Introduction: We are not made righteous by observing the Law. “[I]f righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Gal. 2:21). Yet, righteousness is a fruit of someone whom Christ has transformed on the inside. A believer in Christ becomes a “new creation”: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17; Jo. 3:3). Jesus advised that you will know a transformed believer by his or her fruits (Matt. 7:16, 20; 12:33; Lk. 6:43-44). Paul further explained that one of the fruits of a transformed person is when that person voluntarily seeks after the “righteousness” that is part the kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit: “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17). How do we know the signs of God’s righteousness and where it is lacking in us? Leviticus Chapter 19 describes several signs.
First, a person made righteous by Christ loves the Lord above all else. Out of devotion and not obligation, that person will want to observe the portions of the Ten Commandments that relate to God. Second, a person made righteous through Christ seeks fellowship with God by making themselves a “living sacrifice” for Him. Third, a person made righteous through Christ will want to love their neighbor as themself. Out of love and not obligation, that person will want to observe the portions of the Ten Commandments that relate to other people. Fourth, a person made righteous through Christ will want to be sanctified or stay separate from the unclean things of the world. Fifth, a person transformed by Christ’s righteousness puts the needs of the needy before themselves. Sixth, a person transformed by Christ’s righteousness acts with integrity. Finally, a person transformed by Christ’s righteousness is obedient to God and His laws out of love and devotion, not obligation.
A transformed believer desires to be holy. One sign of a transformed heart is the desire to be holy for God: “1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 ‘Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’” (Lev. 19:1-2; same 11:44-45; Ex. 19:6). God’s exhortation for believers to be holy is repeated in the New Testament: “[B]ecause it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:16; Eph. 1:4). Even though all will sin, Christ exhorts every believer to try to be holy: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48).
A transformed believer desires to honor his or her Heavenly Father. Another outward sign of a heart made righteous through Christ is the desire to honor your Heavenly Father: “‘2 Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father,’” (Lev. 19:3(a)). Honoring your father and mother is the Fifth Commandment (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). You are God’s “adopted” child (Ro. 8:14-17). You can honor your Heavenly Father in seven ways. First, “[y]ou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and all your mind.’” (Matt. 22:37-38; Lk. 10:27). Second, you can honor God by staying pure so that He can use you for His glory (Matt 3:2). Third, you can honor God by praying to in His holy name for others (Matt. 6:9). Fourth, you can honor God by tithing your time, talent, and treasure out of thanksgiving (Mal. 3:8). Fifth, you can honor God by submitting to His leaders, which include your parents, when they are acting within His law (Eph. 6:1; Col 3:20). Sixth, you honor God when your walk is a witness to others to become believers (Rom. 12:1; 13:14; 1 Cor. 3:16). Finally, you can honor God by spreading the Gospel to others (Matt. 28:19).
A transformed believer desires to give one day voluntarily to serve God. Another outward sign of a heart made righteous through Christ is the desire to give one day a week to honor Him voluntarily: ‘“. . . and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 19:3(b)). The Sabbath is the Fourth Commandment (Ex. 20:8-11; Dt. 5:12-16). Because of Christ, you are no longer obligated to observe a Sabbath (Col. 2:16). Yet, although not required, there are several reasons to observe a voluntary Sabbath, which can be on any day. First, observing the Sabbath (along with the other Commandments) is a sign of your love for Christ (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; Matt. 19:17; 1 Jo. 2:3; 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). He is the great “I AM” who gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Jo. 8:58; Ex. 3:14). Second, keeping a voluntary Sabbath allows God’s people to “refresh themselves.” (Ex. 23:12). Third, keeping a holy Sabbath allows time to worship and study God’s Word. Fourth, if your church is properly structured, keeping a holy Sabbath can bring fellowship and accountability (Heb. 10:24-25). Sixth, Jesus healed others during the Sabbath (e.g., Matt. 12:9-21; Mk. 3:1-6; Lk. 6:6-11; 13:10-17; 14:1; Jo. 5:1-18). His point was that a holy Sabbath should include volunteering and helping others. Finally, keeping a holy Sabbath allows you to receive a blessing from God: “Then you will take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;” (Is. 58:13-14). “How blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who takes hold of it; who keeps from profaning the Sabbath . . .” (Is. 56:2-7).
A transformed believer desires to avoid the idols of this world. A third sign of a transformed heart is the desire to shun the modern idols of the world, including money, the flesh, power, and prestige: “‘4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 19:4). The First and Second Commandments prohibit both idolatry and the worship of the gods of the world (Ex. 20:2-6; Dt. 5:6-10). These Commandments govern more than the formal worship of a deity. They govern what you do with you time, talent, and treasure. According to the Apostle Paul, you are a slave to whatever you serve (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). Jesus also explains that “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21; Lk. 12:34). There are seven ways to keep yourself free from idolatry. First, “[y]ou shall love the Lord God with all your heart, and all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:35-38; Dt. 6:4-9; 10:12-13; Ex. 20:1-8). Second, “consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5; Ps. 135:15; 115:4). Third, avoid unholy things that create conflicting desires between God and the things of the world (Matt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13; Jam. 4:4). Fourth, avoid those who seek after the idols of the world because they may also ensnare you (1 Cor. 5:11; 15:3). Fifth, just like sexual temptation, you are commanded to flee from any of the idols of the world that may that may tempt you: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Cor. 10:14). Sixth, if anything has become an idol in your life, you must repent and take radical steps and amputate it from your life (Matt. 5:29-30; Mk. 9:43-48). Finally, to keep yourself free from the idols of the world, you must renew your mind daily to stay focused on the Spirit and not the flesh (Ro. 12:2).
A transformed believer desires and seeks out fellowship with God. A second sign of a transformed person is the desire to seek out fellowship with God, which is symbolized by the “peace” or “Shalom” offering: “5 ‘Now when you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted.’” (Lev. 19:5). Atonement was a necessary step (but not by itself a sufficient step) for a believer to restore true fellowship with God. The reason why atonement does not automatically bring fellowship is that we were once “enemies” of God before we were reconciled through Christ’s blood (Ro. 5:10; Phil 3:18-19; Col. 1:21). Enemies don’t automatically become friends when they end their hostilities. In the Old Testament, parties solidified covenants with a meal, which showed the parties to be at peace (Gen. 26:26-31; Ex. 18:12). The Shalom or peace offering served this purpose with God (Lev. 3; Nu. 7:88). The Shalom offering symbolized a believer who was in peaceful fellowship with the Lord. It is not a temporary condition. It instead is a state of being. This sacrifice was the only sacrifice that was voluntary. It was also the only sacrifice where the believer could eat a part of the sacrifice. It symbolized a higher walk with God. The Jews shared this Shalom meal in God’s presence out of devotion, not obligation. God in turn brought them peace.
The relevance of the Shalom offering to Christians today. Today, Christians make “spiritual sacrifices,” not physical ones (1 Pet. 2:5). Christ’s death ripped the Temple “veil” and gave us direct access to God through Him (Matt. 27:51; Mk. 15:38). Yet, our “access” to God does not automatically mean that we have “fellowship” with Him (Rev. 3:20). An example of a saved believer who is not in fellowship with God is a believer trapped in addiction, rebellion, stress, or a lack of faith. Thus, atonement is merely the first step to finding fellowship with God. Christ also offered to believers the joy of spiritual intimacy with Him, symbolized by dining together with Him, like the Shalom offering: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). He offered this so that we could find both fellowship and peace through Him (Jo. 16:33). One of the reasons to take communion on a “frequent” basis is to remind believers of the need to constantly seek out fellowship with Him (Lk. 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-34). Salvation is only the first step in a person’s walk with Him. If you want true peace and fellowship with Him, you must accept His knock on the door of your heat. “For He Himself is our peace . . .” (Eph. 2:14).
A transformed believer does not delay in serving God. God also does not want you to delay in giving your best to Him: “‘6 It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and the next day; but what remains until the third day shall be burned with fire. 7 So if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an offense; it will not be accepted. 8 Everyone who eats it will bear his iniquity, for he has profaned the holy thing of the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from his people.’” (Lev. 19:6-8). Christ rose before the third day so that His body would not be corrupted (Acts 2:27; Ps. 16:10). We can therefore eat the Communion that He offers from His body because it is holy. By telling the people not to delay until morning, God was also telling them not to delay in giving the best of their time, talent, and treasure for Him.
(1) A transformed believer provides for the needy. Another outward sign of a transformed believer is the desire to help those in need: “9 ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 19:9-10). Throughout the Torah, God required that the poor be allowed to glean the fields so that they would not go hungry (Ex. 23:10-13; Lev. 23:22; Dt. 24:19-21). The landowners were also required to allow the fields to lie fallow on the seventh year to both heal the land and to allow the poor to harvest the fruit on the fallowed fields (Ex. 23:10-13). Helping others in need is part of Christ’s summary of the Second Half of the Ten Commandments: “You should love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39-40). God exhorts that every believer: “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Is. 1:17). “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Ps. 82:3). Throughout the Bible, He also exhorts believers to take care of the poor: “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Prov. 31:9; 29:7; 14:31; 31:9; Ps. 82:3; Dt. 15:7-8). “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matt. 5:44). “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,” (Lk. 14:13). “But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 Jo. 3:17). On the Day of Judgment, Jesus will ask what each person did for the poor and the needy (Matt. 25:40). In heaven, will you have much to discuss with Him about how you helped the poor and the needy?
(2) A transformed believer is honest in dealing with others. Another sign of a transformed believer is the desire to be honest in your dealings with others: “11 ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.’” (Lev. 19:11; Ex. 23:1-2). Stealing violates the Eighth Commandment (Ex. 20:15; Dt. 5:19; Eph. 4:28). Lying violates the Ninth Commandment (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20). Lies are one of the things that God “hates.” “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: . . . a lying tongue, and . . . a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16-19). “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” (Prov. 22:22). Satan is the father of all liars. When you lie, you are under his influence: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. . . . Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Are you honest in all your personal and business dealings with others?
(3) A transformed believer is a person of their word. A believer is an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). A believer who breaks his or her word misrepresents what it means to be a believer. Thus, believers are warned: “12 ‘You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:12; Dt. 6:13). Falsely swearing violates the Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). For this reason, Jesus warns us that the consequences of a broken vow to God are so serious that we should not carelessly make them (Matt. 5:33-36). When you do make a vow, Jesus exhorts you to be a person of your word: “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matt. 5:37). Do you casually break your word after making commitments to others?
(4) A transformed believer treats those they employ as they would want to be treated. A transformed believer also takes proper care of those who their hire: “13 ‘You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.’” (Lev. 19:13). “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the Lord and it become sin in you.” (Dt. 24:14-15; Jer. 22:13). “Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath.” (Jam. 5:4; 1 Tim. 5:18; Matt. 20:8). Are you fair and generous to those whom you hire?
(5) A transformed believer does not take advantage of others or cause them to stumble. A transformed believer also does not take advantage of others or cause others to stumble in their walk: “14 You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:14). Anyone who misleads the blind is cursed: “‘Cursed is he who misleads a blind person on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Dt. 27:18). If you mislead the spiritually blind, you do Satan’s work: “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” (Matt. 5:37). A believer must make sure that he or she does not cause another to stumble because of their own sins: “[B]ut rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.” (Ro. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9, 13). Any time your mind is focused on your concerns as opposed to the concerns of God your flesh can cause others to stumble: “But [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”’ (Matt. 16:23). Paul initially persecuted those who followed the Christ. Yet, Christianity would not be the same if the early Church “cursed” Paul for his initial blindness. God knows that His seeds do not turn into trees overnight. Are you being patient with new converts when they stumble? Are you doing things in your walk that might cause others to stumble?
(6) A transformed believer is impartial between the rich and poor. A transformed believer is also impartial between the rich and the poor: “15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.’” (Lev. 19:15). “[N]or shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.” (Ex. 23:3). “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (Jo. 7:24). The people of Israel chose Saul as their first king because they liked his outward appearances. He was “a choice and handsome man.” (1 Sam. 9:2). Yet, inside he was corrupt. God later killed him when he turned to a medium for guidance (1 Chron. 10:13). If John the Baptist came to you in rags while eating locusts, would you listen to him?
(7) A transformed believer guards the tongue from harming others. A transformed believer also does not cause injury to the reputation of another with an unbridled tongue: “16 ‘You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, . . .’” (Lev. 19:16(a)). A “slander” is someone who has been given over to a depraved mind (Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:20). The Bible also warns that a “slanderer” is a “fool” (Prov. 10:18) who separates “intimate friends.” (Prov. 16:28). “He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.” (Ps. 15:3; 14:5; Ex. 23:1). “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit.” (Prov. 2:17; 24:28). “Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor.” (Prov. 5:18; 25:18). “These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another . . ..” (Zech. 8:16; 3:13). “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Eph. 4:25). “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (Jam. 3:5-6). When others hurt you, do you spread gossip about them?
(8) A transformed believer also avoids causing physical harm to others. A transformed believer also avoids causing physical harm to others: “16 ‘You shall . . . not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:16(b)). Even if another person tries to harm you, Jesus advises you not to fight back: “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matt. 5:39; Lk. 6:29). Let God judge those who harm you: “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and He will save you.” (Prov. 20:22). “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.” (Ro. 12:17(a), 12:19; 1 Pet. 3:9). Are you allowing your flesh to cause harm to those who hurt you?
(9) A transformed believer loves their enemies. A transformed believer also loves their enemies: “17 ‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:17-18; Ex. 23:4-5; Prov. 25:21). ‘“I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43-44; Lk. 6:27-28; Rom. 12:20; Jo. 13:34). Jesus asked God to forgive those who had crucified Him (Lk. 23:34). Like Jesus, are you praying for God to forgive those who hate you and for those who have caused you harm?
(1) A transformed believer does not mix the things of the world with the Word of God. Part of staying separate from the world is symbolized by the duty not to wear clothes made with two kinds of material or to mix unrelated cattle or seeds: “19 ‘You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” (Lev. 19:19). “You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.” (Dt. 22:11). Today, Orthodox Jews still adhere to this commandment with chemical tests to make sure that their clothes don’t contain mixed fabrics. But this rule means something more than prohibiting mixed fabrics like polyester. To understand these rules, we must understand what they symbolize. From the parable of the sower, Jesus reveals that the seed symbolizes the Word of God (Matt. 13:18-19). Through Isaiah, God reveals that clothing is a symbol of a person’s outward acts. He called the purported righteous acts of believers to be filthy “rags” to God (Is. 64:6). The fabrics are what make up your clothes. If your clothes symbolize your actions, the fabrics symbolize the motives behind your actions. Together, these rules have two meanings. First, believers should not mix the teachings of God with the teachings of mankind. Examples include trying to integrate with the Bible the doctrines of modern psychology, humanism, or the cultural sexual practices of society. Another example is mixing pagan holiday traditions with God’s holy days. If you love the doctrines of the world, the truth is not within you (1 Jo. 2:15; Jam. 4:4, 7-8). Second, your motives in serving God should not be polluted by selfish motives. For example, if you are serving God because you think it will enhance your salvation prospects you undermine what Christ did on the cross for you (Gal. 2:16). Likewise, if you are volunteering to be recognized or for your resume, Jesus warns that you have already received your reward (Matt. 6:1-4). Are you boasting about your philanthropy? Is there any selfish ambition behind your worship?
Don’t alter God’s creation. In the verses above, God also commands that people not mate different kinds of animals together (Lev. 19:19(a)). God created each of the animals after their own kind (Gen 1:25). Thus, cross-breeding horses with donkeys to create mules violates God’s rules. Today, as mankind develops the ability to alter the genetics of humans or animals, the Church must be vocal to stop people from altering God’s creation.
(2) A transformed believer does not engage in fornication, adultery, or sexual harassment. Another sign of a transformed believer is a desire to avoid relations with someone married, someone promised to another, or a subordinate: “20 ‘Now if a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave acquired for another man, but who has in no way been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment; they shall not, however, be put to death, because she was not free. 21 He shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord to the doorway of the tent of meeting, a ram for a guilt offering. 22 The priest shall also make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin which he has committed, and the sin which he has committed will be forgiven him.’” (Lev. 19:20-22). When two unsaved married adults or a married adult and an engaged adult voluntarily agree to engage in adultery, the eternal penalty is death (Dt. 22:22; Lev. 20:10; 18:20). This violates the Seventh Commandment (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). God also prohibits rape (Dt. 22:25-29). While consensual sex before marriage used to result in either a forced marriage or a penalty paid by the male (Ex. 22:16-17), God announced in the New Testament that both will be punished as fornicators (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9). But what about a circumstance where the woman is not truly free? In the Old Testament, that arose with indentured servants. Today, the more relevant example would be a subordinate in a work place who feels pressured to accept sex to keep his or her job. A person cannot sexually harass a subordinate. Under God’s law, sexual harassment must be punished with the payment of restitution.
(3) A transformed believer is patient to wait upon the Lord’s development and growth. Another sign of a transformed believer is patience. God explains this through a commandment that applied to the settlers of the Promised Land and as a parable to believers today. After invading the Promised Land, God’s people could not harvest the fruit from a tree or plant during its first three years of growth. On the fourth year, the fruit was given to the Lord. After that, the fruit could be eaten by people: “23 ‘When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten. 24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. 25 In the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit, that its yield may increase for you; I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 19:23-25). For the Jews, they needed to trust God while they waited for fruit that they could eat. In the New Testament, Jesus reveals that He is the vinedresser and we are the vines (Jo. 15:1). As the vinedresser, He prunes His believers to produce healthy fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:21-22). We see an example of this in Jesus’ ministry. Like the new plants, His public ministry was exactly three years in length. During these three years, His 12 disciples were not ready to lead. God had to prune them of their flesh during their time of training, and even cut off the branch of Judas. On the fourth year, the ministry of the disciples began in the book of Acts in God’s city, Jerusalem. In the fifth year, it began to spread to the rest of the world. In the New Testament, we are told that new believers cannot serve as elders in God’s Church (1 Tim. 3:6). God wants you to build a foundation before you lead others. He also wants you to be patient and let Him develop you before racing off to start a ministry. The lesson for the Church is to disciple new believers for at least three years before letting them lead.
(4) A transformed believer honors the blood of Christ and does not does not drink blood. A transformed believer also respects the blood of Christ: “26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood nor practice divination or soothsaying.” (Lev. 19:26). Throughout the Old Testament, God prohibited the people from drinking the blood of any animal (e.g., Gen. 9:3-4; Lev. 7:26-27; 17:10; Dt. 12:15-16, 23-25). In the New Testament, God twice restated this rule when listing the rules for the Old Testament that still apply after Christ’s death (Acts 15:19-20, 28-29). The life of the animal is in its blood (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). The blood was offered as a vicarious substitute for the penalty of death. The blood of Christ is the only symbolic blood that we are still allowed to drink (Jo. 6:53-56). We drink His symbolic blood because we remember that our sins were transferred to Him through His blood (1 Cor. 11:25). In handing the cup to the disciples, Jesus said: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mk. 14:24). Someone who drinks the symbolic blood of Christ without believing in what He did brings damnation onto him (Heb. 10:29). Leviticus 19:26 further suggests that drinking blood from an animal is an act that puts you in communion with demons. If pressed to drink blood after killing an animal or when asked to eat a food with blood, a believer should decline out of respect toward Christ.
(5) A transformed believer does not defile the temple of the Holy Spirit. (Of beards and men). God’s people were told not to cut themselves, the “corners” of their heads or their beards in mourning “for the dead.” “27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead . . . ” (Lev. 19:27-28(a); 21:4-5; Dt. 14:1-2). Orthodox Jews interpret these verses to prohibit men from trimming their beards. But non-orthodox Jews reject this interpretation. These verses do not prohibit someone from shaving. Shaving beards was permitted when it was not to honor the dead (Nu. 6:5; 2 Sam. 14:26; Amos 8:10; Micah 1:16; Jer. 41:5). If beards were always required, there would be logically no need to regulate when they could be cut. What then should we make of this rule? During Old Testament times, some gentiles tried to honor their gods and the dead by cutting themselves and the “corners” of their beard near the chin, below the ears, and on top of their heads. Captured gentile woman also shaved their heads in mourning their dead (Dt. 20:13-14; 21:12-14). The followers of Baal also cut themselves as an act of worship (1 Kgs. 18:28). Today, none of these practices still exist. Yet, these verses have a different application today. The most prevalent god of today is ourselves (Is. 47:8-10). To glorify themselves, people pierce their bodies, have surgical implants, or face lifts out of vanity. Believers should never defile themselves to glorify themselves.
(6) A transformed believer does not put graffiti on the temple of the Holy Spirit with tattoos. Although the prohibition against shaving was limited to a certain context, God prohibited tattoos in all contexts: “28 . . .nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:28(b)). Until recently, it was widely accepted that Christians should not tattoo themselves. Your body is the temple of God where the Holy Spirit resides today (1 Cor. 6:19). God says that your body was fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:13). Believers are also told to “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20). Believers are told to further abstain from even “the appearance of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Putting a tattoo on your body is like spraying graffiti on your church. Even if you like it, it may offend others. Even if a tattoo depicts a cross or a Bible verse, believers should avoid doing things that cause others to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13; 10:32).
(7) A transformed believer teaches their children not to defile themselves. A transformed believer also teaches his or her children to also stay pure from the unclean things of the world: “29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.” (Lev. 19:29). God expects you to do this by teaching His Law to your children (Dt. 4:9-10; 6:7; 11:19; 31:12-13). “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6). Do you teach your children the importance of purity? Are you leading them by example?
(8) A transformed believer stays separate from the world by observing a voluntary Sabbath. A transformed believer not only observes a voluntary Sabbath out of devotion toward God, that person also observes a Sabbath to stay separate from the things of the world: “30 You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:29-30). Yet, not every day off is holy. Many people observe weekends without a moment of devotion towards God. Moreover, for many who attend church, the time of devotion is limited to just the service. Are you spending a full day a week devoted to study and worship?
(9) A transformed believer does not do things that puts him in communion with demons. Another sign of a transformed believer is the desire to avoid cultural activities that put the believer in communion with demons: “31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 19:31). These rules are found throughout the Torah: “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Lev. 20:6). “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.” (Ex. 22:18; Dt. 18:10-12; Is. 8:19; 2:6). When Saul tested God by turning to a medium (1 Sam. 28:7-8), God responded by killing him (1 Chron. 10:13). Believers are not to turn to horoscopes, mediums, astrologers, tarot card readers, hand readers, or Ouija boards. All these things place a believer in communion with demons (1 Cor. 10:19-20). Believers should also limit their children’s access to movies and shows that glorify sorcery.
A transformed believer desires to help the elderly. Another sign of a person transformed by Christ’s righteousness is the desire to put the needs of the less fortunate before themselves. Taking care of the elderly is one example of this: “32 ‘You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.’” (Lev. 19:32). Caring for the elderly is part of the Fifth Commandment (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). In the Old Testament, this meant providing for an elderly parent. Today, if someone is in a nursing home, this means giving up your time to give them love and companionship.
A transformed believer desires to help the foreigners or strangers amongst them. A transformed believer also shows compassion toward immigrants and strangers: “33 ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev. 19:33-34). This commandment appears throughout the Torah. “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 23:9; 22:21; Dt. 10:19; 24:17-18). This Law also appears again in the New Testament: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2). In the parable of the good Samaritan, a traveler (who may been a foreigner) was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the road. Both a priest and a Levite passed by without touching the man. Finally, a Samaritan (who was despised by the Jews) came by and helped the injured stranger. The religious men only had a form of godliness. They did not have a love for strangers and foreigners (Lk. 10:29-37). The lesson is that God cares less about your outward signs of godliness than your heart. Although believers have a right to expect people to follow immigration laws (Ro. 13:1-4), God still expects you to show love and kindness toward struggling immigrants and their children.
A transformed believer acts with integrity in all his dealings with others. In Old Testament times, the primary means of calculating a fair price in commerce was with a scale. God’s people were warned that severe punishment awaited them if they manipulated the scale to increase their profits: “35 ‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity. 36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin; I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.’” (Lev. 19:35-36). “13 You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Dt. 25:13-15). “You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath.” (Ez. 45:10). “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” (Prov. 11:1; 20:10; 23; Hosea 12:7). Persons who defraud consumers will also face God’s judgment (Micah 6:11). Today, people don’t use scales in commerce. Yet, people can create false or inflated work invoices. Or, they can charge an unsophisticated customer a higher rate than they might charge to a more sophisticated client. Do your business practices honor God when no one is watching?
A transformed believer desires to be obedient to God. Finally, a sign of a believer transformed by Christ’s righteousness is the desire to voluntarily obey God’s Ten Commandments, His laws of morality and His calling in your life: “37 ‘You shall thus observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them; I am the Lord.’” God’s call to obedience is repeated no less than 15 times in this chapter. Moreover, by repeating the phrase “I am the Lord your God,” He reminded the Jews of His initial words immediately before He gave the 10 Commandments (Ex. 20:2). Although many Christians celebrate that that no longer are obligated to follow the Ten Commandments as a test for salvation, Jesus warned: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10). “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3). Are you disobeying God’s call or His Law in an area of your life?