The two horrible diseases to which we refer are leprosy and sin. But as bad as leprosy is, sin is much worse. Leprosy has caused untold misery and physical death, but leprosy is a babe compared to the misery and ultimate spiritual death caused by sin.
Leprosy works upon one man and sin works upon another man. It is generally understood, I think, that in reality each man is two men. I mean each man is composed of what is divinely called an “outward man” and an “inward man” Paul expressed it this way: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
Leprosy works on the outward (physical) man, but sin works upon the inward man, or soul. While leprosy in the flesh is dreaded, how much more should we dread to have a sin-sick soul! Jesus says, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). Since leprosy can kill the body, but not the soul, sin is more to be dreaded than leprosy. Leprosy can send the body to the grave, but sin can send both body and soul to hell.
These two diseases are caused by the transgressions of two laws. Leprosy, and most other physical diseases that we have today, are not necessarily caused by the direct transgression of God’s law, but such was true in the beginning. Until our foreparents violated God’s law that said, “Thou shalt not eat,” disease was unknown (Gen. 2:17). So, indirectly if not directly, disease is due to the transgression of God’s law. Then leprosy and all other diseases are largely contracted through the transgression of the laws of health.
Sin is caused by the transgression of the “law of faith.” Paul said, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, any act of living on our part that crosses God’s word is sin (Rom. 10:17). Moreover, any act of work or worship for God that is not in harmony with Christ’s word is sin.
Leprosy and sin are contagious—that is, you may contract the disease from another. It is because leprosy is contagious that those who have the disease are usually banished to a secluded place. So it is with sin.
We can say with safety that Mother Eve was the first sinner. She took of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6). Her misdeed was catching. Closely following her disobedience was that of her husband, Adam. Those who do wrong usually try to get others to do wrong also, even as Eve gave the forbidden fruit to her husband—and they usually succeed! What a blessing had the sin stopped with her husband but, alas, it did not.
Later, Cain manifested the same sinful spirit in bringing before God an offering that was not according to “faith” as was his brother Abel’s. The fact that his “uncalled for” offering was rejected by God and Abel’s “called for” offering was accepted by God made Cain’s sinful spirit to arise again, resulting in jealousy and the murder of his own brother (Gen. 4:1-10; Heb. 11:4).
Neither did this contagious sin stop with Cain. That spirit was transmitted to our day. Jude says, “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 11). Just think, friends, how contagious sin must be! From Mother Eve to Father Adam, then to the son Cain, and from Cain to our day, and no doubt until the end of the world. Then in the face of all this, people will look lightly upon sin, wink at it, and indulge in it.
When people have leprosy, they are usually unfit for clean company—the company of others who do not have the disease. Thus they are separated to a place by themselves and visited only by those who wait upon them. If such could only be so with sin! But since all responsible people have “sinned and come short of the glory of God,” it makes it difficult to avoid contact with them.
Frankly, I have often thought, what a shame it is for little innocent children to have to mix and mingle with responsible people, learn their sinful ways, and eventually become sinners. Sin separates one from God (Isa. 59:2) and the apostle Paul warns that Christians be careful of the company they keep, lest they be defiled. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). The American Standard Version says, “evil companionships corrupt good morals.”
When a stream of fresh water runs by itself, it remains fresh; but when a stream of salt water runs into it, or it runs into a stream of salt water, the fresh water becomes salty. When Christians “abhor that which is evil,” and, as far as possible, keep themselves separated from filthy company, it is easier for them to live better. No doubt, there should be more separation between the clean and the unclean than there is.
No Human Cure
Most doctors tell us there is no genuine human cure for leprosy. It ever has been so. Truly, leprosy is a loathsome disease, without much hope for the afflicted ones.
Under the Mosaic law, God gave a cure for leprosy. In brief, it was this:
Take two living birds;
Kill one of the birds, catching the blood of it in a vessel that contained water, cedar, wood, scarlet, and hyssop;
Dip the live bird in this bloody mixture;
Let the live bird go free after the dipping (Lev. 14:4-7).
Even so, there is no human cure for sin. “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). But, through Christ, God has given us a way that will cleanse us from past sins. It is greatly similar to the leprosy cure above. In brief, it consists of this:
Take two — Christ and the sinner.
Christ was killed and His blood shed (Heb. 9:22-28).
Dip the sinner in Christ’s blood. This is done when the sinner, being a proper subject for baptism, is baptized—“buried with him by baptism into death”—where Christ’s blood was shed (Rom. 6:4).
This dipping—baptism—makes the sinner free from past sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). From this burial, the sinner is raised to walk in a “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
The Horrible Death
Those who die of leprosy experience a horrible death. Words can hardly describe it—a slow death, a death by inches but death nevertheless, with decaying flesh and an almost unbearable odor.
But as bad as the death of the leper is, more terrible is the death of one who dies in sin. The man who dies in sin cannot go to heaven (John 8:21). His is a departure out into the darkness where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30). Turn, sinner, for why will you die unsaved?