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THE INTERCOURSE OF TROUBLED THOUGHTS

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LEPERS, LEPROSY AND MESSIAHSHIP OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Leprosy, a dreadful skin affliction is mentioned in the Bible. It has various types characterised by ulcers, deformities, skin patches, formation of nodules and loss of feeling in the skin. First, the fingers are eaten away, making it difficult for a leper to grab objects effectively. Next, the toes are gone, making walking difficult and stumbling. Then his internal organs are attacked, finally demobilizing him. Leprosy affects the knees and the elbows generally, but atimes extends to the whole body. It causes skins to be thickened about the joints, thus impeding free motion of the limbs. Leprosy is a slow, steady, sure death. In biblical Israel, the leper was considered defiled and ceremoniously unclean all the days of his plague. Head bare, clothes torn, he dwelt alone to prevent him from contact with healthy society – NUM. 5:2-4, 12:10-15. Cast outside the camp, the leper was made to wear mourning clothes and cry out “unclean, unclean!” to keep others at a safe distance from him - LEV. 13:45-46. He was required to put a covering on his upper lip - a cloth on his mouth as a corpse in death! Talmudic law mandated that he must be at least 100 paces or about 300 feet away from people. Leprosy is common to all races, sexes, ages and ranks. Moses, Miriam and Naaman the brave Syrian army general were at various times cured of leprosy by God – GEN. 4:6-7; NUM. 12:1-14; 2 KGS. 5:1-15. Before being re-admitted into the comity of men, a healed leper in Israel was met outside the camp by a priest. If his healing was considered genuine, the ex-leper offered the prescribed ceremonial cleansing offering.

THE NEW TESTAMENT SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF LEPROSY

Simon was a one-time leper evidently healed by our compassionate Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ – MK. 14:3-9. Jesus also healed ten lepers and asked them “to show yourselves to the priest”- LK. 17:14 {NIV}. This was for specific instructions on how to re-enter society because only the word of the priest could certify and re-integrate them into Israel, only the priest could give them a clean bill of health – LEV. 13:23-34. Just one leper and surprisingly a foreigner later returned rejoicing to give the Lord Jesus thanks for his healing. For this show of gratitude, he was made whole – LK. 17:15-19. Because leprosy is only curable by divine intervention, the healing of the ten lepers evidenced the messiahship of Jesus. Today, many people are lepers spiritually. Millions of people have consciously scorned the love of God in Christ Jesus. The rejection of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God Who loved us and gave His sinless life for our sinful lives has rendered millions leprous before the throne of grace – JN. 3:16. A sinner is the man/woman who refuses to acknowledge the lordship of our Saviour Jesus Christ, confess his/her sins and turn from wicked ways to become a son of God – ACTS 4:12; ROM. 10:13; PHIL. 2:9. This is grave leprosy! All men are created by God, but are born in sin – GEN. 3:15-19; ISA. 51:5; JN. 8:44; 1 JN. 3:8. As sinners, all leprous unsaved men everywhere are dead spiritually even while alive physically. The kingdom life given to all saved men eludes them – 1 COR. 15:22. All sinners carry the death penalty. As spiritual lepers, the sinner carries about him perpetual signs of mourning for the dead since he is an example of the living dead. He fully symbolizes sin which is a sure way of separation from God Who cannot behold sin. The unsaved man is a sinner and a leper, an unregenerate soul not because of what he has done, but because of his Adamic nature which the justice of God only banishes by acceptance of the blood of the everlasting covenant – GEN. 2:17. The good news is that the mission of Jesus the Son of Man is to seek and save the lost – LK. 19:1-10. This sinless Son of Man was born and prophetically named Jesus “for He shall save His people from their sins” – MT. 1:21 {KJV}.This is the greatest demonstration of love ever – JN. 15:3; 1 JN. 3:1. Sonship is by adoption into God through Christ Jesus – ROM. 4:1-25; GAL. 3:8-14; HEB. 11:1-40. A sinner is lost and ruined forever in hell except the Lord Jesus is invited to intervene in his life – EPH. 2:1-9. In other words, he refuses to be born again, thereby rejecting the escape route offered by God in Christ – HEB. 10:1-18. As a leper, the sinner must meet Jesus our High Priest at the cross for cross-examination. There, he must not only confess what he has done, but also admit that there is no righteousness in him - PSA. 51:5; 2 COR. 5:21; EPH. 2:1-8; 1 JN. 1:9. Salvation is for all men through belief in the name of Jesus Christ – ROM. 10: 1-13. This is because Jesus “bearing His cross went forth into a place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified Him, on either side one and Jesus in the midst” - JN. 19:17-18 {NIV}. At the height of incredible suffering on the cross, Jesus knew “that all things were NOW ACCOMPLISHED, THAT THE SCRIPTURES MUST BE FULFILLED” – JN. 19:28 {NIV}. After He took a shot of vinegar on the cross, “He said, 'It is fished;' and He bowed His head and gave up the ghost,” effectively and eternally finishing the work of salvation for all men – JN. 19:30.

THE CURE FOR SPIRITUAL LEPROSY
Biblically, ungodly pastors who have forsaken the Lord God Who bought them cannot earn salvation for unsaved wealthy men and libertine youths whom they encourage to remain in immoral pleasures – COL. 3:5. Greedy of filthy lucre and with eyes full of adultery that never stop from sinning, these pastors are “sons of Beliel, they don't know the Lord” – 1 SAM. 2:12, ROM. 1:28 {NIV}. Religious orthodoxy that scorns the doctrine of being born again leaves their best intentioned adherent still a candidate of hell – ROM. 10:8-10. The Bible says that salvation cannot be earned by the living for the dead or by a group of people paying/praying for the dead in any Purgatorian Society – PSA. 86:5; ISA. 43:25; JERE. 3:13; HEB. 9:27. The Bible is final and definite: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”– ROM. 10:9-10 {KJV}. God has ensured that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” – HEB. 9:27.The truth is that “there is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it” – ECCL. 8:8. Indeed, the concept of Purgatory is a strange quantity to the Holy Bible. Since it was not inspired by the Holy Spirit, this unsound doctrine could only have been brooded by demons! Salvation is not earned by works, self-righteousness [this was my great error for many years!}, attendance in church services, paying tithe and first fruit, giving offerings, occupying ecclesiastical offices or receiving church honours. It is solely by the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus – JN. 3:16; ROM. 8:31; EPH 2:1-10. As it is written: “Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel” – JERE. 3:21. Just as leprosy rules the life of its unfortunate victim, sin and its lusts through the real spirit person dominates the life of all unsaved men. In truth, sin comes with lusts apart from that of the man – JAS. 1:14; 2 TIM. 4:3. And the lusts of sin are powered by Satan who owns sin's copyright – ROM. 6:12; 1 JN. 2:17, 3:8. But the beauty of God through the power of the Holy Spirit can turn the same faculties that man surrenders to sin to be yielded to God and righteous living – ROM. 6:13; 18-20; 8:1-13; COL. 3:5-10.

BIBLICAL PILGRIMAGE AS A CURE OF SPIRITUAL LEPROSY

An Ethiopian eunuch,“an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians” went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the spirit of unsaved men – ACTS 8:28b {NIV}. He would have returned to Ethiopia still an eunuch and a leper, unsaved and unchanged, but for the intervention of the Holy Ghost and the willingness of this Ethiopian to access the provision of salvation with his mouth. That remains the only way out of spiritual leprosy: “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” – ACTS 8:35 {NIV}. When he understood the Scriptures and received Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, this nameless Ethiopian eunuch requested for water baptism and “then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him” – ACTS 8:36-38 {NIV}. Philip continued his evangelistic mission by the power of the Holy Spirit while the eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” - ACTS 8:39 {NIV}.Biblical baptism is not by sprinkling water on people. Though with a different spirit from the Ethiopian eunuch, “then came Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John…… As soon as He was baptized, He went up out of the water” – MT. 3:13, 16.The fad and farce in Nigerian Christendom today is to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I have met unsaved men who went to Jerusalem on the sponsorship of federal and state governments! This is vanity and political patronage; a waste of scarce public funds that could have been tied to development. Such pilgrimage is religious masturbation, it not Christianity – JN. 19-24. Instead of seeking genuine salvation, thirsting for a personal Pentecost and desiring baptism of the Holy Ghost which brings enduement of power from on high, these men with access to public treasury return to Nigeria from Jerusalem twice the sons of Beliel! – ACTS 1:8. Pastor Dan Ogbemudia, a teaching priest and my senior principal atStarplace Bible Church, in Egbeda, Lagos, told me of a man who came back from pilgrimage and completely renounced Christianity seeing that the Jews as a nation still rejected the lordship of Jesus Christ! When I asked a Jerusalem pilgrim in 2012 the spiritual benefits he garnered, he listed the free flight, free food, free hotel accommodation, free official spending money in Israel and the estacode he was paid as out-of-station allowance on his return! Though pilgrimage to Jerusalem is not a sin, it is certainly not a “pillar”in New Testament Christianity! While a Holy Spirit inspired, guided and guarded trip to Jerusalem can re-enforce the faith of a believer, it does not automatically get a sinner saved. Spiritually, all unsaved Jerusalem pilgrims are still lepers!

My friend, when will you give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? There's a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel's vein which saves, keeps and delivers to the uttermost those who trust in Him. There is absolute and total power in the blood of the Lamb – REV. 12:11. The greatest achievement on earth is not to be listed in Forbes magazine list of billionaires, or to acquire a doctorate, or to be being inducted into the many Halls of Fame. As it is written: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” – MT. 16:26 {NIV}. My friend, on which side of eternity: Satan's dark, dank and doomed abode or the right, light and living abode of God with Christ will be your destination? Going to Jerusalem and coming back unsaved, cavorting at Christmas, sending hundreds of Xmas messages, receiving hundreds of Xmas goodwill, making resolutions that will never be kept, buying new dresses and giving out food to the poor will not get you saved. Only Jesus can save! Please receive Him into your life NOW!

Men and brethren, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Historian, freelance journalist and writer, Pastor Joseph Emeka Anumbor is the author of THE INTERCOURSE OF TROUBLED THOUGHTS, a critically acclaimed discourse on homosexuality

published by AuthorHouse Inc, Indiana, USA.

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