This chapter contains more guidelines that were laid down by the Lord in order to keep His people holy and separate from the heathen.
Idolatry of any kind was forbidden at all times, but the opening words of this chapter contain a very specific prohibition and penalty against anyone who particularly involved himself in the worship of the accursed idol Molech. The worship of this demonic idol was cruel, barbaric, and murderous; for it included the sacrificing of the worshipers’ own children to the repulsive image of this abominable false god. We ought to be shocked indeed at the hardened cruelty of these ancient idolaters in sacrificing their own sons and daughters! But it is sad to say that there are very many parents who sacrifice not only their children’s bodies, but also their souls, to the service of Satan; for they yield them up to be immersed in the institutions and activities of our heathen culture, or they surround them with bad examples and bad teaching. It is awful to think of the account that such parents must render to God on the Day of Judgment! On the other hand, however, children are reminded in this chapter that those who showed disrespect to their father or mother were worthy of death; and Christ Himself even confirmed this law (Matt. 15:4).
This chapter also repeats some laws which were made before, and it attaches very serious penalties to them. People may not avoid evil practices because the law has made them sin, but they would certainly be more inclined to avoid them when the law has made them death. In the midst of these laws, there is a general charge to God’s people: “Sanctify yourselves, and be ye holy.”
What does it mean to be holy? We can only form an idea of what holiness is by seeing it defined by the Lord, embodied in His character, and explained at length in His Word. The attribute of God Himself that is perhaps the most solemn and the most impressive is the attribute of holiness. It is the balance, so to speak, of all His attributes. Without holiness, His power would degenerate into cruelty. Without holiness, His omniscience would become crafty. Without holiness, His justice would degenerate into revenge. And without holiness, His goodness would be passionate and intemperate fondness, doing mischief rather than accomplishing good. We can see, therefore, that when holiness pervades and links together all the attributes of God, it gives Him a grandeur and magnificence that a Christian can comprehend, but even a poet cannot unfold.
Holiness, then, as it is seen in God, is that attribute which is of supreme importance. And holiness on our part is being conformed to this picture of our thrice-holy God. It is an admiration of His holiness, a desire to approach unto it, and a delight in the law that declares it and requires conformity to it. A rebel detests the law that condemns him; but a believer admires the equity, the glory, and the excellence of God’s law – even when it condemns him. Holiness in a Christian causes him to separate himself from the excessive love of lawful things, and from the forbidden love of sinful things; and it also causes him to grow more and more in the love of what Jesus has commanded in His written Word.
Genuine holiness is true and lasting beauty. It is real and original beauty. All things on earth are only dim shadows, at best, of the great originals that are in heaven; and since the time that sin entered the world, these dim shadows are also marred and stained. But because we are so enamored with these earthly objects, we tend to imagine that when the Bible uses things below to represent things above, it borrows aid from the earthly to set forth the splendor of the heavenly. But the truth is that the earthly is the copy, and the heavenly is the original. True beauty, therefore, is not the earthly beauty that the eye admires; but rather, it is that moral beauty of the heart, which a Christian deeply loves. The true beauty of a Christian, and the true beauty of the Church, is not in outward robes, ecclesiastical decorations, or architectural pomp and splendor; but in moral excellence. The King’s daughter has all her beauty within (Ps. 45:13), and it needs a spiritual eye to appreciate it. Even Christ, when He ministered on this earth, had no beauty in Him that caused the world to desire Him. And it is still said of Christ’s people, “The world knoweth us not” – that is, it does not distinguish or admire us. This is because spiritual things are foolishness to a person with an unconverted heart. But the true moral beauty with which the heart of a Christian is inlaid, and which grows in splendor and richness every day, is real beauty in the sight of the Lord. And it will outlive all the lovely tints of flowers, all the wonderful colors of the rainbow, and all that we consider beautiful here on earth. The day is quickly coming when the Bride of Jesus – clothed in robes that are now stained and torn by the wear and tear of a fallen world – shall be arrayed in those beautiful wedding garments that are prepared for her by her heavenly Bridegroom! She shall not be presented to Him as a sin-stained widow who is weeping and seeking for her everlasting Husband to return; but she shall be full of glory, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing!
Lord Jesus, the corrupt and fallen nature is the same in all of us. But oh! What everlasting praise we owe to You for redeeming us from our sins! Since You have brought us into Your Kingdom, we pray that we may have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Give us grace so that we may be clothed in the beauty of holiness, and so that we may present ourselves as living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to You, O Lord! Amen.
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