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February 7 Today’s Reading — Leviticus 19-21
“Ye shall be holy.”
This is God’s word to us today. — “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” Because the Lord our God is holy, He requires that we also be holy.
First and foremost this is a promise and declaration of grace. The Lord God is here declaring to His chosen, covenant people that they shall be a holy people, not partially holy, not mostly holy, but entirely holy. This is not a recommendation, but a declaration. It is a declaration of grace made to a specific people.
The word “holy” has two distinct meanings. Both definitions of the word must be understood and applied here. (1.) To be holy is to be separate, distinct, peculiar, separated, and severed from all others. (2.) To be holy is to be pure or purified. The Lord God here declares to His Israel, to all who stand before Him as His covenant people, “You shall be separate, distinct, peculiar, separated, and severed from all others, pure and purified before me.” We know that this is the intent and meaning of this statement by comparing Scripture with Scripture (Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 11:44; 20:7, 26; 1 Thessalonians 4:7). The Lord God almighty, by the work of His sovereign, free, distinguishing grace, takes such things as we are, such things as He finds in the dung heap of fallen humanity and makes them holy. He does this by the precious blood of Christ in free justification (Titus 2:11-14). He does it by divine regeneration, the new birth, making the chosen, redeemed sinner partaker of the divine nature, a new creature in Christ, “created in righteousness and true holiness” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Peter 2:7-10). And He will bring this great work of grace to its final consummation in resurrection glory (Ephesians 5:26-27; Jude 24-25).
This is also a call to holiness that we must heed. — “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” The Lord God here calls you and me to holiness, godliness, and righteous behavior in our daily lives. He here calls us to be separate, distinct, peculiar, separated, and severed from all others, pure and purified before men in our conduct (Leviticus 19:37). We know that this is also the intent and meaning of these words because they are so used for this purpose by the Spirit of God in the inspired writings of both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter (1 Thessalonians 4:1-7; 1 Peter 1:13-16).
Here in Leviticus 19 the holy Lord God calls for you and me to be holy as we live in this world; and He does not leave it for us to decide what He means. He tells us specifically how we are to live in this world as His holy people in these thirty-seven verses. I can hear some say, “But, Pastor, these verses are found in Old Testament law, and we are not under the law.” You are exactly right on both counts. But the fact that we are free from the law in Christ does not mean that we are without law, not at all. The believer’s law, the believer’s rule of life is the whole Revelation of God in Holy Scripture. That which is here written is addressed to you and me and is just as authoritative as Ephesians 1 or Romans 9. True, it must be understood and applied in Gospel terms; but it must be both understood and applied. Here the Lord God tells us specifically how we are to live in this world in a way that honors God. We please God by faith in Christ. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). But we must never imagine that if we believe in Christ it does not matter how we live. It is written in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 that we must take care as to how we “ought to walk and to please God.” — “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).