Israel's Practical Sanctification: Part 1

Leviticus 20:9‑21  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The first place is given, as is meet, to heinous rebellion against Jehovah in an Israelite or a sojourner in their midst. This is followed up by an awfully dark list of enormous wickedness, which opens with reviling one's father and mother. Setting up one's own will against a parent's authority is akin in a lower way to renouncing the true God for a false one. Hence it is that not a few connect ver. 9 with the preceding paragraph rather than with the subsequent one. Indeed the “For” with which it begins, if so rendered, goes to support it. On the other hand, revolt from Jehovah makes a good division.
“9 For everyone that curseth (or, revileth) his father and his mother shall surely be put to death; he hath cursed his father and his mother; his blood [is] upon him. 10 And a man that committeth adultery with a man's wife, that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 And a man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood [is] upon them. 12 And if a man lie with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have wrought confusion; their blood [is] upon them. 13 And if a man lie with a male, as he with a woman, both of them have committed abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood [is] upon them. 14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it [is] enormity (or, incest), with fire shall they burn him and them, that there be no enormity among you. 15 And if a man lie with a beast for copulation, he shall surely be put to death; and ye shall kill the beast. 16 And if a woman approach unto any beast to gender with it, thou shalt kill the woman and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [is] upon them. 17 And if a man take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness and she see his nakedness, it [is] a disgrace: and they shall be cut off before the eyes of the sons of their people. He hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity. 19 And if a man shall lie with a woman in her infirmity, and uncover her nakedness, he hath laid naked her flux, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood; and both of them shall be cut off from among their people. 20 And the nakedness of thy mother's sister and of thy father's sister thou shalt not uncover; for he hath laid naked his own flesh (or, near of kin): they shall bear their iniquity. 20 And if a man lie with his aunt, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 21 And if a man take his brother's wife, it is uncleanness; he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness: they shall be childless” (vers. 9-21).
Here then we commence with open and deep dishonor to one's parents, which was to be punished with death. And the same sentence is pronounced upon the nearest and deepest wound one man can inflict on another, a sin not foully wrong only but in despite of Jehovah who instituted married union from the beginning. His law was as extreme against these sins, as against what denied Himself.
But greater impurity prevailed among the heathen, and especially those who occupied the promised land. The sons of Israel too were soon to be exposed to their shameless example. He who gave them Canaan knew their hearts far better than they themselves did. Hence these solemn and painful denunciations of incest, &c. Flesh is the same root of vileness in a Jew as in a Gentile. Restraint may hinder its outbreak; but evil lusts are there, ready to carry away the impulsive and headstrong beyond all bounds.
The Lord Jesus is in every way the Savior; not from divine punishment only but from sins. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses according to the riches of God's grace; but in Him we have life also, life eternal, for He is the Son, and gives nothing less than this life to everyone that believes on Him. And life in Christ is the indispensable basis of the new nature, and of our new relationships and duties, affections and privileges, crowned since redemption with the indwelling Spirit for the Christian and for the church, that both might have an immediate link with God and power from Him.
Is the flesh then gone in fact? By no means; but it is gone for faith, as condemned by God in Christ's cross, where our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin. We are entitled therefore to say henceforth, that we died with Him, not only to and from sin, but from the religious elements of the world and its philosophy; and our life is hid with Him in God. We are not of the world as He is not; and we await His coming, not to be unclothed but with our eternal house from heaven, when the mortal shall be swallowed up of life. Meanwhile we are exhorted and bound to mortify our members which are upon the earth, instead of gratifying unclean lust or passion; also to put off those of violence, and not to lie one to another. We have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man that is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him that created him. Thus Christ is the all, and in all.
But for practice everything turns on our dependence by faith on Christ every day and all through it. Nor is anything more dangerous or ruinous than the highest truth without such dependence. Apart from Him we can do nothing, On the other hand, If ye abide in Me, and I in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall come to pass to you. So even the Ephesian saints, addressed in the most elevated of the Pauline Epistles, were told, Let the stealer steal no more. Let no corrupt word go out of your mouth. Be not drunk with wine wherein is riot and debauchery. What dishonor to the Lord, what pleasure to Satan, that they should be entrapped into these evils or even worse! What need to be kept of God!