The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 26 : LEVITICUS

[26-12] (Leviticus 13:1-23) How Is Our True Reflection?

(Leviticus 13:1-23)
“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. Or if the raw flesh changes and turns white again, he shall come to the priest. And the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the sore has turned white, then the priest shall pronounce him clean who has the sore. He is clean. If the body develops a boil in the skin, and it is healed, and in the place of the boil there comes a white swelling or a bright spot, reddish-white, then it shall be shown to the priest; and if, when the priest sees it, it indeed appears deeper than the skin, and its hair has turned white, the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore which has broken out of the boil. But if the priest examines it, and indeed there are no white hairs in it, and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall isolate him seven days; and if it should at all spread over the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread, it is the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.’”
 
 
I hope everyone had a good dinner. The Church of Seoul has been treating me with such sumptuous meals that if I stay here for too long, I will end up gaining a lot of weight. The pastor, his wife, and the congregation here have all been very nice to me, and thanks to them, I have been leading this revival meeting with creature comforts.
When we turn to the Book of Leviticus, we see something peculiar about how the priests examined lepers. The priests of the Old Testament and the priests in this present age of the New Testament are both spiritual physicians, ensuring the health of the children of God. In particular, the spiritual priests in the age of the New Testament are those who preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
 
 
How Leprosy Was Examined
 
Today’s Scripture describes how the priests of the Old Testament diagnosed people’s illness of sin. It’s written, “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’” (Leviticus 13:1-3). As it says here, when an Israelite had a sore that looked leprous, he had to first show it to a priest. The priest then examined the man’s sore and made a diagnosis, as it’s written, “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” (Leviticus 13:3). If it was ascertained that the man had leprosy, then he was taken to a leper colony on the outskirts of the city.
In Korea, there is a small island called Sorokdo, which is widely known as a leprosarium. The government established a leper colony on that island and sent leprosy patients to it who are quarantined from the rest of the population, so as to prevent the spread of this contagious disease. In the same vein, if an Israelite suspected of having leprosy was diagnosed by the priest to indeed suffer from that disease, then he had to be separated from everyone including his own family. So, the people of Israel took this disease very seriously. Because the people of Israel were serving the holy God, no one who had leprosy could live amongst them. The reason for this was because the Israelites had to be separated from uncleanness. As a result, leprosy was considered to be the most serious disease in Israel. So, whenever the people of Israel noticed some type of trouble on their skin, it was common for them to wonder if it was not a symptom of leprosy.
If a skin sore did not heal easily and it persisted, it usually indicated a serious problem. A leprosy patient’s skin is different from the skin of a healthy person. To draw an analogy, leprous skin is like the skin of a persimmon that fell from the tree and turned soft on the ground. When an unripe persimmon falls from the tree, its skin begins to soften, and mold begins to grow inside to rot it away. Similar things happen also when someone is infected with leprosy and its symptoms begin to show in the skin. Sores and scabs appear, and the skin begins to rot away.
In Korea also, there was a time when leprosy was widespread and the disease was taken very seriously. Leprosy patients used to be quarantined from the rest of the society including their family. No doubt the patients were extremely traumatized by this, making them wonder why they were born in this world and feeling utterly desolate about their situation. Leprosy used to be very prevalent in the old days. Nowadays, leprosy is said to be treatable if discovered early. But that was not the case in the past. There was no treatment for it, nor was there any way to hide it as its symptoms showed up glaringly for everyone to see. Anyone who came down with leprosy had to be separated from the family and could no longer have a social life. This separation from the rest of society, cut off from any normal social interaction, was one of the greatest sufferings faced by leprosy patients.
Spiritually speaking, lepers refer to sinners who are facing condemnation for their sins. Anyone who has any sin in God’s sight must be washed clean from this sin, and if the person fails to do this in the living years, he must be cast into hell. This applies to your family also. Although we will go to Heaven since we have received the remission of sins by believing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, your family members who still have not been remitted from their sins will end up in hell. With the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God has washed away all the sins that we commit while living on this earth. Whoever believes in this gospel will therefore receive the remission of sins and go to Heaven, but sinners who do not believe in this gospel will face the punishment of hell forever. That is why lepers had to show their disease to the priest and get a treatment for it.
 
 
Let’s See Who Is Diagnosed As a Leper
 
It’s written in Leviticus 13:8-13: “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.” Leprosy is a disease that spreads slowly throughout the whole body. When one is infected with leprosy, the external symptoms appear as skin lesions which cannot be healed by any topical treatment as the leprosy pathogen is resistant to such treatments. Left untreated without specific medication, the lesions will eventually spread all over the body and cause serious skin deformities.
Spiritually speaking, someone whose heart has sin is like someone who is infected with leprosy. It is through such sinners that every sin has spread throughout this earth in every nook and cranny. Those who are infected by this disease of sin cannot avoid sinning even if they try. That’s because human beings, born in iniquity, are bound to commit sin habitually and endlessly throughout their lives. Spiritually speaking, they are infected with the disease of sin. Just as the leprosy pathogen spreads and devours the skin of the patient, for those whose hearts are sinful, so does the disease of sin spread and devour them spiritually.
God says that everyone was born with iniquity from the moment they are born from the mother’s womb. What, then, is this spiritual leprosy everyone has? This leprosy is the sin that is found in each and every human heart. God says that as a brood of evildoers by our natures, we are the spiritual lepers. God is asking us, “What is your life all about? What is Heaven? Who are sinners? What is the consequence for those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit?”
 
 
The Fundamental Nature of Human Beings
 
Let’s now turn to Psalm 51:5-6 in the Old Testament:
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.”
How does the Bible explain our basic nature in God’s sight? As it’s written in the Word of God, every human being is a pile of sin. Human beings were nothing more than piles of sins the moment they were born from their mothers’ wombs. So, if we are asked about the fundamental nature of human beings, our answer will be that they were born as piles of sins from their mothers’ wombs. David is saying here that everyone was conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity. That everyone was conceived in sin means that by nature, everyone was born with such wicked desires as murder, theft, jealousy, and foolishness inherited from one’s father and mother.
In other words, we human beings became sinners because we inherited the sins that Adam and Eve, our forefathers had. We were all born as a brood of iniquity from our very birth. We are a brood of evildoers. It is not just our flesh that we inherited from our parents, but we have also inherited a sinful heart. That’s why the Bible says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). It’s because Adam and Eve sinned against God that all of us came to have sin in our hearts. Put differently, it’s because of the fall of the first man that we were all born as a brood of evildoers.
 
 
The Sins of the Human Heart
 
Let’s turn to the Word of God again to see what kind of sins the human heart has. It’s written in Mark 7:20-23: “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.”
Because we are human, evil thoughts pour out of our hearts relentlessly no matter how much we resolve ourselves not to do anything bad anymore. For instance, we can’t stop but gawk at tragic events. When there is a house fire, we like to watch the house burning. When we hear in the news about some disastrous accident out in the sea that took away 300 lives, we feel sorry for the victims at first, but no sooner than this do we start wondering if there ever has been a worse accident. Everyone’s thoughts are evil like this. We are drawn to sensationalism, even if it involved 300 who deid tragically. In short, everyone was born with the evil desire to sin from their very birth. It is precisely because human being have wicked thoughts and immoral desires in their hearts that they do wicked and immoral things wherever they go.
The problem, of course, is that every sinner is followed by the wrath of God. This is God’s justice. However, the salvation that has come by the righteousness of God has already eradicated all sins. That’s because the Lord came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, bore all the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist, was crucified to death while shouldering these sins, and rose from the dead again. If we know and believe in this Truth, we are saved from all our sins once and for all. We the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are no longer sinners as we used to be in the past. This is because our hearts are indwelt by the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, we the redeemed no longer find it pleasant to sin in this world. Most people find it pleasing to live according to their immoral hearts, but this is not the case for the righteous ones.
This had not been so in the past. We didn’t know that we were actually sinners doing nothing but sinning against God. We used to think highly of ourselves, wondering what sin we ever committed. Thinking that whatever we did was out of our basic instincts, we did not even know that such things constituted grave sins in God’s sight. However, when we reflected upon ourselves and on the God-given Ten Commandments, we could realize that we were in fact sinners. Giving us the Ten Commandments, God had told us not to murder, not to commit adultery, and not to steal. But, even while committing such sins, we did not know that we were sinners. Afterwards, when we realized that God would pour His wrath out on sinners, we came to recognize that we were indeed sinners.
By their very nature, human beings are a brood of evildoers and selfish beings. People’s thoughts are so evil that they prefer everyone else to fail than succeed, except when it comes to their own family members or loved ones. They can’t stand it when someone else is prosperous. If a fire breaks out in someone else’s house, they wish for the house to be completely burnt down. That’s how evil human beings are. Do you think I am exaggerating here? But let’s look deep inside us. Isn’t it true that we would feel at least somewhat disappointed if the fire is put out too soon? We can’t help but wish for more because that’s in our human nature. While we might worry about the fire spreading to our own houses, but on the one hand, we get so much excitement out of watching someone else’s house burn down.
Like this, what proceeds out of the human heart is nothing but evil thoughts, and unless God pointed out our sins, we wouldn’t have even realized that we were piles of sins. I also had such sins, and it was only after I found the righteousness of Jesus that I could realize my true self. I had thought that I should live my life without any shame, and I had believed that this was how I had lived, but all this time, I didn’t know that I was in fact nothing but a pile of sins in God’s sight.
 
 
Evil Thoughts Begets Sin
 
Just like leprosy spreading throughout the whole body, one’s sins eventually devours your whole soul. Just as anything alive grows, so do the evil thoughts of human beings grow. As iniquity spread like this, wherever human beings go, they end up bearing the fruit of sin. They cannot help but commit all kinds of sins day in and day out. Throughout their entire lifetime spanning 70-80 years, human beings do nothing but commit one sin after another. That’s why the Bible says that human beings are a brood of evildoers. In short, human beings are so evil that they all deserve to fall into hell, unless of course they know and believe in the righteousness of Jesus. This is the most serious problem confronting everyone who is living with sin.
However, God has bestowed His mercy on such people like us, and He is waiting patiently for each of us to be saved. Unlike us human beings, who are incapable of forgiving anyone who offends us repeatedly, God is merciful, and even now He is saying to us, “Return to the gospel of the water and the Spirit. You are a spiritual leper. Return to Me, and I will heal you of your disease.” The Lord Himself has prepared our salvation with the righteousness of God.
The Lord 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 7:21-23). God looks direct at people’s souls rather than their outward appearances. The same is true for the priests. During the days of the Old Testament, it was the priests who examined for leprosy, and if the sore had spread, then it was considered to be leprosy. It was also diagnosed as leprosy if the sore appeared to be deeper than the skin, or the hair on the sore turned white. This meant that even if the symptoms had not spread through the whole body, leprosy was still pronounced as leprosy. Like this, even if someone has not sinned with his acts yet, if his heart is sinful and he still has not received the remission of sins from God, then this person is a sinner. The leprosy pathogens can remain dormant in the body without showing any symptoms, but eventually, symptoms will begin to appear. In the same vein, anyone who has a sinful heart - is always a sinner.
The people of this world do not call anyone a sinner over the sins that this person has in his heart. They call someone a sinner only when the sins in his heart are acted upon outwardly, that is, when one commits a definite and concrete sin. Through the Law, God commanded us not to commit adultery and not to murder. However, from the perspective of human beings, there is no one who can keep all the commandments of God. Like the girl in the red shoes fairy tale, we do nothing but what has been told us not to do. God told us not to have any other gods before Him, but what have we human begins done? We have created all kinds of false gods. Some people even claim that everyone and everything is divine. The same disobedience is found when it comes to the norms that we are supposed to follow in our relationship with one another. Even though God clearly told us to honor our parents, we don’t do so. Many people even think of their parents as someone to be used for their own gains, and they regard their aging parents as an annoying burden. Too many people nowadays just keep on taking from their parents rather than giving, and far from honoring their parents, they even abuse them in their old age.
The Lord also told us not to steal, but we are so prone to do what the Lord told us not to do. It’s because human beings were born as a brood of iniquity that they are incapable of doing anything virtuous even if they want to. Because their hearts are filled with nothing but sin, they cannot do anything else but sin. This is their very human nature. They sin whenever and wherever they go. Of course, countless people want to do good, thinking to themselves, “I should act virtuously,” but no one is capable of this. Some people even cry over their failure, wondering, “I’ve read about all these great people who led such a virtuous life. I want to be a good and decent person like them also. Why am I then so wretched?” Although human beings have an evil heart, they also have, on the other side, the desire to seek goodness. However, they are incapable of practicing the virtues that they desire, while they can’t help but practice the wickedness that they do not want. That is why human beings are a brood of evildoers by their fundamental nature. The seed of human beings is such that we were all born as a brood of evildoers. That’s what the Word of God in the Scripture says, so this is the truth even if we don’t like hearing it.
 
 
Let’s Pay Close Attention to What the Book of Isaiah Says about the Sins of Mankind
 
Let’s turn to Isaiah 1:2-4,
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I have nourished and brought up children,
And they have rebelled against Me;
The ox knows its owner
And the donkey its master’s crib;
But Israel does not know,
My people do not consider.
Alas, sinful nation,
A people laden with iniquity,
A brood of evildoers,
Children who are corrupters!
They have forsaken the Lord,
They have provoked to anger
The Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away backward.”
This is what God said through the Prophet Isaiah. When God lamented about a “sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters,” He was speaking about not just the people of Israel but all of us. Our forefathers became sinners because they did not believe in the Word of God, and as they passed down their sins to us, we were also born in sinfulness. We are therefore a brood of evildoers in God’s sight. And we are a people laden with iniquity. When we look at just our acts, how many virtues do we really have? While it is noble for human beings to try to do good, in reality this is just hypocrisy in God’s eyes. In other words, people try to do good because they are fundamentally evil, in order to hide this wickedness. Some people do virtuous deeds expecting some sort of compensation in return, thinking to themselves, “What good things should I do get rewarded? If I do something good, like giving some money to that beggar I see, I’m sure God will see this and reward me for it.”
What is hypocrisy? In Chinese character, the word hypocrisy is written as a combination of two characters, one denoting “false” and another denoting “goodness.” So in this case, hypocrisy means “false goodness.” It applies to someone who is not virtuous acting as though he is virtuous. For instance, making a donation to an orphanage is in itself a good deed, but if the donor did this with the ulterior motive of hiding his own wickedness or making a name for himself, then this is practicing false goodness. The same goes when it comes donating to a scholarship fund to help poor students. While in itself this is a good deed, if one does it while expecting something in return from God, then it is hypocrisy. Many, many people practice hypocrisy in order to hide their own wickedness.
Let’s say that someone committed a fraud and embezzled $3 million. Let’s also say that this person donated $500,000 to a scholarship fund of this money. What happened to the remaining $2.5 million? It went straight into that man’s pocket. But, the newspapers make a big deal out of his donation of half a million dollars while not saying anything about how he got that money. So the man is portrayed as a very good person for donating half a million dollars of his ill-gotten gain. None other than this is what is meant by hypocrisy. What did the man actually do? He had embezzled millions of dollars. He was a criminal who had taken someone else’s money without working for it. Yet, such people are highly respected in society. Like this, human beings are hypocritical to the core.
Those who truly practice goodness are those who have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and who are living for this gospel. A life that serves the gospel of righteousness before God, a life that obeys God’s commandments without seeking one’s selfish gains, is the life that practices true goodness.
When everyone’s heart is filled with evil desires like this, how can we say that human beings are good? When God examines the hearts of people today, He will see that they are filled with nothing but iniquity. These sins in the heart eventually all flow out and spread around. Sometimes people sin in their hearts alone, but other times they sin with their flesh. Born with iniquities, people put into action all these iniquities while living in this world, and while at first they may commit only small sins, eventually, everyone ends up committing grave sins. That is why God said that everyone is a sinner, a brood of evildoers.
Before we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we must first of all realize that we are sinners bound to hell in God’s sight. To do so, we must have the Law of God in our hearts. God has given His Law to all of us, which is composed of 613 commandments including the Ten Commandments: “You shall not have any other gods before Me. You shall not make a carved image for yourself and bow down before it. You shall not take the name of God in vain. You shall keep the Sabbath holy. You shall honor your parents. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or belongings.” When we accept this Law of God into our hearts, we can then realize just how wicked we are before the Law of God and what a brood of evildoers we all are.
Without the Law, it is not possible for us to realize that we ourselves are sinners on our own. It other words, it is only when we reflect ourselves upon the Law of God that we are exposed as sinners. Based on one’s own standard, everyone has some excuse to justify his behavior, and therefore no one will admit by himself that he is a sinner bound to hell. Those who say to God that they only have tiny sins also think at the same time that they have a great deal of goodness. So they think that while they might have committed small sins, they have done much more benevolent things. But such thoughts are totally wrong.
No sin of mankind, no matter how small, can ever escape from God’s just judgment. Yet, people come up with all kinds of excuses for themselves, trying to make up for their sins with their hypocritical acts of goodness. This is precisely what is meant by the righteousness of mankind. But you must realize here that the righteousness of mankind is like a filthy rag in God’s sight. Hanging onto one’s own human righteousness before God is like playing peekaboo. It’s like a pile of manure saying to God that it doesn’t smell and it’s clean. God is holy, just, and completely sinless. His heart is holy, just as His acts are holy and just. Given this, how could human beings, who are nothing more than piles of sins, seek God’s approval by hiding their filthy sins and sprucing up just their façade? Even if they protest to God, saying, “But Lord, I have done so many good things,” is their fundamental nature changed at all? No, of course not. God will just say to such people, “What’s so holy about you when you are filled with filthiness? You are a sinner. You have failed to obey My Word!”
Therefore, when we human beings stand before the Law of God, we are completely exposed as sinners. And we realize just how worthless we really are, devoid of any merit of or own at all. Like this, when human beings stand before God, it’s inevitable for their own human righteousness to be completely broken down. Even the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, when they reflect themselves upon God, amount to nothing except for serving the righteousness of God. If we only know the God-given statutes and Law, if we only know God’s commandments, and if we only know that God is the righteous and is the just Judge, then we would realize that we are nothing, and we would also recognize what a wonderful grace it is that God has saved such sinners from all sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The only reason why people still claim to have some righteousness of their own is because they still have not seen their true selves before God.
 
 
The Fallacy of Self-Righteousness
 
If you are self-righteous thinking highly of yourself, then it is the evidence of the fact you still have not come forward to the holy God with honesty. Try approaching God with honesty and see if it’s still possible for you to be self-righteous before God. Anyone who is full of self-righteousness must first realize just how filthy his own righteousness is. It is to bring about this realization that God allows so much suffering to people. There are countless people in this world committing all kinds of sins. Why does God tolerate them then? Why does He spare their lives? In other words, why does God not punish them instead? God does this in order to let everyone know His righteousness and bestow true salvation.
However, many people still suffer while living in this world because they neither know nor believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that constitutes the righteousness of God. It’s very important for us to recognize here that we are no different from such people. We also have done nothing virtuous before God. It’s just that God allows hardship to such people in order to wake them up to the fact that they must acknowledge the righteousness of God and to receive the remission of sins.
Anyone who is self-righteous cannot help but suffer even more. And if such people insist on their own righteousness until the end, then they cannot avoid but face the just judgment of God. Those who are exceedingly self-righteous are beyond salvage even for God, and these are the people who are trying to go to Heaven by sanctifying themselves. Even God can’t do anything for such people. These are the people who say, “I have been remitted from my original sin by receiving Jesus. From now on I will get the remission of my personal sins by offering prayers of repentance every day, and in that way I will go to the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Following the abominable doctrine of incremental sanctification, they claim that as long as they continue to sanctify themselves throughout their lifetime, they will be completely free from their sins by the time they reach death. Those living such a misguided life of faith cannot be helped even by God. In contrast, those who know their own shortcomings believe that it is only by their faith in the righteousness of God that they can go to Kingdom of Heaven. The foolish, however, think that they will go to Heaven on their own merit.
The self-righteous cannot avoid but be cast into hell. Now then, do you have any merit before God? Step forward if you think you are meritorious. If you still think you have at least some merit, let’s turn to the Word of God right away to see if you are right. Before we turn to anywhere else, remember what the Bible says about sin: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Let’s turn to Exodus 20:3 and read, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” You might protest and say that you really believe only in God. But do you really believe only in God? Have you really served God alone?
Let’s see. You need money for our livelihood. Let’s say that you are being recruited by another company offering you a higher salary. But the owner of that company doesn’t like the fact that you are a Christian. So the business owner asks you to skip worship service a couple of times a week, and in return promises to pay you an extra $3,000 a month. Would you not be tempted by this offer? You are bound to be tempted for sure. Nowadays, we are living in a world where money has become a god, as are people. The things of this world have turned into gods. Is there anyone who doesn’t like money? Even Christians don’t like it if God is an obstruction interfering with their moneymaking schemes and ventures. Is there then really anyone who does not worship any other gods but God? No, Christians nowadays claim to worship God with just words, while in fact they worship money. Can you then say confidently that you have worshiped only God despite this? Are you really sure that you have not worshiped an idol?
If someone worships money more than God like this, then is this person guilty of sin or not? Of course he is guilty. God said that anyone who has even the smallest sin will be cast into hell. He said in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This means that if you have any sin at all, no matter how tiny, you will be thrown into hell. This is God’s law. It is by believing lawfully that we receive the remission of sins. If we do not believe lawfully, we will be cast into hell. To receive the remission of sins by believing lawfully we must believe in two things. Firstly, we must believe in the Law, and secondly, we must believe in the law of grace. If we know these two laws and believe accordingly, we can all reach salvation.
 
 
The Destruction Awaiting the Self-Righteous
 
Let me repeat again, anyone who is self-righteous will be destroyed. Some people in this world say that they are so decent that they don’t even need the law, but they are all wrong to think like this. How do such people actually behave by claiming that they have no need for the Law of God? While pretending to be upright but are somehow disadvantaged, or whenever they see any gain for themselves, they sin while others are not looking. Is there anyone here who has never, ever taken anything from anyone else without permission, not even once? I am sure you have all taken something from someone else without permission, even if it’s just a donut or a cookie.
Those who say that they can live without the Law of God are actually the worst of all sinners, since they think so highly of themselves that they don’t even see any need to receive the remission of sins. Imagine what a disastrous blunder it would have been if we had thought like these people. We would not have believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, nor would we have received the remission of sins. But God is watching us all the time. He sees every sin we ever commit, and He has them all recorded in the Book of Deeds. God says in Psalm 139:2, “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.”
If we live without relying on the righteousness of God, we will all be caught in the trap of sin only to end up in hell. It’s like a fish swimming around merrily having no clue that it is about to be trapped in the net. The fish doesn’t go into the net knowing that it’s a trap. It just swims as it always has, but once caught in the net, it can never escape. Like this, human beings also get caught in the trap of sin to fall into hell. It’s because they fall into sin that they are cast into hell. Can any human being born in this world never commit any sin at all, not even once? No, of course not. It’s absolutely impossible! Yet, so many people are so self-righteous that they think they are actually good people. Such self-righteous people can’t help but stand against the righteousness of God, and as a result, they cannot avoid but face death. If you are such a self-righteous person, I urge you to admit to God as soon as possible that you are a sinner, believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and thereby be saved from our sins. You can find the light only if you first confess that you are a sinner.
I see that some of you are starring at the floor, afraid that I might ask about your sins again. I won’t ask you about your sins anymore. But, I do urge you once again to confess your heart to God. If God asks you whether you have sin or not, confess yourself. You can then be saved from all your sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, if you say that you are not sure whether you are a sinner or not, or if you insist on hanging onto your own self-righteousness rather than relying on the righteousness of God, you will just provoke God’s wrath. God allows such stubborn self-righteous people to turn themselves into evildoers. He lets them fall into the sin of standing against the righteousness of God on their own.
God rules over the life and death of all human beings. You must grasp this here. Everyone has one type of weakness or another unique to each person. Some people are weak when it comes to the opposite sex, while others are weak when it comes to money. So it’s impossible for human beings not to fall into sin. God knows all about this condition of ours. No matter how strong you might be, unless you rely on the righteousness of God, you have no choice but face hell, but by then, no amount of regret or excuses will be of any use. Unless you rely on and believe in the righteousness of God, the sins you have committed will never disappear.
God writes our sins in His Book of Judgment, as well as in the tablets of our hearts. When we turn to Jeremiah 17:1, we see God saying, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of your altars.” This means God writes each and every sin we ever commit on the tablets of our hearts. So, once our sins are written in our hearts, we are reminded of them continuously. And we keep on coming up with excuses. Whether lying in the bed or sitting at the dinner table, our guilty consciences reminds us of our sins constantly, and to ease our consciences, we blame others for them, saying to ourselves that we would not have sinned were it not for that other person. Although we claim to be innocent like this, deep inside us, our consciences tells us that we are guilty. This happens because our own righteousness is struggling with the Law of God inside us.
 
 
The Most Serious of All Diseases Is the Disease of Sin
 
Just as one of the most serious and repulsive physical illnesses is leprosy, the most terrible and repulsive spiritual disease of all is the disease of sin in the human heart. The sin in the human heart is what causes the most repulsive disease. It’s these sins in the heart that engulf us with an unbearable stench, make us unable to fulfill our proper role as human beings, and holds us back from others. None other than sin is what makes human beings lose their humanity.
Human beings were originally created in the likeness of the image of God, and therefore they are the most beautiful of all the creatures made by God. However, although human beings were created as such wonderful beings originally, if they have sin, they can degenerate into dreadful beings that are so wretched and shameful. It’s the sins of mankind that make human beings so depraved. Sin makes them worthless and turns them into human garbage. It is the sins that are in one’s human heart and his sinful acts that turn him into trash. However, even such people can still be delivered from all these wretched conditions if only they receive the remission of sins. Therefore, the greatest gift for mankind is the fact that Jesus Christ has blotted out all sins. It is with this knowledge that we must believe in Jesus.
Let’s turn to Leviticus 13:12-13, “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.”
Anyone who has not received the remission of sins is in a sinful state. Born as a sinner, everyone remains a sinner unless one receives the remission of sins. How can such a sinner be saved then? The way to salvation is described here in verses 13-14 “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.”
You might be wondering here how it’s possible to say that one is clean when leprosy has spread all over his body. Given the fact that even a small sore in a difficult-to-see part of the body can be construed as a sign of leprosy, how is it possible to say that someone whose whole body is covered by the symptoms of leprosy is clean? The Biblical standard is different from our human standard. Through the Scripture, God is now speaking about how the remission of sins is received. What this passage teaches is that human beings are saved by God if they recognize that they have no righteousness before Him, admit that they have done nothing right when reflected upon the Word of the Law, and acknowledge that they cannot avoid but face death, confessing, “Lord, I deserve to be cast into hell. I have done absolutely nothing right.”
A sinner who admits only part of his sinfulness cannot be saved. In the same vein, God said that if leprosy covered all the skin of a person to turn it white, from the head to the sole of the feet, then this person was clean. This means that God saves such people and makes them perfect by blotting out all the sins of their entire lifetime, just as leprosy is healed. This is the Word of God. God saves a person who admits fully that he is a complete sinner, not someone who admits his sinfulness only partially. A complete sinner is someone who admits to God that he has failed to obey and follow His Word, that he has stood against God, and that he is inevitably bound to hell, and who asks God to save such a sinner like himself. When one fully recognizes himself as a complete sinner, then such a person can be saved by God.
Some of us who have received the remission of sins may be tempted to think, “I have sinned, but it’s no big deal if I don’t sin again. Thank You Lord for remitting away all my sins.” Those who think like this, however, are not really that grateful to God. It implies that now that Jesus has saved them and remitted away all their sins, they think they don’t need Him anymore. In other words, they think that since they have already received the remission of sins, there is no need to walk with Jesus anymore, nor any need to abide in the Church. While such people have received the remission of sins, they feel like they are being restrained by Jesus and don’t like this. Since they know that Jesus has blotted out all their sins, they don’t see any need for Him anymore, so they go their own way and think that they will just see Jesus again down the road in Heaven. If this is not an utterly ungrateful thought, what else could it be? Far from entering Heaven, such people will surely end up in the everlasting hell fires, for they are guaranteed to betray the righteousness of Jesus Christ without fail.
Let’s turn to Hebrews 6:1-8, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”
I have seen how some people do not come to God’s Church even after receiving the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Whenever I see such people, I wonder about what will happen to them in the end. Will I really be able to see them again in Heaven? I don’t think this is a question that I can answer myself with any certainty. Why does the Scripture issue such a dire warning then? What would happen to you if you were to leave the Church, stop preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and live among the people of the world? If you let this happen, you will once again fall into the gravest of all sins. You will also come to hate God’s servants, for while these servants of God are righteous, you will be living in sin.
Those who belong to darkness do not like the light, the two oppose each other. As they dislike the light, their hearts turn evil. And in time, they come to hate the servants of righteousness and stand against them. This happens not because they themselves decide that this is what they are going to do, but rather because they are seized by darkness and therefore do not like the light. Those of darkness do not like the righteous. As a result, even if such people received the remission of sins at one point, in the end, they cannot bear any fruit of righteousness desired by God.
Therefore, the born-again righteous must never ever leave God’s Church to go on their way no matter what. To carry out the righteous work of God, there must be the prayer warriors who pray to God for this work first of all, and there must be those who are united with the righteousness of God. Only then can we pool our strengths together and carry out God’s righteous work in this way. The Lord says that the Holy Spirit will continue to dwell in the righteous who never leave His Church and He will walk amongst them (2 Corinthians 6:16).
It’s written in the passage we just read from Hebrews 6:1-2: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Here, the Scripture is speaking of none other than our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. As God told us to go on to perfection, all that we have to do is believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and walk accordingly. It’s also written here, “And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.” This passage tells us that we the saved are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That’s why our hearts are always at peace and joyful.
However, the Bible continues to say, “And having tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” What does God mean by saying this?
What will happen to those who do not unite with God’s Church even after being born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? These people have partaken in the work of the Spirit of God at one time. And they have tasted of the heavenly gift. They have, in other words, received the remission of sins. Yet their faith has been corrupted. These people are then more like the people of the world than the holy family in God’s Church. The Lord is saying here that they cannot be renewed again to repentance. Even after believing in the righteousness of Jesus, such people still like what they hear from those who have not been born again. They are attracted to the claim that the remission of sins can be received by offering their own prayers of repentance every day. What explains this? It’s because their acts are filthy.
For such people’s to be cleansed, they must return and again believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and get their hearts healed. Even we the born-again believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit still sin while living on this earth. However, when we listen to the Word of God in His Church, praise Him, and share fellowship with one another, we can see from our own experiences how our injured hearts are healed. On the other hand, if we don’t get our our injured hearts healed caused from our everyday lives in this world, and we allow them rot away, then we cannot say to God with a good conscience that we are the righteous. Although we have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but if we go out into this world and live as Satan’s slaves, then our hearts will become hardened. This can happen to those who have received the remission of sins who have come to realize the righteousness of God when they actually heard the gospel of the water and the Spirit with their ears, unless they live apart as the servants of righteousness. This is what God is saying to those who betray His righteousness.
Indeed the Scripture says, “For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:7-8). This means that God will sort out the wicked from the righteous and throw the wicked into the consuming fire. If God had not given us this Word of warning, we would not have known the end of those who betray the righteousness of God.
I am absolutely certain that if someone has sincerely been truly born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they will abide in God’s Church. If this person instead abides in the world and follows Satan, then his heart, which had been made righteous, will once again be defiled. Some of you might have felt this already from experience. If anyone lets his heart fall into the world to be dragged down by it, his heart will turn wicked; and if anyone unites with the world and with its religious practitioners, he will end up turning into God’s enemy, and standing against the righteousness of the Lord. And those who do not believe in the righteousness of God even after hearing it will be burnt in the end.
It’s written in Exodus 30:10, “And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.” We ought to thank the Lord with our prayers for bearing all our sins, and we ought to come to the presence of God with such faith and conviction. So then, how could we ever ask God to wash away our sins everyday?
At the time when the Epistles to the Hebrews was written, which we just read a moment ago, Rome had put in place a policy to scatter the Jews around the world. As a result, the Jews were scattered in abroad in many foreign countries. They were persecuted everywhere they went, and in particularly, those who believed in Jesus were persecuted heavily, with many of them being killed. Enduring such terrible persecution, they hid themselves in the mountains and in caves, but in time many of them came to betray Jesus. This is what worried the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Just as there were many believers who fell into the world and ended up betraying Jesus despite receiving the remission of sins in those days, in this age and time also, there will be many people who will end up betraying Jesus. Such people will abandon Jesus and worship a false god just to seek the prosperity of their flesh. And they will start persecuting those who believe in Jesus. They will start saying, “How can Jesus be the Son of God?” When the redeemed fall from grace, they turn even more wicked than those who do not know Jesus at all. That is why the Lord said, “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out” (Luke 14:34-35). The Lord drew an analogy to salt to teach us that if we fall from His grace, we will turn into completely worthless beings, useless for the Kingdom of God and this world alike. I take each and every step very carefully. I feel as though the Apostle Paul was speaking for me when he said he was afraid that while he would save others by preaching the gospel, he himself would become disqualified.
My fellow believers, although our salvation has come by the grace of God, reaching our salvation is not the end of all. Rather, it is even more important to keep this salvation as we carry on with our lives. Now that we have received the most precious heart from God, it is absolutely indispensable for us to keep this heart. If you lose this heart, we will have nothing left.
If you turn to 2 Kings chapter 6, you will see an account of cannibalism where two women ate their own children. War had broken out between Syria and Israel, and while Syria was besieging Samaria, there was such a great famine in the land that two women, desperate for food, agreed to eat their own children. They had agreed to eat one woman’s son one day, then the other woman’s son the next day. But a quarrel broke out between the two women regarding the eating of one woman’s son, for the other woman hid her own son. The king of Israel stumbled upon the two women fighting, and one of the women pleaded to him, saying, “We are so hungry and starving that we had agreed to eat each other’s son. Yesterday we ate my son, and today we are supposed to eat the other woman’s son. But she has hidden her son and is refusing to hand him over.” How do you suppose the king felt upon hearing this? He needed food to address the plight of his people, but even though he was the king, there was nothing he could do. So, falling into despair, the king tore his clothes and wailed.
This account shows us just how evil human beings can be when they are desperate enough. Human beings are such wicked beings that the parents can devour their own children and likewise, the children towards their own parents. It has become a common occurrence to hear in the news about how some depraved person killed their own parents for money, or let their aging and sick parents starve to death just because they considered them burdensome. Such atrocious stories have become so common nowadays that they are not even that shocking anymore. Do you then still think human beings are good? Far from it, the wickedness of mankind knows no bounds. And in the end, you and I are also such wicked beings. We are also capable of devouring our own children if we are desperate enough.
How about you then? Does your heart have faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit? If you don’t have this faith, you are a sinner. You must then receive the remission of sins by faith. A sinner is someone who, when reflecting upon the Word of God, cannot live according to this Word. The remission of sins, on the other hand, is received once and for all to be enjoyed forever. It is not something that you receive multiple times or gradually over time. Just as someone whose whole body was covered in leprosy was pronounced clean, if you admit fully to God that you are a complete sinner, then you will be saved by God. Knowing this, I urge you to be saved from all your sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and to live a life that glorifies God.