Land of Lepers
Posted on 05/25/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
Good morning, and welcome to ALM CyberChurch!
That little clip you just heard is from the Way of the Master Radio program, and I thought I'd share it with you.
A special welcome to our visitors, we hope you'll find yourself at home in the presence of the Lord today, and that you'll leave here a little bit closer to Jesus.
One quick announcement, my wife and I are opening our retail business for team members; so if you need to increase your income and want to work with us, instant message Mariposa Psaltery or me after the service. And if you're listening later on the podcast, you can go to the website, infinitymerchandise.com and click "Join the Team."
Let's all stand to our feet and start this service with prayer.
Lord, we just want to thank you and praise you for who you are and for what you've done. And we want to thank you for your unending love that you poured out for us on the cross, the ultimate proof of love, willingly laying down your life even for your enemies.
And Lord, we want to take a moment to pray for Avangelin, who says she's battling demons and is filled with fear. We ask first of all that you would reveal any open doors to Avangelin, and give her the strength and courage to close them.
And we ask that you give Avangelin peace, a peace that is greater than reason or circumstance, a peace that comes only from being in your presence and surrendering everything to you.
We ask that you help her to keep her eyes on you, for you said in your Word, "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon you, because he trusts in you." And we ask for that peace, and for that help to keep her eyes upon you and not upon the evil that's around her.
And we speak against any demons or any misorders, in the name of Jesus: the Blood of Jesus is against you, and we speak life, the mind of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit into Avangelin, in Jesus' name.
*** OTHER PRAYERS, listen to the audo to hear ***
And now Lord, we ask that you would open our ears, soften our hearts, and prepare us to receive the word you have for us today.
And we ask all these things in the name of Jesus.
Please remain standing, as we continue this time of worship.
Yes, please take a moment to turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, as we worship God with our giving.
Click the pulpit for a notecard, and let's offer up to God our songs of praise.
TREES OF THE FIELD
You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There'll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands
And all the trees of the fields
will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with joy
RIVER OF LIFE
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free!
I've got a river of life flowing out of me!
Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole!
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly.
NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES
Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.
Lord Jesus, your name is the name above all other names! You truly are our beautiful Savior, our glorious Lord; you are Emmanuel, God with us. You are our blessed redeemer, and you are the Living Word. And Lord, we just want to worship you today, to pour out our praise upon you, to lift our hands and our hearts to declare that you alone are worthy of our praise, and that we worship you with our lives.
Thank you for your beautiful presence here with us today. I ask that this atmosphere would continue, and that we would receive the word you want to speak to us today.
Thank you Lord. Amen.
You can be seated.
In the Bible, we seem to hear about Leprosy a fair deal. We know that there were various cleansing rituals that had to be observed, and ultimately the ones who retained their leprosy had to live outside the city, and any time they came into the city, they had to cry out, "Unclean! Unclean!"
In researching this disease, I discovered that the leprosy of today is not necessarily the same as the leprosy mentioned in Scripture. Rather, the Hebrew word we translate as leprosy is Tzarath, and the sympoms do not match up with our medical definition of leprosy.
However, someone in that time who had today's leprosy would be considered as having Tzarath, the leprosy mentioned in Scripture. And just as with the leprosy in the Scriptures, the leprosy we know also carried with it a social stigma, making those who bear it outcasts.
The title of my message today is, "Land of Lepers."
Now, for the purpose of today's message, it's important to understand what leprosy is. Contrary to popular ideas, leprosy is not a rotting of the flesh. That's only one of the side effects of the disease. Rather, leprosy affects the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes.
Paul Brand investigated the disease for many years, and discovered that the physical markings of leprosy are by far not the most serious. The real culprit is the damage it does to the nerves. Leprosy causes an insensitivity in the extremities, causing unfelt wounds or lesions to deteriorate the tissues and cause infections.
Simply put, leprosy robs parts of your body from feeling pain.
In some places, a leper might wake up missing a finger or toe. Studies revealed that rats would take a little nibble in the night. If the nibbles did not awaken their victim, they would have a meal. Since the leper could not feel pain, he or she did not wake up.
Now I realize this is probably not the kind of stuff most of us expect to talk about in a Sunday morning service. But the spiritual paralell I'm about to draw is both very disturbing and very real.
So the leper will lose limbs to rats or amputation because the disease has robbed them from feeling pain. They cut themselves and don't realize it. They burn themselves and not even know. They might scratch their eyes in the night and forget to blink during the day, and only notice that their vision seems to be deteriorating.
In days gone by, the leper would become an outcast, and in Jewish culture they would have to cry out "Unclean! Unclean!" any time they were in the city. To find out you had leprosy would have been worse in those days than to discover today that you have terminal cancer. With the cancer, you are given care and attention and are still an accepted member of society. With leprosy, you were cast out of the city and left to die, and became someone everyone stayed far away from and no one was allowed to touch.
But I submit this statement of fact to you today: The roles have been completely reversed.
With leprosy of the body, you were cast out of the city.
With leprosy of the spirit, you are welcomed warmly into its gates.
With leprosy of the body, you were recognized as having disease.
With leprosy of the spirit, you are thought of as someone who is spiritually enlightened and advanced.
With leprosy of the body, you were carefully avoided and could not be touched.
With leprosy of the spirit, people may very well flock around you and try to emulate you.
With leprosy of the body, it was something that was dreaded and everyone hoped and prayed they would never get it.
With leprosy of the spirit, it is something everyone seeks and prays earnestly that it will completely consume them.
But there are two things that physical and spiritual leprosy have in common: They both rob you from feeling pain, and they both will destroy you.
So what is spiritual leprosy? For the purpose of this message, spiritual leprosy is the removal of pain, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
It could include deadening of the conscience, or developing a mindset that carefully avoids hardships.
It could include seeking to hear only teachings that make us feel good and excuse our compromise, or simply choosing to not ponder the true nature of our flesh and our sin.
And it is promoted from every direction, almost like alien pods that shoot hungry spores in every direction, showering deadly and hypnotic poison upon all those who pass by.
It is called by the names of tollerance, positive affirmation, self-esteem, post-modernism, peace, and even love, just to name a few. But its message is all the same: Remove that which causes pain and discomfort, and immunize yourself against the pain and discomfort caused by that which cannot or will not be removed.
Here's an example: The spirit of this age promotes complete tollerance, not just of every person, but of every lifestyle and system of belief. It seeks to remove any uncomfortable feelings, including those of guilt for one's actions or doubt of one's beliefs. It seeks to remove all forms of pain.
But this is spiritual leprosy. If you are robbed of your guilt caused by living in sin, then you will continue to live in sin. If you are robbed of your doubt caused by someone challenging your false religion, then you will continue to live in darkness and deception. If you are robbed of your pain of conviction, then you will not come to the cross.
Our children are being robbed of the sense of pain called "conscience" which used to be caused by even the mention of sexual immorality. But "immorality" is a painful, hurtful word. "Fornication" and even "sin" are painful, hurtful words as well.
So, infected with spiritual leprosy, they destroy their ability to have the depth of union with their future spouse that God placed there for both fulfillment and protection. They catch sexually-transmitted diseases. They get pregnant at the age of 12 or 13. Then, to avoid the pain of responsibility, they are urged to murder the baby in the form of abortion, causing life-long emotional damage.
Most of us used to feel emotional pain when we saw or heard about someone getting hurt. But today, diseased with spiritual leprosy, we produce video games, books, and movies which slowly remove that pain until we can enjoy seeing someone die. And then we wonder why our school full of lepers is attacked by students seeking to shed the blood of other students and teachers.
"The Ten Commandments, the Bible, and the name of Jesus must come out of the public eye, because they might make someone feel bad." Indeed we have witnessed and continue to witness a spiritual genecide, a racial cleansing of sorts, as the forces that be remove every last bit of Godly pain.
The result is spiritual leprosy. And today our land has become a land of lepers.
Those with spiritual leprosy are welcomed and adored, seen as normal and healthy.
Those without spiritual leprosy are seen as outcasts and extreemists, dangers to the coveted spiritual sickness of the day.
Those with spiritual leprosy are likely to be thought of as spiritually enlightened.
Those without spiritual leprosy are seen as having a disease and holding back progress.
Those with spiritual leprosy may have people flock around them and try to emulate them.
Those without spiritual leprosy are often carefully avoided and seen as evil.
Spiritual leprosy is something everyone seems to seek and pray or chant or meditate or legislate earnestly that it will completely consume them.
But we must see it for what it is, something that should be dreaded and that we should hope and earnestly fast and pray that we will not be infected by it.
Brothers and sisters, no matter where in this world you call home, we all live in a land of lepers. It is a very rare individual who is not seriously infected with this disease, and they are often the outcast of society.
I would dare suggest that most if not all of us here today have been touched by this disease, and bear its mark upon our souls. Sin just doesn't cause pain in us like it should. Our laziness in seeking God, praying, and studying his Word doesn't hurt us like it should. Knowing that someone is a Buhdist or Muslim doesn't grieve us to our core. Walking through a crowd of people lost and on their way to eternal damnation in hell doesn't cause us to cry out in agony and seek to lead them to Jesus no matter what the cost.
We watch fornication and adultery on television and don't think twice about it. It just doesn't hurt, or at least not that much.
We hear false doctrine coming from the lips of our brothers and sisters and do not feel and react to the pricking in the inner man, but instead let it pass by unchallenged, not even in prayer.
We sit under teachers and preachers who promote spiritual leprosy, creating spiritual lepers who are numbed to their guilt, numbed to their lifestyles, and numbed to the Spirit and the voice of God, and it does not cause us to cry out in pain.
We hear about the millions of unborn babies who continue to be legally slaughtered, and dismiss it as a political issue or a matter of individual choice; it does not spur us to action, to rescue the innocent and fight for their voices to be heard.
What is wrong with us? Why do we not hurt? Why do we not feel pain? Why does the sins of our society not cause us to react in a way that will save someone's soul? Why does our own sin not cause us to react in a way that will deliver us from its path of destruction and alienation from God?
We are a land of lepers. And it has happened slowly and methodically. Just as a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough, so a little bit of spiritual leprosy continues to spread until, generations later, we do not know right from wrong, we do not know truth from deception, we do not know peace from surrender, and we do not know the path to heaven from the highway to hell.
But God has not abandoned us, no matter how much we have abandoned his heart and his ways. And he still is holding out his hand, offering healing, offering deliverance, offering reconciliation, and offering Godly, life-saving pain.
Let's close by reading a passage of Scripture. Luke chapter 17, verses 11 through 19.
11 Now it happened as (Jesus) went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.
13 And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
Are you crying out to the Master today? "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
14 So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
What is Jesus telling you to do? Your healing just might not start until you begin obeying what he has said; Jesus just might be waiting until you go, so that you can be cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
17 So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"
19 And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well."
You know, God is waiting for us to cry out to him, believing that he will answer us and he will heal us as we do what he tells us to do.
I don't know whether these men had the leprosy we know of today or something else, but what would Jesus say to a leper of today? Would he also say, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well?"
I believe he would. And would he say, "You are free from your pain and discomfort?" or would he instead say, "I am returning to you your ability to feel pain?"
For Jesus to heal a leper would mean that he returns to that leper the ability to feel discomfort and pain.
And Jesus is ready and waiting to heal our spiritual leprosy. Jesus is ready and waiting to return to us our pain, the pain that will save your life and the lives of those around you.
We live in a rotting society. The spiritual rats, the demons and strongholds and vices of the enemy, continue to eat our flesh. We continue to destroy ourselves. We are full of sores and infectious diseases. And I say this in a spiritual sense. We live in a land of lepers, and you and I are surrounded by rotting, dying people.
Will we allow the pain of their lifestyles, their false religions, and the sins of our nations to be robbed from us? Or will we cry out, "Jesus, master, have mercy on us!"
The ministry team can come to the front now.
Are you ready to be healed? Are you ready for your conscience to begin to line up with the Word of God? Are you ready to feel pain when you see wickedness in the world, even the kind that looks good to our carnal nature? Are you ready to feel guilt and conviction when you do things that displease God, or don't do things that please him?
Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes for nothing but to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it in overflowing abundance."
The thief does not come just to make us hurt; he also comes to steal our Godly pain and discomfort so we will destroy ourselves and allow him to destroy those around us. But Jesus came to give us life, and life in overflowing abundance. Life feels pain, and pain preserves life. As long as there there is anything that can damage us, we cannot have abundant life without pain.
But that's why Jesus has come. And he wants to heal you. He wants to transform you, from glory to glory, into the image of God, changing your mind and your heart so that it comes into line with God's mind and God's heart.
And the more you reflect the image of God, the more you will feel Godly pain. And as a result, you will repent of your sins and will walk away from them. You will reject unGodly lifestyles, attitudes, words, and actions. You will love the person but will not tollerate the deceptions that have them bound. You will pray for the the lepers around you in the church, in the government, and in your communities and in your land, and will not stand for falsehood being proclaimed from the pulpit, but will tell the truth in love.
This altar is open. If you want to be healed from spiritual leprosy, rejecting the ways of the world and pursuing the ways of God, get out of your seat and come to the front.
And if you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, he is here today and is waiting for you to call upon his name; he is waiting and ready to heal you and to give you everlasting life; to wipe your slate clean, and to give you a brand new start.
Just cry out to him now. You might say, "Jesus, forgive me for my sins! I repent and turn from them and I turn to you. Make me a part of the family of God. I put my life into your hands. Thank you Jesus. Amen."
If you just accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior or if you just want someone to pray or speak with you, instant message someone on the ministry team; or if you're listening by podcast, go to almcyberchurch.org and go to one of the pastors' offices to contact us.
You're free to go if you need to, and please carry on any conversations outside so the altar ministry isn't disturbed.
Let's gather at the front, and seek God for healing. Let's be beacons of light and healing; in our land of lepers, let's point to the author of life in overflowing abundance.