I am so blessed to have such a fantastic pastor/teacher at my church. I know many who stop by this blog each day don't have the benefit of sitting under solid biblical teaching on Sunday morning like I do so I want to share with you what he taught us yesterday. It made such an impression on my heart because the illustration was so vivid.
The text was Luke 17:11-19, and today's blog post comes from the notes I took as I listened to his sermon.
"While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
My pastor pointed out to us that leprosy was the most talked about illness in the Bible and it was considered the worst possible thing you could contract. It was in essence a death sentence to become a leper. In Numbers 12 Miriam experiences God's wrath and is afflicted with leprosy. It was such a terrifying disease that Aaron begged that she not be, "like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away" (Num. 12: 9-12). In 2 Kings we find the story of Naaman who had a spot of leprosy and just one spot left him unclean.
Leprosy was so horrible because it completely defiled the person it infected. It is a bacteria that affected the peripheral nervous system and caused disfiguring of the limbs and lumps and sores on the skin. It also cut off feeling to the arms and legs so the person could no longer feel pain. It affected every aspect of the person who contracted it. Leviticus 13 outlines the fate of the leper: outcast, considered unclean in life, and doomed to a horrible lonely death.
Leprosy is a metaphor for what sin does to us, both to the inner man and the outer man. Just like leprosy begins within the body, sin begins in the inner man (the heart). Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart of man is desperately sick and horribly wicked. Sin we begins within but doesn't stay there. Just like the disease of leprosy, sin defiles the whole person and completely corrupts us. There is nothing that is untouched by sin and without intervention we would be completely consumed by it.
Leprosy brought alienation from everyone. The leper had to live apart from everyone except other lepers, and had to announce himself by yelling "Unclean" everywhere he went. This made sense because no one wanted to catch the disease. Sin is also contagious. How many of you have heard, Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Cor. 15:33 ESV)? Adults know this is true because we have seen it and possibly experienced the corruption that comes with befriending those whose lives are characterized by sinfulness.
Lepers had no friends and family would disassociate from them. Lepers could not worship God in the temple because of their disease. Like Leprosy, sin brings alienation.. Primarily sin alienates a person from God. In fact, the Bible says that apart from Christ we are "dead in our trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Because of sin we were enemies of God (Col. 2:1) and had no fellowship with Him. Those who have not by faith accepted Christ's sacrificial death on the cross remain enemies of God.
Leprosy caused the victim to lose feeling in their extremities so they could stick their hands in the fire to grab something out! Sin causes us to become desensitized to conviction by the Holy Spirit. Have you noticed, the more you sin the easier it gets? The more you sin the less it bothers you? Sin dulls your senses, it dulls your conscience and it hardens your heart (Eph. 4:18-19).
Like leprosy, sin is progressive. It's corrupting power becomes stronger and stronger the more it is fed and indulged (Eph. 4: 22). The sinful heart is never satisfied with yesterday's malfeasance, it grows more corrupt and desires more and more wickedness.
For thousands of years leprosy had no cure and neither did sin. In fact, sin is incurable! Sin can't be fixed, and it can't be made better. There is no pill or remedy that makes sin acceptable. This is why we are to put off those sinful desires and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We can't do that apart from Christ. He is the only Healer for our sin-sickness.
There is no special formula to receive Christ. What is necessary is a biblical response to the gospel. You must understand that you are a sinner in need of salvation and that you cannot save yourself by any works or deeds. You must believe by faith that Jesus Christ came to be your Savior and that He died on the cross for our sins and accept His free gift of salvation.
If this message resonates within you, it is because you have been divinely enabled to believe and respond to the gospel by God. In that first moment of belief several amazing things take place; you are justified in Christ; you are adopted as a child of God, you are set apart (sanctified) and made righteous before God. You also gain access to the throne room of God because you are no longer an enemy who is under His wrath, but His beloved child. He also comes to dwell within you in the person of the Holy Spirit and you are changed forever.
He removes your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh that is able to be transformed and conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. Jesus is the only cure for spiritual leprosy. Have you been cured?