“You are the children of the Lord your God;
you shall not cut yourselves
nor shave the front of your head for the dead;
for you are a holy people to the Lord your God,
and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for himself,
a special treasure above all the peoples
who are on the face of the earth.”
That the Jews should not cut themselves or shave their heads as a sign of mourning were two of the many statutes which the Lord commanded them. Cutting oneself or shaving the head in mourning were practices that the heathen nations around them did. God is telling Israel here that they are not to practice the doings of the peoples around them, BECAUSE …they are a holy people to the Lord, SEPARATED from the world unto him.
Believers in Jesus are not commanded to observe the laws of the Levitical covenant given by Moses to Israel. Believers in Jesus are not under the Levitical laws because Jesus was not a Levite. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.
“For the priesthood being changed,
of necessity there is also a CHANGE of the law.
For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe
from which no man has officiated at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah…”
So we’re free from the Levitical Laws, the Old Covenant, but instead we have a whole new covenant with different laws. For Jesus said:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old,
‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders
will be in danger of the judgment.’
But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother
without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”
The Levitical law made clear that one is not to murder. But the law of our covenant says we must bridle even the anger that could lead up to that. The old covenant was earthly, but the new covenant is of the heart. The old covenant was written on tables of stone, but the new covenant is written on the heart of the believer. Under the old covenant, one feared to break the laws for fear of punishment, but the laws of the new covenant are written on the heart so that a man will not WANT to break them.
When a person is born again, his or her whole life changes. He finds himself disinterested in the things he used to do, and he finds himself desiring the things of God. If a person claims to be born again but that person’s life didn’t change, then one might well question whether or she ever truly was born again because being born again changes everything and that will become obvious. “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)
Believers in Jesus are called out of the world to be a holy people. That means that the believer is separated from the world and is not to walk according to the principles of the world. If a believer looks like the people of the world, again one might question whether he has truly been born again. When one is born again, he loses interest in the ways of the world, not by command but by a change of heart.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life
—is not of the Father but is of the world.
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it,
but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
1 John 2:15-17
If you want to be one of the crowd, loving what they love and doing what they do, then you have no place in the Kingdom of God. Believers are called to be a SEPARATE people, a holy people, a people that has left the ways of the world. That does not mean we don’t socialize with our neighbors, it means that we have a heart that is different from theirs, and that should be obvious. The believer must always remember that wherever he is and in whatever he does he represents Christ to the world. If the world can’t see a difference in him, then something’s wrong with that picture.
“Therefore come out from among them and be SEPARATE says the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 6:17