And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.'
Then He put out His Hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' Immediately the leprosy left him.
Unforgiveness is a demon that ruins our lives like leprosy. In the Bible, its victims were isolated and forced to call themselves, 'Unclean! Unclean!' (Leviticus 13:45). Physically, leprosy is caused by a germ or bacteria called mycobacterium leprae.
'The bacteria attack nerve endings and destroy the body's ability to feel pain and injury. Without feeling pain, people injure themselves and the injuries can become infected, resulting in tissue loss. Fingers and toes become shortened and deformed as the cartilage is absorbed into the body... 115 countries reported cases of leprosy in 2012. Three to four million people have disabilities as a result of leprosy' (American Leprosy Missions).*
'A world without pain? Can such a place exist? It not only can--it does. But it's no utopia. It's a colony for leprosy patients: a world where people literally feel no pain, and reap horrifying consequences' (The Gift of Pain).**
Consider heart leprosy. In the Bible, God calls its victims, 'Impudent and hard-hearted' (Ezekiel 3:7). They become unfeeling: 'Being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart' (Ephesians 4:18).
'Lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them' (John 12:40). Heal them? Yes! Internally and externally. Mentally healthy minds and physically healthy bodies come from spiritually healthy hearts. Therefore, the condition of your heart is of primary importance to God.
Leprosy of the heart is caused by unforgiveness, which is caused by anger, which is caused by pride: the sin of Satan, who grew to consider himself equal with God.
Being equal with God would mean that he (and we) believe we know what is best: we are qualified to determine both crime and punishment. Because when we refuse to forgive anyone for anything, we make ourselves equal to God--or even superior to Him.
Because He commands us to the opposite behavior. Because He put His Money where His Mouth was: by Jesus, He forgave us.
Therein, harboring unforgiveness causes leprosy of the heart, and we who live with this evil spirit are indeed 'Unclean! Unclean!'
To Be Continued...
* American Leprosy Missions: http://www.leprosy.org/learn-about-leprosy
** The Gift of Pain is a critically acclaimed book by Dr. Paul Brand (renowned surgeon working with leprosy patients) and Philip Yancey (award-winning writer): http://www.philipyancey.com/the-gift-of-pain
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Unforgiveness series.