Purity Requires Redemption
1 John 3:2, 3
2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
The LORD called Israel to have a separate and distinct life-style from the heathen nations. Israel was to serve as a beacon, demonstrating holiness. We, as Christians, are to do the same, demonstrate holiness.
1 Peter 1:16
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;
Leviticus 11:45 (GOD speaking)
For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
1 Peter 1:15, 16
15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Numbers 19:17-19 (GOD speaking)
17And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: 19And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.
The surrounding nations that observed them, in the centuries before Christ, saw a people who were commanded by their God to shun idolatry and immorality. They were a people who were blessed by God when they obeyed and punished when they rebelled against God’s regulations concerning outward cleansing as recorded in the Old Testament, which spoke of the necessity for moral cleanness.
This truth is constantly repeated and emphasized in the New Testament. Today’s believers are the “body” God has called out to be separate and distinct from the World System.
The Israelites were surrounded by heathen who worshiped idols and indulged in all manner of degraded living. The temptation to yield to pressure from the heathen was constant. They sought intermarriage between the Israelites and themselves. When such marriage alliances occurred, it always resulted in God’s people being “dragged down” instead of ”lifting up” the heathen.
The statement, “I am the LORD your God” is not a cliché. God introduced His commandments about holy living with a reminder of Who He is. God, Himself, is always the standard for holiness; furthermore, He is the One to Whom His people are accountable for their behavior.
This is a truth we must keep in focus at all times in this day of moral permissiveness. God’s holiness is mentioned more often than any other characteristics of His nature. The word “holy” occurs again and again in the book of Leviticus because it was the handbook for the priesthood. As God’s New Testament priests, we can learn much from this book.
God’s will has always been that people should live a life of purity for this is the best life possible to live in this world. For those who sincerely desire such a life, God cleanses from all sin and gives the grace for holy living. No human is absolutely perfect, but Christlike living certainly is possible, and the Christlike life is a pure life.
Obedience to God’s commandments and resulting purity of life are not possible without redemption. Israel was commanded to be holy because they had been redeemed by God, and whatever God commands of people, He gives to them the ability to do it.
Purity of life on our part brings glory and satisfaction to God, for He desires to see His character in us. Nothing is more important to God than that we should be holy, for He is holy.
God has not called us to be gods or angels. He created us to be human beings: purified, holy men and women to love, adore and glorify Him.
The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:15
But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.
How foolish it is to rob ourselves of the capacity to distinguish between holy and unholy living, between good and bad.
Leviticus 10:9 (The LORD speaking to Aaron, the high priest)
Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.
A sound mind and the ability to think clearly are invaluable. God gives assets so why then would any person or priest, as in this example, set aside those amazing gifts for the temporary and deceptive exhalation of alcohol or any other mind-altering drug? The implication is that the sin of Nadab and Abner, in this matter, was traceable to a state of intoxication. Possibly they had partaken too freely of the wine provided for the drink offerings before lighting their censers with fire…fire not taken from the altar of burnt offering, as commanded by God. Read God’s instructions as given in His Word.
The God who commanded His people to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength was not willing to accept a priest with a mind stupefied by alcohol. God viewed this matter with such seriousness that He commanded, with the threat of death for disobedience, that it would forever be a rule among the priests that they would not go into the Tabernacle or Temple after drinking an alcoholic drink. To maintain purity of life and worship, they were to keep a sober mind.
This commandment to Aaron in Leviticus 10:9, above, was given before two of his sons, Nadab and Abner, had been killed by God for offering strange fire before the LORD.
Leviticus 16:12, 13; 30 (GOD speaking in verse 30)
12And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: 13And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not.
30For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
To live a pure life, we need a sober mind, transformed and renewed by God’s Holy Spirit and informed by God’s Word.
People will do things under the influence of alcohol that they would never do otherwise. Their inhibitions disappear; their convictions are weakened and sometimes destroyed.
As spiritual leaders of Israel, the congregation looked to these men, the priests, for guidance and their judgment in providing that guidance must never be clouded by strong drink.
God’s grace enables us to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. A holy, pure life has a “voice.” It speaks when the tongue is silent and is either a constant attraction or a perpetual reproof. Whatever is holy is healthy. The highest privilege on earth is that of being a real Christian.
1 Corinthians 15:57, 58
57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
The wonderful thing about the battles of life is that for the steadfast Christian the outcome is certain, the victory secure. Trials may perplex us; temptations may threaten to overwhelm us; uncertainties may bewilder us; pressures may exhaust us. Yet in the thick of the struggle, when the strife is the most difficult, the Christian can share Paul’s confidence that victory is assured in Christ.
How can one be so assured, stand so firm, be so unmovable? His assurance has a solid foundation. It rests on the nature and attribution of God who, among other things is omnipotent. It is based on the availability of God’s power to His people and on the Divine promises of success.
A man attending a flower show observed the beautiful blooms of the flowers and wondered how all this was possible. He inquired of the gardener, “How in the world do you manage to produce such marvelous blooms on your chrysanthemums?” “Well, sir,” said the gardener, “you see, we concentrate all the strength of the plant on one or two blooms. If we were to allow the plant to bear all the flowers it would, not one of them would be worth showing. If you have a prize bloom, you must be content with one instead of a score.”
Does not God cut away our useless blooms of self, comfort, ease, pleasure, wealth and success that He may bring to perfection the exquisite blossom of holiness and make the immortal spirit ready for the inheritance of the Kingdom of God?
Numbers 19:17 (GOD speaking)
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the LORD.
Why would God use dead bodies as a picture of spiritual defilement? Death was not in the human picture until sin entered. Death represents the ultimate consequences of sin. It destroys what is beautiful and useful. When death comes, a once healthy-looking body soon begins to deteriorate and decay. What physical death does to the human body, sin does to the human spirit.
6For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 7The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
Why did God choose Israel to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth? God’s answer to this question is simply that He loved Israel. While Israel was chosen of God for the very special purpose of being the nation that would give the world the Holy Scriptures and bring forth the Messiah, we must not conclude from this that God had no interest in the other nations of the world.
God’s purpose was that all the nations of the earth should be blessed by His choice of Israel. This purpose of God, the destiny of Israel, came to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Through Him, salvation is offered to all nations.
Because Israel was loved of God and chosen by Him to fulfill a special destiny, they were obligated to God to live according to His commandments. God, by the favor of His grace, laid claim to Israel’s devotion. In response to God’s favor, those Israelites who appreciated the privilege of being loved and chosen of God were motivated to live as His holy people.
Like Israel, believers in Christ are also loved of God and chosen by Him to fulfill a special destiny in His plan of salvation. As Christians, we too, have the benefits of God’s unmerited favor. In response to God’s favor, His amazing grace toward us, we should be motivated to live a pure life. The greatest and highest privilege on earth is that of being a real Christian.
Titus 2:11, 12
11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;