There is an old saying that, “You become like the people you hang ’round.” This is true, as far as it goes – which is usually downward. Holiness is not contagious. But Man, in his fallen state, can and will pollute what he touches.
Throughout scripture, goodness is not the thing that rubs off on others. Our sin, on the other hand, is like beetroot juice.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Do not make friends with an angry man, and do not associate with a hot-tempered man, or you may learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. (Proverbs 22:24-25)
The focus of the Old Testament purity laws of Israel was on avoiding those things that pollute and make His people unclean.
Don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t handle, these were the watch-words.
You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them. (Leviticus 15:31)
The reason was simple, and it wasn’t that God was a killjoy. The reason is that man in his fallen state can only pollute. He cannot purify.
Purification, deliverance, justice and goodness are in the hands and power of God.
We see this principle applied in Haggai 2:11-14,
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: “If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?”
The priests answered and said, “No.”
Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?”
The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.”
In the physical realm, the priests of Israel admit that cleanliness and health are not contagious. Good health and spiritual purity cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
On the other hand, disease and dirt are transmitted.
This principle can also be applied to every other sphere of life. In the moral sphere, justice, holiness and morality are not contagious and cannot be magically transmitted from one person to another.
But we can and do transmit evil, impurity, sin and injustice.
Therefore, whatever holiness we have must be sent from God. And so he sent Jesus.
Jesus turns the table on impurity, corruption and spiritual disease.
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean”.
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” (Mark 1:40-41)
Jesus took all our uncleanness and nailed it to a tree. And so, unlike the rest of humanity, when Jesus touches you in your sin, He doesn’t become unclean, you become clean.
He doesn’t become unholy, you become holy. You only need to touch the hem of His garment to be made new.