The passage for today is from the book of Leviticus, in the Old Testament of the Bible. It was a Book of Law for the Israelites of the Old Testament, probably most of which is not repeated for us in the New Testament.
But, the overall message of holiness and sanctification and pure worship of our holy God is taught to us also in the New Testament, under the New Covenant. Thus, we are still taught to repent of our sins, to be holy as God is holy, and to walk in obedience to our Lord’s commands.
1 Peter 1:14-16
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
The word holy means to be set apart by and for God. But it also means to be different (unlike) the world because we are being made to be like Jesus. And, that entails submission to Christ as Lord, and turning away from our sinful lifestyles, and now walking in obedience to our Lord in all our conduct (behavior, character, attitude, and mind).
What this means for us is that we are to give our lives over to the Lord, and to make him truly Lord (master) of our lives. We are to be no longer enslaved to sin, but now we are to be bond-slaves of God and of his righteousness. We are to no longer live like the ungodly, but we are to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God (Rom. 12:1-2; Rom. 6:1-23).
And, this is a daily walk of faith in Jesus Christ, empowered by the Spirit of God. Daily we deny self (the flesh) and we die with Christ to sin and we follow our Lord in obedience (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
We are no longer conformed to the passions of the flesh, but we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, by the Spirit of God. So, we no longer conduct our lives according to our fleshly desires, but we conduct our lives according to the Spirit of God in holiness and righteousness, by the Spirit. And, the fruit that we bear is not of the flesh, but it is of the Spirit.
“Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.”
So, what is an idol? It is anything that has our heart, our passion, and our desire in place of or above our heart, passion, and desire for God and for his righteousness. And, it is anything that consistently and habitually leads us down a path of unrighteousness and wickedness, or which so consumes our time and thinking to where we don’t have time for God.
Idols can be distractions that keep us from walks of obedience to the Lord, or they can be sinful addictions, or they can be people or things in our lives which have more value to us than our relationships with Almighty God.
So, they can be careers, relationships, smart phones, social media, intellect, education, possessions, and/or people (politicians, sports heroes, preachers, etc.) And, they can be our personal time, which we may covet, or sleep, or hobbies, or entertainment, or games, or recreation, or our bodies, etc.
It is a lot like a married person going after other lovers in place of his or her commitment to spouse, marriage, faithfulness, honor, and mutual respect. And, those “other lovers” can be real people, and those relationships can be physical or emotional and/or romantic. Or, the “other lovers” can be images in a video or in a movie or in a magazine, or they can be images in one’s own mind, or they can be the person’s own body and masturbation.
So, God, like the rejected spouse, is saying, “Don’t go after other lovers, for I am to be your only spouse (husband). Be faithful to me. Love me. Show me honor and respect.” For, he is to be our only God.
“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”
This reminds me of many New Testament passages, but in particular the one in Ephesians 4 where we are taught to put all these things off, and where we are taught to put on what is right and good and holy, instead.
Not only should we not steal, but we are to work with our hands, and we are to be generous to others. Not only should we not practice lies and deception, but we are to be truth tellers, as a matter of course. Not only should we not say “Lord, Lord,” but then deny him with our lifestyles, but we should honor God with our lives by our obedience and by our submission to him as Lord.
Not only should our minds not be on the smut of this world, but our minds are to be set on things which are above, which are of God, and which are pure, holy, righteous, good, honest, etc. We are to think on those things, not on the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
If we want to be free of any sinful addiction, first we must have a heart transformation of the Spirit of God, and submit to the Lordship of Christ over our lives, and then we must put off anything that is even leading us to sin, plus the sin itself, and then replace that sin with what is righteous and good and which is for the benefit of others, and which shows love to others.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Hate is the opposite of love. Love does no harm to its neighbor. If we love God, we will obey him. If we love other people, we will not sin against them. So, if you are cheating on your spouse via self-gratification and porn or flirtation with another person of interest, that is not love. It is hating. For, the intention is to do your spouse harm, whether you admit it or not.
And, if you have professed faith in Jesus Christ for many years, and if you have studied and/or taught the Scriptures, then you definitely know right from wrong, and you have absolutely no excuse for why you are still cheating on your spouse, and why you are still treating your spouse with contempt and not with love.
And, don’t “cop out” (avoid doing something that one ought to do) by adopting the cheap grace gospel, and by claiming that God’s grace covers it all, or by giving excuses like “nobody is perfect,” or whatever other lame excuse you have for why you continue on a sinful course hating those you are supposed to love and who love you.
We are to love God with our whole being, and we show we love God by obeying his commandments. And, he commands us to love one another with a divine love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy and pure. Adultery is hating, for it is the opposite of love. So, instead of feeding your own fleshly appetite, love others above yourself (see Phil. 2:1-8).
The Kingdoms of Earth Pass Away
Lyrics by Henry R. Trickett, 1887
Music by James H. Fillmore, 1887
The kingdoms of earth pass away one by one,
But the kingdom of heaven remains;
It is built on a rock and the Lord is its King,
And forever and ever He reigns.
The tempest may rage and its anger acclaim,
Yea, the wind and the torrents may roar,
And the strong gates of hell may assail it in vain,
Still the kingdom shall stand ever more.
The kingdom of God is now open to all,
E’en the vilest may now enter in;
There’s a welcome for all who will turn to the Lord,
Full salvation and pardon for sin.
Chorus: It shall stand, It shall stand,
Forever and ever and ever,
It shall stand, It shall stand,
Forever and ever. Amen and Amen.
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