Life-Study of Leviticusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The subject of this message is “The Holy Living of God’s Holy People—Putting Off the Old Life and Putting On the New.” This message covers chapters eighteen through twenty. This long section of the Word is equivalent to Ephesians 4:17—5:14 in the New Testament, which charges the holy people of God to put off, as regards their former manner of life, the old man and put on the new man, which according to God was created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:22, 24), living a life that is holy, as God is holy.
By reading Ephesians 4:17—5:14 we are helped to understand Leviticus 18—20, and by reading this section in Leviticus we are helped to understand this portion of Ephesians. The more we read Ephesians 4:17—5:14, the more we understand chapters eighteen through twenty of Leviticus. In Old Testament terms, God’s people were not to live according to the Egyptians, among whom they once lived, nor according to the Canaanites. They were to put off the old man with the old manner of life and to put on the new man with the new manner of life. Leviticus 18:3 says, “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, in which you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan to which I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their customs.” Here we see that the Israelites were to live a new life, a life neither in the manner of the Egyptians, among whom they once lived, nor in the manner of the Canaanites, to whose land they were to be brought, but in the manner of God’s holy people. To put off the living of the Egyptians and the Canaanites was to put off the old man, and to live a life according to God’s holiness was to put on the new man.
In Leviticus 18 through 20 we have many ordinances and statutes of the law (20:22). The law is composed firstly of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, which are the basic elements of the law, are simple, short, and definite. Because the Ten Commandments are brief, they need explanation and extension. The ordinances and statutes are explanations and extensions of the Ten Commandments. Leviticus 18—20 is full of statutes and ordinances, which are explanations and extensions of the Ten Commandments. As a whole, the law is composed of the Ten Commandments plus the explanations and extensions of the Ten Commandments.
Many readers of the Bible, and even some translators of the Bible, do not understand the difference between statutes and ordinances and regard them as synonymous. Actually, there is an important difference between an ordinance and a statute. An ordinance is a statute with a judgment. However, a statute, a regulation, that does not include a judgment is simply a statute. In chapters eighteen through twenty of Leviticus, there are regulations that are without judgments; these regulations do not tell us how to judge a case. These regulations are statutes. Other regulations include judgments and therefore should be considered ordinances and not merely statutes.
In Leviticus 18—20 there is no repetition of the Ten Commandments, but there is the explanation and extension of the Ten Commandments. For example, one of the Ten Commandments forbids the worship of idols, and in the regulations concerning witchcraft there is an extension of this commandment (19:26, 31; 20:6). Another example is the extension in 20:9 of the commandment to honor our parents. This verse says, “If any man curses his father or his mother, he shall certainly be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; the guilt for his blood shall be upon him.” Many other examples of statutes and ordinances can be found in these chapters. In this message I shall only deal with certain matters, which are quite peculiar and are not covered elsewhere.
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