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boy giving dog a bath February 22 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Leviticus 17, 18, 19, 20

Staying Clean; a Practical Guide to Holiness

Dogs seem impossible to keep clean, and we may feel that way about children. In vain we instruct them, “Don’t get your dress dirty,” or “Don’t get any grass stains on those new jeans!” We want them to stay clean. When we have teenagers we may tell them to make sure they have good friends, don’t get into trouble, and come back home before curfew.

As adults, God also wants us to stay clean because we can get into trouble. We may return to a sinful lifestyle from which we were saved, be influenced by bad friends or places, or be tempted to return to some addiction. We need to establish godly habits like Bible reading, prayer, going to church, and ministering to others. We also need to find better places to hang out and make sure our good friends are committed Christians. It is also a good idea to have accountability partners. With these new habits we can avoid slipping back into destructive and abusive habits, and then we can experience the continual blessing of the Lord. What else can we do to stay clean?

In today's Bible reading the LORD gives specific and practical details in a covenant he has made with his people, the Israelites. These comprise a long list of do’s and don’ts which they are to keep to stay clean or holy. In our day, it may seem old fashioned, but signing a commitment paper to refrain from certain things and to do other things for the glory of the LORD would be a good way to help us stay spiritually clean. Many people do not like to make commitments, but commitments which are Biblical are pleasing to God. What does the LORD require of Israel? What commitments are pleasing to him?

First, God wants to be worshipped as the one and only God. The people of Israel carried some of their old sinful culture with them when they were delivered from Egypt. They were still sacrificing oxen, lambs, and goats in the fields to a goat idol (Leviticus 17:7). Therefore, God tells them to bring all their sacrifices to the tabernacle to worship only him. If they do not do this, they will be cut off from the assembly of Israel. This may mean they will have to leave the camp (17:9) or possibly be killed (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, p. 199).

Have we spent our money and time for sinful things in the past? After meeting our family obligations, why not give our money and time to a gospel preaching church or donate them to another Christian charity?

Second, God wants the Israelites to respect life. He appoints the blood of acceptable domesticated animals to atone [make substitute reparations] for the life of the Israelites. Therefore, since the blood of the animal gives it life, it is not to be eaten. And, if any wild animal is hunted for food, they are to drain out the blood and cover it with earth before the animal is cooked and eaten. If they do not obey this directive, again they face the penalty of being cut off. In the New Testament time of Jesus, his blood is shed as a substitutionary sacrifice for all people (1Corinthians 11:23-29). We need to respect the blood of Christ which is shed for us to atone for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-14).

Staying clean also affects the sexual behavior of the Israelites. They are not to have sexual relations with their family members or neighbors or engage in homosexual behavior or have sex with animals. They are not to dishonor their parents. They are not to be involved with idolatry. If they do these things they will be killed. God wants the Israelites to be set apart from their evil culture and set apart to him in righteousness. These are some of the stipulations for the covenant treaty. If we don’t want to be influenced by our culture, then we must make decisions ahead of time for how we will deal with moral issues. God says to Moses,

“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God.

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. Do not follow their practices.

You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God.

Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.’” (Leviticus 18:2-5, NIV)

Do we want to stay clean? Then we must make commitments to not live according to our ungodly culture but to stay clean for the LORD. It was for despicable moral behavior that, in a metaphoric way, the land vomited wicked nations out of Canaan, the Promised Land. This is another way of saying that God got sick of their wickedness and expelled them. He warns the Israelites that if they do these things, the land will also vomit them out. If, however, they and any aliens among them keep the decrees of the LORD, they will live prosperously in the land (Leviticus 20:22-24). Likewise, if we are to stay clean before God, we must regularly read his Word to find out what pleases him and then obey him. We must not trample on the grace of God by living immorally. If we do, the LORD will punish us. We must live holy (clean) lives before our LORD to experience his blessings.

Lessons to Live By

  • God must be worshipped first of all. Have we spent our resources for sinful things in the past? Why not bring those extra resources to church or donate them to another Christian charity?
  • Respect the blood of Christ which was shed for us to atone for our sins. He gives us forgiveness of sins, peace and spiritual life (more...)
  • In order to stay clean there must be commitments made, and they must be done for the right reason (for the LORD).
  • We must not trample on the grace of God by living immorally. We must live holy (clean) lives before our God to experience his blessings.

Focus Verse

Leviticus 20:26 (NIV) “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: Why do we want to stay clean? Because Our Lives are a Tribute to God. Find out what that means and how it affects each of us and our world in our Next Lesson.

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