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March 9, Day #69 – Our Need for Purity and Holiness

Yesterday, we saw how Leviticus shows us that - even when we desire to do so, and no matter how hard we try - we just cannot keep God’s requirements for obedience or for holiness. This is why God provided the annual day of atonement for the Israelites – a day that contemplates God’s then-future provision for His sacrifice of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (cf., John 1:29). Today in Leviticus 17-18, we see that the Israelites “were making sacrifices in the open fields” (verse 5) and “to the goat idols” (verse 7) – actions that were wholly unacceptable and had to be corrected - because they completely by-passed the priest and the legal requirements for sacrifices (not to mention the practice of blatant idolatry). In this chapter, God reveals three times that “the life of a creature is in the blood,” and that “it is in the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (verses 11 and 14). The practice of eating blood was a demonic, heathen ritual in Canaan, and it showed total disregard for the sanctity of human life, which is sacred and inviolable. This means that human life cannot be violated. Only God can give life, and only He can take it. There is something sacrosanct about life that cannot be revoked or destroyed (cf., Genesis 4:10; Genesis 9:6; Hebrews 11:4). In other words, human beings have no authority whatsoever to take life (except as directed by the Word of God), and if they do, they are acting on their own tenuous authority. We must remember that this position did not work out very well for Nadab and Abihu (cf., Leviticus 10:1-2).

In Leviticus 18, we read about God’s establishment of moral laws that govern purity in sexual relationships. This chapter begins with, “You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you” (verse 3). I don’t know of a biblical declaration that would more clearly explain God’s desire for the absolute purity of His people than this statement. The Israelites must keep themselves separate from all those things that make people unclean. This chapter is self-explanatory – requiring little comment – but begging for lots of obedience today. After 430 years of suffering in the garbage heap of Egypt, the Israelites had enough of it, and God removed them from their wallowing in all that filth. And when they enter Canaan, they are commanded not to regress. Unfortunately, much of our own culture today is no different from Egypt or Canaan and their evil practices. God separated the Israelites from all that for a reason - He wanted them to exemplify His holiness and purity to the rest of the world – that the world might be attracted to Him through their purity and holiness. I daresay He wants the same for us.

Psalm 31:9-18 is prophetic and anticipates the future suffering and death of Christ. We notice how appropriate David’s words point in advance to the agony of our Lord: “I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I have become like broken pottery, for I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me; deliver me from my enemies … save me … for I have cried out to you” (verses 11, 13, 15, and 16). Only the Holy Spirit could endow David to pen these words about the Son of David - so many years in advance of His death. Thank God for the inspiration of Scripture!

Today, in Mark 14:17-42, we read about the Lord’s Supper, and in this section, the first thing we notice is disloyalty – then followed by disappointment, distress, and denial – all leading up to the Lord’s death. Jesus says, “One of you will betray me” (verse 17). What a heartbreaking announcement! In Gethsemane, Jesus explains how all this happens: He says, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (verse 38). Our spirits and our flesh are at war with each other. Sin’s entrance into the universe was so destructive that it drastically affected all creation everywhere - from the seemingly infinite to the infinitesimal. Although our spirits are everlasting and therefore indestructible, sin resulted in our temporal flesh rising up arrogantly and exercising both false authority and war against our eternal souls (cf., Galatians 5:17). As a result of sin, sometimes our flesh - contrary to God’s established order for things – convinces our spirits to do things that we hate – and we don’t even know why (cf., Romans 7:15). This explains our need for purity and holiness.

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