Let’s start by reading Leviticus 19:1-2, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” This chapter is full of instruction from the Lord to the ‘children of Israel.’ The Lord calls for His people to be holy because He is holy. He then fills out the chapter teaching the Israelites how to live properly before Him. Most of this chapter is given in a negative tone…telling the people what NOT to do. Perhaps you have noticed that same style in the Ten Commandments. Eight of the commandments tell the Lord’s people what NOT to do. Only two of the commandments are given in a positive fashion: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8) “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12)

Your question deals with Leviticus 19:27-28 which says, “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” (NKJV) In these two verses, we find four things the people were prohibited from doing. You may wonder why the Lord would even be concerned with how His people cut their hair and beards, or why He prohibited making cuts in the flesh or having tattoos. Evidently these practices were common among the Heathen people. The Israelites had recently been rescued from Egypt, who were consumed with false gods and heathen worship. The Lord did not want His people to carry on these heathen practices so that others might see them and mistake them for those of heathen worship.

How does this relate to us today?   The Lord DOES NOT want us to live as the world lives. He DOES NOT want us to practice their methods. He DOES NOT want us to join the world in their deeds and practices. He DOES want us to be different. We read in 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” To truly honor the Lord, we have to live separately from those who dishonor the Lord. This is not to say that we should not witness to the world. It does not mean that are to treat those in the world unkindly. NO, it doesn’t mean that, but it does mean that we cannot GO ALONG with the world and expect to honor the Lord. And we certainly cannot go along with the world and expect to win souls to Christ.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” How is it possible for one who has accepted the Lord Jesus as their savior to befriend and act like the world? It was the world that rejected Christ. It was the world who hated and crucified Him. Let’s consider the Word of God in 1 John 2:15, “LOVE NOT THE WORLD, NEITHER THE THINGS THAT ARE IN THE WORLD. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

The Lord’s desire is that His people live holy lives. We cannot conform to this world and be faithful servants of the Lord. We read in 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world. In reading of Demas in others places, it seems that he was a true believer. Yet, his love for the world caused him to abandon Paul when he needed him. We read of the Lord Jesus in Galatians 1:4, which says that Christ, “…gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD, according to the will of God and our Father.” May we live as true believers in this present evil world. To live a conformed life, is to live a defeated life. (262.2)