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THE CLEANSING OF NAAMAN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 4, 2012

“Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (II Kings 5:10).


Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Syria. He was a great man. He was a valiant soldier. He was honored by his king because of the victories he had won in battle. But he was a leper. Leprosy was eating his flesh and killing him.

Now Naaman’s wife had a little Hebrew maid who had been taken captive from the land of Israel. She told Naaman’s wife that there was a prophet in Israel that could heal Naaman of his leprosy. When the king of Syria heard about that he sent a letter to the king of Israel, saying that he was sending Naaman to him to be healed. This greatly troubled the king of Israel. He tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy?...see how he seeketh a quarrel against me” (II Kings 5:7). When the prophet Elisha heard this he told the king to send Naaman to him, “and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (II Kings 5:8).

So Naaman came with his horses and his chariot to the door of the house of Elisha. But the prophet did not go out to speak with him. Instead he sent a messenger to tell Naaman, “Go and wash in [the river] Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (II Kings 5:10).

But Naaman was angry and went away. He said, “Behold, I had thought, he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God and wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” Then Naaman said that two of the rivers in his own country were “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.”

Then Naaman’s servants said to him, “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?” Then Naaman went and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River, as the prophet had told him, “and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

And Naaman returned to the prophet Elisha and said, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.”

Many great sermons have been preached on this passage of Scripture. Surely those preachers were right to say that the healing of Naaman’s leprosy pictures the healing of sin by the Blood of Jesus! If you are not saved, I pray tonight that you will come to Jesus and be cleansed from all your sin by His precious Blood! Please notice three things about the cleansing of Naaman that may help you to be cleansed as well.

I. First, he was a leper.

“He was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper”
       (II Kings 5:1).

Dr. McGee said, “Leprosy in Scripture is a type of sin. One reason is that it was incurable by human means...Naaman had many fine points, but he was a sinner. He tried to cover up his leprosy, but he could not cure it...Only Christ can do that” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, volume II, p. 311; note on II Kings 5:1).

Leprosy pictures the total depravity of man in sin. When Adam rebelled against God, he brought the leprosy of sin down to every member of the human race. The Apostle Paul said,

“By one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men...” (Romans 5:12).

That is why the Bible tells us that all unsaved people are “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5). King David said,

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

Dr. Watts put that thought into a hymn,

Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin,
   And born unholy and unclean;
Sprung from the man whose guilty fall
   Corrupts the race, and taints us all.

Behold, I fall before Thy face,
   My only refuge is Thy grace;
No outward forms can make me clean;
   The leprosy lies deep within.
(Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

Ah, what a picture that hymn gives of your state if you are unsaved! Conceived in sin! Born unholy and unclean! No outward forms (decisions or prayers) can make you clean! The leprosy lies deep within! How I wish our churches would sing that song by Isaac Watts again! It describes you tonight! “The leprosy lies deep within.” Jeremiah said it well.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

The famous evangelist of the First Great Awakening, George Whitefield, often said that people are not converted until they feel the total depravity of their own sinful hearts. Thousands came under conviction when they realized that he was right – that their own hearts were polluted by the humanly incurable leprosy of sin. “The leprosy lies deep within.”

Isn’t that true of you? Jesus said,

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22).

Isn’t that a picture of your heart, full of evil thoughts? Now, how can your evil heart of sin be healed? How can the leprosy of sin that lies deep within you be cleansed? Like you, Naaman “was a leper.” How was he cleansed and healed? That takes us to the next point.

II. Second, the means of his cleansing was prescribed.

“Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (II Kings 5:10).

Go and wash in the Jordan River seven times. That was it! That was all he had to do! Naaman had expected some dramatic method of healing. He said, “I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God...” (II Kings 5:11). “I thought.” Oh, I am afraid that you are in the same condition! “I thought.” You think you know what you need to do to be saved. “I thought.” Away with your thoughts! Banish them from your mind tonight, and do what God says! D. L. Moody said,

Naaman had two diseases – pride and leprosy. The first needed cleansing as much as the second. Naaman had to get down from his chariot of pride; afterwards, to wash according to the prescribed way (D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, page 58).

And that is what you must do tonight, if you hope to be saved. Put away what you think. Put away your pride and your own thoughts about how to be saved and “wash according to the prescribed way.” And the prescribed way is by coming to Jesus! Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Come to Jesus. He will cleanse your sin with His own Blood, and give you rest! “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

III. Third, he was persuaded to obey.

“And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, 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).

“Wash and be clean.” That is what I am telling you to do tonight! Wash and be clean!

The waters of the Jordan River were only a type, only a picture, of the Blood of Jesus. I have heard of people today, when they are in Israel, who have themselves baptized “again” in the Jordan River, thinking that it will do something for them. This seems like foolishness to me! Even the first time you are baptized it doesn’t “do” anything for you! It is only a picture of your previous death and resurrection with Christ, when you were saved. Remember that Naaman’s cleansing happened in Old Testament times. Today, in this dispensation, we are cleansed by faith in Jesus,

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood...” (Romans 3:25).

You must have faith in the Blood of Jesus! The Bible says,

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
       (I John 1:7).

All sin! All sin – whether sins of your heart, or sins you commit – all sins must be cleansed by the Blood of Jesus – and only by the Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God! As that old song put it,

What can wash away my sin?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
   That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
   Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
(“Nothing but the Blood” by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899).

I know there are some today who downgrade the Blood of the Saviour. May God have mercy on them for this sin! There is no other way for a leprous sinner to be cleansed! “No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” In Heaven we will lift our voices

“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5).

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus”!

Jesus died on a cruel cross to pay the full penalty for your sins. Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, shed His precious Blood on that cross to cleanse thee from all sin. He is alive tonight, in Heaven, at the right hand of the Father. Come to Jesus now and all thy sins will be cleansed; thy sins will be washed away forever by His own Blood! The prophet said to Naaman, “Wash and be clean.” And I say to you tonight, “Wash and be clean” in the Blood of Jesus! Mr. Griffith, come and sing “Yes, I Know!” again.

Come, ye sinners, lost and hopeless,
   Jesus’ blood can make you free;
For He saved the worst among you,
   When He saved a wretch like me.
And I know, yes, I know,
   Jesus’ blood can make the vilest sinner clean.
And I know, yes, I know,
   Jesus’ blood can make the vilest sinner clean.
(“Yes, I Know!” by Anna W. Waterman, 1920).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Kings 5:1-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Yes, I Know!” (by Anna W. Waterman, 1920).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE CLEANSING OF NAAMAN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (II Kings 5:10).

(II Kings 5:7, 8)

I.   First, he was a leper, II Kings 5:1; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:5;
Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-22.

II.  Second, the means of his cleansing was prescribed, II Kings 5:11;
Matthew 11:28; I John 1:7.

III. Third, he was persuaded to obey, II Kings 5:13; Romans 3:25;
I John 1:7; Revelation 1:5.