By Stephen P. Monahan


Through many years of Bible reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that although the Scriptures portray a multitude of characters, it’s all primarily for the purpose of revealing two people: Jesus Christ and me. Of course when you read they reveal you, because you and I are equal. We are all sinners in need of a savior. With this idea in mind, I would like to invite you to consider a short passage in the Gospel of Luke.

Luke 5:12:
And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean.

Here we have Jesus approached by whom? A leper. As I was driving to work one day, it suddenly dawned on me that I was the leper. I understood that in the Old Testament, leprosy represented sin which defiles us before a holy God. This immediately produced in me an intense thankfulness that the Lord himself has provided a solution to the problem.

v. 13:
And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.

So now, let’s think about this. What did it mean to be a leper in that day? Scripture gives the answer.

Numbers 5:1-3:
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead:
3 Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.

God dwelt in the tabernacle in the middle of the camp. Lepers, though they were members of the congregation of God’s chosen people, dwelt outside the camp and were thus the Israelites most distant from the Lord’s presence. This also placed them outside the protected area where they were in the greatest danger of attack by wild beasts or human adversaries.

The priests whose lives and living were wholly tied to the service of God were even more severely affected.

Leviticus 22:4:
What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean.

The holy things, of which the leper could not eat, were the very sustenance that God had appointed for the priestly family. I’m talking about nourishment.

Old Testament Israel shows us a physical picture of the spiritual reality of what the New Testament church is. 1 Peter 2:9 actually calls us “a royal priesthood, an holy nation.” Therefore, let me ask a few questions. Are you eating of the holy things? In John 6:53-55, the Lord explains to us that his flesh and blood are meat and drink which sustain the very life of Christ in us. Without this we can do no true service to God.

Do you have sweet communion with Jesus which is producing in you an ever growing desire to do his works and fulfill your destiny, or is the relationship casual, disconnected? Are you enjoying the protection that comes of being close to God, or are you wide open to attacks of depression, anxiety, anger, and such like? Is your life filled with his joy to strengthen you? His peace to settle you? His love to free you from fear and self interest? Or are those things you are counting as blessings merely superficial such as money, possessions, comforts which serve only the flesh and can disappear overnight?

Revelation 3:17:
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

This verse shows us that the superficial material things are not the true blessings. I would be so bold as to say that they shall by no means sustain you through the days that are soon upon us. Only Christ in the very forefront of your life will be sufficient. If he’s not there (please – be honest), perhaps you’re still a spiritual leper: of Israel but living outside the camp.

1 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Christ is in us; we belong to him. But if we are not enjoying newness of life and are still full of old things, we must not be “in him.” How is a person held in this state of separation from God?

Isaiah 59:1-2:
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Through the blood of Christ, our sins are forgiven. But if we continue in the practice of sin, how can our prayers be answered? How can there be any newness, any good things?

Jeremiah 5:25:
Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.

God’s will is to bless, but ongoing sin halts blessings.

1 Corinthians 10:21:
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lords table and of the table of devils.

What is in the Lord’s cup, and on his table? The blood and the flesh of Jesus Christ! NOURISHMENT. Are you starving; held from his table by the power of sin in your life? Indeed held captive at the enemy’s table and filled with his poisons? This is spiritual leprosy.

Take a lesson from the leper ”who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” The leper did not pretend to be clean: he sought cleansing. Present yourself humbly before him, knowing that nothing is hidden from God.

1 John 2:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Remember that works of religion are of no effect here.

Isaiah 64:6:
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

What we don’t want to do is make peace with our sin and just go on trying to do good things. That leads only to weariness and despair. We must go to war against it. That’s repentance, and the first step in true repentance is confession. You may rest assured that the Lord will always respond by embracing you with his love and compassion, saying, “I will, be thou clean.”



From the March 2003 issue of The Vine & Branches