9:30 영어 예배 (English Service)
11:00 한글 예배 (Korean Service)
9:30 & 11:00 어린이 예배 (Sunday school)

Learning from Leviticus

제가 번역한 레위기에서 배우는 교훈의 원문입니다. 한글 번역에서는 일부 한 페라그라프를 삭제 했지만 이 글은 전문을 그대로 카피해서 옮겼습니다.

Source: “ Wiersbe, Warren W. 1996 Be Holy. “Be” Commentary Series. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

The fact that God devoted an entire book of the Bible to the subject of holiness would indicate that it’s an important subject, one that we dare not ignore. There were many fascinating details in this book that we weren’t able to study, but the main lessons stand out clearly. Let’s summarize a few of these lessons and make some practical applications to our Christian life today.

1. Our God is a holy God

Whenever we minimize the holiness of God, we’re in danger of minimizing human sinfulness, and the combination of these two errors results in the minimizing of the cross of Jesus Christ. If we want to preach the Gospel, we must have a holy God who hates sin and has done something about it at great cost to Himself. “It is because God is holy, as well as loving, that the atonement is provided,” wrote theologian Carl F.H. Henry.1

God’s holiness means His complete “apartness” from anything that is sinful. He is different from that which is common; He is separate from that which is defiling. But God’s holiness isn’t a static thing, like a block of pure ice. His holiness is active and alive, a “sea of glass mingled with fire” (Rev. 15:2). Everything about God is holy: His wisdom, His power, His judgments, and even His love. If His love were not a holy love, He would never have sent His only Son to die for the sins of the world and meet the just demands of His own nature and His own holy law.

I may be wrong, but I sense that many of God’s people today have lost the awesome sense of the holiness of God. Why?

For one thing, we don’t emphasize holiness in our churches. Like the campfire meeting of a Boy Scout troop, our “worship” services are spritely and joyful but totally lacking in the important emphasis on the holiness of God. Our preaching is people-centered, trying to “scratch people where they itch,” instead of pointing them to the holy God, who deserves their worship and obedience. People who get caught up in the greatness and holiness of God don’t worry much about where they itch.

The absence of church discipline and high standards of Christian conduct indicates that we don’t take holiness too seriously. In our promotion, we try to “sell” the church to the world by conveying the unbiblical idea that Christianity is “fun” and every pagan ought to join the club and start living on the sunny side of the street. I once heard a pastor say in his announcements, “Be sure to be at the service this evening. We’re going to have a fun time.” I thought of the words of James, written to worldly believers: “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9, NKJV).

I can’t conceive of Moses and the elders “having fun” on Mt. Sinai as they beheld the glory of God, or Isaiah reporting that he had a “fun time” in the temple when he saw “the Lord … high and lifted up” (Isa. 6:1). Nobody enjoys good humor and healthy laughter more than I do, but as I contemplate my sinfulness and God’s holiness, I want to join Job, Isaiah, Peter, and John and fall on my face in reverence and godly fear.

2. God wants His people to be holy

Eight times in Scripture, God said, “Be holy, for I am holy.” Since God’s commandments are God’s enablements, this commandment assures us that it’s possible to live a holy life. What health is to the body, holiness is to the soul; and the Great Physician can give us the spiritual health and wholeness that we need.

God wanted His people Israel to be “an holy nation” (Ex. 19:6), and this high calling applies to Christians today (1 Peter 2:9). Whatever else the church may be known for today—buildings, budgets, crowds, busy schedules—it certainly isn’t known for its holiness. How many Christians do you know about whom you could honestly say, “He is a man of God” or “She is a woman of God”? How many “Christian celebrities” qualify?

Israel failed to be a holy nation and therefore failed to give the witness to the world that God wanted them to give. Not only did Israel suffer for her sins, but also the pagan world suffered by not seeing in Israel the difference it makes when you belong to a holy God. The church emphasizes verbal witness but neglects godly character and conduct, and both are important. Jesus didn’t say, “Ye are the lips of the world,” but “Ye are the light of the world.” He didn’t say, “Ye are the sermons of the earth,” but “Ye are the salt of the earth.” A holy life dispels darkness and repels decay.

3. Holiness begins at the altar

The Book of Leviticus doesn’t begin with a prayer meeting, a praise service, or a sharing meeting. It begins at the altar where innocent sacrifices shed their blood for guilty sinners. It begins with the description of five sacrifices, all of which point to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.

The first step toward holiness is the admission of my own sin and the recognition of Christ as my only Savior and Redeemer from sin. If I think I’m going to become holy because of my sincere resolutions, my religious habits, or my theological knowledge, I’m heading for certain failure. True, we need spiritual knowledge, and we ought to resolve to cultivate godly habits; but apart from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all these good things are useless if not harmful.

The cross reveals God’s hatred of sin. Our sins killed His only Son. How can I be neutral or even friendly toward that which caused the Son of God to suffer and die? Unless I learn to detest sin, I’ll never be able to cultivate holiness.

But the cross also reveals the power of God to conquer sin. The blood of Christ cleanses us (1 John 1:7, 9), brings us near to God (Eph. 2:13), and purges us from sin (Heb. 9:14). By accepting His finished work and our sanctified position in Him (13:12), we take that first step toward living a holy life.

4. Holiness involves obedience and discipline

It wasn’t enough for the Jewish worshiper to bring a sacrifice to the altar and go away knowing that his or her sins had been forgiven. That worshiper also had to obey the rules and regulations that the Lord gave His people concerning what was clean and what was unclean. In other words, our holy God has the right to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong.

Believers today don’t pay attention to the Jewish dietary laws, but we should heed what they illustrate: There are some things in this world that must not get into our system because God disapproves of them. I’m not afraid to touch a dead body or pick up a bone, but I must be careful “to keep [myself] unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). Christian liberty isn’t license to participate in things that aren’t good for us.

I applaud the current emphasis on Bible study among Christians and rejoice at the many excellent tools that are available. But it isn’t enough to read and study the Bible. We’re supposed to “keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22). Disciplined obedience is an important part of holy living. It’s much easier to discuss and debate the Bible than it is to demonstrate its truths in our everyday lives.

The Old Testament Jews had to walk carefully to keep from being defiled (Eph. 5:15). They had to incorporate God’s standards of holiness into every aspect of their daily lives: the clothes they wore, the food they ate, the things they touched, the people with whom they fellowshipped. Husbands and wives had to put their most intimate experiences under the discipline of the Word of God. There was no such thing as “secular” and “sacred” to the Old Testament saint, for everything in life belonged to God.

Believers today think they’re spiritual if they attend church once a week and read from a devotional book the other six days. It’s only when God’s holiness increasingly begins to touch every area of our lives that we can say we’re starting to make progress in being holy.

5. Holiness must be from God and be genuine

We must beware of “false zeal.” God killed Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, because they brought “false fire” and false zeal into the sanctuary, violating the holy law of God. God doesn’t do that today; but if He did, not very many saints would be left. It’s likely that the two priests were under the influence of alcohol, which brings to mind Paul’s admonition that we not be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

Refined human nature can imitate spirituality but never duplicate it. Sentimental religious feelings are no guarantee that we’re pleasing God, and the absence of them doesn’t mean we’re failing God. I’m grateful for the renewed emphasis in the church on worship and praise, but we must be careful that our “fire” is ignited by the Holy Spirit from God’s altar and not by the flesh or even demonic forces. Satan is a deceiver, and we must be careful to detect and reject his counterfeits.

6. Holiness involves priestly mediation

The Old Testament Jew, not born in the tribe of Levi, was banned from the sacred courts of the tabernacle. He had to come to God by means of the mediation of the priests. In the New Testament church, all of God’s people are priests; but we must come to God through Jesus Christ, our mediating High Priest in heaven (1 Peter 2:5).

There can be no growth in holiness apart from fellowship with Jesus Christ. He finished the work of our salvation when He died and arose again on earth, but He now carries on the “unfinished work” of our sanctification as He intercedes in heaven. This is one of the major themes of the Book of Hebrews. He wants to “make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (Heb. 13:21).

Unlike the Old Testament believers, God’s people today can enter into His very presence (the holy of holies) and fellowship with Him (10:19–22). Through Jesus Christ, we have access to the throne of grace to “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). Unless we “take time to be holy” and commune with God, we will never grow in holiness or likeness to Jesus Christ.

7. Lack of holiness affects our land

We tend to think of sin as an individual activity that affects only the sinner, but this isn’t true. Moses made it clear that the sins of the people affected the land God had given them, and that the land would “vomit them out” if they persisted in their rebellion.

Idolatry and sexual immorality are the two sins that God especially singled out as polluting the land. “Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Lev. 18:24–25, NIV).

Although we should do all we can to uphold holy standards, the church doesn’t have the authority to impose God’s laws on the unsaved citizens of the land. But what should we do when the people in the church, who profess to know God, don’t practice these standards themselves? When the church becomes like the world, it will have no influence to change the world.

Idolatry and immorality are not only acceptable in today’s society, but they are also approved and promoted. Novels, movies, and TV programs exhibit and exalt sexual immorality to the point where it has become an important part of today’s entertainment. Sins that ought to send us to our knees weeping are now acceptable recreation. We expect this kind of godless living from the people of the world, but we don’t expect it from the people of God; and yet idolatry and immorality have invaded the church.

Judgment is coming, and it will begin “at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

8. Holiness isn’t a private affair

The Old Testament believer was part of a worshiping community; he or she didn’t try to “go it alone.” The priests were the overseers of the spiritual life of the nation; the Levites assisted them; and each member of the nation had a part to play in the ongoing battle against sin and the world.

One of the dangerous tendencies in Christendom today is the emphasis on “individual Christianity,” as though each believer is a “Lone Ranger” and doesn’t need anybody else to assist him or her in the quest for holiness. Of course, we need individual and personal daily devotional times with the Lord, but it mustn’t end there. We also need the help of our spiritual leaders and other believers in the church, and they need us.

The restful Sabbath Day gave parents opportunity to teach the Word to their children, and each Passover was another opportunity to review God’s mercy toward His people. The other feasts brought the community together, either to repent or rejoice. When we forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25), we rob ourselves of the blessings God gives to those who are a vital part of a worshiping fellowship.

9. Holiness glorifies the Lord

Since only God can make a person holy, a godly life is a trophy of His grace and a tribute to His power. Teachers can take credit for instructing us, pastors for mentoring us, and friends for encouraging us, but only God gets the glory when people see Christ reproduced in us.

We may not see the changes taking place, but God can see them, and so can others. The important thing isn’t that we measure ourselves the way we measure the growth of our children, but that we keep yielding ourselves and letting Him be glorified in all that we are and do.

10. Holiness means living to please God alone

If a Jew, walking alone in a field, accidentally became unclean, he could do one of two things. He could stay outside the camp and take the necessary steps for cleansing, or he could return to the camp, do nothing about it, and remain defiled. Nobody would know the difference, but he would be “toxic” and secretly defiling everything and everyone he touched; and the Lord would know all about it. Unless he obeyed the regulations given in God’s law and became clean again, he would be living a lie, doing a great deal of damage and inviting the discipline of God.

One of the principles Jesus stressed in the Sermon on the Mount is that we live our lives before the eyes of God, to please Him alone, and not before the eyes of people in order to impress them (Matt. 6:1–18). There are times when what we do is misunderstood by our friends on earth but fully understood and approved by our Father in heaven. In other words, Jesus wants us to concentrate on building character and not just building a religious reputation.

It makes no difference how loudly our friends applaud if God is displeased with us. “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13, NIV), so it’s futile to try to hide. According to 1 John 1:5–10, once we start lying to others (v. 6), we’ll soon start lying to ourselves (v. 8); and the result will be trying to lie to God (v. 10). This leads to a gradual deterioration of character that brings collapse and shame. We seek to live a holy life, not so that we can be recognized as “holy people,” but in order to please a holy God. We live before Him openly and sincerely, hiding nothing, fearing nothing.

For several years, I’ve had a plaque on the wall of my study containing this quotation from A.W. Tozer: “To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world.”

Knowing God and becoming more like Him is the easiest thing in the world because God is for us and gives us all the help we want as we seek to attain the goal. But it’s the hardest thing because almost everything within us and around us fights against us, and we have to exercise a holy determination to run the race and keep our eyes on the Lord (Heb. 12:1–3).

But it can be done; otherwise, God would never have said eight times in His Word, “Be holy, for I am holy!”

His commandment is the promise of His enablement.

Be holy!

 

 

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