Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sin Stinks

Today's passage: I Kings 5
This week we have been having 8 day revival at our church.  We are only the second day in, and God has enriched my spirit.  Sunday night's message dealt with Elisha and Naaman.  The message was tremendous.  While the speaker was preaching, God brought a different thought for this passage to my mind.  Although, I'm sure it has been taught as such many times before, this was the first time God had impressed it on my heart.  As the preacher was describing the horrors of leprosy, I was reminded that leprosy in the Bible many times symbolizes sin.  The speaker described the bandages to wrap the affected leprous parts and referred to the verse in Isaiah 64:6, "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags...".  He suggested that the filthy rags were as those of a leprous person.  Not a pleasant picture, of course, but that certainly gives us a better view of how God sees our attempt to cover our sin.  I was thinking about the unpleasantness of leprosy.  Once a person has the disease, there is no cure.  The disease begins to isolate the carrier from loved ones.  It smells, it erodes, it destroys.  Isn't this indeed the picture of sin?  We cannot be rid of our sin.  We carry it with us wherever we go.  It does awful things to us and other people.  Basically, sin stinks.  Too many of us, like Naaman think we can do something about our sin.  Like Naaman, we succumb to our pride and want to do it our own way.
Naaman goes to Israel for healing from leprosy--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book  Three
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
Standard Publishing Company, 1926
 Naaman learned if he truly wanted to be rid of this dreaded disease, he would need to do things God's way.  Why couldn't he cleanse himself in the rivers of Damascus?  Because God said he must do it this way.  Why should he dip himself seven times when once should suffice?  Because God said this is the way it must be done.  Why shouldn't I trust in the good things I have done to get to Heaven?  Because God says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."  Some may say, "That's too easy. " It isn't too easy.  It is the hardest thing to do.  Why? I must recognize that I am an awful sinner (and not one of us wants to admit that we are no good, even though we know it is true).  I must recognize that the good things  I have used to try and disguise or cover up my sin are like the smelly, disgusting, leprous rags Naaman would have worn, and why would anyone, let alone a Holy God accept them as atonement? Would any of us want somebody's used Band-Aid?  Like Naaman, I must humble myself before a holy, loving God, admit I can't do it myself, that my righteousness isn't enough (because I have none) and trust only in the righteousness that God provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. And what will transpire when I do this?  Just as Naaman finally humbled himself and dipped the seventh time in the Jordan River, he came up with skin that was not just clean, but as the preacher pointed out, "like unto the flesh of a little child".  The preacher reminded us that Naaman was a soldier,  his skin was undoubtedly covered not only with leprosy, but with war scars.  His skin was probably leathery from the elements.  God didn't just heal Naaman, he miraculously changed him.  What God could do for us, if we just let Him!  God can heal us from the stench of leprosy, he can take away the stink of our sin.

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