Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you. — Leviticus 20:7-8
Our church’s campground restaurant comes under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Health Division regarding the practices used in food preparation. One of the mandates outlined in the current food-handlers handbook is that different cutting boards must be used for cutting up chicken and produce. Is this just a nit-picky regulation with no real basis? No, cross-contamination can occur between foods. Strict separation of utensils is necessary in order to avoid possible food-borne illnesses.
God’s requirements for our lives include a “strict separation” from influences that could contaminate us. One meaning of the word sanctify is “to set apart for a sacred purpose.” God wants a separated and holy people, for He is holy. Holiness means morally perfect, pure, and set apart from all sin — being totally devoted or dedicated to God, and reserved for His special use. God wants us to live with Him forever, but He cannot take anyone into His holy presence unless all sin is removed. We must set ourselves apart for God and look to Him for His imparted holiness. He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us obey and to give us power for service.
God gave many rules to the Children of Israel, but they were not without reason. He did not withhold good from them; He only prohibited those acts that would bring them to ruin. In the same way, He forbids us to do certain things because He wants us to avoid self-destruction.
Have you found yourself drawn to a forbidden physical or emotional pleasure? Society portrays sins as attractive, and attempts to cloud the dark side of such indulgences. Remind yourself that the consequences will be suffering and separation from the One who is trying to help you! Holiness brings a sincere desire to obey God. Every aspect of one’s life is placed in subjection to His lordship, every decision is made with Him taken into account, and every work honors Him. What a joyous and fulfilling existence becomes ours when we are sanctified!
The requirements established in chapters 17 — 20 of Leviticus opened the way for the Israelites to come to God. They were given instructions on how to have a holy walk with God, along with rules for daily living concerning sacrifices, family responsibilities, sexual conduct, relationships, and worldliness.
God made a distinction between the Israelites and the heathen nations around them. He had delivered the Children of Israel out of idolatrous Egypt and set them apart as a unique nation, dedicated to worshiping Him alone and leading moral lives. He designed laws and restrictions to help them remain separate (both socially and spiritually) from the wicked heathen nations. As a chosen and separated people, the Children of Israel were obligated to make a difference between the clean and the unclean and not to live like the pagans around them.
God removed His people from Egypt; now He was removing Egypt from the people. He was showing them how to exchange Egyptian ways of living and thinking for His ways of living and thinking. God wanted His people to be set apart, different, and holy just as He is holy. They had two options: to be separated and holy, or to compromise with their heathen neighbors and become corrupt.
After the sacrificial system for forgiving sins was in place, the people were instructed on how to live as forgiven and holy people. The people of Israel were to consecrate themselves and be holy. “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The way of fellowship with God
A. By separation unto holiness
1. The holiness of the people
d. Penalties for unholiness (20:1-27)
(1) For sacrificing to Molech (20:1-5)
(2) For worshipping demons (20:6-8)
(3) For cursing parents (20:9)
(4) For various sexual deviations (20:10-21)
(5) Conclusion (20:22-27)
God gave guidelines for His people to separate themselves from those things that would make them unclean. Like the Israelites, Christians also are called to be holy and remain spiritually separate from the world’s wickedness.