Monday, March 7, 2011

Without the Camp, Part 1 of 2

If a man also or a woman have in the skin of their flesh bright spots, even white bright spots; Then the priest shall look: and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white; it is a freckled spot that groweth in the skin; he is clean. And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean. And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head toward his face, he is forehead bald: yet is he clean, Leviticus 13:38-41.

Throughout the book of Leviticus God is teaching Israel, and through them us, sanctification; that is, separation of the clean from the unclean. Spotlighted here are two forms of sickness. One is benign while the other is malignant; one permits the infected person to remain within the camp; the other forces the carrier without the camp.

The priest in this instance symbolizes the cleansing and seeking light of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that examines us and determines not only the deed, but the inner motive that empowered its doing. As the priest examines the patient to determine whether or not they are clean, so we—even by self-examination—are not to determine ourselves “clean.” It is the Spirit who bears witness and will bring the hidden things to light that we cannot (or will not) see in ourselves. Those who practice self-examination as a method of sanctification may well heed Paul’s counsel: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself (against myself); yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord,” 1st Corinthians 4:3-4. Self-examination by checking the letter of the law to determine how circumspect our walk is only serves to produce deadness of spirit. A soul yielded in fellowship to the Holy Spirit’s leading and influence will, through prayer and Bible study, be receptive to hear what He has to say regarding our spiritual condition. No one else's opinion—not even our own—matters.

Worse, the goal of self-examination in the strength of the flesh generates a cleanliness that is entirely based on law-works; the filthy rags God detests. “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness,” Proverbs 30:12. Such "inspection" removes our eyes from Jesus Christ and transplants it squarely on us; our person and walk become the focus instead of Christ and His sufficiency, which should provoke rest.

And if there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead. Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh; He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head. And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be, Leviticus 13:42-46.

Also, the Holy Spirit is the one who brings to the ungodly world conviction of sin. He enters the heart of the sinner through preaching and begins to reveal to that sinner what they are in themselves, and what they are before a holy God. A sinner so humbled and brought low by the revelation of their nature ought to mourn for their lost condition. This too is the work of the Holy Spirit, to impress man’s desperate lostness upon them and make them ready to receive the remedy in Jesus Christ. God only saves through human instrumentality; that is, no one is saved simply by God reaching down from Heaven and plucking out their sin and giving them Christ. No, the sinner must hear the gospel, and if received in a heart made ready for it, the sinner ought to see the truth of the message. They will see their own filthy sickness contrasted to the purity, power, majesty, holiness and pure love of the God who offers a remedy. Until you admit your need, until you confess of the truth God has revealed about your lost and dead spiritual condition, you are not ready to receive Jesus Christ. Why should you? You aren’t going to ask for something that you do not feel that you need.

Like the unclean Hebrew, all the days you reside in the filth of your sin you shall be defiled because sin’s plague resides in you. God’s verdict in this regard is simple and terrifying: you shall forever dwell alone; without the camp (of Heaven) shall your habitation be, because of the defilement of sin that is in you, provoking the wrath of God that constantly abides on you. Unless you accept the Holy Spirit’s convicting call and respond in repentance and faith, an eternity apart from God, without the camp as it were, is your allotted portion.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ian.

    isn't it interesting that the only place capable of declaring one clean is outside the camp, and that that is where the sacrifice is? As Hebrews 13;13 says, we have to go outside the camp to enjoy the benefits. Most people want to stay in the crowd.


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