It seems that many times man wants God to do something for him that he finds impossible to do for himself. Yet, he wants God to do it without him having to do anything in the matter. This is wrong thinking. God does not work that way. One of the underlying principles throughout the Bible is that God is willing to bless man, but never unconditionally. Anytime man asks God for help, God first requires the person to do what he can about the matter. Then, when the person has done his part, God will do the rest. In other words, man is to do the possible things in the situation, then God will do the impossible part. Let me give you some examples of this.
In.2.Kgs.3 we find God (through his prophet Elisha) ready to deliver kings Jehoram and Jehosaphat from the hands of the Moabites. They were in a desperate drought situation with no water for the army or their animals v.9, They are about to be defeated by the Moabites, so, in desperation they call upon Elisha. For the sake of Jehoshaphat, not Jehoram, he agrees to help. How, by first instructing them to “make the valley full of ditches” v.16. This would seem ridiculous since they were in a drought. Yet Elisha says, “You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet the valley will be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink” v.17. What happens? The people do as commanded. They dig the ditches. Then God does the rest. He sends the water they need v.20. The Moabites are defeated and Israel and Judah are delivered, but only after they did what they were told to do. Yes, God delivered them, but not unconditionally. They did what they could do (dug the ditches) and left the rest up to God who supplied the water. When man does his part, God does the rest.
In the next chapter, 2.Kgs.4, we find another example of God granting blessings, but only after the widow woman of a prophet did her part. She asks Elisha to help her pay her creditors so they would not take her sons as slaves. All she has is one jar of oil v.2. Elisha agrees to help her, but conditionally. First she has to do something. He tells her to go “borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors – empty vessels; do not gather just a few” v.3. She does what she is told to do. She is then instructed to take the one jar of oil she has into the house, shut the door, then pour her oil into the borrowed vessels. She does so, and eventually all the borrowed vessels are filled with oil. She now has oil in abundance, enough to pay her creditors, with enough left over for her and her two sons to live on vs.5-7. Note the lesson. Only after she did as commanded, her part, God did the rest. We all need to learn the same lesson. When we ask God for help in a matter, first be ready to do whatever we can do. Then God will do what we are unable to do for ourselves.
Now we come to 2.Kgs.5, and the curing of Naaman’s leprosy, another example of the principle we are writing about. Yes, God cured the leprosy, but not unconditionally. Naaman first had to do something. Only after he did as commanded did God through his prophet Elisha cure Naaman of leprosy. When man does his part (what he is able to do) then God takes care of the impossible part.There was no cleansing until Naaman did what he was told to do. Let’s notice the story.
Naaman was a great, honorable, Syrian commander. But he had leprosy. Through a series of events he comes to Israel and finally to the house of Elisha, who he has learned is able to cure leprosy 2.Kgs.5:3-9. When he arrives, Elisha doesn’t even bother to come out to him. Instead he sends a messenger out to tell Naaman that if he will wash seven times in the river Jordan he will be cleansed of his leprosy v.10. Naaman rebels at the thought since he had different ideas about how Elisha was to work the cure vs.11-12. Thankfully Naaman’ servants were wiser than Naaman at this time and advised Naaman to do as he had been told v.13. Naaman then does as he had been told and “dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” v.14. So, once more we see the principle stated at the beginning. Man asks God for help. God helps, but only after one is willing to do what he is able to do for himself. When one obeys by doing the possible, then God acts and does the impossible.
Now, let’s make an application. Jesus came to this earth to live and die a perfect man. By His death he paid the price for sin, the offering of His blood. After His resurrection His blood became the sacrifice for sin, shed for the remission of sins Matt.26:28; Eph.1:7; Col.1:14. This blood was then made available to all mankind. But not without conditions. We learn from Heb.5:9, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”
A person asks God to save him. God replies in so many words, “I will save you if you do what I tell you.” We see this on the day of Pentecost Acts 2. Jesus, the one who they had crucified 50 days before has been declared to be both Lord and Christ. This cut to the heart the audience and they cry out “What must we do to be saved?” Peter replies, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” Acts 2:36-38. V.41 tells us that about 3000 obeyed the gospel and were saved that day. Did they receive the salvation they asked for unconditionally? Of course not. They received salvation only after they did what they were told to do. It was impossible for them to save themselves, but they could not obtain the cleansing power of the blood until they obeyed. Then God operated on them and removed their sins. Read Col.2:12-13 to see this.