28 Jan 2024

Lamb Chop Or Pork Chop [Leviticus 11]


Clean vs unclean. Kosher vs non-kosher. Lamb chop or pork chop. Leviticus 11 makes a clear distinction between them. 1. So what is clean and unclean? 2. What is this distinction based on? 3. Is it still binding for today? 4. And what is the real spiritual lesson behind it all? This is a sermon that takes us through the teaching of "Food & the Bible", and how it leads us ultimately to Jesus and the gospel.

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If you're joining us for the first time, we're going through the book of Leviticus. Leviticus is the third book in the Bible and this is our fourth sermon together.

This morning I'd also like to talk about some wonderful, delectable char siu. Char siu is a beautiful dish. I think it is, this is, I mean this is what gets me all the time. I love char siu that is well caramelized, chao da, you know. It's, it's aromatic, it's beautiful and I like char siu that is ban fei shou.

You know when you go to the hawker centre, uncle char siu, it's, it's, it's a good char siu, you can ask them for ban fei shou. Ban fei shou means half fat, half lean. That's the best because if your char siu is all lean, it's too dry, not tasty. If your char siu is all fats, wah, jialat, you feel like you're putting on weight instantly. But ban fei shou, half lean, half fat, beautiful combination. Smoky char on the outside, sweet caramelized meat with this soft and tender char siu. Wah, wah, this gets me all the time.

Another dish I really love is satay. Whoa, ho, ho, ho, satay is beautiful, especially pork satay. The pork satay is delicious because you have lean meat and then fats. Wah, the fats, beautiful. No fats, not nice. Fats, very nice. They're alternating, lean and fats, wonderful dish.

Another dish that I really like in Singapore is orh luak. Fried oyster, this is wonderful. If you want to know where's the best fried oyster in Singapore, come look for me after this. And if you feel a little bit more atas, you want to spend a little bit more, I also like lobster roll. It is a beautiful dish as well.

But you know something, even though these are some of the favorite things we can eat here, a lot of Jewish people can't eat any of this because according to them, it is not kosher. Kosher means legitimate or lawful or clean. So all that I mentioned, they can't eat because it's not legitimate, it's not lawful, it's not clean to a Jew who believes in Judaism. You see, this is part of their religious diets.

Religious diets are not something unusual to Singaporeans. There are many religions in the world that have, that have restrictions on diets. So a simple chart like this would show you various faiths and the various restrictions. I know it's small, I'm not here to tell you every restriction, but to say it is something that is common in many religions.

For the Jews who believe in Judaism, there's a simple classification of kosher and not kosher. Kosher food, not kosher food. Kosher animals and not kosher animals. In detail, we look at some of the kosher animals, they will be like the goat, the lamb, the cow, the duck, the chicken, the fish, the turkey, bison, moose, even locusts. John the Baptist grew up or he was in the wilderness and he ate locusts and honey. Unclean food will be, of course, Mr. Pig. And all the char siu and all the sio bak, sorry, can't eat. But you have dogs, crabs, chili crabs, lobster roll, I'm sorry, cats, prawns, rats. Who eats that anyway? Well, anyway, these are unclean foods.

So, in the Bible, in Leviticus 11, there is a distinction between clean and unclean food. And what we are going to look at today is exactly clean and unclean food. I've entitled the sermon today, Lamb Chop or Pork Chop? What is it you can eat and why?

So I'd like to explore four things with you. Number one, what exactly is clean and unclean according to the Old Testament, according to Leviticus? Number two, why does God give such a distinction? On what basis does He say this is clean and on what basis does He say this is unclean? Number three, we ask this very important question. Is it still binding? Is it still relevant for us today? And number four, we're going to look at some spiritual lessons we can learn.

1. What Is Clean And Unclean?

Alright, so let's begin, number one, with what is clean and what is unclean? How does God divide them? So, you can read all that data in Leviticus 11, again, if you're, you're keen. But I'll just show you by some graphics, simply, uh between the clean land animals and the unclean land animals. The classification is given in verses 3 to 8. And this is the simple principle. Clean land animals must chew the cud and part the hoof, two things together.

If you have one or none of these two characteristics, you are an unclean animal. So, a cow is clean. Why? Because it chews the cud. What is chew the cud? It means before you swallow it, the cow keeps that partially digested in the mouth and keeps chewing on it. That's chewing the cud. You see the cow do that a lot. And they also have uh, cloven hooves, they part the hoof. So, it's a kind of split later on, there's a picture that shows you that.

So, you must, if you are in a, if you're a clean animal, it means the animal chews the cud and parts the hoof. Now, a rabbit seems to chew the cud, but it doesn't have cloven hooves. So, a rabbit is unclean. A pig has cloven hooves, but it doesn't chew the cud. So, it is considered unclean. We say, don't eat like a pig. What do you mean don't eat like a pig? You know pigs, they don't chew, whoaaaa, they gobble everything up. So, a pig doesn't chew the cud, it is an unclean animal. That's, that's how the distinction is made for land animals.

For flying creatures, for birds, it's a little bit difficult to have one or two principles. So, the Bible does give a list. In general, the birds are listed as such. So, it's a bit difficult to figure out which is allowable and which is not allowable, but for the Jew, after a while, it becomes very clear.

For number three, sea or river creatures, water animals, the distinction is based on fins and scales. Anything that has fins and scales, clean. Anything without fins and scales, not clean. So, can you eat crab? No, because no fins, no scales. Can you eat lobster roll? Cannot, because no fins, no scales. Can you eat octopus? Cannot. Can you eat sea cucumber? Cannot. Can you eat tilapia? Can, because got fins, got scales. Can you eat salmon? Can, alright, so you know, you can be a Jew soon.

And number four, we have the creatures of the insect kingdom. Insects generally cannot eat except those with jointed jumping legs. So, locusts can eat. I am told in Singapore, they're trying to bring locusts in, as a food source, alternative food source, good for proteins. Uh, actually, quite tasty, I'm told. So, anyway, looking forward to having some locusts soon.

There's another category of uh, swarming creatures. They are the mice, the mole, the lizards. Who eats these things anyway? Anyway, uh, it is considered unclean. So, based on Leviticus 11, there is a clear distinction between the clean and the unclean animals. That's question number one.

2. What is this distinction based on?

Question number two, why? On what basis does God divide them into clean and unclean? Why does He say the pig is unclean, but the cow is not, based on the two characteristics? What's so, what's so special about the two characteristics? Why jointed insects are clean? Why fish with fins and scales are clean? On what basis does God divide them? This is not easy, because it is not explicit in the Bible. As far as I know, it's not mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures.

So, people come up with theories. Theories or hypothesis, suggestions, our human guesses on why God divides them as such.

Theories On Clean Vs Unclean

a. Sickness Theory

The first theory is the sickness theory or the hygiene theory. They propose the reason why God forbids creatures like pigs and so on and mollusks and crabs and lobsters is because they are more likely to give you diseases. Infections, they are unclean, not just ceremonially, but in the terms of hygiene. They may be filter feeders and whatever. The difficulty with this theory, sickness theory, is that it is very hard to say consistently all the unclean animals are more likely to cause diseases.

And more importantly, sickness theory is difficult to withhold or to hold up when we come to what Jesus said in Mark chapter 7. Thus, He declared all foods clean. So, if you say that the pigs are unclean because it's more likely to cause disease, then why did Jesus, some 2,000 years ago, declare all foods clean? Is it somehow when Jesus said this statement, all the parasitic infections in pigs are taken away? No. So, this remains a theory. It is not commonly accepted that the reason why there's a distinction is because these animals that are considered unclean are more likely to give you disease. Not fully accepted or established.

b. Symbolic Theory

A second hypothesis or theory is the symbolic theory. What I mean by that is that there are people who say, ah, let me tell you why cloven hooves and chews cud. Because they say these two things symbolize good Christian practice.

Hah, how? Well, they say, Christians should be with cloven hooves. Very steady. I'm not kidding you. Very steady, sure-footed. Christians should chew the cud. What do you mean, chew the cud? Talk like that? No. They say, you must meditate on God's Word. So they say, these animals teach you good Christian values, so you should do it. Then, then I say, the jumping what, how? Jointed legs and jump, what's, what's the symbolism? Very hard.

Another symbolism they say is that the birds, the vultures that eat carrion, they say, oh, don't touch dead animals, don't touch dead things, we should not associate with the dead. But you can understand how this symbolic theory is very difficult to establish consistently for all creatures. You, you, you are forced to come up with strange suggestions, and it makes you look somewhat silly after a while.

c. Sacrifice Theory

The third theory is the sacrifice theory, that is to say, the reason why these animals are considered unclean is because they are commonly used by pagans or idol worshippers in their worship services, or their sacrifices. But this, again, is difficult because a lot of pagan religions also sacrifice cows and goats and lambs. So, this is also very difficult to establish. So I would say the theories on clean and unclean, to me, remain theories. We just don't know.

But maybe this is the most likely answer. Why unclean, versus un.., why clean versus unclean? I think God, if I may suggest that word, arbitrarily, in other words, totally based on His selection, no hygiene reason, no symbolic reason, He just decided to split animal kingdom into two camps, clean and unclean, so that they can now be an instructional tool, a teaching aid, a vivid lesson, to teach Israel what is clean and what is unclean spiritually, and show them that the unclean cannot draw near to God, but clean people can draw near to God.

Israel will be clean, because Israel, symbolically, will eat only clean food. But the Gentiles, the other nations, they don't eat only clean food. They also eat unclean food. God is communicating, teaching Israel that only the clean people can draw near to God, and unclean people cannot. So in order to teach that lesson, He divides the animal kingdom into two, these two camps, and puts on those restrictions on Israel that they may learn.

I get that from Leviticus 11 in verse 45 to verse 47. This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature. And He says, to make a distinction between the clean and the unclean, so that you may know the distinction between the living creature that may be eaten and the creature that may not be eaten, so that you may understand what it means to be holy. God is calling for Himself a holy people.

Now obviously, holiness is not just about food. But God is using food as a picture, vivid, external, visible lesson, teaching tool to communicate what is clean and unclean, and that only the clean can draw near to God. So again, why clean versus unclean? It is an instructional tool to teach Israel that only the clean can draw near to God.

This is a picture that evokes nightmares for SAF personnel, at least for me. This is what they call, stand by bunk. I think, I think all the ladies here switch off already, I know. But for all, for all gentlemen, you know what it is, right? Once in a while, your sergeant, your officer will say, stand by bunk, and everybody is supposed to stand in attention. We open our cabinets because our superiors will come and inspect our beds and our cabinets.

And they are supposed to be kept in this pristine, exact condition all the time. So, it is in this exact form. If I zoom in a bit into this ah, yours, this is funny lah, at home you don't bother. But, in army camp, your spoon, your fork, your toothbrush, your toothpaste must be like exactly in this order, exactly in this distance, and exactly this spacing. I've always thought to myself, this is really stupid.

I mean, I mean, I understand the need to be clean and tidy, we all understand that. Don't be messy. But to make it like zhun, zhun, must be this pattern, and your toilet roll must be like that one know. So we always put one toilet roll like that, but we never use this toilet roll. Don't dare to use, you use, why your toilet roll so small, fail. We, we keep everything like that. And I think if I'm not wrong, the real toothbrush and toothpaste we use is not here. I mean, if it's dripping wet, you fail. Some toothpaste, you fail. So we just put it for show lah. So I've always found this very ridiculous.
But, I then subsequently kind of understand why things have to be the way it is, because in the army, this is not the goal, right? I mean, you're not in the army to put this, but this is a means to an end. This is teaching all recruits the importance of obedience, of submitting to authority, of conformity to the laws, to the rules. Because the most, probably the most important thing about an army is that the soldiers learn how to follow order. So this is not the end, but this is a means to an end.

So God, I think, uses the food laws not as the ultimate goal for the Jew, but as a means to an end to teach them the importance of distinction, the clean and the unclean. And only the clean can draw near to God.

3. Is This Binding For Us Today ?

So now we come to the all-important question, is this binding for you and I today? Very important. What's, what's for breakfast and lunch today ah? Char siu ah? I know we have produced very nice char siu before. Uh, I think this is very important because it determines whether you can go down and eat, or whether we have to throw it all away. Is this still binding for us?

I'd like to quote to you three individuals in the New Testament, and you learn from them and perhaps you would see the conclusion yourself. First person we learn from is Apostle Peter. Peter entered a trance in Acts chapter 10, and he saw a giant sheet, like a blanket, on which are all kinds of animals, both clean, like the sheep, and unclean, like the pig. And in that trance, God said to him, rise, Peter, kill and eat.

Peter immediately responded, by no means, Lord, no way, for I've never eaten anything that is common or unclean. I've been raised and I'm fully convicted that I should never eat unclean food or animals. It's so deeply ingrained in Peter that he could say no to the Lord.

God then said, what God has made clean, do not call common. So God is doing something. God is saying, yes, it used to be unclean, but now I've made it clean. What do you mean, God has made it clean? Peter then said, you yourselves know, he's speaking to the people who came to look for him. He said to them, after this trance, you yourselves know how unlawful, how not kosher it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation.

You see, the people of another nation is considered Gentiles, right, in the Bible, to the Jew. And they are considered unclean. Why? Because they eat unclean food. So a Jew doesn't eat with a Gentile. A Jew doesn't associate with a Gentile because they are clean and they must stay clean ceremonially and cannot be tainted with uncleanness with the Gentiles. But Peter then said, God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.

He's understanding that God has now made the Gentiles also clean. He's understanding that the food laws represent, they're not the ultimate thing, but they represent a clean people and an unclean people. They represent the Jews and represent the Gentiles. But now God is saying that the Gentiles do not necessarily need to be condemned as unclean anymore. God is cleaning, cleansing the Gentiles.

So a few days passed and we come to Acts chapter 15. There was this debate. Paul is coming back to the leaders of the church saying, hey, you know, when I went on this trip, I went here, I went there, I preached the Gospel. Not only the Jews believed, but the Gentiles believed. Wow, they believed the Gospel. And Peter hearing that and putting one.., two and two together, he stood up and he said in a council, God has made no distinction between us Jews and them, the Gentiles.

I now understand, I now see it. We used to separate ourselves very sharply, but now I'm seeing that there's no more division. Why? Because God has cleansed their hearts by faith. God is also cleaning the Gentiles as they believe. Believe what? As they hear the Gospel and believe.

So what's happening is that because the Gospel is now preached, not just in Israel, but to Samaria and unto the outermost parts of the world, the Gospel is now given also to the Gentiles, the Gentiles can now also believe and be truly cleansed. And therefore, the distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles is now being wiped away.

So Paul, he also said, we hear the witness of Peter, now we hear the witness of Paul. Paul said with regards to food, I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. He's talking about food in Romans 14. The pork is not necessarily unclean. The lobster is not necessarily unclean. The oyster is not necessarily unclean, although scientifically it is. But spiritually it's not unclean.

He goes on to say in 1 Corinthians, food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off, you're not spiritually worse off if you eat it and you're not spiritually better off if you do. Food itself does not make you clean or unclean spiritually. He goes on to say the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, referring to how everything on planet earth is full, is from God, and it is given for our consumption and enjoyment.

1 Timothy 4, even more clearly. Now the Spirit expressly, clearly says that in latter times, some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. So this is about demonic kinds of teachings. You say, what, what demonic teaching is this?

Let me tell you what a demonic teaching may look like. Forbidding marriage. So there are some religions who say, or some people who say the Bible says you should not marry. That's demonic. That's not from God. Another thing that is considered demonic is abstinence from foods. Cannot eat this, cannot eat that. That's not Biblical, that's not from the Spirit. That's from the demon. Why? Because food is what God created to be received with thanksgiving. And everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected.

Now, it, it just means, yes, for some other reasons you may choose not to eat oyster, not eat pork. That's okay. But don't say that God forbids you from eating pork, according to Paul. Not just Paul, not just Peter, but Jesus. As we have already seen, Jesus says, do you not see whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him? Since it enters not his heart, but his stomach. Don't you know your anatomy? Huh, the food goes down the esophagus and into the stomach and into the large intestine, into the.. and then you pass it out. Don't you know that? So He declares all foods clean.

So from Peter, from Paul, from Jesus, we learn that food, unclean, unclean, is just an instructional tool to teach Israel that only the clean can draw near to God. But the Gospel that is preached to both Jews and Gentiles today, cleanses both Jews and Gentiles, uniting us in Christ. There is no need for that distinction anymore. And therefore, we conclude, there is now no need to keep the food laws. I say it with a big smile, hallelujah, I can eat my char siu, I can go for my satay, I can eat my orh luak, and we can enjoy our lobster rolls.

4. What Can We Learn Spiritually ?

Well, I think all that is maybe fun, trivia knowledge for you, but I don't think that's the purpose of a sermon. We've got to understand the spiritual lessons behind it all. So finally, let's conclude with what can we learn spiritually? It's great to know I can eat, but it's more important to know, so what does it mean for me spiritually?

Let's take a step back. Leviticus is not just a set of rules and regulations. Leviticus is a book about drawing near to God, isn't it? And we understood, two weeks ago that drawing near to God requires, number one, an acknowledgement of our guilt before God. We need to learn to say sorry and thank you. That's why the various offerings, the five offerings in chapters one to seven.

And then we learned last week, in order to draw near to God, not only must I learn to say sorry and thank you, I need a mediator, because I'm so sinful that I cannot approach God on my own anymore. I need someone to go in between. And we thank God Jesus is our Mediator that pleads for us and allows us to come to this Holy God.

And so the third lesson, Moses is teaching in Leviticus is not only that we must learn to say sorry and thank you, not only must we have a Mediator, but we need to understand that only the clean can come near to God. And there's no better lesson than food. Food is what everybody has to eat, every day. And it's so experiential, so tangible, so palpable, so powerful as an object lesson. And it's beyond the tabernacle. In everyday life, you are reminded, I need to be clean. Everyday life, you're saying to the Gentile world, you need to be clean before you can come to our God. And it's a way to protect Israel from the corruptions of pagan worship.

So clean and unclean is a big motive in chapter 11 and indeed all the way to chapter 15. Because next week we're going to learn about what it means to be unclean when you have childbirth, fungus, skin diseases, bodily discharge. It's all about clean and unclean. And God is using all these things to communicate that only the clean can draw near to God.

So today, how can you be clean? If the lesson is only the clean can draw near to God, how can you be clean? Are you clean? Very clean what? I bathe already this morning. I put perfume some more. How can you and I be clean? This is the big question of life, because we all know, deep in our hearts, we are not clean. We are sinful people, we lie, we cheat, we hate, we lust, we covet, we dishonor. No one here can say, I'm a clean man, isn't it?

If you compare yourself with another person, you may say, I'm cleaner than him. But actually, when you compare yourself to God's holiness, you are very dirty. So how can you and I, sinful people, be cleansed?

Well, the Jews have maybe erroneously assumed that if they eat the right food and they go through the right ceremonies, they will be clean. But actually, God only intends for all these food laws and ceremonies to be an object lesson. To teach them, there is Someone who will cleanse you from all your sin, and that Someone is none other than God Himself.

So there is a very important promise in the Bible. It's found in this book that nobody reads. Leviticus is one book, another book nobody reads. I say this with exaggeration, of course. Very few read. It's the book Ezekiel. And in Ezekiel, God said, then I will sprinkle clean water on you. I will cleanse you. You can't cleanse yourself, Israel. For all these years and across the generations, you have never really been able to cleanse yourself. But after a certain time, I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away and you will no longer worship idols, Ezekiel 36:25. So there's the idea of cleansing. And after this verse, God also says, I will give you a new heart. I'll take away the heart of stone, I'll put in you a heart of flesh, and I will put My Spirit within you.

So the Jews are given this wonderful promise, one day God will cleanse us. Fast forward. Few hundred years later, there was this man, very well known in his country, very well versed in the Torah, in the writings of Moses and the prophets. He is like the top dog in religion in his land. But he was very disturbed. He's very uncertain. He's very unsure if he's going to be fit enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

So even though it's beneath his stature, he decided one night to go look for this new kid in town, almost. This man who has been performing miracles and teaching amazing things. He came to look for Jesus. He gave some salutary words. And before he could ask his question, which is, what must I do to be saved, Jesus already knew his question and answered him and told him, very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

You want to be part of the kingdom? You've got to be cleansed. You've got to be born of water. You've got to be born again, or born from above. God's got to be the One to do it. Nicodemus came saying, what must I do? Jesus says, nothing you can do. You must be born from above. God must be the One. And He must cleanse you. He must wash you.

Many times, I think 90 over percent of Christians looking at this verse would say, oh, born of water means must be baptized. You know, just now the video, you must get into the water here and pastor must say some magic words, then he baptize you, then all your sins are washed away. We often say that the water here cannot wash away your sins because they are from PUB. And number two, if you're baptism candidate number 16, you will not feel you're very cleansed. It's not baptism water that is referred to here. What water?

I think this is the water and the spirit referred to in Ezekiel chapter 36. Wah, you say, so chim ah. To you, very chim ah. But to Nicodemus the Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, it is not chim, it is well-known. So what Jesus is saying, Nicodemus, you think there's something you need to do. No. You can't save yourself. God must be the One to save you. So if you believe in Me, for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Me, in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Nicodemus, you can be saved. Quit trusting in yourself, but look to God's promised Savior.

How can you and I be cleansed? When God sprinkles that water in our hearts, as we turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ. So the Hebrews author says, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. You can come near to God because there is sprinkling, there is cleansing available for you today.

This is the Good News of the Bible. Don't walk away from this sermon saying, wah, this Gospel Light ah, teach us to don't eat pork. Because if I don't eat pork my whole life, I will be clean and I can come to God. Eaaah!!! If you really are still thinking this, you've got to go back and listen to the whole sermon again. I'm saying it's not about the eating. The food is only an object lesson, to teach us about the need to be cleansed. But the agent of cleansing is not your food. The agent of cleansing is Jesus Christ and what He has done on the cross. That's why He is said to be the Lamb of God that takes away, that wipes away, that washes away the sin of the world.

And you know on the very last night before He died, He gathered His people, His disciples, over a Passover meal and He said to them, this cup is the new.., is the New Covenant in My blood. In other words, He's saying the New Covenant refers to the way God is going to save His people by sovereignly, unilaterally, mercifully sprinkle them. And He's saying that this way of God's saving is going to be made effective when I shed My blood for you.

What can wash away my sins? We sang one or two weeks ago and the chorus goes, nothing but the blood of Jesus. How can you and I be cleansed? The blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross when He sacrificed Himself some 2,000 years ago. How can you be cleansed? If you repent from your sin and believe in Jesus Christ. That is tremendous Good News.

But I think I need to say a little bit more for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope if you are a seeker, you're not yet a Christian, you will be so clear that to come near to God, I need to be cleansed and to be cleansed means I need the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. I need to believe Him. I need to depend on Him. But I also want to say a word or two to my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Drawing near to God requires clean hands, pure life. Yes, positionally we are cleansed, positionally we are saved in Jesus, but practically and experientially, you draw near to God only in as far as you live a life pursuing holiness. The Hebrew's author says, follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. He's saying you should chase after, pursue holiness. Live holy lives because if you don't, you're not going to see the Lord.

And that's why James also says, draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. We need clean hands. And that's why today many Christians are very tormented and conflicted. Because the Bible tells us that there is pleasure in sin, isn't it? Why do you sin? Because it's pleasurable. There's some satisfaction and pleasure when you live in sin.

But you are very tormented because as you sin, you know you're cut off from God. You are, you are tormented by the, by the guilt and shame and fear and the alienation from God, and you therefore live a miserable life. That kind of addiction to sin, a desire for sin because of its temporal pleasures, but at the same time, the gut-wrenching alienation from God.

The Bible therefore tells us, you want to draw near to God? Oh yes, first of all, Jesus must be your Savior. And at the same time, you need to pursue holiness and cleanse your lives.

We thank God today that the promise of forgiveness is given to all believers still, even as we sin. If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I hope today we'll see the holiness of God, and we'll come through Jesus Christ, and we'll ask for mercy, and will live pure lives and live in joy and communion and the presence of God henceforth. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter, Be ye holy, for I am holy. A reference from Leviticus 11. And Peter tells us that the call to holiness is not seen in the foods you eat or do not eat, but in how we are to conduct ourselves in all manner of life, and not allowing ourselves to indulge in the passions of our ignorance in time past. True holiness is not seen in food observances. True holiness is seen in daily life.

God is calling His children, you, to live holy lives, not to earn salvation, but that you may live in communion with God, that you may draw near to Him. So my brothers and sisters in Christ, do you come to church this morning with blood on your hands, with guilt in your life, with secret sins that you harbor? Maybe it's someone you refuse to forgive, maybe it's a lust that you are nurturing deep in your soul. Maybe it's a love for the things of this world. Maybe you have an idol in your life. You cannot draw near to God, but pursue, persecute, chase after holiness. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

And then to all my friends today, there is cleansing, there is forgiveness. Oh yes, God is holy, holy, holy. But Jesus paid it all. Let Him sprinkle your heart. Let Him cleanse your heart from your sin. Repent, believe, and be saved.

So Father, thank You this morning. We can hear Your Word. bless Your Church. Bless our friends. You desire men to draw near to You, even after we have sinned. So we thank You for the grace that is found in the Gospel. We thank You for Jesus, Your Son. Bless each one, that indeed in our lifetime, we may know and experience what it means to draw near to You by faith. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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