the Bible, because we should know what does and what does not rub off on, and let’s all personally get clean before God in our lives through his blood and the washing of his word.


Joseph View All →

Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 32 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – :)

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