The Scriptorium

Purity of Body

It's the temple of the Lord. Deuteronomy 14.1, 2

Guarding Purity: Deuteronomy 13, 14 (3)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 115.1-3
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

Psalm 115.1-3

(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
Not to us, O God, not us, but unto Your Name give glory!
For Your love and faithfulness, ever to Your Name be glory!
Why should the nations cry, “Where is their God on high?”
You rule us, Lord, on high: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 14.1, 2

1. What did God forbid here?

2. Why did He forbid it?

I think we can understand these verses best by working back to front, from the rationale to the requirement.

The people of Israel were always to remember that they were the “children of the LORD” (v. 1), a “holy people to the LORD” (v. 2), and “a special treasure above all people who are on the face of the earth” (v. 2). They were to resemble their Father, both as individuals and as a nation. All their guidance, examples, and cues about how they should live came from God. They were not to adopt practices of the surrounding nations, because they were not of those nations, but of God.

The pagans did what God forbade in verse 1. Why? Who knows? Perhaps these were ways of placating some false god, or parading their grief. Cutting yourself doesn’t seem like a very good practice anyway. And shaving “the front of your head” probably would make you stand out in a crowd (“Hey, everybody; look at me!”).

Whatever the reasons other nations did such things, God’s nation was not to do so. Maintaining purity as the children of God and His chosen people reaches even to what they did with their bodies.

It’s a good lesson for us to remember as well. Do we treat our bodies as temples of the Lord, caring for them, using them as God would, dressing them modestly and simply, getting them the rest they need? Our bodies are the earthen vehicles through which the grace and truth of God flow to bring thanks and praise to Him (2 Cor. 4.7). We’re not free to do with them just whatever anybody else might do. Rather, we need to make sure that “whatever we do” with our bodies is for the glory of God, not just for making a statement, indulging a whim, or gratifying an appetite (1 Cor. 10.31).

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“…and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure…” “For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.” “But you are…His own special people…who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (Deut. 14.2; Ps. 135.4; 1 Pet. 2.9, 10). To think that we are a special treasure to the majestic Creator and King of kings is an unimaginable yet glorious thought! His tender care for our personal being is for our good. Just as all His laws are for our good. His desire for us is “the beauty of holiness” (1 Chron. 16.29), and that we be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12.2). Our bodies are indeed “the earthen vehicles through which the grace and truth of God flow to bring thanks and praise to Him.”


1. What does it mean to say that your body is a temple of the Lord?

2. What does Paul mean by referring to us as “earthen vessels”? For what use?

3. What does it mean to be a holy people unto the Lord?

Pagan mourning rituals encouraged physical abuse. These practices were a form of magic by which people sought to exercise control over their well-being and over the gods (1 Kin. 18:28)…
the Israelites were set apart to the Lord, separated from the nations, and chosen to practice the will of God on earth. The Hebrew word translated holy means “to be separate” or “to be distinct.” Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Note on Deuteronomy 14.1, 2

Lord, I offer my body today as a living sacrifice to You, so help me to…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 115.9-18
Ask the Lord in prayer to show you ways you can more consistently and fruitfully use your body to bring thanks, praise, and glory to Him.

Psalm 115.9-18
(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
All who trust in Jesus yield – ever to His Name be glory! –
find in Him their help and shield – ever to Your Name be glory!
O Israel, trust the Lord!  He helps us evermore!
Fear Him obey His Word: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Blessings from our gracious Lord – ever to Your Name be glory –
will attend us evermore – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless all who fear You, Lord, all who obey Your Word,
all who Your Name adore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

Grant us, Savior, great increase – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace – ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore