In II Kings, Chapter 5, we find the story of a man name Naaman. Naaman was a Syrian. He was a soldier, a soldier whose honor and great valor had earned him the position of "captain of the host of the king of Syria" (II Kings 5:1). God had used Naaman as an instrument of punishment against the nation of Israel. But Naaman was a leper. Leprosy is a bacterial disease that attacks the nerves in the hand, feet, and face. It horribly disfigures its victims. The resulting nerve damage causes loss of sensation in the extremities, eyes, and eyelids. Because of lack of sensation the leper can be unaware of injuries to his fingers, toes, hands, or feet, resulting in the infection and loss of those members. Because of the loss of sensation in the eyes and eyelids the person does not blink and his eyes dry out, or gets dust in his eyes without knowing it causing infection, both resulting in loss of sight. Today there is treatment for the disease, but in Naaman's day there was no medical cure. Naaman was sentenced to a long lingering death.
Naaman had in his household a young girl that had been taken captive in one of his raids of Israel. He had given the girl to his wife to be her maid (II Kings 5:2). Though the young maid was a captive and a slave, she was gracious and compassionate toward Naaman and his wife. "And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy." (II Kings 5:3). Naaman went to his king and told him the words of the Israeli girl. The king gave Naaman leave to go and gave him gold, silver, and fine clothes to give in tribute. He also sent with him a letter to the king of Israel saying, ".....Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy." (II Kings 5:4-6). When Naaman presented this letter to the king of Israel, the king became so upset that he tore his clothes. He knew that he could not cure leprosy and decided that this was a plot to cause a war between Israel and Syria (II Kings 5:7). Elisha, who was God's chief prophet in Israel, heard about Naaman coming to see the king and sent a message to the king saying "......Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." (I Kings 5:8). So Naaman went to see Elisha, but when Naaman's chariot arrived at Elisha's door a servant came out and told him to go dip seven times in the Jordan River (II Kings 5:9, 10). This was not what Naaman had expected, "But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage." (II Kings 5:11, 12).
Now obviously Naaman was a good man, because even his servants were concerned about him. And as he brooded there in Damascus, his servants implored him to return to Israel to do as Elisha had said through his servant. They also reminded him that it was pride that was getting in the way of his cure (II Kings 5:13). So Naaman returned to Israel and dipped seven times in the Jordan and he was completely cured, ".....and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." (II Kings 5:14). Naaman returned to the house of Elisha and stood before him and all that were with him and confessed the name of God (II Kings 5:15).
Now how does this story apply to us today?
We see an example of unconditional love in the young Israeli girl. She had been taken captive by Naaman, ripped away from her home and family and made a slave in a strange land. Yet she still loved Naaman and her mistress and was concerned about his condition. Jesus taught that we are not just to love those that love us, but to love those that hate us:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)
We see the grace of God in Naaman's cure. The revelation of a cure in Israel was by God's grace. There was nothing meritorious about Naaman dipping in the Jordan River, he didn't earn the cure. The Jordan River had no medicinal or miraculous properties. The cure was in grace of God. Mankind is doomed by a disease that is far worse than leprosy, for the death that we face is spiritual not physical. That disease is sin, and as in the case of Naaman, the cure is in the grace of God:
"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:7-9)
Although we are commanded to be baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 10:48; Acts:22:16), the cleansing is not in the water nor merited by the act. Our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus the Christ:
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (Revelation 1:5, 6)
And just as it said that Naaman's skin became as pure a little child's, so to our lives can be purified from sin.
We see a lesson of Obedience. Even though Naaman was saved leprosy by God's grace, and there was nothing meritorious about Naaman dipping in the Jordan river, Naaman would not have been saved without dipping seven times in the Jordan River. He was only cleansed after dipping seven times. Not one, two, three, four, five, or six times, but only after seven times. He would not have been cleansed dipping in the Abana or Pharpar Rivers there at Damascus, only in the Jordan River. He would not have been cleansed by being sprinkled with the waters of the Jordan River. He had to dip under the water. In like manner, even though we are saved by grace and not by works, we cannot be saved without obedience. Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21). James wrote, "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:21-25). Jesus likened the person that hears the word but doesn't obey to a foolish man (Matthew 7:26, 27). We cannot leave out or substitute for baptism. Baptism is a burial, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4). You cannot substitute sprinkling for baptism and expect God to accept it as obedience.
We see how presumption nearly cost Naaman salvation from his leprosy. When Naaman was told by Elisha's servant to go dip seven times in the Jordan River, he was angry and the first words that was recorded out of his mouth were "Behold, I thought....." (II Kings 5:11). People are like Naaman today. They presume that as long as they are sincere in what they think, what they feel, what they believe to be right, that God will save them. We can no more be saved from our sins by our own volition than Naaman was cleansed of his leprosy. It is only by faith that we have access to God's grace (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:8), and there can only one source for that faith. Faith comes only from the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
The doctrine of "Salvation by Grace Only" neary cost Naaman his salvation from his leprosy. In II Kings 5:11, Naaman said, ".....Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper." At first, Naaman was looking to be healed with no effort on his part, and when he found that it was not to be so, he went back to Damascus in anger. "Salvation by Grace Only" is a doctrine popular in the religious world today. It teaches that all anyone has to do to be saved is call upon the name of The Lord, having faith that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. Faith is work (James 2:14-26).
Naaman's pride nearly cost him his salvation. When Naaman found that his salvation from his disease depended on him dipping seven times in the Jordan River he was angry. He made excuses why he would obey this command like "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?" (II Kings 5:12). But Naaman's servants knew the real reason, it was his pride. After all, Naaman was a warrior, a man of great valor, a man that went above and beyond the call of duty. He had put his life on the line for king and country many a time. That is the reason that the king of Syria trusted Naaman with his very life. Dipping in the River Jordan would not bring him any honor or any fame. His servants recognized that it was pride that kept him from doing as Elisha had instructed and asked him, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" (II Kings 5:13). Naaman finally realized that his pride was keeping him from being free of this horrible, crippling disease and went down to Israel and dipped seven time in the River Jordan. Many today will not obey the Gospel of Christ because it will not bring them honor or fame. They want to be saved, but by their own merit. That was the way the Pharisee was in Jesus's story in Luke 18:10-14, but Jesus said that ".....every one that exalteth himself shall be abased;" (Luke 18:14). We are saved by the Grace of God, not by our own works (Titus 3:4-7). We are not save because of our works, but because of the works that Jesus the Christ did on the cross of Calvary (Romans 5:5-11). It is our duty to God to obey, but it does not merit our salvation (Luke 17:7-10). We are not saved through meritorious works. This doctrine would be a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (I Corinthians 1:23). Only those that humbles himself and obeys God's will be saved (James 4:6; Matthew 21:28-32).
What Have We Learned?
1)Though the young Israeli girl had reason to hate her master and mistress, she was concerned over Naaman's fatal condition and revealed to them where he might find a cure. She repaid evil with good. We are to do the same thing. There is a world of people out there inflicted with a disease worse than leprosy. We must put aside all prejudice and somehow show them the way to Christ.
2)The grace of God provided a cure for Naaman's leprosy, and it was by God's grace that it was revealed to Naaman what he had to do to be cleansed. The same is true for us today. God's grace provided for the atonement for our sins through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is also by His grace that we have His word to show us what we must do to be saved from our sins.
3)Naaman believed unto obedience and went and dipped seven times in the River Jordan and was cleansed from his leprosy. Likewise, we must believe unto obedience, turning away from sins and being baptized.
4)Naaman could not be cured of his leprosy by the method he thought was right. He was only cured of his leprosy after he had done all that he had been commanded to do. We cannot be saved by what we think or feel in our heart is right, no matter how sincere we are. We can only be saved according to the plan God has laid out for us in His word.
5)Naaman was a mighty man of valor. God had used Naaman in punishing the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Yet all his mighty deeds could not save him from his terrible disease. It was the grace of God that cleansed his of his leprosy. We are not saved by meritorious works. We do not, cannot, earn salvation. We are saved by the work that Jesus The Christ did on the cross on Golgotha Hill.
Back to the Bible Page: