Sin, Salvation, and Practical Sanctification
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The bulk of our text will be found in Leviticus, chapters 13 and 14. It is with the thoughts of the Leper that this subject can be brought out concerning Sin, Salvation, and Practical Sanctification. While not many types found in the bible have a direct parallel (that is word for word comparison) concerning some subject, we can find in the above mentioned chapters that there are some very striking similarities with man and who he is and God and what he has done.
In Mark chapter 2 we read of a man who was sick of the palsy. He was borne by 4 men to Christ and they uncovered the roof and let him down. Christ said, thy sins be forgiven thee. But others around said, “only God can forgive sins”. Then Christ, knowing their hearts said, “Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.”
Diseases in the bible often typify man the sinner and his condition. The disease of leprosy also well depicts man, who is eaten whole with sin. Whether leprosy is inherited is hard to say, but one thing I do know, our sinful nature is! We inherited that from our father Adam. Romans 5:12 states, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”.
There was a change in Adams position after the fall. To “fall” is to have a change of position. But there are those who would suppose the opposite by saying man is now a free moral agent. Well, if man were a free moral agent before the fall, and then a free moral agent after the fall, there would then be no change of position. And if there is no change of position, how could you say that Adam fell? Or what of the other side of the ditch? There are those that would say Adam was predestined to fall, he had no choice, that God fixed it so he would fall and then God could save him. And then after his fall man is in a state where he cannot help. So, man couldn’t help him self out before, nor could he help himself out after, this view if fatalistic. If that is the case, there still is no change his condition. And how could you say that Adam fell if his condition did not change?
The truth of the matter is Adam was given a law by God in the Garden of Eden. It was a law that he could keep. But after he transgressed that law he is unable to help himself because he fell. Therefore we see a change of position. Adam was able to keep the law of God, but after the fall Adam is now dead in trespasses and in sins. We inherited the sin in Adam. We didn’t become a sinner when we committed a sin; we committed a sin because we are by nature sinners. Psalms 51:5 says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me”. This doesn’t seek to justify our sins, but only explains where our nature came from.
A few comparisons can be drawn between the disease of leprosy and our sinful nature:
Leprosy is deeper than the skin: In chapter 13 of Leviticus the sign of one who had Leprosy was that “the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh”(v.3). Sin too, is deeper than the skin. Our sinful actions and what we say, think, and do are not from the surface but from something much deeper down. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The problem is with his heart. The things that are manifest on the surface just serve to confirm what is deep within. Christ said in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” This is who man is by nature. This is what is in his corrupt heart. Nothing in there can be found that is God honoring, but all is to the satisfying of man. In Psalms 14 we read, “the fool hath said in his heart there is no God”.
We feel that we can cure a man of his problems. If he is away from God, in our eyes, and living a wicked life then all he needs to do his turn his heart to God. But if the problem is heart problem, then only God can make a change in ones life. And it will take that before there will be a change in ones condition.
Leprosy spreads: In Leviticus 13:8, “And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy”.
Sin like Leprosy can and often times does spread. Isaiah 1:5-6 states, “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” Here God tells Israel that they are consumed and that it has spread over there whole body.
It is so tempting at times to just “dabble” in sin. We are foolish enough to think that we can stop at any time and that we won’t allow sin to reign over us. It was just a look that caused David to ultimately commit murder by having Uriah killed. It was just a look that Lot had when he pitched his tent toward Sodom. James said in Chapter 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”.
It is a daily struggle to not let sin reign in your mortal bodies. But yet we must continue to fight against the temptation and desire to be lured into sin. Paul said, “If ye walk after the flesh ye shall die. But if ye, through the spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”.
Leprosy can separate us from our family: In Leviticus it tells us that “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be” (v.46). What a terrible and sad situation it would be if you or I were removed from our family and those we love because of our disease. The family is where you find support, love, affection, and a since of being. To dwell alone is to be separated from all those rich qualities that come from the family unit. The family that I have under consideration is not the natural family. Though indeed it would be a sad situation to be removed from your natural family. But it is the church family.
Yes, we are all sinners and unworthy of a place in His house. But letting sin to continue in our life to the point that it consumes us and brings reproach upon the church can cause one to be removed without the camp. What a sad thing it is to see one taken away from the family because of a continuance of sin in his life.
Leprosy, when spread, will numb the nerve endings: It has been said that when one has leprosy in his hands he can touch a hot iron and never feel it burning his skin, he is completely numb to pain.
Sometimes we can get so far into sin that we begin to justify everything that we do. We might say, “God would not let it grow if he didn’t want us smoking it”, or “God would not have made something beautiful if he didn’t want us looking at it”, or “Christ drank wine, so it is OK for me to drink all I want”. Or we just simply say, “I am a sinner, and that is what sinners do, they sin!”
We can come to the place in our lives that we begin to justify all that we do. Paul said in Ephesians 4:17-19, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” What a shame it is to see one who is in this place. I thank God for conviction. For if one is convicted of his sins and by the grace of God, begs forgiveness, then he is not past feelings. And I pray that I never get past the feeling of when I do wrong! I pray that I would always feel guilty of the times that I stray away from God in my sins.
Leprosy is contagious: You would not want to be next to someone who was a Leper. You might just get the disease by being around him.
In this life it does not pay to associate with those who are “eat up” with sin. It could be that you might get the same disease. And the more we are around it the more we are apt to fall into it. There is much peer pressure in the schools today and even in college. It is acceptable to live a sinful life in many college social circles and you are looked at as odd if you do not live the same as them. But we need to stay away from such temptations in our life, that we may remain spotless from the corruption of this world. The same pressures are also found in the work world.
Also, one that is left in the house that is leprous and not removed may infect the whole house. If one were not taken out of the church for committing reproachful sins, it might entice other members to follow the same course, not fearing the judgment of the Church.
Now we turn our attention to Leviticus chapter 14. It is the chapter concerning the “law of the leper in the day of his cleansing”. We have shown how that leprosy in many ways is comparable to the sin that is within us. Now we can see how that the leper is pronounced clean and is free from his disease. What a wonderful story this illustrates when we consider the grace of God in salvation towards those who were full of leprosy.
Notice early on that the leper is brought to the priest, and the priest goes out to him. Here we see no action on the part of the one who has the leprosy. Neither is there action from the dead alien sinner to obtain regeneration. He is dead and unable to lift up so much as a finger in his dead state. John 6:44 states, “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up again at the last day”. It was David, a great type of Christ, who went and fetched for Mephibosheth. He couldn’t come to David, nor did he want to. It was Christ who went to the dead and raised them out of their dead condition. He said, “Lazarus, arise”; “young Damsel, arise”; “young man, arise”. And they were all obedient to the voice of Christ.
In Verse 3 it states, “And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper”. Christ died for the sins of His elect on Calvary’s cross. The words that Christ cried out on the cross; “it is finished”, declared that the work of redemption was complete.
There was an offering that had to be performed. The priest would take two birds, alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest would kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water. Then the other bird that was alive would be dipped in the dead bird’s blood. And the priest would then sprinkle the blood upon him that is to be cleaned from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean. Then the living bird would be let loose in the open field.
The two birds represent Christ and his sacrifice on the cross. One of the birds was killed in an earthen vessel over running water. What a wonder type of Christ this is. The water speaks of the divinity of Christ. And he came to this earth in an earthen vessel. Paul spoke of our bodies as being an earthen vessel in 2Cor. 4:7. In 1John 5:8, “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one”. Christ came IN earth, that is to say, in an earthen vessel. The Spirit is speaking of the Holy Spirit, the water is the divinity of Christ, and the blood speaks of his perfect humanity. What were they bearing witness of? That he was the Christ. A bird was killed because of a leper. Christ came here and died on Calvary to cure our leprosy.
The other bird was set free in an open field. No finer place for a bird to be set free than in an open field. Christ ascended to his Father after having accomplished the work that he was sent to do. And we were in Christ for he “hath quickened us together with Christ, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2.4-6). The blood of that dead bird was sprinkled upon him that was to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times. It device that was used was the cedar wood, the scarlet, and the hyssop. The hyssop perhaps was tied by the scarlet to the end of the piece of cedar wood. Its purpose would then be used as an applicator to sprinkle the blood upon the leper.
What a great type is shown here. Christ died for our sins on Calvary. It was there that the price was paid in full. If Paul said that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, then we would have to conclude that Christ did the work while he was in the world! But there is a time in every child of Gods life when that salvation is applied to him, just as it was applied to the leper. There is a vital application of that salvation which Christ has purchased for us on the cross. This is referred to as the new birth!
It is in the new birth that the salvation of the cross is applied to us, it is then that we are sprinkled with His blood. 1Peter 1:2, “Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit; unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”. It is then that we are cleansed by the “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:3-5). And every child of God will have that salvation that was wrought on Calvary applied to him sometime between conception and death.
It is then that we, as the leper, are pronounced clean! We are pronounced in the court of heaven. Paul said in Romans 3:24, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. He declares us just in the courts of heaven and none dare bring a railing accusation against one of His (Rev. 12:10-11).
PRACTICAL SANCTIFICATION: After the leper was pronounced clean, and the live bird was turned loose in the open field, the one who was cleansed would wash his clothes and shave off all his hair, and wash his body in water that he may be clean (Lev. 14:8).
This was a sign to all that was around this man that he had been pronounced clean. No doubt the people would look and take notice. Paul said in Romans 6:4 that if we have been buried with Christ and raised with Christ, legally and positionally, that we should walk in newness of life. Also in Ephesians 4:24 Paul said that we put on the new man.
The child of God who sees what he was, a leper, and sees who it was that has cleansed him, should have the desire and longing to live a life that would be an example to those around him. In Luke 17:15-19, there were 10 lepers that were healed. But only one turned to Christ to worship him. Christ said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” May we be as the one, who turned to worship Christ and not the other nine who went on their way.