Return to:

A Damaged Life

Scripture Reading - 2 Kings 5:1 & 5-14

Text: "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper" (2 Kings 5:1).

Many of you are already acquainted with the story of Naaman the leper. Perhaps you learned about him as a child listening to Bible stories. It really is a remarkable story. The lesson tells us of a young Jewish girl, whose love and devotion to her God, made a tremendous difference in the life of her master. While her actions were commendable and worthy of our notice, it is Naaman (her master) that we shall focus our attention on in this sermon. He is indeed a most interesting character as portrayed in this passage of scripture.

The chapter begins by listing many of the outstanding traits of Naaman. As we consider what is said about him we discover a valuable lesson for us all. The first fact to consider is that he was captain over all the military forces of the nation of Syria. It is likely that he occupied a position similar to that of Joseph, when he was second in command to the Pharaoh. At any rate, he was a man of great power and ability, the leader of all who served in the Syrian army. The second fact tells us that he was great in the sight of the king he served. It probably means that the king put great confidence in him and respected his judgments. Third, we are informed that Naaman was an honorable man, which seems to indicate that he was held in high esteem and honored by the people of his country. Fourth, we are told at least one reason that he enjoyed such a place of prominence; he was the one most responsible for delivering the Syrian nation from the hands of an unnamed enemy. The Bible acknowledges that God had delivered Syria but also that He had chosen to use Naaman in the process of achieving victory. Therefore, in the minds of a people who did not believe in Jehovah, Naaman naturally received all the credit. His part in the defeat of the enemy forces directs our attention to the fifth statement, he was a mighty man in valor. He was evidently an exceptional soldier, a man of great courage as well as ability.

With all that we are told about Naaman through the list of commendable qualities, the final statement is a very negative one. He was described as the victim of a horrible disease called leprosy. So with all the good that was mentioned, the list ends with the statement "but he was a leper." How tragic! Such a great and influential individual with a disease that would at the least, alienate him from the people who loved and appreciated him; and at the worst it would in time claim his life. For a man to possess such capabilities as Naaman and be afflicted with that awful, disabling and degenerative disease, would certainly touch the hearts of many with feelings of profound sympathy. It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to understand the reason that such tragic stories unfold around us everyday. There are many people, even in our community, who have handicaps which greatly limit their otherwise vast capabilities. Our hearts go out to the multitudes that endure handicaps through no fault of their own. While many suffer such unfortunate afflictions, there are multitudes of others who have limited themselves. There is a difference between those who are handicapped by circumstances beyond their control and those who are restricted by situations of their own making. Those in the first group are helpless to do anything about their condition, while the last group have at their disposal the solutions to the problems that are so drastically limiting them from achieving their full potential. Since there is little or nothing that we can do about the handicapps of the first group, we shall focus our attention on the limitations of the second.

There are many people today like Naaman, very capable but also limited by a disabling problem. Do you know someone like that? If so, perhaps you also know of a person whose limitations are of their making. For example, a person is praised for the good work they do in the community, then someone will add, but he has a drinking problem. A woman might be beautiful and energetically involved with various organizations, but she is such a gossip. What the commentators are saying is that the person could have achieved so much more if they had overcome their weaknesses. Such people have so many good and worthwhile traits, but they have some sins that hold them back from experiencing their full potential.

You see Naaman's problem with leprosy is an example of people with limitations due to sin. Often the Bible uses leprosy as a figure of sin. There are many ways in which leprosy and sin are alike. You get both from someone else, for leprosy is a contagions disease and sin is passed on from parent to child through the depravity of our nature (Psalm 51:5). Both are generally considered as terminal diseases for in time leprosy will kill its victim "... and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15). Leprosy is often called "the living death," because the person lived while the disease gradually destroyed them. Even so, sins will grow in the lives of those who practice them and little by little it will destroy their good name, their Christian witness and their peace and fellowship with God (Isaiah 59:2). Leprosy also made outcasts of people for the public feared the possibility of contracting such an awful disease. Remember the ten lepers that Jesus healed, they were outcasts of society and stood afar off to ask the Lord's help (Luke 17:12-13). Sin can also ruin a life and make a person a social outcast. Perhaps you know someone whose life has been affected in such a devastating way. But the fact remains that such cases are the exceptions rather than the rule. Most often the practice of sin is ignored or excused by those around us and because the sin remains, it becomes a debilitating influence that restricts or limits their realm of influence.

Perhaps in varying degrees there are sinful indulgences that limit all of us. The more the sin, the greater the limitations. Yet, if there is only one flaw in our character, we should want to remove it that we might become all God has designed for our life? Well, Naaman certainly wanted to be free of his handicap. The Jewish girl proposed a solution and the wheels for recovery went into motion, for he wanted to be rid of the awful negative of his life. Hopefully, you will feel the same way about the sins that hinder you. It is sad but true, there are many people who know they have sins but they are unwilling to do anything to remedy the problem. They remain content the way they are, unrepentant though the gospel often condemns their sin. Such people not only allow the problem to remain, but allow it to take deep root and grow into a monster that could eventually destroy them. Evidently, they do not believe that satan is our arch enemy (2 Peter 5:8) for they offer no resistence to his temptations and alurements. Yet the fact remains that one day their sins will find them out (Numbers 32:23) and payday may not be as far away as they have supposed. Even if their sins never grow to destructive proportions, it will at the least, keep them from achieving their full potential in God's service. We must all guard our lives against even the smallest of sin, for like little foxes they will damage our “vines” and make them unproductive (Song of Solomon 2:15). Sins will destroy our fruitful potential in the kingdom of God; no matter how small or trivial they seem to us.

We have the potential for so much good because of what God has done for us. Think of all that is right and good: (1) God has chosen us in Christ before the world began (Ephesians 1:4) (2) He predestinated us to be adopted into the family of Jesus and made like Him after the world ends (Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:29) (3) He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins (1 Peter 3:18) and (4) God sent the Holy Spirit into us to quicken us into divine life (Ephesians 2:1). He even gave us His holy and inspired word to teach us His good ways (2 Timothy 3:16-17) yet we continue to sin. That which God did for us not only saved us by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) but has empowered us to serve Him (1 Corinthians 15:10). While He has enabled us to serve, He will not do our work for us and if we choose to pursue sin, He will often permit it, even though it is to our injury. So don't let sin limit your possibilities.

Just as Naaman exhausted every effort to be cured of leprosy, so we must deal with our sins before there is further damage to our life. Many have fallen into the ditches along the pathway of life and now wallow in the mire and filth of this wicked world. Their sins did not seem serious enough to become concerned about. They continued unchanged and did nothing about the sins because they seemed to them so trivial and insignificant. How foolish! May we not follow their folly. It is now time for us to take an honest look at ourselves in the mirror of divine truth (James 1:22-23). We need to see our life as God see it, and repent of the sins we have committed. The challenge of Naaman is to face the sin and deal with it now, before it does any more damage. Just one little sin can keep you from living to your full potential. Just one! We should not be content with even one, but one by one we must overcome our sins by the grace and help of God.

Some allow social hinderances to keep them from attending the worship of God on Sunday, but they should not forsake the assembly of the saints (Hebrews 10:25). Some allow peer pressure to draw them into the bad habit of taking God's name in vain, but God will not hold guiltless those who do so (Exodus 20:7). Some dishonor their parents, but it is honor that has the promise of long life (Ephesians 6:2-3). Some give in to lust and commit adultery but it defiles their body as God's temple (1 Corinthians 6:18-19). Some by dishonest dealings break God's command: Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15). The list of sins could go on and on; yet every sin mentioned and unmentioned, will be the leprosy that can damage our life.

If by now you have recognized that sin, like leprosy, may damage us. If after having considered this information, you desire to join Naaman in doing something about your "leprosy" (sin), then the solutions to the problems can be discovered in his actions. Naaman took some very positive steps by which he was freed from his disabling disease. Perhaps you have thought of doing something about your sins, but did not know which way to turn. Hopefully, these solutions will help you conquer some of your sins. There are four steps in the process. (1) First and most essential, you must want to be free of the sins which limit your possibilities. If Naaman had not wanted to be free of the leprosy, it is doubtful that he would have done anything about it. The problem with many people is that they really do not want to be free of their sin. It has been a part of their life so long that they cannot imagine themselves without it. In some ways it has become a pet and like a vicious little dog that often bites, they have learned to live with it and feel a measure of comfort in doing so.

Such individuals must change their attitudes about sin and see it for the ugly problem that God tells us it is. Sin must be considered a "pest" rather than a "pet" and as such we will want to be rid of it forever. If we have pestilence, we call an exterminator or get the needed chemicals to be rid of the creatures for we can't stand to live with them. Sins must be viewed the same way, they must be repugnant to us and if so, we will follow the admonition of Job which said, "If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles" (Job 11:14). We can overcome any habit of sin, with the help of God. Paul said, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14). If we are to overcome sin, we must first want to do so.

The second step that Naaman took was to tell someone else about his needs and desires. The passage indicates that Naaman talked to his king about what the Jewish girl had said concerning the prophet in Israel. The king of Syria then sent a letter to the king of Israel. As the need became known, people joined together to help Naaman do something about it.

Many people have tried unsuccessfully to overcome some specific sin. They need to recognize their need for help and confess their sins. James admonishes all Christians to "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man awaiteth much" (James 5:16). It does not mean that you are to publish your confession of sin on the front page of the local newspaper, but it does mean that you are to confess it to godly saints and ask their prayers in your behalf. After all, Christians are to bear one anothers burden and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6: 2). The loving support and encouragement of praying people will greatly help in dealing with and overcoming sin. But be careful not to forget that you need to also confess your sins to God. He already knows about them; but as you confess them, repenting of them and seeking forgiveness, you will find that God will give you strength and courage.

The third step in the curative process was that Naaman acted on faith. He did not know the God of the Jews but based on the words of a slave girl, he believed that her God could heal his leprosy. He believed it sufficiently to take the long and difficult journey to Israel. He went to a distant land, another God and was told to wash in a muddy little river. How futile all the effort seemed. He reasoned that the Jordan could be no better than the rivers of his native land. But reason is not faith, for faith often defies the logic of reason. Encouraged by one of his servants, he decided to try the solution. After all it was not all that difficult to perform, so he went to Jordan, and there dipped himself; not twice, nor even six times, but seven times, as he was told. When he dipped himself the seventh time, he was cleansed of his leprosy. Who would have ever thought that bathing would cure him? Yet when he obeyed the commandment, God gave the needed blessing. He manifested the benefits of faith and works.

If we are going to overcome our habitual sins, we must also combine our faith in God with acts of obedience. James said, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17). To overcome sin, we must believe that God is able to help us and then obey the Bible as His inspired word. Believe that you can be victorious with God's help, as did Paul when he said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). Then turn from the sin, to acts of righteousness.

Fourth and finally, as I have already mentioned, Naaman washed in the Jordan River. The significance of that is that we are also to wash ourselves in the perpetual streams of divine truth. As we wade out into the depths of the word of God, we find that there is a cleansing that takes place through our contact with His words of truth. The Psalmist asked, "Where withal shall a young man cleanse his way?..." Then he answered the question, "... by taking heed there to according to thy word" (Psalm 119:9). As added encouragement, he said that he hid God's word in his heart, that he might not sin against God" (Psalm 119:11). As our Lord Jesus Christ talked with and taught His disciples He said "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3). If the teachings which God gave through inspiration, could help the ancient Psalmist and the disciples of the Lord, to cleanse their lives and purify their hearts; will it not also help us today, if we too wash in the river which God has provided? The answer is an emphatic - yes! Therefore, I encourage you to study the scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15) and attend the worship of God, where the word of God is preached. Then take that which you learn and put it into practice through daily, godly living. This experimental cleansing will give glory to the Son of God, who by His shed blood has eternally washed us from our sins (Revelation 1:5).

Jesus is worthy of glory for without Him, we have no hope of heaven. By the grace of God we have been saved but we are saved to serve Jesus Christ. This sermon will hopefully help you do so by living a victorious life. If we follow these Biblical teachings, sin will not overcome us but instead we will overcome it with good (Romans 12:21). May God bless these encouragements to speak to your heart, and cause you to make a genuine effort to rid your life of the sinful hinderances which prevent you from living as God commands. "Draw night to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:8). If we obey these words, we will live closer to God and become purer in our deeds and thoughts. Such a life will glorify the Lord. Do you desire to live your life for His glory? Are you willing to "... do all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31)? If so, then God has shared with you some of the secrets for doing so, through the story of Naaman. God bless

Return to:

Copyright © 2014 Light From God's Word. All Rights Reserved.
This page last updated on June 17, 2014