June 27, 2021 – Leviticus 18 – 20

Lesson Date: June 27, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Leviticus 18:1-28; 19:1-4, 18, 28; 20:1-2, 6-8, 26-27

AIM: To lead students to identify the reason God wants His people to be holy and some of the actions He forbids for those who strive to be holy, and to confess any unholy behavior in their lives and make commitments to God to be holy people.


Before class: Read the notes on Leviticus 18 – 20 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the word “Holy” on the marker board or chalkboard.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Holy” written on the board. Ask: “What does the word ‘holy’ mean?” (allow time for responses). After they suggest some definitions, write the word “Be” before “Holy.” Ask: “What does it mean to be holy? What kinds of behaviors must we do – or not do – to be holy people?” (allow time for responses).

Ask: “Are standards of proper social behavior the same today as they were 100 years ago?” (no). Ask for a few examples (clothing, speech, dating standards, etc.). Tell the class that while social standards of acceptable behavior change over time, we are going to learn some of God’s standards that He gave to the ancient Israelites over 3,400 years ago. At the end of today’s lesson we will consider the question, “Are God’s old standards still applicable to us today?”



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Leviticus.
    • Briefly review the following:
      • God led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, brought them to Mount Sinai (locate on the Map of Egypt, Sinai, and Canaan), and gave them His laws.
      • He told them how to build the Tabernacle and how to carry out the various offerings.
      • God led them to consecrate their priests and emphasized (through the deaths of Nadab and Abihu) the necessity of doing things exactly as He commanded.
    • Ask: “What was last Sunday’s lesson about?” (the Day of Atonement).
  2. God’s People Must Not Behave Like Lost People.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 18:1-5.
    • Tell the class God specifically told the Israelites not to behave like two groups of people.
    • Ask: “Who were those people?” (the Egyptians, among whom they formerly lived, or the Canaanites, in whose land they would soon settle).
    • Explain the following:
      • Both the Egyptians and the Canaanites were idol worshipers who served many different false gods.
      • They were wicked people whose religion promoted immorality.
      • God did not want His people to follow the example of such sinful people.
    • Ask: “When Christians hang around lost people, who usually influences the behavior of the other?” (Christians usually adopt some of the worldly ways of the lost people).
    • Tell the students God said something about Himself three times in those verses.
    • Ask: “What did He say about Himself?” (“I am the Lord”).
    • Ask: “Why do you think He said this three times?” (to remind the Israelites that He had the right to tell them what to do and what behavior to avoid).
    • Summarize: God clearly told His people not to adopt the evil and worldly ways of lost people. We are to be different.
  3. Forbidden Behaviors.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 18:6.
    • Explain the following:
      • The words “uncover their nakedness” refer to sexual relations.
      • God forbid them from committing incest: having sexual relations with any family member (“near of kin”).
    • Ask: “Why did God say they must abstain from incest?” (because “I am the Lord”).
    • Read Leviticus 18:7-18.
    • Tell the students that these verses are repetitive and somewhat upsetting, but they make it abundantly clear that no form of incest is permissible for God’s people.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 18:20.
    • Ask: “What other behavior is strictly forbidden?” (adultery).
    • Read Leviticus 18:21.
    • Explain the following:
      • The Canaanites sacrificed their children to their false god, Molech.
      • They did this by burning them in fire.
      • God clearly said that human sacrifice is forbidden.
    • Ask: “Why did God say they must not practice human sacrifice?” (because “I am the Lord”).
    • Ask: “Human sacrifice seems very archaic, but does anyone today practice human sacrifice?” (yes, through abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and satanic rituals).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 18:22-23.
    • Tell the class in those verses God forbid two other wicked behaviors.
    • Ask: “What did God forbid in verse 22?” (homosexuality).
    • Ask: “What did He forbid in verse 23?” (sexual relations with animals – bestiality).
    • Summarize: God clearly told His people that they must not practice incest, adultery, human sacrifice, homosexuality, or bestiality.
  4. Results of Unholy Behavior.
    • Read Leviticus 18:24-28.
    • Explain the following:
      • The behaviors God forbid His people from doing were the very sins practiced by the people of Canaan.
      • Because of their sin, God was going to drive the wicked Canaanites out of the land and give it to the Israelites.
      • God warned that if the Israelites adopted the same wicked behavior as the Canaanites, then the land would spew them out, too.
    • Summarize: God warned His people about the serious consequences of unholy behavior.
  5. Why Must We Be Holy?
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 19:1-4.
    • Ask: “According to verse 2, why must we be holy?” (because “I the Lord your God am holy”).
    • Tell the class in verses 3-4 God named three specific things the Israelites had to do to be holy people.
    • Ask: “What are those three things?” (respect their parents, keep the Sabbath, and turn away from idols).
    • Ask: “Why must they do those things?” (because “I am the Lord your God”).
    • Tell the students that because He was the Lord their God He had the right to tell them how to behave.
    • Ask: “Is that still true for us today?” (yes).
    • Summarize: God commanded His people to be holy because He is holy. Since He is the Lord He has the right to tell us how to behave.
  6. More Instructions About Holiness.
    • Tell the class that chapters 19 and 20 contain more instructions for holy living.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 19:18.
    • Ask: “What must they not do?” (hold a grudge or avenge themselves against any of their people).
    • Ask: “What must they do?” (love their neighbor as themselves).
    • Tell the students that Jesus quoted this verse as the second great commandment of the Law in Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31.
    • Ask: “Why must we love one another?” (because God is the Lord and He has authority to tell us how to behave).
    • Read Leviticus 19:28 for two more instructions concerning holy living.
    • Ask: “What are those instructions?” (they were not to cut themselves in honor of the dead or make any marks [tattoos] on their skin).
    • Tell the class that chapter 20 describes penalties for violating God’s commands about holy living.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 20:1-2, 6.
    • Ask: “What was the penalty for sacrificing a child to Molech?” (death by stoning).
    • Ask: “What did God say He would do to anyone who communicated with the dead or practiced magic?” (He promised to set His face against them and kill them).
    • Read Leviticus 20:7-8.
    • Ask: “According to verse 7, why must we be holy?” (because our God is the Lord).
    • Ask: “According to verse 8, why must we obey God’s commands?” (because the Lord is the one who sanctifies us).
    • Tell the students that in verses 9-20 God prescribed the death penalty for those who practice immorality.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 20:26-27.
    • Ask: “According to verse 26, why must we be holy?” (because God is holy and He has called us out of the lost world to be His special people).
    • Ask: “According to verse 27, what was the penalty for sorcery and witchcraft?” (death).
    • Stress the fact that holiness is so important that God required the ancient Israelites to execute those who practiced unholy behaviors.
    • Summarize: God strongly warned His people to avoid unholy behavior, even imposing the death penalty on those who violated His commands.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class that God wanted the ancient Israelites to be holy people so He gave them guidelines for their day-to-day behavior: rules for holy living.

Ask: “What right does God have to tell us what we can and cannot do?” (since He is holy He has the moral authority to tell us how to behave). Some people mistakenly tell others how to behave, while not holding the same standard themselves. This “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude is hypocritical and does not inspire others to obey. God would never do such a thing. Since He is absolutely holy, He has the right to tell His children to live holy lives.

Remind the students that the rules for holy living we studied today were given 3,400 years ago. Ask: “Are God’s old standards still applicable today?” (yes – God never changes and His standards do not change). Society changes its standards but God’s standards for holy behavior never change. We do not live in a theocratic society like the ancient Israelites did, so we don’t impose the same penalties God imposed, but God’s standards of right and wrong have not changed.

Read 1 Peter 1:15-16. We might think we are not obliged to live up to Old Testament standards of holiness, but the New Testament repeats the exact same message: we must be holy because our God is holy. Ask: “Why does God want us to be holy?” (because He is holy and He wants us to behave like His children; also, He knows that unholy behavior brings bad consequences and ultimately leads to death).

Stress the fact that holy behavior and unholy behavior are quite different. Ask: “Why would holy people want to look and act like those who are unholy?”

Ask: “Are there any areas of unholiness and uncleanness in your life? What areas of your life need to change for you to be holy? Are you willing to confess those things as sin and make a commitment to God to strive to be a holy person?” Stress to the class that holy behavior does not make one right with God or earn one’s way into heaven; rather, it is evidence that a person already knows Jesus Christ as Savior. Lead a closing prayer of confession and commitment.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 1 Peter 1:15-16. Encourage them to abstain from unholy behavior this week so their lifestyle and actions will be holy.

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