Believers, you are a chosen people, holy and set aside from every other people on earth. You are God’s own, you are His treasured possession. And because of that you do not live like the world, you live like a citizen of Heaven.
Today we are set apart because the Father chose us, Jesus Christ bought us for a steep price and His Holy Spirit indwells us (Ephesians 1:4,1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are made new and changed from the inside and it affects our behavior. Under the Old Covenant, God chose Israel and His Spirit rested on a few people, not in them. They showed their distinction as God’s own people by their behavior. Following God’s Law changed them from the outside in. They learned faith through obedience to the law. We are given faith and exercise it through obedience to righteousness. But our law is not exactly the same as theirs, since Jesus fulfilled it and we do not earn justification through sacrifices any longer. In the first 21 verses of Deuteronomy chapter 14, Moses reminded Israel about the laws of clean and unclean food. They were not just any people, they were God’s and so He gave them express rules for what foods were permitted and forbidden. Verses 1-21 read,
“You are the sons of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. 2 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
3 “You shall not eat any abomination. 4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6 Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 7 Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, are unclean for you. 8 And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.
9 “Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat. 10 And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.
11 “You may eat all clean birds. 12 But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 13 the kite, the falcon of any kind; 14 every raven of any kind; 15 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind; 16 the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl 17 and the tawny owl, the carrion vulture and the cormorant, 18 the stork, the heron of any kind; the hoopoe and the bat. 19 And all winged insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. 20 All clean winged things you may eat.
21 “You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.”
Why should you stand out from the crowd? Why should you care about how you behave when you are free from sin? Read verse 2 again and know that The Lord is talking to you.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
Jesus fulfilled the laws about clean and unclean foods, sacrifices, and offerings when He laid His life down on the cross for you. And even while He walked on the earth before His death and resurrection He declared all foods clean. The Pharisees were deeply devoted to keeping God’s Law, though not deeply devoted to God. They were so devoted to the Law that they made all sorts of traditions and rules and added them to it, which in and of itself broke the law. (Deuteronomy 4:2). They confronted Jesus because He and His followers did not obey the traditions meant to keep people lawful. They questioned Jesus about eating without washing their hands and so making clean food unclean. Jesus responded in Mark 7:14-23.
“And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
After Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave Peter the message again in a vision when He told him that gentiles could become Christians and that He should welcome them (Acts 10:9-16). God said to Peter, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (Acts 10:15). Believer, you have been made clean by God! Don’t call yourself common! Don’t be common! You are extraordinary, rare, cherished, noble, refined, and distinctive. You have been made holy! Don’t live as a commoner, live like a king or a queen, the bride of Christ, a child of God, and a royal priesthood.
People should see you are not like them. They should look at you and see Jesus. Maybe they won’t recognize Him but they should know you are not like the collective, you are distinctive. When Jesus justified you, you were born again, given a new identity and a new name. Don’t live as a prisoner whose name no longer identities him. He is known as a number among many, 24601. You are known by a name just for you (Revelation 2:17). You are special! Be who you are meant to be.
We do not behave righteously because we are trying to earn Salvation, we behave righteously because God made us able to, because He indwells us and compels us to respond to Him with joy and love which overflows, and because the faith He gave us is proven by good works (James 2:17-18). 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 in The Message reads,
“Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
5-6 You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.
7-10 Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.”
The Law has been fulfilled in Jesus’ work. We no longer have to concern ourselves with what food is clean or unclean because we were made clean. We no longer have to sacrifice and make burnt offerings because Jesus sacrificed Himself once and for all. He bought us for a price and because of that we obey Jesus’ command in John 15:12 to love one another as He has loved us. That doesn’t mean having warm fuzzy feelings for everyone, it means tangibly doing good, submitting to one another, taking care of one another, and living holy lives.