Friday, May 22, 2009

The Leprosy of Sin

There are countless parallels between leprosy and sin. It is perhaps one of the best illustrations one can present, to show not only how dangerous sin truly is, but how disgusting and off-putting it is as well.
Leprosy is one of those dreaded diseases that you don’t hear much about anymore, although it still exists, but in the olden days, during the time of Moses it was a typical enough malady wherein God gave Moses the law of the leper, in the book of Leviticus and commanded him to institute it.
I remember my grandfather telling the story of a time when he spend a few days in a leper camp in Romania, and where he got a chance to preach to them, but that is not the point of this writing, and since the thoughts I have floating through my head are not few in number, I get the feeling this will be longer than I first envisioned.
From the research I’ve done on leprosy, the beginning stages of this disease seem innocuous enough. Leprosy begins with a small wound, something that although visible, seems harmless and innocent enough that most tend to overlook it, or put a band aid on it.
In much the same fashion, sin in one’s life at first seems inoffensive and mild. We have the tendency to reason with sin, to justify it, by thinking to ourselves that it’s not that bad, it’s not like we’re killing people or robbing banks, it’s a little thing, and if we’re careful enough to hide it from view, no one ever has to know.
The problem with this mindset is that just like with leprosy, sin spreads. Leprosy and sin are very similar in the fact that they will attack the host with such brutality and force until the host expires. Unlike a tumor, leprosy is not isolated on one part of the body, but spreads over every inch of the human form. Sin will never be content with you giving it five minutes per day, it will never be content with part of you, it will desire to devour and destroy the whole. Five minutes soon turns into ten, ten turns into twenty, and before you know it you are a slave, bound by the sin you thought was innocent and harmless!
A leper can’t hide his leprosy forever, just as one who is living in sin cannot hide his sin forever. Sooner or later all the perfume in the world, and all the makeup in the world, won’t be able to hide the stench of the rotting flesh beneath.
We have repeatedly witnessed the spectacular downfall of prominent Christian names, because there came a point when their sin could no longer be hidden, when the disease had so spread throughout their entire countenance that it was clear and present for all to see.
Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Leprosy is also highly contagious. In ancient times those that were struck with leprosy would be forced out of the city, made to live with others of their kind, far from those who were healthy for fear of contracting the disease themselves. Whether a mother, a father, or a child, whoever contracted the disease was shunned and not allowed to remain within the family unit for fear of passing the leprosy on to others.
Now how could the contagion of sin be likened to sin? Surely sin is not contagious! On the contrary, just like leprosy, sin is highly contagious. When sin goes unchecked, when it is not rightly and sternly confronted within the house of God, those who have not been marred by it, look to those who are allowed to continue living in sin as license to sin themselves.
Sin never presents itself as the foul and destructive thing that it is, but rather under the guise of progressive thinking, freedom, liberty, and self expression. When sin is present within the body of Christ, it must be confronted, it must be removed, and shown for the horrid thing that it is, so that those who are weak in the faith, those who are babes in Christ would understand the severity of sin, and keep away from it. If sin is overlooked or even embraced within the house of God, then those who do not possess the understanding of how dangerous it truly is will come to the conclusion that sin isn’t really all that bad; it just got a bad reputation. If it were truly that horrible and destructive, surely the pastor would speak up against it; surely the preacher would call those living in sin to repentance.
When the serpent came to Eve he did not speak the truth to her concerning the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit, there was no full disclosure on his part. The serpent twisted God’s words, and Eve was so gullible, that although God’s command was clear and to the point, he made it seem as though God just didn’t want Eve to be like Him. When the serpent was done with his presentation, it was no longer that God wanted the best for His creation, and as such forbade them from eating the forbidden fruit, it was that God didn’t want any competition and so out of sheer selfishness forbade them from partaking of it.
When you flirt with sin, you never win. If you allow sin in your heart, if you do not treat it as an enemy of the soul, it will eventually overcome you. One compromise after another, one small step after another, and eventually the soul finds itself riddled with the leprosy of sin because it did not heed the Word, and did not despise sin to begin with.
There is no known cure for leprosy except for divine intervention, just as there is no cure for sin except for divine intervention.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Repentance makes us whole again; repentance washes away the stain of sin from upon our countenance. But even something as straightforward as repentance has been diluted within today’s church, into a practice that has no lasting value. What I mean by this, is that contrary to popular belief, repentance is not just saying we’re sorry, but actually turning away from that which we know was a stumbling block between us and God, and never returning to it again. That is true repentance, and anything less, will bring us back to the same sin, like a dog returning to its vomit, or a sow that was washed to wallowing in the mire. Not a pleasant word picture by any means, but these are not my words, they were the words of Peter when describing those that were once made whole, who then returned to the murderous embrace of sin.
It may sound harsh especially in our all embracing and tolerant times, but just as one who suffered from leprosy was removed from the citizenry, so must one who refuses to repent of sin, or somehow justifies it, be removed from within the body of believers.
‘But that’s not very loving’, one might say, but it is necessary so that the contagion doesn’t spread, and so that which remains may survive. It is one of the most difficult things a leader must contend with, one of the most heartbreaking practices within the body of Christ, to remove a member from among the body of believers, but sometimes it is necessary. What more can be done, when someone with a terminal disease refuses the treatment, and not only that, but goes about trying to infect others with the selfsame disease?
Revelation 21:27, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
The enemy has used many disguises over the centuries in order to infiltrate and pollute the house of God, and one of the most effective disguise at his disposal is that of feigned tolerance and love.
‘You can’t be a Christian, because you’re not tolerant and loving! We’re supposed to show unconditional love to everyone, and accept them just the way they are!’
On the surface it sounds good doesn’t it? The problem is that such esoteric drivel is not Biblical. What is Biblical is the fact that we are to be holy for He is holy; what is Biblical is that we must not love the world or the things of the world; what is Biblical is that when we surrender ourselves to Christ, we must break ties with those things that seek daily to destroy us, and drag us back into the mire from which we were rescued.
When an individual refuses to secede the point that sin is harmful, and fatal, when they defend their proclivities with the ferocity of rabid wolves because they are unwilling to part with them, then there is no common ground, we can’t agree to disagree. We must make our stand and say with no equivocation that such things will not be allowed within the house of God.
If one who has the leprosy of sin desires to be cured and made whole again, the question that remains is what must they do? As with all things pertaining to spiritual well being, the Word of God has the answer.
Just as in the days of old the leper was to be brought before the priest, today we must come before the Great High Priest, and acknowledge that in and of ourselves we cannot be renewed, we cannot be made whole, nor can we be sanctified. We must acknowledge that we need Him, for He is the only One who can cleanse us, and reconcile us unto God.
Romans 4:4-5, “Now to him who works, the ages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”
There was another thing that had to take place when a leper was brought before the priest, namely a sacrifice. Yes, a sacrifice had to be made and if the sacrifice for the leper was a clean bird, today the sacrifice for our sins is the Lamb of God. There is no other sacrifice that will suffice, there is no other sacrifice that will justify, and there is no other sacrifice that will cleanse us and make us whole, that will remove from us the stain of sin, than that of Jesus Christ.
Are you washed? Have you been made clean by the blood of the Lamb? Are your sins forgiven? Are your garments spotless? Have you repented? Do you know Jesus as preeminent, above all, Lord, Savior, King, and Great High Priest?
These are the paramount questions that we must ask ourselves before we get into eschatology or millennial debates, before we dissect every Greek and Hebrew meaning of the word ‘beast’, before we discover clues that just aren’t there in the Bible Code Book, and before we pass on every date someone ‘feels’ something bad is going to happen.
I realize this will not endear me to many of you, but it must be said. For the past few weeks I’ve receive so many dates, that within the next two months the world should be destroyed fifteen times over, if we’re lucky!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. God doesn’t telegraph! It happened once, with Nineveh, they were given forty days, and they repented, but as far as God giving specific dates for certain events, it would be counterproductive to His desire for His children to be ready at all times.
I urge you, as a brother in Christ, as one who has seen more of what the future holds than he would have liked, focus on what matters; focus on Jesus; focus on a relationship and an intimacy with Him; learn to hear His voice; love to be in His presence, because these are the things that will carry you through the coming days of darkness and dread, whether tomorrow, a week, or a month from now.
If anyone reading this happens to be suffering from leprosy, I apologize in advance, but many Christians today are like a leper in the late stages of his malady reading up on how to compete in a triathlon. Get cured first! Get healthy first, and then read up on the most taxing and exhausting competition around.
In simpler terms, I pray we don’t put the cart before the horse. Our spiritual wellbeing and our spiritual maturity are the principle things! Jesus first! All else pales in comparison!

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.


Mrs. Pugh said...

Such a timely message. I've just been informed by a family member that they are, "so happy I have reached a point where I don't have God." (Apparently it is much easier to live your life with out worrying about the consequences of your actions.) She has left her husband and entered a relationship with another woman.

I sit here wondering the best way to eliminate her contact and influence with my children. My mind is dwelling on the first chapter of Romans, and I want to cry.

Brother Michael, you are so spot on with this post... sin starts small, it grows, it feeds on the ignorant, it decieves those that call themselves wise. Ultimately, it destroys all who come in contact with it.

Anyone with a spare moment, please pray for Margaret. That she would see the error of her way. I so very much want my sister in heaven at the end of all things.

Mrs. Pugh

Sue said...

Just wanted Mrs. Pugh to know that I am praying as she asked. Remember, it was four friends who had the faith to lift up their buddy on the mat and lower him through a hole in the roof, to Jesus. And Jesus forgave him his sins, and healed him. Let all who join in prayer be as "the four friends", as we wait in expectation for Jesus to send His Spirit of conviction and truth and His healing power! (See Mark 2)


Mrs. Pugh said...

Thank you Sue. Every word of encouragement helps.
Mrs. Pugh

Anonymous said...

This is a well done piece! Don't you think it is a cause and effect relationship between sin & disease? And it drives me crazy when foolish people say,"How could God let diseases like Aids,Cancer,etc. happen. When the diseases are caused by man's negligence,to begin with. God bless!!!

Anonymous said...

What a timely message. I came in contact with it today and it is still timely and relevant.
Sin like leprosy kills eventually if not checked.
God bless you you bro for this timeless message.

Bowlingirl said...

Thank you for writing this. As I was reading leviticus, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that leprosy is a metaphor for sin, which sheds new light on the entire Old Testament. I think the enemy wants us to think the OT writings are just history lessons. But they are just as revealing and alive as anything in the NT.

Bowlingirl said...

Thank you for posting this. As I was reading Leviticus today, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that leprosy is a metaphor for sin. I think the enemy would like us to think of the Old Testament as nothing but a history lesson. But it is just as relevant and alive as anything in the NT.