The Moral Laws of Leviticus 18-19

Moses on Mt Sinai - Jean-Leon GeromeSee also: The Commandments of Christ (Part 2)

The NIV Study Bible says of Leviticus chapters 18:1-20:27: “Here God’s people are given instructions concerning interpersonal relations and a morality reflecting God’s holiness. Israel was thereby prepared for a life different from the Canaanites, whose lifestyle was deplorably immoral. Ch. 18 marks the boundaries for marriage and sexual relations (but see also v. 21 and note), ch. 19 provides specific moral guidance on a variety of matters, many of which are implicitly covered by the Ten Commandments, and ch. 20 specifies the penalties for violating God’s standard of morality.”

“These laws were given, at least for the most part, during the year that Israel camped at Mount Sinai, when God directed Moses…” (p. 146).

John Wesley on the Third Use of the Law

There is “no such sin as legality (legalism) in the Bible: the very use of the term speaks an antinomian” (John Telford, ed. Letters, 5:211-12).

1 John 5:3: “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.” … “The plain indisputable meaning of that text is: ‘this is the’ sign or proof of the ‘love of God’, of our keeping the first and great commandment–to KEEP THE REST OF HIS COMMANDMENTS. For true love, if it be once shed abroad in our heart, will constrain us so to do; since whosoever loves God with all his heart cannot but serve Him with all his strength” (“The Marks of the New Birth,” 3.4).

“The third use of the Law is to keep us alive. It is the grand means whereby the blessed Spirit prepares the believer for larger communications of the life of God” (“The Original, Nature, Property, and Use of the Law,” 4.3).

J. I. Packer on the Third Use of the Law

“Its third function is to guide the regenerate into the good works that God has planned for them (Eph. 2:10). The Law tells God’s children what will please their heavenly Father. It could be called their family code. Christ was speaking of this third use of the Law when He said that those who become His disciples must be taught to keep the Law and to do all that He had commanded (Matt. 5:18-20; 28:20), and that it is obedience to His commands that will prove the reality of one’s love for Him (John 14:15). The Christian is free from the Law as a supposed system of salvation (Rom. 6:14; 7:4, 6; 1 Cor. 9:20; Gal. 2:15-19; 3:25) but is “under Christ’s law” as a rule of life (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2)” (Concise Theology, p. 95)

The 39 Articles

“Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, NO CHRISTIAN MAN WHATSOEVER IS FREE FROM THE OBEDIENCE OF THE COMMANDMENTS WHICH ARE CALLED MORAL” (VII, “Of the Old Testament”).



“NO INCEST. ‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.

“ NO SEX WITH MOTHER. ‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

“ NO SEX WITH STEPMOTHER. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

“ NO SEX WITH SISTER OR HALF-SISTER. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.

10 “NO SEX WITH GRANDDAUGHTER. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you.

11 “NO SEX WITH SISTER. ‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.

12 “NO SEX WITH AUNT, FATHER’S SIDE. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.

13 “NO SEX WITH AUNT, MOTHER’S SIDE. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.

14 “NO SEX WITH AUNT, FATHER’S SIDE, UNCLE’S WIFE. ‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.

15 “NO SEX WITH DAUGHTER-IN-LAW. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.

16 “NO SEX WITH SISTER-IN-LAW. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.

17 “NO SEX WITH A WOMAN AND HER DAUGHTER AND HER GRANDDAUGHTER. ‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.

18 “NO SEX OR BIGAMY WITH A SISTER-IN-LAW. ‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.

19 “NO SEX WITH WIFE DURING HER PERIOD. ‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.

20 “NO SEX WITH NEIGHBOR’S WIFE. ‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.

21 “DON’T SACRIFICE YOUR CHILDREN TO MOLECH. ‘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. [Wesley’s Notes: “Pass through fire – This was done, either by burning them in the fire, or by making them pass between two great fires, which was a kind of consecration of them to that god. Moloch – Called also Milcom, was an idol chiefly of the Ammonites. He seems to be the Saturn of the heathens, to whom especially children and men were sacrificed. This is mentioned, because the neighbours of Israel were most infected with this idolatry, and therefore they are particularly cautioned against it, though under this one instance all other idols and acts, or kinds of idolatry, are manifestly comprehended and forbidden.”]

22 “NO HOMOSEXUAL SEX. ‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

23 “NO SEX WITH AN ANIMAL (BEASTIALITY). ‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.


Ceremonial Laws Are Grayed Out, Because They Are Not Binding Today

“RESPECT YOUR PARENTS AND OBSERVE THE SABBATHS. ‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.

“DON’T WORSHIP IDOLS. ‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.

ONLY EAT FELLOWSHIP OFFERINGS ON THE FIRST OR SECOND DAY. ‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the Lord; they must be cut off from their people.

FARMERS MUST LEAVE GLEANINGS FOR THE POOR AND FOREIGNER. ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.




12 “DO NOT BLASPHEME THE LORD’S NAME BY SWEARING FALSELY BY IT. ‘Do not swear falsely by My Name and so profane the Name of your God. I am the Lord.

13 “DON’T SWINDLE OR ROB FROM YOUR NEIGHBOR. ‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

“EMPLOYERS MUST PAY THEIR EMPLOYEES DAILY; AND NOT WAIT TO PAY THEM TOMORROW. ‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

14 “DON’T CUSS AT THE DEAF OR TRIP THE BLIND. ‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

15 “JUDGES SHOULD NOT SHOW ANYONE FAVORITISM. ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

16 “DON’T TELL LIES ABOUT SOMEONE TO RUIN THEIR REPUTATION. ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

“DON’T PUT YOUR NEIGHBOR IN A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.

17 “DO NOT HATE PEOPLE; AND REBUKE THOSE WHO DO WRONG. ‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

18 “DON’T SEEK REVENGE; DON’T HOLD THINGS AGAINST PEOPLE; LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF. ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

19 “‘Keep my decrees.


DON’T PLANT YOUR FIELD WITH TWO KINDS OF SEED. ‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.

DON’T WEAR CLOTHES WITH TWO FABRICS. ‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

20 “NO SEX WITH FEMALE SLAVES. ‘If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed. 21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the Lord. 22 With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the Lord for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.

23 YOU MAY ONLY EAT FROM A FRUIT TREE BEGINNING IN THE FIFTH YEAR OF ITS LIFE. ‘When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God.


“NO OCCULT PRACTICES. ‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.

27 DON’T CUT THE HAIR ON YOUR TEMPLES OR YOUR BEARD. ‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

28 “NO TATTOOS, ESPECIALLY FOR DEAD LOVED ONES. ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.

29 “DON’T MAKE YOUR DAUGHTER A PROSTITUTE. ‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

30 OBSERVE THE SABBATHS; AND BE REVERENT IN CHURCH SERVICES. ‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

31 “DON’T CONSULT PSYCHIC FORTUNE TELLERS. ‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

32 “STAND UP IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ELDERLY; RESPECT THE ELDERLY; REVERE GOD. ‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

33 “DON’T MISTREAT FOREIGNERS; TREAT THEM AS NATIVES; LOVE FOREIGNERS AS YOURSELF. ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

35 “MARKETPLACE MANAGERS MUST CHARGE AN HONEST AMOUNT FOR THEIR ITEMS, ESPECIALLY ITEMS IN THE DELI, WHICH HAVE TO BE WEIGHED ON A SCALE. ‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. 36 Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.”

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