Topic:The Need for a Standard
I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
In this section we face the need for a standard, a measuring stick by which we can distinguish between good and evil. That is not easy to do. Modern philosophies tell us that there is really nothing harmful, that it is only our perverted thinking which makes things wrong, and that if we would but change our thinking then anything and everything is right. But you don’t find anything like that in Scripture. The Bible tells us that we are living in a world where truth and error are inextricably mixed and that you cannot easily tell one from the other. How do you tell the difference before it is too late, before you have to learn through sorrows and sadness?
With these Israelites, his concern was expressed on the physical level — he actually regulated their diet. In this chapter, you have dietary laws distinguishing clean animals from unclean, and various sanitary practices are included as well. Many of these practices have a commonsense basis in staying healthy. God kept his people physically whole through many of these regulations.
There was nothing wrong with many of the animals which were prohibited to the Israelites as food. Their prohibition was simply to teach a symbolic lesson, even though they may have been perfectly healthy as food. In this case it is the symbolism that we must take into account.
We have seen in this book that this word holy essentially means whole. To be holy is to be a complete person, to fulfill your humanity. A whole person is one who performs the function for which he was originally designed. In the case of man, that is for us to belong to God, to be his image. It is to be the vehicle for the expression of his life. This is what he wants for us. He wants us to be whole and to fulfill our humanity.
That is what God is after. It is not the religious activities you go through, nor how much time you spend in Bible study that God is really interested in. He is after the expression of his character in the midst of where you work, and in your home, and among your family and your neighbors and your friends. He desires that the character which comes through to others from you is that of love and joy and peace, and of tenderheartedness and willingness to forgive and forbearance and understanding, and of the absence of grudge-holding and bitterness and hatred and enmity. That is the character of a whole person. So God says to us, therefore be holy… and avoid these things that I have warned you against, for they will but defile you.
Lord, help me to take these guidelines seriously. Help me to be obedient to you and to offer my body as living sacrifices. I long to be a whole person though I live in the midst of a broken world.
Secular thinking is largely adrift in the turbulent waters of relativity, in stark contrast to the teaching of the Bible, which aims at our wholeness. Are we being nurtured in body, soul and spirit by feeding on God’s Word?