Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Principle and Practice

“For I am the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy as I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45) “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom?” (1 Corinthians 6:9)

Leviticus 11:45 is in the context of the Lord’s instructions to Moses about “clean and unclean” and about how to get clean when an uncleanness occurs. This verse and another similar one at the end of the chapter point to the foundational principle behind the instructions: God is holy, and we, therefore, must be holy. Sin compromises holiness and must, therefore, be resolved. We are to move from the unholy toward the holy, and “holy” means “to be set apart.” That’s the principle we are called to follow.

The context of 1 Corinthians 6:9 starts out with Paul decrying lawsuits among believers. He reminded the Corinthians that Christians are “saints,” which means to be set apart to God (as holy), and that Christians will judge angels as well as the things of this life, suggesting that surely in cases where an injustice has occurred, this could be handled among believers rather than unbelievers. In addition, he went on to point out that believers should not in fact even act in unjust or cheating ways. At that point Paul pointed out that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom, and he even specified a list of categories of unjustness or sin: the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers. Our American culture of 2010 deems about 60% of that list currently acceptable. Nevertheless, those who follow lifestyles like these are following a lifestyle that is unjust. Christians are called to leave behind such lifestyles and move forward on the path of a life that is set apart to God. This is the practice we are called to follow.

Lord, Both in principle and in practice, may our lives bring rejoicing to You. Amen.

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