Salvation God's Way
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, September 18, 2011
Copyright © 2011, P. G. Mathew
The Bible says everyone is a sinner and everyone practices sin daily. The wages of sin is death-eternal death. All sinners must die and face Jesus Christ, the Judge of all. Everyone faces the terrible problem of death at any moment. People either die in Christ, or they die in their sins, outside of Christ. Those who trust in Jesus Christ enjoy eternal life, having crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).
The wonderful news is that God saves sinners. Today we want to look at God's way of salvation, as illustrated by Naaman. We cannot tell God how we should be saved because we have sinned against him. God himself tells us how to be saved; we must listen to him. "Today if you hear my voice, harden not your hearts." Believe in Jesus and be saved. Why would you die?
Naaman the Great Sinner
In 2 Kings 5 we read of a very great sinner, Naaman. His name means "pleasant." He was the field marshal for Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria. He was a great leader, Syria's number two man, a valiant soldier, and very rich. But Naaman was a leper.
All people, unless they believe in Jesus Christ, are lepers in disguise. Whether presidents, senators, kings, queens, rich, famous, movie stars, sheikhs, or the poor-all people are lepers. They may disguise themselves with their wealth, houses, yachts, airplanes, expensive clothes, frequent partying, rich foods, expensive wines, dope, diamonds, and hairdos. But they all are lepers.
In the Scriptures, a leper is a type of a sinner, unclean and dying. During Naaman's time, there were many lepers in Israel also. This leprosy was not Hansen's bacillus. Biblical leprosy covered a wide variety of skin diseases, including some highly contagious and incurable diseases. Lepers were in desperate plight, and in Israel they were sequestered from society. We read in the New Testament that some broke through their isolation, came to Jesus, and were healed (Luke 17).
Lepers were characterized by swellings, scabs, white spots, bright or dark patches, or flaking of their skin. The Bible says that God punished Miriam, the sister of Moses, with leprosy for her insubordination and arrogance (Num. 12). God punished King Uzziah with leprosy for his arrogance, and Uzziah died of his disease (2 Chron. 26:16-21).
To heal some forms of leprosy was humanly impossible. It was like raising the dead. Just so, every sinner is a leper, and only God can cure the leprosy of human sin. And he does, just as he healed Miriam, and just as Jesus healed the ten lepers.
The Witness of a Jewish Girl
Verse 1 states that in a war between Syria and Israel, God gave the victory to Syria through General Naaman. This tells us that victory or defeat in any war between nations is due to the sovereign will of God. As a result of this God-granted Syrian victory, an Israelite teenager, probably the daughter of an Israelite prophet of God, was taken captive. Providentially, she became a maid in Naaman's household.
This unnamed Jewish girl was a great believer in the Lord. Like Obadiah, she belonged to the small group of believers in Israel. Like Daniel, this thirteen-year-old loved the Lord with all her heart. Though a captive, she served the Lord in Syria. Though she never had a course in evangelism, the Holy Spirit enabled her to minister to her mistress. Listen to what she says about Naaman's leprosy: "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy" (2 Kings 5:3).
How could she say this with such certainty? Elisha the prophet had never cured a leper before. But this girl knew that all things are possible with the God of Israel. In truth, she was prophesying. Joel said, "Your sons and daughters will prophesy" when the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Joel 2:28). This young girl was prophesying that the God of Israel would surely cure her master, even though he had not cured any lepers so far.
What are your teenagers doing-your thirteen-year-olds, fifteen-year-olds, eighteen-year-olds? Are they witnessing naturally to the saving power of Jesus Christ? I hope we can all learn something from this little girl. Though growing up in a foreign country, she was shining as light and witnessing to the saving power of the God of Israel.
Jesus saves every sinner who repents and believes on him. In the same way, this teenager boldly proclaimed truth: "The God of Israel would surely heal my master of his leprosy through the prophet in Samaria."
Naaman Seeks Healing
At that time, there was a truce between Israel and Samaria. So after the girl had spoken, Ben-Hadad king of Syria wrote a letter to Jehoram king of Israel, requesting that he heal his good friend Naaman. Naaman took the letter and set out for Samaria, where the prophet of God was. Naaman had to go where the healing was.
By way of application, people today must go to where the gospel is preached. Wherever the gospel is preached, God is present to save sinners who repent. We must travel, if necessary, to churches where the gospel is clearly proclaimed, and avoid like a plague any churches that refuse to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. This church, Grace Valley Christian Center, is a rare place where the gospel is proclaimed and sinners are being saved.
Ben-Hadad's letter did not mention the name of Elisha. Ben-Hadad assumed that the prophet was under the control of the king, so Jehoram would command Elisha to heal Naaman.
Naaman finally arrived in Samaria at the palace of Jehoram. But that was the wrong place, just like the palace of Herod was the wrong place for the wise men from the East to go to look for Jesus. What could Jehoram do? Nothing! The king of Israel was a pagan himself. He worshiped only Baal, a fake god. So when Naaman arrived with Ben-Hadad's letter, Jehoram was terrified. He thought Ben-Hadad was seeking occasion for another war.
Elisha heard about the letter and told the king to send Naaman to him. He wanted Naaman to know that there was a true prophet in Israel who was able to heal his incurable leprosy by the power of the Lord God of Israel. So Naaman arrived Elisha's place with great pomp-several chariots, horses, and servants, clothed in rich garments that covered up his leprosy. He wore many medals and other rich ornaments. He brought gifts worth five million dollars-seven hundred and fifty pounds of silver, one hundred and fifty pounds of gold, and ten rolls of cloth material. This was the price, in Naaman's mind, of healing his leprosy.
Naaman was willing to pay much for his salvation. But he also wanted Elisha to treat him with all the dignity he thought was due him. After all, Naaman thought, he was not an average sinner. According to him, sinners came in three classes: first, second, and third, and he belonged to the first class. He expected that for five million dollars, Elisha, his social inferior, would come out of his house, stand humbly before him, call on Jehovah his God, wave his hand over the diseased area, and cure his leprosy.
God's Way of Salvation
The Lord of Israel will never heal an arrogant sinner. In God's mind, there is only one class of sinners: the worst class. Whether publican or Pharisee, whether Jewish Saul or the Syrian leper Naaman, every sinner must repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone of the Holy Scriptures alone for the glory of God alone. No proud sinner will ever be saved unless he trusts in Christ alone.
Who is this Lord Jesus Christ? He is perfect God and perfect man, one divine person in two natures. His death on the cross atoned all the sins of elect sinners. We must believe that. He died for our sins and was raised for our justification. He is the Lord of all. He is the Prophet, Priest, and king. His word is true, and he alone is the Savior. All other religions and gods are false. This Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead. He calls, "Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He sends the arrogant empty away, but he heals the brokenhearted. He tells the rich, "Let your five million dollars perish with you in hell."
Mr. Naaman, don't make up your own way of salvation! Naaman said, "I thought he would come out and heal me for five million dollars." No, Naaman, and everyone else must surrender totally to God's way of salvation. God humbles the mighty and exalts the humble. The gospel is the gospel of the cross. If it offends anyone, it does so because of his pride. The job of a preacher of the gospel is to offend the arrogant, so that they may humble and be saved.
The gospel is the power and wisdom of God. We glory in the gospel of the cross because, like the publican and the thief on the cross, we confess that we are miserable sinners, and Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, died on the cross for all our sins. So God justifies us and we are healed by his stripes. We are saved forever by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as told in the Scriptures alone for the glory of God alone. We boast in the Lord alone.
Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ. Who is this Jesus? He is Jesus Christ the Jew; Jesus Christ, God incarnate; Jesus Christ, son of Abraham, son of David; Jesus Christ who alone was without sin; Jesus Christ, who always obeyed the Father completely; Jesus Christ who died and was buried; Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; Jesus Christ, who is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe; Jesus Christ, the only Savior of sinners; Jesus Christ, who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"; Jesus Christ, the coming Judge of all. Every person who ever lived, will stand before this Jesus Christ and be judged by him. Whether Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, highborn or lowborn, there is no difference. There is only one Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is here to save you today.
Naaman came up with his own way of salvation. Asserting that he was a first-class sinner, he thought he should come through a different gate than others. He must have a more dignified gospel, not the gospel of the cross. No, Naaman. You must listen to Elisha. He is not your inferior. You are the servant of Ben-Hadad, but Elisha is the servant of God. He speaks God's word, so you must listen and do what God tells you through him.
Elisha wanted to humble the arrogant Naaman. So instead of going personally to greet him, he sent his servant Gehazi with the following message: "Mr. Naaman, you are a leper and here is the cure. This is the solution which the politician Jehoram, the Baal worshiper, did not have." No politician can solve the most serious problem of human sin. So Elisha said, "You want a solution? This is it: go down to the Jordan River, not to the rivers of Damascus-the Abana and Pharpar-which you think have cleaner water. Immerse yourself in the Jordan seven times, and you will be healed. Your incurable leprosy will be healed when you obey what I told you."
Jesus tells us, "Look to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, for I am God and there is no other" (Isa. 45:22; see also John 3:14-15; 12:32). Friends, this is the gospel. It is a condition and promise: Look and live. Believe and be saved. Wash and be cleaned. Repent and be forgiven. Look to the cross and be saved.
Isaiah says, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (Isa. 55:1-2).
Our silver and gold cannot save us, nor can any position or power. We are all dying lepers, like Naaman. But God saves sinners his way. No other medicine, but the gospel medicine avails. Sinner, all your righteousness is like filthy rags. Believe in the gospel and be clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Do this today, and you shall cross over from death to everlasting life.
Humbled Naaman Is Healed
Arrogant Naaman was furious when he heard God's way of salvation. The preaching of the gospel always offends the arrogant. Their offense proves they are arrogant and about to fall. Pride goes before a fall.
He was offended because Elisha was not giving him preferential treatment. He was offended like Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa were later offended. Listen to Felix: "As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, "˜That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you'" (Acts 24:25). King Agrippa II was another first-class sinner. He proudly asked Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" (Acts 26:28).
False prophets do not offend because they do not preach the gospel of the cross. Instead, they take your money and preach pleasant things. But not Elisha, who, like Micaiah, was a true prophet. Mr. Naaman almost was not healed because of his arrogance. Finally, his wise servants persuaded him through respect and sound reasoning to take the prophet's counsel. But it was the Holy Spirit who caused Naaman to be born again instantly. So he humbled himself and traveled to the Jordan River. Regeneration precedes repentance and faith. God must perform the supernatural action of regeneration before anyone can repent or believe.
When he arrived at the Jordan River, Naaman, the rich field marshal, got off his chariot and stripped off all his regalia, displaying his leprosy for all to see. He immersed himself in the muddy waters of the Jordan, not five or six times, but seven times, according to the word of the man of God. Where there is obedience, there is faith. Where there is faith, there is obedience. People want a salvation without obedience, but they will never have it. And as he came up the seventh time, Naaman was cured of his leprosy, as the Hebrew maid had prophesied.
General Naaman was saved. He was healed physically and saved spiritually forever. Like the Samaritan leper of Luke 17 who came back to Jesus to thank him, this new believer, Naaman, traveled all the way back to Elisha to thank him and confess his faith in the God of Israel alone.
Listen to his true and exclusive confession: "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel" (2 Kings 5:15). Similarly, the Samaritans confessed in John 4:42 that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world. The Lord said in Isaiah 43:11, "I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior."
Ours is a free country; we can believe in any religion we want-Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and others. But we cannot find salvation in any of these religions. We also cannot find it in materialism, philosophy, or science. None of these can save us. "This is what the LORD says-Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6). All other gods are fakes, frauds, and demons, including Baal, Molech, Chemosh, and Naaman's former god, Rimmon.
Naaman now declared that the God of Israel, the God of the covenant, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses and Elisha, is the only true God. Then he said, "From this day forward, I will worship only the God of Israel, the covenant God Yahweh." Naaman became an exclusivist, unlike Solomon and many "Christians" today, who believe in inclusivism and pluralism.
Jesus Christ alone is Savior. You don't want to believe in him? You will not be saved. In Acts 4:12 we read, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (see also John 14:6). Paul says, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Tim. 1:17).
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Only the triune God of Israel can regenerate us and give us a new heart and a new mind. Notice the instant change of Naaman's thinking and his humble behavior. Before, he thought he was superior to Elisha. Now, he refers to himself five times as the servant of Elisha (vv. 15, 17-18).
The Price of Salvation
Naaman desired to give Elisha a five-million-dollar gift for his healing. Unlike many modern ministers, Elisha refused to accept it. Salvation is by grace alone; we cannot buy it. The psalmist says, "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him-the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough" (Ps. 49:7-8). Jesus said, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26). Peter says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
Can five million dollars buy salvation? No, sir. Paul says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is the gift of God! Peter said to Simon Magus who wanted to buy the Holy Spirit, "Let your money perish with you!" Abraham said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, "˜I made Abram rich'" (Gen. 14:22-23). Maybe this is the verse Elisha had in his mind when he refused Naaman's gift.
It is not that Elisha had no needs. He had schools of prophets to take care of. Yet he did not want Naaman to misunderstand the nature of salvation and its infinite price. The Bible tells us, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).
Are You Like Naaman?
Jesus spoke about Naaman: "There were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed-only Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:27). We read about four lepers in 2 Kings 7:3 who were not healed. In fact, we do not read of even one Israelite leper healed by Elisha. Jesus was saying that these other lepers could have been healed, had they come to the prophet in humility, repentance, and faith. But not even one came, and they were not healed.
Are you like Naaman the leper, outside of the kingdom of God, outside of Christ, ready to die in your sins? You can be saved today, because one who is greater than Elisha has come. Elisha means "my God saves." Jesus was given the name Jesus because he is the One who came to "save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21).
Naaman believed the gospel of the young Israelite girl and traveled all the way to Samaria to Elisha to be saved. He went home cleansed of his leprosy and justified by faith. You are hearing the gospel now. Look and live. Wash and be clean. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
Don't be offended or angry at the truth. Don't be offended by the gospel, but follow the way of Naaman. Follow him to the river Jordan and obey the word of Elisha. Go down, down, and down again and again, and come up healed and saved. Then you shall go out with joy and walk with God's people to the city of God.
Go down, sir. Go down, madam. Go down, son. Go down, daughter. Go down now. Go down today, because now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation-salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
There is no private, customized plan of salvation for the dignified, "first-class" sinners. There is only one plan that works. All others fail, as the Lord himself explained: ""˜Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me,' declares the Sovereign Lord" (Jer. 2:22). Then he says, "Return, faithless people. I will cure your backsliding" (Jer. 3:22). And the response is, "Yes, we will come to you for you are the LORD our God." John says, "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
To Naaman who believed in the God of Israel, Elisha gave this benediction: "Go in peace." May God speak to you also this day: "Go in peace." Those who go down to the waters of Jordan will surely go in peace. So we read, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 1:2). There it is: the gospel. May God help you to believe in him, that you will not be outside Christ. You will be inside the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Gehazi: A Man of Property
Elisha was a man of God. But his servant, Gehazi, desired to be a man of property. There is a vast difference. Jesus spoke about four types of soil. The third soil people are those who hear the word "but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful" (Matt. 13:22). Third soil people will take a long time to manifest themselves. They are lovers of property rather than lovers of God. Like many televangelists of today, the Rev. Dr. Gehazi, assistant to the prophet Elisha, had only one purpose in life: to make lots of money and become a man of property, a rich man, well-respected by the world.
Dr. Gehazi had no interest in the world to come. His hope was in this world only. He would say, "Who knows about the world to come? (PGM) The Bible speaks about it, but no one has seen it, touched it, or smelled it." Gehazi wanted to be a rich man here and now. He sought security in riches, like the rich fool of Luke 12, the rich man of Luke 16, and the rich Nabal of 1 Samuel 25. What about you? Is your ambition to be a man of property?
Gehazi wanted to say what the fool said in Luke 12: "Soul, you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19). He was like those who get close to retirement and want to do everything to ensure that they will have the maximum money coming to them. They go to the financial counselor, who tells them, "Work harder. Make that money. Be a man of property. Don't worry about being a man of God."
Under the inspiration of the Spirit, my father told me, "Son, everyone who drinks from this well will thirst again." He also said, "Don't go after money. Let money come after you." It is still true today. God has provided for all my needs.
Gehazi's Flawed Reasoning
But being the assistant to Elisha did not seem very profitable to Dr. Gehazi. He said, "I saw with my own eyes the gifts that General Naaman brought to pay for his healing: seven hundred and fifty pounds of silver, one hundred and fifty pounds of gold, and ten rolls of fine cloth material. Five million dollars' worth of stuff! Yet Elisha, my master, refused to receive a dime. He has this strange belief that salvation is by grace alone."
He continued, "I don't particularly share his view. I like to get paid well for my services. I like the glitter and the glory of this world. I want to own houses and cars and yachts and airplanes, gold rings and custom suits, and so on. I want to be like modern evangelical leaders-to be invited by the president for consultation, for prayer at presidential inaugurations, and for lavish White House parties. I would like to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom, if possible. I want to mingle with politicians, popes, movie stars, and the wealthy of the world. I want to be sophisticated and cultured.
"But my master does not share my tastes. I am displeased with my master, especially since he just let go of five million dollars. I heard him say, "˜As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.' I saw Naaman urging him to take it, but he refused. He has no idea of the worth of money. I know that without money we can do nothing. But he says, "˜Without God we can do nothing.' "I am fed up with this hand-to-mouth, living by faith existence. I would like some property, some security, and a little luxury. So I have decided to go after Naaman to get a gift from him-just seventy-five pounds of silver and two sets of clothing, that's all. Just about a hundred thousand dollars' worth of stuff. I am taking an oath to do this: "˜As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.'
"My master would say that I am taking the Lord's name in vain. I don't think so. I have been thinking of going it alone anyway, starting a "˜Gehazi Television Ministry.' Unlike Elisha, I will prophesy for a fee because I want to become a man of property. I don't really believe in sola Scriptura, or in any of the solas they speak about. I believe in seeing reality from others' point of view, for a change. I believe there is something true about inclusivism and moral relativism. I believe in unconditional love. I don't believe lying is always a sin. In fact, sometimes lying can be profitable!
"So I am going to lie a little to Naaman. I'll say, "˜Hi, General Naaman. Glad that you are healed of your leprosy. By the way, my master sent me to ask you something. Hope you don't mind. Two young men from the company of prophets, from the hill country of Ephraim, came to my master for some help. He has nothing to give them. So please give me just seventy-five pounds of silver and just two sets of clothing. Don't misunderstand; this is not for me, it is for these two young men. Did you say you want me to take one hundred and fifty pounds of silver instead of seventy-five, as well as the two sets of clothing? That is very generous of you. My master would be very pleased."
Gehazi's Sin Is Found Out
Gehazi went to Naaman, told his story, took the goods for himself, and hid them in his house. Remember how Achan stole God's money? He took only five pounds of silver, one pound of gold, and one garment. Achan stole God's money, dug a hole, and buried it. He told his wife and children, "Don't you ever tell anybody." He also wanted to be a man of property.
Then Gehazi went and stood before his master, not saying anything about his short business trip. Elisha asked, "Where did you go, Gehazi?" Gehazi replied, "Your servant did not go anywhere. I have been here all the time as your obedient servant."
Then the Holy Spirit came upon Elisha: "Gehazi, don't you know the terms of the covenant? Obedience to the covenant Lord brings blessings, but disobedience brings curse. Didn't you know my spirit went with you when Naaman got down from his chariot to meet you? I saw everything. You lied to me!"
We cannot hide anything from God. The psalmist said, "O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD" (Ps. 139:1-4). Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ""˜You are the God who sees me,' for she said, "˜I have now seen the One who sees me'" (Gen. 16:13). Jesus said to Nathanael, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." And what did he ask? "Where did you see me?" Here is the answer: "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree, before Philip called you" (John 1:47-48). And in John 2:25 we read, "He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in man."
Our God sees everything we do. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account" (Heb. 4:13). So Elisha said, "I saw everything and heard all your lies. I want to remind you that you are called to the ministry to preach the gospel and live by faith, and you agreed to that." In Luke's gospel we read, "As they were walking along the road, a man said to [Jesus], "˜I will follow you wherever you go.'" He wanted to become a man of property. "Jesus replied, "˜Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.' He said to another man, "˜Follow me.' But the man replied, "˜Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' Jesus said to him, "˜Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' Still another said, "˜I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.' Jesus replied, "˜No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God'" (Luke 9:57-62). Gehazi looked back. He wanted to become, not a man of God, but a man of property.
The Dangers of Worldliness
Paul declares, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Tim. 6:6-10). People can lose their children, their marriages, and everything else that matters when they run after money. Elsewhere Paul says, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
John says in 1 John 2, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." Do you still want to become a man of property?
James 4:4 says, "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." Jesus said, "What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? What do you pay in exchange for your soul?" The devil told him, "I'll give you all these things; just worship me." He said, "No deal." Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:19-21). Jesus also said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money," or we could say, "God and Property" (Matt. 6:24).
We are fools if we think this world is going to continue as it is. Paul says, "Those who use the things of this world [should do so] as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away" (1 Cor. 7:31). It will come to an end. Don't buy real estate in Sodom.
The Consequence of Gehazi's Sin
Dr. Gehazi, the man of property, was a third-soil person. The Bible says this about such people: "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful" (Matt. 13:22; see also Luke 8:14).
So Elisha, the Spirit-filled prophet, asked the question: "Is this the time, Gehazi, to acquire money, clothes, olive groves, vineyards, sheep, cattle, menservants, maidservants?" In other words, "Is this the time to become a man of property, prestige, and culture?" That is what worldliness is. The world respects people with money, property, houses, and yachts. But what about your soul? Esau sold his soul for a cup of soup. Achan sold his soul and the souls of his family for five pounds of silver and a pound of gold. They were killed and burned up by divine order. Judas sold God for thirty pieces of silver and lost his property and his soul.
Probably Gehazi was to become a prophet of God after Elisha. So Elisha asked, "Is this the time for you to acquire silver?" Gehazi was not a man of God; he became a man of property and lost his soul. Paul writes, "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs" (2 Tim. 2:4). Remember, Jesus said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. . . . No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:58, 62). Gehazi, do you want treasure in heaven or property here? This is a question we all must deal with.
Because Gehazi became disobedient to the covenant, the leprosy of Naaman would cling to him and his children forever. He was excommunicated from the presence of his master, the prophet Elisha. Gehazi did become a man of property, but he got something else as well. He became a man of property and a man of leprosy. He chose property; he must also take leprosy-leprosy for him, his wife, and his children forever. I am sure Gehazi did not think about his family when he committed that one sin. Such is the deceitfulness of sin and wealth.
Gehazi became a man of property, and a man of leprosy, for him and his children forever. Did you know that one sin can produce bitter fruit for you and your family forever? The Lord said, "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me" (Exod. 20:5). Most people do not think of their families when they make up their minds to sin.
Many Christians use Christianity to get property, peace, and affluence. They want to enjoy a good life, to eat, drink, and be happy in this world. Gehazi was not born of God. He was a third-soil man. Third-soil people hate to pray and read the Bible. They do not have family devotions. Everyone is busy, going and coming. God is neglected.
Gehazi was not born of God. Yes, he was in the ministry, like many unbelieving ministers, but only to make money. Rare are true ministers like Elisha, who lived a life of suffering and faith. Like Achan, Judas, Ananias, and Demas, Gehazi was a money-worshiper. He wanted the security of money rather than the security of God.
Gehazi did not consider the words of Jesus, who promises to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of his people. I personally can testify that he is faithful in providing for us as we work for him:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:25-33)
Listen to Paul: "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit" (2 Cor. 2:17). Elsewhere he writes, "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things" (Phil. 3:17-19).
Live as People of God
May God help us to have our minds in heaven while our feet are on earth! The Hebrews writer exhorts, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Heb. 12:2-3). Paul states, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col. 3:1-2). Paul also says, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Eph. 3:20-21).
I want to be a man of God. And I want you to be men of God, women of God, sons of God, daughters of God, with great treasure in heaven. When we live God-pleasing lives, he will give us what we need. He has done so all these years. The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. God has provided for me, and he will provide for you. May God help us to live for him today!
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Copyright © 2011, P. G. Mathew
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