But he was a leper!
(Arthur Pink, "Gleanings from Elisha")
"Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man . . . but he was a leper!" 2 Kings 5:1
Naaman was a great man . . . but he was a leper! He was the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease. He was a pitiful and repulsive object, with no prospect whatever of any improvement in his condition.
Yes, my reader, the highly-privileged and honored Naaman was a leper — and as such he portrays what you are and what I am by nature. God's Word does not flatter man. It lays him in the dust, which is one reason why it is so unpalatable to the great majority of people. It is the Word of truth, and therefore instead of painting flattering pictures of human nature — it represents things as they actually are.
Instead of lauding man — it abases him.
Instead of speaking of the dignity and nobility of human nature — it declares it to be leprous — sinful, corrupt, depraved, defiled!
Instead of eulogizing human progress — it insists that "every man at his best state is altogether vanity!" (Psalm 39:5)
And when the Holy Scriptures define man's attitude toward and relationship with God, they insist that "There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God" (Romans 3:10-11). They declare that we are His enemies by our wicked works (Colossians 1:21), and that consequently we are under the condemnation and curse of God's law, and that His holy wrath abides on us! (John 3:36)
The Word of truth declares that by nature all of us are spiritual lepers — foul and filthy, unfit for the divine presence, "being alienated from the life of God." (Ephesians 4:18)
You may occupy a good position in this world, even an eminent station in the affairs of this life. You may have made good in your vocation, and wrought praiseworthy achievements by human standards. You may be honorable in the sight of your fellows — but how do you appear in the eyes of God? You are a leper — one whom His law pronounces unclean, one who is utterly unfit for His holy presence! As it was with Naaman, so it is with you: "He was a great man — but a leper!"
We would not be faithful to our calling were we to glide over that in God's Word which is distasteful to proud flesh and blood. Nor would we be faithful to our readers if we glossed over their frightful and fatal natural condition. It is in their souls' interests that they should face this humiliating and unpleasant fact — that in God's sight, they are spiritual lepers!
But we must personalize it. Have you, my reader, realized this fact in your own case? Have you seen yourself as you are in God's sight? Are you aware that your soul is suffering from a disease that neither you nor any human being can cure? It is so, whether you realize it or not. The Scriptures declare that from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, there is no soundness in you. Yes, that in the sight of the holy God, you are a mass of "wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!" (Isaiah 1:6) Only as you penitently accept that divine verdict, is there any hope for you.