The Passage: Matthew 8:2-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16
In Luke 5 we have the story of Jesus healing a man that was “full of leprosy.” (Luke 5:12) This man was in the later stages of his leprosy. His physical appearance would have been grotesque. The disease would likely have been to the stage that it was beginning to affect his internal organs and he knew that it was going to kill him.
Ken Gire in “Moments with the Savior wrote, “If the physical stigma of the disease isn’t enough, the rabbis attach a moral stigma to it as well. They believe it to be a direct blow by God on the backs of the sinful. And with that belief comes a rigid catechism of cause and effect platitudes—“No death without sin, no pain without transgression.” For them, leprosy is a visual symbol of moral decay. It begins with a small speck that slowly but surely destroys the individual.
“Levitical regulations require the leper’s outer garment to be torn, the hair unkempt, and the face partially covered. He dresses as a mourner going to a burial service—his burial service. And he must call out to those he passes on the way, “Unclean! Unclean!” An announcement both of his physical and moral death.” He lives not only with the horror of the disease but also with its shame and its guilt.”
What is God saying to me from this passage?
While the Levitical stigma was untrue, and this man’s leprosy was not the result of sin in his life, it does paint an interesting picture of sin. What if we were to see our internal sin in the same way people walking by would have seen the external appearance of this man “covered in leprosy?”
In chapter 37 of “The Indwelling Life of Christ,” Ian Thomas said, “Dying to self is a wonderful position to be in, because dead people cannot die, and dead people do not have problems.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 says, “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). This leper was walking around, but he was dead. He had the sentence of death. This is true with our flesh! But, I know I certainly don’t see my flesh that way.
In chapter 34 Thomas said, “It was never God’s purpose to improve the flesh, to educate it or to tame it, let alone Christianize it. It has always been God’s purpose that the flesh—condemned, sentenced, and crucified with Jesus Christ—might be left buried in the tomb and replaced by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.” The flesh is like the leper walking around. I should treat my flesh like people treated him!
What do I need to become more aware of?
As I have meditated on this the last couple days, I have had things that show that my flesh is still very much alive. Yesterday I had a short time frame to purchase the things I needed before the stores closed. I found myself getting very impatient with the people in the store because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get to all the stores I needed to get to. My flesh was very much alive. How do I keep my flesh in the place of death?
In chapter 33 Thomas said, “I know I cannot overcome the principle of sin within me, nor put my flesh to death, but I thank You that You can and You did, when You died upon the cross and I died with You. “Thank You for Your Holy Spirit, for He alone can make this real in my experience, mortifying those deeds of my body which have their origin in Satan. I am willing for You to invade my soul, to control my mind, to control my emotions, and to control my will, so that you are in control of every decision.
How does the Holy Spirit come to control my mind? It seems so unwieldy. Those thoughts just come, and I can’t stop them. Yesterday was a terrible day. Back to chapter 37, Thomas said, “You see, every time you give yourself the right to have a problem or the right to worry about something, you give yourself the right to live your own life. However, if you adopt an attitude of total dependence on the Life of the Lord Jesus, you can say, “Thank You, Lord! This is no longer my problem or my worry; it is Yours.”
This is the privilege that is yours and mine in Jesus Christ. It applies to every single situation in life without exception, to every decision you may be confronted with today, to every temptation that faces you, and to every responsibility you may be called upon to carry. This truth always applies: The Lord Jesus, the God of resurrection Life, indwells you bodily with all the adequacy of the Godhead, “and you are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10).
I love Paul’s thoughts in Philippians 4:13 in The Amplified Bible: “I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” Paul needed no crutches, because through dependence on Christ’s completeness and competency he himself was completely competent.
How does God want me to engage with this?
What does He want me to do as a result of what He is saying here? How / when / where?
As I begin to see the flesh rearing it’s ugly head, I need to be quicker to pray, “Lord Jesus, I can’t, but You can! Thank You so much.”
I want to be prepared to practice the presence of Christ in this way and reckon with Him through His Holy Spirit not only to keep the flesh in the place of death but to establish His divine sovereignty within every area of my life. I know that by doing this, I will experience that delightful transformation of character which will conform me increasingly to the image of God’s dear Son.
What’s the one or two things I am going to do today?
Practice Christ’s presence by acknowledging times my flesh is usurping control. Confess it, and admit I need the Holy Spirit to overcome at that moment.