I spent some time reading in Matthew 8 during my Time Alone With God (TAWG), and I must say that this chapter ROCKED ME TO THE CORE! Wow!!! Once again, so many good sections of scripture to choose from here: 1.) The Faith of the Centurion, knowing that Jesus could heal his son without even seeing him in person. 2.) Jesus healing Peters mother of fever and she gets up and begins to serve Him right away. 3.) Jesus healing the demon possessed. 4.) The one I originally thought I was going to write the blog on, which was, Jesus calming the storm by simply rebuking the winds and the waves. However, I believe that the Holy Spirit was making it very clear to me that I was supposed to write today’s blog on the man that Jesus healed from leprosy.
Let’s jump right into this by taking a look at that section of scripture that stood out to me: “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:1-3) This same story is recorded in the book of Mark and says, “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’” (Mark 1:40).
Wow!!! There is so much to talk about on this section of scripture. Let’s first take a look at scandalous acts of this particular leper. Scripture says, “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46). The law required that lepers keep a distance of at least 50 paces away from others that don’t have the disease. All of these rules aren’t meant to be mean to a person that has leprosy, but rather because the disease is contagious and if they get within 50 paces (in some cases 100 paces) of someone that doesn’t have the disease, they could very easily spread this disease to them. So, back to the scandalous acts of the leper: 1.) He didn’t scream “Unclean! Unclean!” as he was supposed to do. 2.) He knelt at Jesus feet, which is clearly much closer than 50 paces. This man with leprosy was putting everything on the line, breaking all the rules, because he knew in his heart that Jesus could make him clean (heal him of his leprosy).
One thing that I find quite interesting is that none of the gospels mention the name of this man with Leprosy, he is just called “a man with leprosy”, as if his leprosy was his name/identity. That is why I titled this blog, “Your ‘Issues’ Are NOT Your Identity”. Too often in life we get so focused on our hurts, habits, hang ups, and/or sins, that we forget our identity in Christ. We forget that our Strength and our Victory comes from the Lord. Pastor Steven Furtick preached a great sermon on this leper’s story and he couldn’t have said better how I feel than this, “Sometimes in life you can allow your identity to be consumed by your issues. You can allow yourself to become more known for what is wrong with you, then who you actually have the potential to be.” Steven goes on to say, “A man (the leper) with no name, came to the man whom is the name above all names.” This is so beautiful and so true. Jesus is the name above all names AND all issues. Jesus is known as Jehovah Rapha (Our Healer) and the Great Physician and there is no disease or addiction that He can’t heal. He is known as “The Great I AM”, so whatever it is that you need, His reply is, “I AM”.
So, let’s take a real and authentic at ourselves right now and answer this question: What is the sin that I just can’t seem to let go of and why? Sometimes the sin is very clearly apparent to others, but sometimes it is our secret sin or struggle. The man with leprosy had issues that showed on the outside and it caused others to stay away and perhaps be disgusted in some cases. Most of our issues show on the inside and often times others aren’t even aware of the issues in which we struggle. Many times these issues cause us to feel disgusted with our own selves. Perhaps the issue(s) you are holding on to are in the following list: alcohol addiction, chemical addiction, sexual addiction (could be porn or masturbation), anger management, gluttony, co-dependency, idolatry, etc.? The list can go on and on with issues that we might be dealing with here. The real question is, why haven’t you gone to Jesus with these secret sins or issues? You might be responding to that question by saying, “I have gone to Him.”? Sometimes I feel that we might say a basic prayer asking God to help us with these sin struggles, but we aren’t willing to help Him and be obedient in this process. We say, “God Help Me, Please!”, but then we continue to put ourselves in situations that will cause us to slip back up into that sin. The bible says to “flee from temptation and sin”… are you truly doing that, or are you expecting God to magically cure you of you addictions/issues? Stop blaming God for your struggles, and begin to work with Him to heal the problems, rather than fighting with Him the whole way. He will give you strength… the bible says, “When I am weak, He is strong”, so allow Him to guide and direct you and to give you that extra strength you need to overcome those addictions. Look to Him when even the hint of temptation comes your way, as He will show you the doorway out of that temptation so that you can flee.
So, what is the first step to overcoming our issues/sins? In the words of Steven Furtick, “It wasn’t the 50 steps that got him (the man with leprosy) healed, it was the 51st step, which was when the man hit his knees (begged) and humbled himself before Jesus.” Literally fall to your knees (beg) and humble yourself before Jesus in prayer. From the depths of your heart, ask God to give you the strength to overcome the issues/sin that you are struggling with in life. Ask Him to guide and direct you every step of the way and begin to enjoy/celebrate the Victories with Jesus. I promise that when you ask Jesus for help, He will reach out to touch you and say, “I am willing”, just as He did with that man that had leprosy. The word says, “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus went to the cross to die for the sin/issues that we are battling with, so when we go to Him in prayer asking Him to take our struggle with sin away, He takes them upon Himself by nailing them to the cross where they belong. All this to say, choose to truly give that issue/sin to Jesus today and walk out your healing and Victory with Jesus from this day forward. Decide that Jesus and His ways of doing things are THE WAY for you. Claim the Victory over the enemy that is yours in Jesus name. YOUR ‘ISSUES’ ARE NOT YOUR IDENTITY! YOUR ‘ISSUES’ ARE NO MORE IN, JESUS NAME! ;)
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