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March 4

Leviticus 17, Mark 9:14-32

Thought from Today’s Old Testament Passage:

Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. (Lev. 18:5)

The text appears to offer an alternate method of gaining eternal life, even if only theoretically. Is it true…that a person could have eternal life by perfectly keeping the law of God?…

The very context of this verse speaks against a works salvation. First, Leviticus 18 begins and ends (vv. 2 and 20) with the theological assumption that the hearers have the Lord as their God. Thus, this instruction deals with sanctification rather than justification.

Second, “those things” which they were not to do were the customs and ordinances; in short, the pagan idolatries of the Egyptians and Canaanites. This is a whole world apart from the question of salvation.

Third, never in the Old or New Testaments has pleasing God constituted the external performance of acts; these acts carried with them the evidence of a prior attitude of the heart. For instance, circumcision of the flesh without the circumcision of the heart was wasted effort….

Moses, therefore, was not describing the means of attaining salvation but only the horizon within which an earthly, godly life should be lived.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press) 1988, pp. 85-87

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