The biblical account of Naaman, the commander of the army of Syria (2 Kings 5:1-14) is a beautiful living picture of how God saves man. Naaman was afflicted with leprosy, a terrible disease. His wife had a servant girl who had been captured from Israel. The Hebrew servant girl urged that the family consult with the prophet of God, which they did. Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman telling him to wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman reluctantly did so:
But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean (ibid., 5:11-14).
The late philosopher Thomas B. Warren, our brother in Christ, observed in his book The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians that the case of Naaman’s cleansing of leprosy contains, in principle, all four stages in the process of our receiving the cleansing from sin.1 These four parts are:
- God’s blessing offered. Elisha said, “[Y]ou shall be clean” (ibid., 5:10). Today, God offers us cleansing from sin (see Ephesians 2:8; cf. Acts 22:16).
- God’s instructions as to how to receive the blessing provided. Elisha told Naaman to go and wash in the Jordan seven times (2 Kings 5:10), but Naaman did not receive the blessing at this stage. Similarly, God has given us instructions about how to receive the blessing of cleansing from sin (see Romans 6:17).
- Man’s faith in God. As long as Naaman rebelled at the thought of obeying he could not receive the blessing (2 Kings 5:11-12). As long as we disbelieve in God and mistrust Him we cannot be saved (see Hebrews 11:6).
- Man’s obedience to all of God’s instructions. When Naaman obeyed all of God’s instructions he was cleansed (2 Kings 5:14). We will be cleansed of sin when we do all that God has commanded in order to receive the cleansing (see Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-4).
May God help us to trust Him enough to obey His instructions.
(Ramer: National Christian Press, 1977), 78-79. ↩