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Posts Tagged ‘Leviticus’

Leviticus & Romans 8

Memorizing Romans 8 and studying/teaching Leviticus at the same time has been an eye-opening experience.  I admit to my limited knowledge of Leviticus, and realize that I am (unfortunately) in the majority in this.  I’ve made it a point this year as I teach through the Pentateuch to grow in my understanding of this neglected book.

Two points jump out at me as I’m also working through Romans 8.  The first seems somewhat obvious.  In verse 3, Paul writes, “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering” (TNIV).  For now I won’t get into the discussion over whether that last phrase should be translated “to be a sin offering” or simply “for sin” (ESV).  Either way, the point I’m making is not affected.

All throughout Leviticus we read about various types of sacrifices and purifying rituals to deal with the issues of sin and uncleanness.  Paul is well aware of the levitical background and is making a powerful statement here- that the problem of sin and broken relationship with God was solved by God Himself in His Son.

The second point is the relationship between holiness and uncleanness.  To quote T D Alexander’s book From Paradise to the Promised Land, “… holiness and uncleanness are totally incompatible… [it was] impossible for anyone or anything to be holy and unclean at the same time” (p.212).  Immediately when I read these words, I was reminded of Paul’s refusal to accept that the people of God (those who have been made holy by Him) should be slaves of sin.  “You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Spirit” (Romans 8:9).  “Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness” (6:19). 

For Paul, and Leviticus, the mixture of holiness and impurity is impossible.  This should disturb all of us who are accustomed to having our feet planted firmly in both worlds.  But Paul reminds us that God has made us holy through Jesus, and is continuing to make us holy through the power of His Spirit.  We are to “become as we are,” as it has been said.  God has made us holy.  Now let’s act like it.

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