“And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: ‘When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean. But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore appears to be as it was, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him another seven days. Then the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore has faded, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab, and he shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the scab should at all spread over the skin, after he has been seen by the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen by the priest again. And if the priest sees that the scab has indeed spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is leprosy. When the leprous sore is on a person, then he shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the swelling on the skin is white, and it has turned the hair white, and there is a spot of raw flesh in the swelling, it is an old leprosy on the skin of his body. The priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not isolate him, for he is unclean. And if leprosy breaks out all over the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of the one who has the sore, from his head to his foot, wherever the priest looks, then the priest shall consider; and indeed if the leprosy has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean who has the sore. It has all turned white. He is clean. But when raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean. And the priest shall examine the raw flesh and pronounce him to be unclean; for the raw flesh is unclean. It is leprosy.’”
Warm greetings to all of you. Today’s Scripture passage is drawn from Leviticus chapter 13, which speaks about diagnosing physical leprosy, but I would also like to address spiritual leprosy. Before I explain this spiritual leprosy in detail, however, it’s necessary to explain physical leprosy. It’s written in today’s Scripture passage that if someone had a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot on his skin, he should be thought as a potential leper; therefore, whenever such signs developed, this person had be taken to a priest first, and the priest had to examine him. Every illness requires a correct diagnosis before anything else. That’s why anyone suspected of leprosy had to be taken to a priest first. This implies that when it comes to spiritual matters as well, a correct diagnosis of one’s sins is also indispensable.
What the Bible Says about Leprosy
The Bible says, “If the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days” (Leviticus 13:4). Put differently, anyone suspected of having leprosy was quarantined first. If the sore had spread when the priest examined the patient after seven days of isolation, the priest had to declare him unclean. The physical leprosy mentioned in today’s Scripture passage also entails a spiritual message, that is, it refers to the exposure of the sins of the human heart. Everyone has committed sin before God, and when people commit sin repeatedly, they can be described as spiritual lepers.
Human beings are Adam’s descendants. As a result, everyone was born with a sinful nature, and therefore everyone commits countless sins while living in this world. No one can help but commit sin. Although some people repent from their repeated sins and resolve themselves to never commit sin again, because all human beings were fundamentally born into this world with sinful natures, they can’t avoid sin just because they are determined not to do so. To expunge the sinful nature from mankind, the human heart, which is at the fundamental master of every person, it must be changed first and foremost. For this to come about, one must be washed clean from sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that has become the righteousness of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit must, then, from that moment become the master of that heart.
Once this happens to you, you will begin focusing on carrying out the work of God, and therefore you will commit fewer sins. When we commit sin, we know that it’s wrong. Despite this awareness, however, our human nature is such that we cannot help but commit sin. People not only commit sin by themselves, but they also inflict harm on others, and they themselves live the rest of their lives in guilt. The Bible says that this is because everyone was fundamentally born as a seed of sin. It’s such people whom our Lord calls “unclean.” People commit sin in their lives precisely because they were all born with sinful nature.
Even when they try not to commit sin, they keep on sinning time after time, and this is because they do not know the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the way to receive the remission of sins. This can be explained by the fact that their hearts are still not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, if someone had a sore that was deeper than his normal skin, he was considered to have leprosy. This refers to the sins of the human heart, which are fundamentally deeper than outward sins. If one has an evil heart, common sense dictates that it would be exposed eventually. It’s obviously wrong for us to commit sin, but this is because we have sinful desires in our hearts. This teaches us that we were born with fundamentally sinful natures, and that these sins are committed by none other than ourselves. Put differently, this follows the same logic as a leper’s body rotting away due to the presence of leprosy bacteria. When someone accumulates sin like this, it will eventually kill him. This is the nature of sin.
God does not call us “unclean” or “sinners” on account of just a couple of sins that we might have committed. Whom does God then call a sinner? Fundamentally, God points out the descendants of Adam as sinners. Even if we try not to commit sin against God, because our hearts have sinful nature, we can’t help but commit the same sin repeatedly. Spiritually speaking, it is such people who are called spiritual lepers. As the Lord said, the evil thoughts that proceed from the human heart, that is, murder, jealousy, conflict, theft, blasphemy, fornication, pride, and foolishness—are the very sins of mankind. Human beings commit sin repeatedly in their lives precisely because of such sinful natures, and that is why God calls them sinners.
Our God Calls Sinners Those Who Repeatedly Commit Sin Like This
God doesn’t call us human beings sinners without any reason. Far from it, God wants to examine and diagnose us correctly. Why are we then called sinners before God? It’s because we were all born as sinners. It is not as though we commit sin just once in our lifetime. Just like leprosy spreading all over the skin, sin continues to spread around in our everyday lives. When one is young, he/she commits minor sins. But the older one gets, the more he/she accumulates repeated sins, and the weight of these sins keeps on growing. Eventually, one turns into a pile of sins, doing nothing but committing sin for the rest of his/her life. Our Lord had such people in His mind when He spoke of those who still have not been saved.
Referring to everyone, the Book of Romans says, “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men” (Romans 5:12). This means that we had become sinners from the moment we were born precisely because we had inherited the sinful nature from our forefathers. The Bible therefore says that we cannot help but commit sin throughout our lifetime. When the Bible speaks of sinners, it is speaking about none other than you and me, we who were born with such sinful natures that make it impossible for us not to commit sin.
As such, no one can help but commit sin. Let me explain this by drawing an analogy to an apple tree. Can an apple tree bear pears or persimmons? Can the apple tree avoid bearing apples, just because it doesn’t want to bear them? No, of course not! An apple tree cannot help but bear apples for this is its very nature. It’s bound to blossom when the spring comes, and it’s bound to bear apples in the fall.
Like this, just as an apple tree bears apples, so are human beings born with their parents’ sinful nature inherited in them, and therefore they cannot help but commit all kinds of sins. As such, every type of sin, whether it is committed in one’s heart or outwardly with one’s act, is still a sin. Once born, human beings are destined to continue to commit sin until their very last breath. We were conceived as sinners in our mothers’ wombs, and we were born in sin. David realized this and confessed in Psalm 51:5, “In sin my mother conceived me.” David is saying here that when his mother conceived him, he was conceived and born in sin and iniquity. From whom, then, did our parents inherit sin? They inherited it from their own parents and so on. In short, all of us were born into this world as a brood of sin.
We Are Sinners Because We Inherited Every Sin from Our Forefathers
The root of our sins is traced back to our grandparents and beyond, all the way to Adam and Eve. In other words, we are sinners because Adam and Eve, the ancestors of our human race, committed sin, and we have inherited this sinful nature as their descendants. Our forefathers sinned against God because they fell into the Devil’s temptation. Sin entered them because they did not believe in the Word of God. After their fall, they bore many children, and these children inherited their sins and they passed them all the way down to us. Since the children have inherited the sins of their father and mother, isn’t it only natural for them to act in the same way as their parents? Indeed, they end up committing the same sins. Even when the children are not taught about the sins committed by their parents of the flesh, they still commit the same sins. This is why there is a saying, “Like father, like son.”
As such, because we humans have inherited the sins of our forefathers, it is impossible for us not to commit sin in our lives even if we want to. In the days of the Old Testament, when one had a swelling or a bright spot on his skin, he had to be examined by a priest and isolated for seven days. If he was okay when reexamined after seven days, he was declared clean, but if the sore had spread over the skin, he was declared unclean, that is, a sinner. This implies that we don’t just commit sin once or twice, but we sin continuously time after time. That is why all human beings are called sinners.
The Word of God Is Very Different from Man’s Thoughts
It’s written in today’s Scripture passage, “If leprosy breaks out all over the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of the one who has the sore, from his head to his foot, wherever the priest looks, then the priest shall consider; and indeed if the leprosy has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean who has the sore. It has all turned white. He is clean” (Leviticus 13:12-13). We can see from this passage that it is actually those who continue to commit sin that can receive the remission of sins. However, in the earlier passage, it was said that someone who had a minor outbreak of leprosy should be declared “unclean.” What did God say in the passage that we just read then? He said, “If leprosy breaks out all over the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of the one who has the sore, from his head to his foot, wherever the priest looks, then the priest shall consider; and indeed if the leprosy has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean who has the sore.” The word “clean” here implies spiritual purity.
In some ways, this may seem paradoxical. But it still is the Word of God. The Bible says here that those who think they commit only a few sins are actually the ones who are unclean. Is this who we are, thinking that we commit sin once in a blue moon, all unintentionally? How do such people consider themselves? They don’t think of themselves as sinners bound to hell. Instead, they think to themselves, “Well, actually I think I am quite clean. I can avoid sin if I just give some more effort. Although it’s true that I still commit sin, I can still avoid the kinds of sins committed by others.” What will the Lord say then? Will He say that these people are clean, or will He declare them unclean? He will declare them unclean. Yet despite this, everyone thinks of himself virtuous.
In contrast, when it comes to those whose leprosy has spread all over the whole body, God declares them to be clean. If leprosy had spread all over the body, from the head to the toes, then the priest actually said, “You are not just slightly leprous, but you are completely leprous. You have then become clean.” This may seem to be puzzling, but you have to grasp its spiritual meaning here. God said this because He gives the remission of sins to those who are completely sinful. Put differently, while everyone commits sin before God, those who say that they are just slightly sinful will remain sinners unable to put on the grace of the remission of sins. And such people who think that they are only “slightly sinful” do not accept their true depiction even when a priest of God tells them that they are exceedingly sinful and therefore are destined to hell. In their own minds, they think that they will never go to hell for their sins.
In contrast, some people do recognize their sinfulness and are actually tormented by it, realizing that they have committed so many sins repeatedly. These people keep committing more sins to cover their earlier sins. They know that they can’t help but commit sin because they are too weak, and so some of them commit even more sins out of despair, thinking to themselves, “I’m already ruined, and so I might as well commit more sins.” How do these people think of themselves before God? Such people know clearly that they are sinners.
You need to realize here that such an exceedingly sinful person is none other than yourself. Shouldn’t you then confess to God, “Lord, I am a sinner committing sin all the time. Please save me from my sins?” Wouldn’t God then give the gospel of the water and the Spirit to such people and cleanse them once and for all? It’s the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit whom God declares to be clean and pure. This means that in the age of the New Testament, if anyone admits before God and the Law that he is a sinner, recognizes that he is destined to hell according to the Word of God, and begs the Lord to save him from all his sins, the Lord will wash away all his sins once and for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit and make him as white as snow.
However, those who do not know the Word of the Lord think that they haven’t committed that many sins, and therefore they don’t think that they deserve to go to hell. Some people think mistakenly that all that they have to do is just fix a few minor flaws. But such people can never believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and hear God declaring them to be clean. Those who claim before God to be just slightly sinful and ignore His Word cannot be approved as clean people. Only those who know fully well that they are completely sinful before God can receive, by faith, the grace of the remission of sins manifested in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Let me make it clear to you that only those who recognize that they can’t help but continue to commit sin as they had done all their lives can believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord and thereby receive the remission of sins. Every sinner must confess the following and ask God’s help: “Lord, this is who I really am. I am by nature nothing but a pile of sins. Please save such a sinner like me from all my sins.” When a sinner prays like this, the Lord will blot out all his sins, for this is the reason why He has given the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord will say to him that He has washed away all his sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit and made him as white as snow.
It’s such people who can grasp the righteousness of God and thus receive the remission of sins by faith. What are we humans before God? Fundamentally, every human being is a pile of sins before God. Everyone born in this world commits so many sins both before God and man. Let’s then ponder on our own weaknesses once again and examine the Word of true salvation. To do this, let us turn to Mark chapter 7 to first understand how every human being is a sinner by nature: “And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23).
How Many Sins Are in the Heart of a Man?
How do you feel now that you’ve read what Jesus said about the sins of mankind? It’s said here that there are twelve sins proceeding from the human heart. There are twelve months in a year. Likewise, there are twelve kinds of human sins. We are bound to commit such sins repeatedly until the day we die. These are the sins that we ourselves commit. We commit these sins repeatedly—thefts today, wickedness tomorrow, evil thoughts the next day, deceit the following day, fornications the day after, adulteries the next day, murders the following day, and so forth, repeating the cycle time after time. These are the sins that we commit continuously day after day, month after month, and year after year.
It is in human nature to commit sin repeatedly like this, day in and day out, trying out different sins just for the sake of novelty. All of us commit iniquities constantly every day. Human beings are destined to sin until the day they die. That one is bound to commit sin throughout his entire lifetime is not about someone else, but it applies to ourselves.
What kind of fruit does an apple tree bear throughout the course of its life? It bears nothing but apples, even if this is not what it wants. Does any apple tree say to itself, “I don’t want to bear any apples. I hate them! They are so heavy on my branches and they take up all my nutrients?” But even if an apple tree says this, what can it do? It can’t help but bear apples again the following year. Even if the tree doesn’t want to bear any apples because they are too heavy, it will bear apples once again. Having come into existence as an apple tree, it is only natural for the tree to bear apples throughout the course of its life regardless of whether it likes it or not. Likewise, everyone is born with sin, and therefore no one can help but practice evil whether one likes it or not. Human beings practice evil precisely because they were born with sinful nature—the evil thoughts, fornications, murders, jealousy, and conflicts that proceed from the heart of man. When such sinful nature is provoked in our hearts, it bears sinful fruits, sometimes manifesting as transgressions.
I once visited a leprosarium, a village set apart inhabited by a group of lepers. There, I saw an extremely beautiful woman. She was a cosmetics saleswoman. But she had such wonderful skin. So I starred at her for a long time, but later on I found out that she was also suffering from leprosy. Yet her skin was so smooth and clean, like a white gem. This woman was a not a chronic patient with a full outbreak of leprosy, but she had a dormant case. Despite her disease, her skin was so smooth that it was more refined than most ordinary women that we come across. It was so beautiful that I couldn’t just pass her by. I even thought to myself, “Have I ever seen a woman with such beautiful skin? I wonder what cosmetics she is using. She has such nice skin.”
We Were Spiritual Lepers
It’s said that when one is infected with leprosy, the skin actually gets better for a while. When leprosy infects someone, it progresses silently for three years without the patient realizing it, and it takes another three years before symptoms become severe enough for others to find out. So one can hide leprosy for up to three years since finding it out himself. It’s possible to hide the symptoms—for instance, by putting bandages over sores and using artificial eyelashes. After six years go by since the first infection, the skin begins to turn smooth. When one is infected with leprosy, at first the skin actually looks more beautiful than ordinary people’s skin.
Like this, in the eyes of sinners, people’s transgressions look wonderful. Take a look at people committing sin openly without any hesitation. Take a look at people making money by committing sin. They look so wonderful. They even look so glitzy.
When we continue to commit sin before God, the whole body, from the head to the toes, is marked with the remnants of our transgressions. That is our nature as human beings. It’s easy for us to just pick one offence and think to ourselves, “This is all that I’ve done wrong before God. That is my sole mistake.” However, God sees us committing sin all our lives, and He says that we are constantly sinning. As such people, we are lepers before God. When we stand before God, we must realize that our transgressions are not limited to just small mistakes, but our thoughts, words, acts, hearts—indeed, our everything—are completely wrong.
In God’s sight, it is therefore inevitable for us to commit countless sins until the day we die. There is no spot that’s clean in our lives, and we are destined to fill them with nothing but transgressions until the day we stand before God. That is our destiny as human beings. And this is why we human have nothing to boast of before God, other than our faith in the righteousness of Jesus. We have nothing to show off except the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we believe in. We were all nothing but piles of sins before God. We were all inexorably destined to hell for our sins. Yet despite this, despite the fact all of us were bound to hell for our sins, our Lord has saved such people like us once and for all through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We don’t really appreciate just how insufficient we are before God. I can’t emphasize this point enough. We should not have any sin before God. Yet the evil things in our hearts are bound to come out sooner or later, and that is precisely why we must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
My message for today is that everyone is a pile of sins. We human beings cannot help but commit sin before God throughout our entire lifetime until our death. Not a day goes by without committing any sin. That we are spiritual lepers in God’s sight means this; We must realize that we ourselves are piles of sins, and we must receive the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for the Lord said that if leprosy has spread from the head to the soles of the feet, He will declare this person to be completely clean. If we instead say to God, “I am only this much of a sinner,” it will be next to impossible for us to receive the true remission of sins. God says to such people that they are unclean. The secret of the remission of sins lies with the mercy of God, which is bestowed on those bound to hell for their sins. The same is true when it comes to the way for us to receive the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Our remission of sins is the blessing of faith that God has bestowed on us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
To all those who cannot hide their sins from God, and therefore confess themselves as sinners and ask for His mercy, God will give them the gospel of the water and the Spirit, make them believe in this true gospel, and thus declare them to be clean. That’s because God is the God of mercy. Therefore, having sent His own Son to this earth, God cleanses such complete sinners, the lepers of the soul, through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, as I mentioned before, even if some people have committed only minor sins before God, and therefore have much to say to Him, claiming that while they are sinners, they are neither completely sinful nor destined to hell, they cannot help but be cast into hell for their pride.
My fellow believers, everyone in God’s sight is nothing but a pile of sins. No one can help but commit sin. However, some people can still receive the remission of sins, while others are going straight to hell. This all depends on whether or not one receives the remission of sins by believing in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit. The saved reached their salvation by realizing that they were bound to hell, asking for God’s mercy, and believing that the Lord had given them His own flesh and blood and delivered them from all their sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
For those who are otherwise deluded into thinking that they have committed only minor sins before God, and therefore believe that they can become good people if they just try a bit harder, nothing but destruction awaits. In other words, these people will be cast into hell for not believing in what the Lord has done for all sinners. Did you and I really commit just a few sins before God? Did you really commit just a couple of sins in your life? No, of course not. Moreover, all of us will continue to commit sin in the future. This is so self-evident. Before our Lord, those who are saved from their sins by faith are those who know that they are completely sinful, recognizing and acknowledging themselves, “I have no virtue at all. I am always insufficient, and there is nothing that is not evil in my acts and thoughts. All that I have is shortcomings. Without the Lord, I can’t avoid but be cast into hell.” Only such people can be saved from sin by believing in the righteousness of God.
Our human existence is such that we simply cannot be saved from our sins just by correcting a few mistakes before God. From our very birth, we were nothing more than piles of sins. It is in our human nature to commit sin until the day we die. In short, we are spiritual lepers. When one is infected with the physical illness of leprosy, you will develop sores all over your body, your flesh will rot away, and you may eventually even lose your eyelashes, your nose, and your ears. But what about someone whose heart has gone astray? Does someone like this, whose heart is misplaced, appear healthy in God’s sight? No, of course not. In God’s eyes, it is a far more serious illness for the heart to go astray than for the body to fall ill. In other words, it is better for you to have physical leprosy than spiritual leprosy.
If you hate someone to death in your heart, then in God’s sight you’ve already broken His Word commanding you not to commit murder. When your heart harbors such murderous hatred, sooner or later it will be manifested in action and you may even end up committing murder. This is exactly what is meant by having a heart that’s gone astray before God, and it is this heart that leads you to commit the sin of murder. Because of such sins that we commit personally, and because we were born with sin from our very birth, we are destined to hell unless we are remitted from these sins. All of us must realize that we are lepers before God. We must grasp fully that we are nothing but piles of sins. And I ask you all to believe that our Lord has saved even such people like us once and for all through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And from now on, I ask you to give all thanks and glory to the Lord in your life.