Holiness is the evidence of the salvation God provides.
Leviticus 20:23, 26 – “You shall not follow the practices of the nation that I am driving out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. … ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I Yahweh am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”
All throughout the book of Leviticus, God reiterates over and over how his people were to be distinct from the people around them. They were to avoid copying their religious practices and social customs. Yahweh says, “Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.” And yet, as the history of Israel unfolds, we find that they stubbornly continued the idolatrous practices that eventually led to God removing them from their land by the Assyrians and Babylonians.
2 Kings 16:6-8 – “In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria; he carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced.”
The same God still desires his people to be holy and set apart today. Yet there appears to be an ongoing desire to participate in the customs of the people around us. It is no longer just a mild or sporadic resistance to certain aspects of obedience to God, but now flagrant disregard for the commandments and practices that should be setting us apart. God has provided the commandments as a way of protecting his people from the harm that comes from these destructive practices, and yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish God’s people from the rest of the nations.
Fearful of appearing to be legalists, God’s people instead go along with the cultural and societal practices under the guise of “reaching out” to others, or simply out of ignorance. Believers have been taught for so long that the law of God has been “done away” in Messiah, that they have adopted an “anything goes” mentality instead of maintaining a purposeful separation from the harmful practices of our societies.
Understanding why God wanted his people separate can help: God’s people are his, and bear his name in this world.
Leviticus 20:26 – “You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine.”
When we recognize our lives as believers are not our own, we begin to understand that God has rightful authority to direct us and that he does so because he cares for us and wants to rescue us completely from the worldliness around us. The longer we resist his authority and instead choose our own paths, the longer we will remain in conditions he never desired for us to be in.
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