“Leprosy of the Soul” was the message preached by Maxim, a young man in Israel at the weekend (December 2017). It was the sort of message which used to be preached throughout Britain and America when the pulpits rang out fearlessly with truth. While so much of the church in the USA and Britain have forgotten or denied the gospel, one small church in the Galilee area heard the pure truth in Israel.
Maxim said that of the many problems facing the world today, we forget that the greatest problem is that man has rejected God. And the leprosy of our souls is pride. He pointed to John’s gospel chapter 16 verse 8 where Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement – of sin because people do not believe in Him (Jesus), but reject the grace that God offers.
Maxim reminded us that the payment for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life for all who believe in Jesus. You cannot buy eternal life, but when the Holy Spirit starts to convict a man of his sins, the individual starts to see that one day this life will end and there will be a judgement, and only Jesus gives us grace to avoid destruction.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that Jesus was made sin for us, and now we can receive His righteousness. When we believe, God no longer sees us as sinners, but as His children, washed in Jesus’ blood.
It is hard to accept this simple truth, and there is an example in the story of Naaman the leper in 2 Kings 5. Pride can be an obstacle to salvation, just as Naaman’s pride almost cost him his healing from leprosy.
And even for those who are saved, pride can interfere with growing and producing fruit.
Maxim related that Naaman was the commander of the army of the King of Syria – a mighty man, but he had leprosy.
The Syrians had taken captives from Israel, including a girl who was maid to Naaman’s wife. She told the wife that there was a prophet in Israel (Elisha) who could heal her master.
Naaman went hundreds of miles to find Elisha, who then would not even come out to see him, but sent a servant to tell him – just go and wash seven times in the Jordan River.
Naaman was furious. It sounded too simple; it was hard to accept. After all, Syria had better rivers. He had his own idea of how it should go – that the prophet would come out and dramatically touch him and speak words over him and heal him.
But God had a different way, and it offended Naaman. He thought he wasted his time.
Maxim said many people today were like this. When they came with a problem, they had their own ideas about how God should help them.
He said that his mother had not been a believer, but had a successful career, but a time came when Maxim started to cause trouble. His mother searched for help from fortune tellers and others.
Finally she ended up at an evangelical congregation in Ukraine and cried out for help for her son. The pastor said: “ No, I will not help you, but there is a God in heaven and He can help you.”
He pointed her to Hosea 4:6 – “Because you have forgotten the Law of God, I have forgotten your children. “
Maxim said: “This opened my mother’s eyes to see that she needed forgiveness of sin too. God through His Word shows us our sin and then takes us to the cross of Jesus to be forgiven.
She understood that she needed forgiveness and that she had to believe in Jesus and receive His grace.
“Jesus came into our home, and that is why I am here today,” he said. “God worked in my life by a process. He would let me hear verses my mother read in the Bible and that prepared me.
“I thank God that He doesn’t leave us to die in our pride!”
Then Maxim returned to Naaman the leper. Namaan was so angry he ready to back to Syria, but his servants said that if the prophet had required him to do some hard thing, he would probably have done it, so why not do the simple thing and wash in the river? Why be angry just because it would be easy to do?
Maxim said people were like that when it came to salvation, but all religions teach that you have to do something to receive salvation.
He said: “God doesn’t respond to our fantasies of serving Him. When we do this, we ignore His will, and God can’t accept that.”
“So we thank the Lord that Naaman listened and washed seven times, and was completely healed of leprosy.”
He said that through obeying God, He would save us from the leprosy in our souls.
“How can we give honour to the God of Israel?” Maxim asked. “Everyone could see that Naaman had leprosy; it was no illusion. But today people have the illusion that everything is all right.
“To give honour to God we have to accept His Son and receive His way of becoming pure from sin.
“In the Army on the Day of Atonement I asked other soldiers: is anyone receiving forgiveness of sin? When they asked me why I was not fasting, I said I was already sealed through Jesus.
“We have a living testimony that Jesus is alive today and only He can give healing for leprosy in the soul. He took upon Himself our leprosy.
“May God help us to accept and obey Him, so that He receives honour.”