Transforming To God's Image
“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 18:2-5 NIV)
God laid down rules regarding unlawful sexual relations, which were normal in Egypt where the Israelites used to live, and in the land of Canaan where they were going.
We are also living amongst nations and societies where practices that appear normal and acceptable by people are detestable to God. Adultery and homosexuality are amongst the list of sexual relations that are wrong in the eyes of God (Leviticus 18:20, 22), but becoming normalised in many societies now. We are of course called to love everyone, for we are all sinners and God loves us all, but that doesn’t mean we don’t regard sin as sin anymore. We can love people without normalising their sins, just as we should not make excuses for our own sins. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us strength, so we can leave our past life of sins and be transformed to God’s image.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NIV)
Throughout the whole of chapter 18, God repeatedly explained why the Israelites and the foreigners who live amongst them must stop such practices – these relations are detestable because “I am the Lord”.
“You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 18:4 NIV)
“No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 18:6 NIV)
“Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 18:21 NIV)
“Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 18:30 NIV)
We may want to debate what should or should not be regarded as sins, but ultimately it is God’s view that matters because He is the Lord. He is Yahweh. He defines what’s detestable in His eyes, period. We may not understand why at first, but we will eventually learn that His will is perfect. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
To bring us back to Him, God laid down the rules and expected obedience. He is the Lord our God, there is no argument about His supremacy above us.
How should we interact with people who are involved in these sins?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-18 NIV)
God distinguished His love for us from his view on our detestable sins. He hates our sins but love us as His beloved children. There are people on opposite camps that enjoy stirring up debate and confusing the narrative nowadays. They set exclusive definitions that deceive and polarise people – If you don’t accept my sin you’re not accepting me. If you love God, you will hate those sinners.
Jesus demonstrated his detest for sins, and his love for everyone. He hates our sins, but he died for us sinners. Let us not be drawn into the debates that people love having, or be deceived by the ‘either you’re for me or against me’ stance. We will follow God’s stand on sin and His love for people.
Are there people whom we find hard to draw close to because we dislike their behaviour? Would we die for such people? God draws close to us everyday though our habitual sins are detestable to Him. Jesus died for us despite our detestable sins. That’s the level of love God has for us.
God teaches us to love others despite their sins. God will deal with everyone according to His promises. But God wants us to imitate His love for people so they may know that what we do comes from Him, and will bring them back to Him.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (John 3:21 NIV)
We can transform into God’s Holy People and we can help others to do the same when they see our transformation.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.