By Henry Mahan
2 Kings 5:1-14
Read the story of Naaman, the leper, and two questions come forth. (1) Could the waters of the Jordan River cure leprosy?
The answer is NO! (2) Could Naaman be healed of his leprosy without going down into the waters of the Jordan? The answer is no! Then what have we here? The Lord was humbling a proud sinner. The Lord was pleased to show his sovereign mercy to this Gentile sinner (Luke 4:27), but Naaman (like any son of Adam) must be emptied, humbled, and brought to understand and acknowledge that salvation and mercy is the gift of God, which is neither deserved nor bought. Human thought, human pride, human ways, and human works must be destroyed and the sinner submit to the will and way of God (James 4:6; Matt. 8:1-3).
Consider the following points, and you will see how Naaman typifies sinners whom the Lord is pleased to save.
1. Naaman had many commendable human traits but something was wrong, seriously wrong, which made everything he was and had useless. He was a great man among men, honorable and mighty in valour, but he was a leper! Disease and death flowed through his veins, incurable by human means.
There are fleshly differences among men, making some wiser, stronger, richer, or more honorable than others; but all men have one thing in common which makes all that they are and have useless. 'All have sinned and come short of the glory of God' (Rom. 3:23). Sin and death are within us by birth, nature, and choice and are incurable by human means (Eph. 2:11-12; Gal. 3:10; Rom. 5:12). Our sinful nature makes even our righteousnesses filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).
2. Naaman sought help but he took the wrong things with him.
Being conscious of his condition and hearing that there was a possibility of healing in the land of Israel, he went forth with a letter of recommendation from his employer and gold, silver, and presents for his benefactor. He came to Israel to buy deliverance.
Before we judge Naaman too harshly, let us examine today's religious attempts to find favor with God. Is it not the way of natural man to work, merit, or try to earn salvation? (Matt. 7:21- 22; Mark 10: 17) . Instead of coming to the Lord Jesus as guilty sinners with nothing in our hands, we come bearing our morality, our works, our baptism, and our church membership.
Men say, 'I'm no worse than others.' Naaman was no more a leper than other lepers; but he was a leper, and we are sinners! God's way of salvation is Christ alone. All that God requires and all that the sinner needs are fulfilled in Christ (Col. 2:9-10; 1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 4:4-5).
3. Naaman went to the wrong place. Instead of going to the prophet of God, as he was told by the little maid (v. 3), he went to the king. This prophet of God represents Christ, who is our prophet, priest, and king (Deut. 18:17-19; Heb, 1:1-2).
Salvation is of the Lord in its origination, execution, application, sustaining power, and ultimate perfection. How foolish it is to turn to the virgin Mary, to the priest, to the preacher, to the law, or to the church when Christ, our Lord, says, 'If any man thirst, let him come to me' (John 7:37-39; John 14:6). Why do men look to those who cannot save instead of looking to the only true God? (Isa. 45:20-22.)
4. When Naaman finally came to the prophet of God, he came with the wrong attitude. See him stand proudly outside the humble dwelling of Elisha. He wanted to be treated as a great man who happened to have leprosy, when in reality he was only a leper who happened to be a great man. Elisha knew his pride and arrogance and would not come out to meet him but instructed him to strip off his earthly garb of glory and wash in the muddy Jordan seven times. How degrading this appeared to Naaman!
Sinners today want special recognition, special attention, and the praise and honor of men, even in their religious professions (John 5:42-44). Pride of face, pride of race, pride of place, and even pride of grace prevail. We, like Naaman, want to be treated as great ones who happen to be sinners, instead of what we are--sinners who, for a while, have certain status among worms. There is none good nor righteous (Rom. 3:10- 11).
5. Naaman had wrong thoughts about mercy. He said, 'I thought, he will surely come out to me and call on his God.' Naaman's way (which would preserve his own pride and position) and God's way (which would humble the proud leper and give God all the glory) were opposites.
Salvation by free grace, through the righteousness and cross of the Lord Jesus, is offensive to natural man (1 Cor. 1:18-24).
Our thoughts are not God's thoughts and our ways are not God's ways (Isa. 55:6-9). Total depravity offends man's dignity, divine revelation offends man's wisdom, and the blood of the cross offends man's pride. God will humble us before himself or he will destroy us.
6. Naaman finally did something right--he went down. He came down off his high horse and bowed to the way of God. When sinners are ready and made willing (Psalm 110:3) to quit lying, trying, and buying and bow to the Lord Jesus Christ and receive salvation as the free gift of God, they will be saved (Matt. 5:3-6; Matt. 9:10-13).