“I kid you not! That drunk guy stole the pick-up, drove it the wrong way on the freeway, just so he could run it into the church! It was so stupid!”
No, it wasn’t stupid -- it was shortsighted. Peter says that someone lacking in Christ-like character is shortsighted to the point of being blind. If those we are discipling are shortsighted, we need to purposefully encourage them to diligently growing in faith (2 Peter 1:5, 9).
“It was right in a Christian school too! He got up and said that the universe created itself – that it is the only thing that exists, has ever existed, and will ever exist. It was stoooopid!”
Unfortunately, that statement wasn’t stupid – it was foolish. David reminds us that the fool has said in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1). When those we are speaking to about the truth are foolish, we are to silence them by our good conduct (1 Peter 2:15) and reflect their foolishness back to them (Proverbs 26:4-5). If we don’t, we allow them continue unimpeded into woe (Isaiah 5:21).
My coat was stuck, caught on a hook that I couldn't see. I fumbled a minute before I closed my eyes and concentrated my entire brain power. Not two seconds passed before my jacket popped free. Success!
We close our eyes a lot in life. Trying to remember? Close your eyes. Enjoying the fresh baked bread with butter? Close your eyes. Kissing your spouse? Attending the orchestra? Smelling the roses (or better yet, the lilacs)? Fishing around for a piece of glass in someone’s foot? Close your eyes, close your eyes, close your eyes.
Why? Because: our gift of sight smothers our other senses…including our faith. We often allow our sight to dictate how good something tastes, how soft something feels, or how obedient we will be to God’s calling.
Physically, we know this and often instinctively close our eyes to allow us better concentration to do, experience, and enjoy. Spiritually, we need to learn how to just close our eyes and trust because the righteous shall live by faith.
Be honest, when a sin catches your attention, deal with it intentionally (Matthew 18:9). Don’t turn a blind eye. Don’t make excuses. Don’t be lazy. Recognize it and quash it.
Be ruthless. Sin cannot be removed painlessly – rip it out (Deuteronomy 12:2). People are redeemable. But you know what isn’t? Things. If an object is infected by leprosy – it only has one chance to prove it is no longer contaminated. If that leprosy pops up again – burn it. Demolish it. Finish it – it’s done.
Now that part of the law just doesn’t apply at all! That’s just crazy! I mean, who ever heard of people using phones to call people they shouldn’t, computers to look at things they shouldn’t, or guns to do what they shouldn’t?
That object gets one chance – install a filter, arrange for accountability, use it only at work. Eradicate the sin. And if it comes back – burn it. God is serious in the law. He is serious today. And we need to be the same.
Be on guard. Be separate. Be honest. Be ruthless. And then…
The battle to prevent leprosy was perpetual. The war with sin is the same. And Leviticus is telling us how to win.
Be on guard. Sin crouches at the door waiting to destroy (Genesis 4:7). Sin comes back like a boomerang: when we are tired, bored, and least expecting it. We know its strategies. We know its strength and our weaknesses. Now, we must be on guard against temptation.
Be separate. What is holy has no fellowship* with the unholy and profane (2 Corinthians 6:14). There can be no fellowship between the holy and the unholy – it always dissolves into either a relationship between the unholy and the unholy or breeds discord. Until the leprous are clean, the clean and the unclean cannot have fellowship. The same with sin, two cannot be close until the disease is gone. The same with sin. Instead, we must select companions who spur us onto to love and good works.
*Fellowship does not mean association or even cursory friendship. It means a close, open, and/or deep friendship.
The law’s penalties for sins are not surprising. What is surprising is the inherent grace woven into the law. Leprosy was a death sentence. It was irreversible and incurable. That was reality. But God’s law gave specific provisions for those cured from leprosy. God was saying that healing was possible and He was making restoration possible.
We are witnesses to the devastation of sin in the lives of others. We have, regrettably, experienced its consequences in our own lives. But the law never gave up hope that lepers may be made whole again. Therefore, we have hope that every sinner may become righteous again in Christ.
The culture said and acted on their belief: “Salvation is impossible!” But the law was an unyielding reminder: “Redemption is always possible.” And in the Person of Jesus Christ, this redemption is fully realized. By God’s grace and with His healing, people are always eligible to be made clean again.
Leviticus 13 does not make for titillating read – it is about sores, infections, and scars. Leprosy could crop up anywhere – from healthy skin, from healing skin, from scarred skin, from bald skin. Sin can sprout up from anywhere in our lives – from “good” things, from painful things, from past hurts, from empty time and brain space.
Each time there was a question of possible leprosy – it was serious and took a minimum of two weeks to deal with the crisis. People had to be isolated. Leather goods and fabrics had to be torn. Houses had to be remodeled. There was no quick fix, but the law stood between leprosy and the people as their protector -- if it was obeyed.
Avoid this, do this, check this, and don’t do that. The law was not merely a protector but a foreshadowing of Christ. Sin has no quick fix, but Jesus Christ is our protection against the dread disease. In Him alone is the strength to reject the power of sin and capacity to refuse to serve sin. The law provided the alternative to serving “me” and “my” → serving God. The law was God’s prescription for success in every arena: family, church, and culture. The problem was: we couldn’t keep it. We tried. We failed.
But Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law in every particular – He never failed. He is the ultimate prescription to our sin. In His life, He showed us the perfect example. In His death on the cross, He took our place before God for our punishment. In His resurrection, He has provided to us His perfect righteousness to cover our sin. And in the lives of those who believe and follow Him, Jesus Christ has poured out His Holy Spirit to enable us to triumph over sin and be healed.
The book of Leviticus is basically a list of laws and legal provisions cover nearly all of life -- love, livestock, and…leprosy. There are multiple (long) chapters that address leprosy, leprous people, contaminated things, and infected properties.
For the time period this was highly applicable. Leprosy was one of the most devastating and mysterious diseases around. It was no respecter of persons. Everyone knew it took your life even while you were still living, slowly eroding your dexterity, disfiguring your face, and then, eventually, it killed you. Leprosy was a dreaded disease.
If all of Scripture is written for our learning (and it is, Romans 15:4), what are we supposed to glean from these reams of Levitical commands? We don’t have leprosy anymore… Do we?
They were vigilant in their surveillance for leprosy, what are we supposed to be vigilant against (1 Peter 5:8)? They cut out portions of clothing and tore their houses apart to eradicate this disease, they were ruthless. What are we supposed to be ruthless against (Matthew 5:29)? They were careful to separate themselves from those who were actively ill. What are we supposed to separate ourselves from (Leviticus 20:26)?
Like leprosy, sin is a devastating condition, often mysteriously invisible. It affects the rich and the poor the same. It insatiably consumes your motivation, time, and love -- until it takes your life, even while you are still alive. Leprosy may have been eradicated – sin hasn’t. Sin is the dreaded disease.
This phrase appears in God’s conversation with Cain, the Law of Moses, Christ’s teaching to His closest disciples, in the Sermon on the Mount, and in Paul’s letters. “But you” is a recurrent theme in both testaments. You will be tempted but you need to resist. Your neighbors will be worshipping “A” but you need to worship God. Everyone else will be chasing “X” but you need to be pursuing “Y”.
In almost every decision in life “but you” applies. Those who follow Jesus work differently. They play differently. They study, enjoy, and create differently. They live differently. The Bible is clear about this from cover to cover but it is also honest.
You will be an anomaly. Most people are content to just do what everyone else does, think what everyone else thinks, and go where everyone else goes. But not you – you will do what Jesus did, think God’s thoughts, and follow His instructions.
You will be alone. Many people will cave to the pressure of the whims of the culture. But not you – you will stand as a workman who does not need to be ashamed.
You will be antagonized. Some people will hate you for your differences and find their purpose is defeating, deriding, and despising you. But you have turned your back on the world and will live for God’s approval.
Focus on the Most Important.
Resist the Devil.
On our knees we fight! On our knees we win!
This is not just a pandemic. It’s not just a culture war. This is spiritual warfare. We who love Jesus are embroiled in a spiritual battle. It’s raging and Satan is following his playbook to the “T”.
And he will flee from you.
~ James 4:7
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.