DEAL WITH SIN OR GOD WILL DEAL WITH YOU
Go to war with the ways of the world
Jerry A Collins
vWhy does God test His people and what is this testing?
vWhat is equivalent to idolatry today?
vWhat is the nature of the warfare we wage today?
If we are going to understand God, we must understand God’s willingness—at certain times and in certain places—to declare war. This understanding is crucial because there are times, issues, and places where we must declare war if we are to fight the same battles God does. It is simplistic, naïve and misleading to believe in the god of civil religion who is a god of universal peace and tolerance. It is true God of the Bible calls us to peace but not peace at all costs. He is also a god of war and it is at his initiative, His idea, His plan for us, and His command to us. So going to war and serving God is the same thing if we are going to war with the ways of the world. We must decide then to draw lines we are willing to defend. Lines that provide a moral standard we can offer based on the Word of God. A moral and spiritual boundary we can offer to our disciples, our children and family. Actually, most if God’s boundaries are obvious and He expects obedience to these. There will only be a few areas where you will have to draw your own boundaries but it begins by accepting to applying the ones already clear. God gave clear commands to Israel, reiterated again and again through Abraham, Moses, and Joshua, to not forget God, His will for them, while they lived in the land. That required waging war with the ways of the world. It is the same strategy we employ today. Why and how does God expect us to do this?
FAILURE TO WAGE WAR WITH SIN PLACES YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE IN JEOPARDY 1-8
Are you willing to wage war 1-2 We must ask this question because this kind of warfare demands diligence, courage, and wisdom to wage. You cannot just casually hang around the church and expect to be engaged in this kind of fighting. This is warfare against the ways of the world, which are of Satan, not a war with the people of the world. But are you willing to do it? Do you have the stomach for it? Well, God wanted to find this out about His people so we learn that God does not drive out the enemy 1:21 but leaves the remainder in the land 3:1 for two reasons. (1) To test Israel with these nations. It was for testing Israel to see if they would obey the commandments of the Lord. This was also stated in 2:22 cp to 3:4. God gives us examinations. Each test is to examine our commitment to obey God. So whenever you are tested—and you can count on the fact that you have been and will be—it is for the purpose of displaying your obedience or lack thereof. All of our trials should be viewed as tests. James says they come to produce spiritual endurance in our lives. To strengthen our resolve to pursue God and His will in the midst painful, fearful, hurtful, situations and tempting circumstances. (2) To teach Israel warfare. Many of the Israelites had not participated in the holy warfare under Joshua. God sees something valuable in that for this generation. The value would be fighting a war God wants fought—with an enemy that must be defeated—and waging that war to a successful conclusion in spite of the hardships involved. The test was whether or not they would go to war. We have the same test. We must not keep xians away form the world with our xian sub-culture world. That is not the answer. Rather we must learn ourselves and teach xians to war with the temptations of the world. On one hand God wants us to be rid of our sin but on other the sin nature is still there—just as the Canaanites were still there—(apparently it is better to be saved and still have our sin nature so we can develop obedience and display that than it is to have it eradicated and never learn to wage that war). This war for us is at two levels—the inner struggle against our own sin nature and the outer struggle against demonic forces governing the ways of the world. Don’t acquiesce to either! The wisdom of the world vs the wisdom of God.
No war jeopardizes your spir life 3-8
A number of enemies are mentioned vs 3. No war against their presence and influence promoted a cultural accommodation of their way of life, thinking and beliefs: (1) They lived among them. Apparently they developed a comfort level with these pagans that prevented the motivation to fight against them. After all they are neighbors now. (2) They took wives from them and intermarried. Now this becomes and entangled web. Not just their neighbors but their relations. Here is a distant echo of the garden—she looked, she saw, she took, she ate, she gave, he ate. Proximity to ways of world makes accommodation of those ways seem sensible. (3) So they serve their gods vs 6. Here it is the Baals and the Asheroth vs 7. Each step leads naturally to the next until they put God out of their minds. It’s the slow burn. When you are not saturated with the Bible’s thinking you will inevitably accommodate the world’s ways. They sinned and forgot God and served a figment of men’s imagination because these fabrications gave them what they wanted. It is too uncomfortable to sin and remember God. When you forget God two things happen to your possibilities. First, they get broader and shallower—broad is the gate. In Gen 11 at tower of Babel God said that now nothing would be impossible for them. Sin broadened their possibilities and increased their options. But they did not deepen their possibilities. When you choose to follow God your possibilities get narrower and deeper—narrow is the gate—your options are limited. Satan’s lie to you is that you can choose from an infinite array of options but what he does not tell you is what he did not tell Eve—those options have consequences. Our sin does not only hurt God it kindles His anger vs 8 because of His righteous character. This anger comes from the justice of God and the reason it is right for God to be angry at His enemies and not right for us to be angry at ours is because He is the standard for righteousness and we are not. There will be consequences in this life or the next. The same holds true of our repentance. Israel was sold into the hands of her enemies.
DEVISE STRATEGY AS YOU WAGE WAR WITH WORLDS WAY
God responds to Israel’s cry 9-10 with the first in a series of 12 judges, Othniel. Notice that he went out to war vs 10 as the Spirit of God came upon him. He did what God was doing so He got what God had available. A second judge is raised after still another lapse of obedience 40 yrs later named Ehud vs 15. He personally killed Eglon vs 22, the oppressive leader of a confederation of enemies of Israel for 18 yrs vs 13-14. This is one of the Bibles more colorful short stories that includes intrigue—a secret message and hidden daggar with left-handed warrior—and violence, a murder—with dagger enveloped by fat—and action—doors locked and escape—and war—Ehud leads Israel to victory with 10000 killed! What is impressive is the combination of God’s work and man’s work simultaneously. We are told that the Lord raises up Ehud 3:15 and God leaves the enemy in and surrounding the land. But the rest of the story is about the planning, cunning, strategy, and clever execution of that strategy by Ehud. So wage this war with courage, no deals and strategy for complete victory. This defeat so decisive Moabites served Israel and peace 80 yrs—the longest period of rest during the time of the Judges.