God gave the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel to show them His standard of holiness. God also broke those commandments down into detailed laws that would govern every aspect of their lives, teaching them to BE HOLY. In Exodus 19:6 God told them, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an HOLY NATION.” This is confirmed in Leviticus 19:2, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, YE SHALL BE HOLY: for I the LORD your God am holy.” The rest of this chapter, including verse 27, was written with that object in view.

Leviticus 19:27 says, “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard” (NKJV). To understand this prohibition, it is important to know that the practice of cutting one’s hair and trimming their beards in this way was a pagan custom. It was done to honor their gods. So, God is forbidding His people to adopt this heathen custom because they were to be HOLY. The word “holy” means “set apart.” They were to be “set apart to God” and if they were to conform to this custom it would give others the impression that they were “set apart to heathen gods” and not to the One true God. Verse 28 goes on to say, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.” Here we see that tattooing, which has become extremely popular in many cultures around the world, was an ancient pagan custom to honor the dead. This too was strictly forbidden, for to do so would link them with pagan gods and bring dishonor upon the Lord.

Is there a lesson in this for us? Though believers in Christ are not under the Law, we are still to strive to be holy. The apostle Peter exhorts us with these words in 1st Peter 1:13-15, “Therefore prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As OBEDIENT CHILDREN, DO NOT CONFORM TO THE FORMER LUSTS WHICH WERE YOURS IN YOUR IGNORANCE, but like the Holy One who called you, BE HOLY YOURSELVES ALSO IN ALL YOUR BEHAVIOR; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (NASB). The fact that we are “under grace” today does NOT change His command, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Just as God expected the children of Israel to be obedient in every area of their lives, He expects the same from us, and this would include NOT being conformed to the world in HOW WE LOOK. 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 declare, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (NASB). May we take these words to heart, dear fellow-believer, and seek to honor the Lord in our bodies which have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. Unbelievers want us to look and act just like them, but God desires us to be “set apart to Him,” and that means we shouldn’t LOOK AND ACT LIKE THE WORLD that has rejected our Savior. Let’s end this meditation with Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  (200.5)  (DO)