Baptism Cleansed Naaman, and It Can Cleanse You! by David Ray Fanning I
II Kings 5:1-14 contains the story of Naaman, who was the Gentile army commander for the country of Syria. Naaman desired to be healed of a chronic infectious disease known as leprosy (v.1). When Naaman heard that the Jewish prophet Elisha had the ability to cleanse him, he immediately made arrangements to go to Elisha’s house (vv.3-8). He “thought” that when he arrived, Elisha would come out to meet him and heal him by waving his hand over the diseased place. Instead, Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman and told him that in order for him to be healed, he would have to go, wash (literally, immerse or dip himself,) in the river Jordan seven times. Naaman became furious because Elisha’s plan on how to save him from this dreadful disease was not the same as what Naaman had in mind (Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 55:8; Acts 26:9). Furthermore, Naaman felt that there were rivers better than the Jordan River. After encouragement from his servants, Naaman eventually chose to lay aside his thoughts and feelings and “do according to the saying of the man of God” (v. 14; Matthew 7:21; James 1:22). As a result, he was healed. Naaman would have not been healed if, instead of dipping himself, he sprinkled or poured water over himself. Naaman would have not been cleansed if he had immersed himself only six times.
The New Testament is clear that a non-Christian must be buried in the watery grave of baptism in order for his sins to be cleansed through the blood of Jesus (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 8:12-13, 35-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:13-15, 30-33; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 5:25-27; Colossians 2:11-13; Titus 3:4-5; Hebrews 10:22; I Peter 3:18-21; Revelation 1:5). As a result of Naaman’s strict obedience to God’s specific commands, he was cleansed of his leprosy. This is a great example of a person obeying the commands of God (not his thoughts and feelings), which resulted in receiving God’s promised blessings. To obey God as He specifies is to respect His supreme, exclusive authority or sovereignty (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 3:17; II John 9-11; John 8:31-32).
Though the story of Naaman is clearly not an example of salvation from sins, it is an example of the necessity of obedience (James 2:24-26). In order for a non-Christian to be saved from his sins he must, like Naaman, respect God’s sovereignty by obeying His commands. One of His commands is baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 10:48). To love Jesus is to obey His commands (John 14:15). Ananias fulfilled the Great Commission when he told Saul of Tarsus in Acts 22:16, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Many who have zeal without knowledge would deny this clear passage and tell you that baptism does not wash away sins (Romans 10:1-3). They would falsely tell you that only believers are baptized. They would tell you that baptism does not literally remit sins through the blood of Jesus; whereas, Acts 2:38 states clearly that the reason why the sinner repents and is baptized is “for” the remission of his sins. Are you willing to be washed of your spiritual disease called sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23)? If so, then why are you waiting? Arise now and be baptized, having your sins washed away through Jesus’ cleansing blood (Revelation 1:5; Ephesians 1:7; Acts 22:16)!