"Be holy because I am holy," said Jehovah to his nation Israel.
Before the exodus from Egypt, Israel was nothing more than a people born of one man, a family, a bunch of slaves to be exploited in a land that did not belong to them. In order to be a nation you need an identity and land helps. To be a society you need a common law. Jehovah was going to give them all of this but he was also going to give them purpose, which was to be used by their God to glorify himself to the world.
The Law was given to separate Israel from every other nation. It was a physical separation, their actions marking the difference from the behaviour of everyone else. This Law became their identity, what defined them. Moses gave them these instructions for when they were to enter the Promised Land:
Keep all these commands that I give you today. When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. (Deuteronomy 27:1-3)
Notice they were to do this as soon as they entered, at the border. The Law was to be posted at the border to distinguish them from all other nations. Jehovah warned them time and again not to have anything to do with the behaviour of these other nations because they were under his judgement. Israel was not to take on their practices, or to intermarry because they would be corrupted and start to behave like the others. They wholly belonged to Yahweh. Unfortunately they did not obey.
They did exactly what Jehovah told them not to do; they intermarried, they took on the foreign gods, they sacrificed their children, they made deals with other nations, they stopped relying on Jehovah. Their behaviour became just like everyone else's, their hearts turned from Jehovah and they fell under his judgement. He was not glorified through Israel for the whole world to know him.
I often hear well meaning Christians saying, "We are in the world but not of it". Do you think that to be true? It should be because the Church has been raised up with the same purpose as Israel, that Yahweh would be glorified through us and the whole world would know of Jesus. Our big problem is that we do not know we are a people, a holy nation, set aside for his purpose. We still identify ourselves by our geographical location: I am a Canadian and I am Christian. I consider the laws I must answer to are found in my government and it is only natural for me to follow the customs and habits of the people around me. But the Word tells us differently.
If you read 1 Peter from cover to cover you will discover Yahweh's call to his holy nation to not conform to the patterns of this world and, because of our spiritual condition, we aught to be separate in behaviour. I encourage you to sit down and read the whole book in one digestion. Of living godly lives in a pagan society, Peter writes:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
Later he writes:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Look around. Can you honestly say you are living for the will of Yahweh? Can you say that your relationship with Jesus is such that it keeps you from joining in with the things that he has called evil? Are we entertained by shows of murder? Do we play games where we get to kill people? Are we entertained by sex and lust, greed and pain? Are we honest in all things or just some things? Do we love him with all our being and others as ourselves? Are we governed by his holy will for us or by the lower law of the land or by our own desires? Do we waste our time on distractions or are we bent on his purpose for us in this place? Do we even see ourselves as being separate? Take heed:
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11)