Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Men Displeased with God

Image In 2 Kings 5, we learn of Naaman, a Syrian general and honorable man, who was stricken with the disease of leprosy. An Israelite maiden was a servant of Naaman’s wife, and told her mistress of the prophet Elisha, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy” (3).

Inquiries were made, and eventually Naaman made his way to Elisha’s house. Rather than meeting with the man, Elisha simply sent a messenger to him with the following message: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (10).

Naaman’s response seems at the first to be rather curious. “But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, ‘Indeed, I said to myself, “He will sure come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.” Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage” (11-12). A careful analysis reveals the response to be more typical than it might first seem. The simple truth is that Naaman was displeased with God’s answer to his request. He had a preconception about how his petition would be answered, and God failed to satisfy his sensibilities. So, he got mad and left.

Such a response is typical today as well. One comes to God with an expressed desire to be saved, but is not willing to accept what God tells him he “must do” (cf. Acts 9:6), so he walks away. “Regardless of what Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:17 and 1 Peter 3:21 all say, I think that all you have to do is believe!”

Another seeks to worship God, but when he learns what constitutes acceptable worship to God, he turns to his own opinions. “I know what the scriptures say, but I want to, (pick one), play instruments of music, tithe, burn incense, observe the Sabbath, dance, sacrifice chickens, et al.”

A third studies the duties of local congregations of Christians, but is unwilling to accept the limitations of scripture. “I think that God wants us to enjoy ourselves, and we should be able to use His money to build gymnasiums, join church recreation leagues, and engage in other aspects of the social gospel.”

Time and again men show displeasure toward God. The atheist is displeased with the very thought of God (cf. Genesis 1:1). Modernists are displeased with the claims of inspiration found in His word (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Roman Catholic Church is displeased with the wholeness of God’s will, contained in that word (cf. Jude 3). Denominations are displeased with God’s call to unity (cf. Ephesians 4:3-6, 1 Corinthians 1:10-ff).

God recognized that men would not be pleased with His will for them, and so He gave very explicit instructions on how His words were to be regarded. He commanded that His words not be altered in any way, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). See also Galatians 1:6-9 and Revelation 22:18-19. In the prayer he taught His disciples, the Lord said, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

The end of all men who turn away from God’s commands is clear. As Naaman remained a leper because he was not willing to obey the words of the prophet, men today remain tainted by sin because of their unwillingness to submit to God’s will for them. Paul writes of their end, indicating that in the last day the Lord will come …in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

2 Kings records the fact that Naaman reconsidered. Cooler heads prevailed, and he obeyed the words of the prophet, “and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (14). The obvious analogy is repentance — a change of heart leading to a change of action. Each of us today must willingly submit to God’s will, and determine to do only what He requires and allows. We must not get angry when God’s will does not jibe with our own. “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).