“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?” (2 Kings 5:13).
The Bible tells us that Naaman was “captain of the host of the king of Syria … a great man … honourable … a mighty man in valour … but he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). What a sad addition to a wonderful depiction. But when we consider that the Bible often uses leprosy to illustrate sin, we realize that this sad condition may be truly added to the description of anyone—regardless of how honorable, refined, powerful, or prosperous.
The Disease of Sin
What a dreadful thing sin is! It was not part of man’s creation, for we are told that God made man upright (Ecclesiastes 7:29). But since the fall of Adam, all of mankind is sinful by nature and by practice: “there is none righteous, no, not one … all have sinned” (Romans 3:10,23). Man’s sins come from a heart infected by evil (Matthew 15:19).
All of this, leprosy remarkably illustrates. The deadly disease was incurable in Naaman’s day, and lepers in Israel were required to live in isolation, calling out “Unclean! Unclean!” if approached. Man has no cure for sin. He may try to cover it up or wash off some of its unclean effects, but he cannot cleanse a conscience from sin’s guilt, or deliver anyone from its power. God alone can do that.
Hope for a Cure
Naaman was told that there was hope of healing through the power of the God of Israel. But, like many today who desire salvation from the wrath to come, he set about it in a wrong way. Instead of coming at once to the source of healing, he looked to human aid and interest. He took letters to the king of Israel from the king of Syria. There are so many people who, when first awakened to a real sense of their guilt and danger as sinners in the sight of God, turn to men—ministers, priests, some form of religion or ordinances—instead of coming at once, by faith, to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can cleanse them from the leprosy of sin!
Hearing of Naaman’s need, God’s prophet Elisha invited him to come for healing. Like a person of self-importance, Naaman drove with his horses and his chariot to the door of the prophet’s house, only to be terribly disappointed not to see the prophet’s face. However, he heard the remedy: “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” What words of comfort for a leprous man! But how does the great and honorable man treat these gracious words? Does he go at once to Jordan? No, he is not yet content to be blessed and cleansed in God’s way.
Bowing to God’s Way
Proud reasoning comes in to hinder and delay the blessing. Why, he thought, must I wash in Jordan? Why not dip in one of our own beautiful rivers, if all I must do is “wash and be clean?” Likewise, we prefer anything over simple subjection to God’s word. Naaman “turned and went away in a rage” (2 Kings 5:11,12).
His servants then reason with him on the simplicity of the remedy, reminding him that it is only “Wash and be clean.” The only remedy is now so pressed upon his soul that he humbles himself, and acts on the word of the man of God. He dips himself in Jordan seven times. What a beautiful example of faith, and the blessing which followed was exactly what Jehovah’s prophet had said. He was not only cleansed, but his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child.
Clean and New
In like manner, all who turn from their own efforts, bowing in simple faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, are cleansed from all sin. On the cross, God laid upon Jesus the iniquity of us all. He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. He died for our sins. Jesus “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Had God not judged sins on the cross, there could have been no cleansing, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). But because of His sacrifice, all who put their trust in Christ are assured that their sins have already been judged, that God has forgiven them, and will not remember their sins any more. “To [Christ] give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).
Naaman’s restoration reminds us of the new birth, for “whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). The burdened, sin-stricken soul that has fled to Jesus for salvation, not only has a purged conscience by the blood of Jesus, but he also has a new life in Christ, a new nature. Under the teaching of the Holy Ghost, he is now capable of knowing God, entering into the deep things of God, and of enjoying His presence forever. What a marvelous change! What a deliverance and recovery!
What about You?
Now, what do you say to these things? Are you conscious of being a sinner in the sight of God? Do you tremble at the thought of death and judgment being immediately before you? Does it sometimes occur to your mind that you must either be cleansed from sin, or forever suffer in your sins? Did not Jesus the Son of God die for sinners? Does not His blood cleanse from all sin? Then why go to the lake of fire forever? Why not “Wash and be clean?” Why not now?
The Son of God still delights to save sinners. He calls, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Can you refuse such love? It is no use to conceal your leprous spots, when in the sight of God you are utterly unclean. Listen then to the Savior’s solemn words: “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Think, dear reader, of the awful possibility of dying in your sins. Bow at once to the sinner-loving Savior. Fall now, as a leprous sinner, into His open arms. He will save you, for today is the day of salvation. He will receive you, welcome you, and never cast you out. He will wash you in His blood, cleanse away all your guilt, and forgive all your sins.
—Adapted from Things New and Old.