Missiology Through Scripture – Leviticus 18:1-3

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes.’” – Leviticus 18:1-3

Christians are not to embrace the cultures of men. Both, our home cultures and adopted cultures are inferior to that of our adopted heavenly home. As disciples of Christ we are residents of heaven and should put no culture or cultural practices ahead of the gospel.

As Israel was delivered from the bondage of Egypt, we too are delivered from the sinful bonds of our earthly culture. God told Moses the chosen of Israel were not to embrace the ways of those who enslaved them. Matthew Henry stated, “It would be the greatest absurdity in itself to retain such an affection for their house of bondage as to be governed in their devotions by the usages of it, and the greatest ingratitude to God, who had so wonderfully and graciously delivered them.”[1] So too, the elect in Christ should not embrace the norms of the worldly culture which has enslaved us in sin.

The people of God were instructed to forgo the customs of those who enslaved them, and instead be obedient to God’s rule and statues. How absurd it would have been for Israel to celebrate their new freedom in the Lord by returning to their past sinful practices. Yet, that absurdity continues today as Christians freed from bondage by Jesus return to the worldly ways of their culture.

Missionaries are to take the merciful truth of the gospel to the nations. They are not to soften or amend the gospel by modifying it to better reflect their home or host cultures. It is offensive to over-contextualize the Scriptures by making them subservient to any culture. Missionaries are to understand and live in the cultures in which they live, but are never to subjugate the gospel of Jesus Christ to any worldly culture. Like Israel, the elect today are to liberate the lost from the world with the grace of God.

 

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 171.