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Holiness as separation from the worldly

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God’s people are called to holiness, which involves being distinct from other people. In the OT, this is seen in the command to separate from other nations and from everything that can compromise commitment to the Lord. In the NT believers are called to distance themselves from the ways and values of the world, which can be dishonouring to God and destructive to obedience to him.

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Israel is to be set apart from other nations

Leviticus 20:23–26 ESV
And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.
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Common things are designated clean or unclean by ritual law

Clean and unclean animals

Leviticus 11:46–47 ESV
This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.
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Infectious skin diseases




Bodily discharges



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What is holy must be kept separate

The Israelites must distinguish between the holy and the common


Contact with the profane desecrates the holy

Acts 21:28 ESV
crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”
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Unclean people and things must be removed

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Unclean people are not to approach what is sacred


The holy must be treated with respect

Unintentional defilement of the holy carries a penalty

Leviticus 5:14–16 ESV
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

Warnings against contempt for the holy

Leviticus 22:1–2 ESV
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the Lord.
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Examples of contempt for the holy

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Christians are called to be separate from the ways of the world

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