Follow the Word not the World

Joshua 23

Jerry A Collins




*               How can we keep ourselves from wandering spiritually?

*               What is our greatest spiritual danger?

*               Why is it so important to know and obey the Word of God?


Sometimes we hear something said by someone that sticks with us and becomes a sort of motto of our lives. We remember it and even attempt to have it guide our lives. There are a few I have heard that have done just that. I heard Dr. B.R. Lakin say about service I plan like I am going to live for the next 50 yrs and then live as if today may be the last day I ever have. I heard Dr. Slavin say about sanctification, Salvation is a once for all act that is renewed everyday. I heard Dr, Hendricks say about impact, there is no limit to what you can accomplish for God if you dont care who gets the credit. These and others have taken on significance in my life as I have moved forward. Joshua provides us with some of his own guidance. It comes at the end of his life when he says of himself I am old, advanced in years vs 2 & 14. He gathers the leaders of the nation and passes on at least three mottos he wants to guide the people from this day forward. These mottos are motivated by grave concern that Israel is becoming complacent about their responsibility to possess remainder of territory and become influenced instead by those left around them. He repeatedly warns them about those nations possible influence to forsake God in vs 3 What God has done to them, vs 4 Who Josh has cut off, vs 7 not to associate with these, vs 9 strong nations which Lord has driven out, vs 12 warning about clinging to these nations, vs 13 they will become a snare, whip and thorn to Israel. The point is that Gods people are prone to wander because of influence of surrounding culture we are living in. So what do we do? How do we stay faithful to God?


The important thing for Joshua is what God did and what he can still be trusted for.

3-4 What God did: God had been fighting for His people since the very beginning. From Egypt to the Red Sea and from the Jordan to Jericho. Their military dominance and victories were from God. Noone else could take the credit. Not even Joshua attempted to do that! Spiritual success gives God the credit for every single thing that is accomplished. It was not these leaders Joshua summoned before him this day who were responsible for the successful campaign and he wanted to make sure they understood that.

5 What God will do: God is not finished yet. He will thrust out the nations, drive out more and the tribes shall possess all that is left. God will do that for them. That is what he has already done for them. God promised to do that and they must faithfully follow based on what they know he has already done. The way to learn about God is to look at what He has done as recorded in the Word of God for us. What He has done is indicative of what He is doing and what He will do. For instance, God has always required faith as the means of following and obeying Him. Because that is what He has always required in the past, we know that is what He will continue to require in the future. It will never change from faith to sight. Recalling what God has done and what He requires stimulates us to persevere and to get back on the right path when we stray. This was the message Jesus gave to several of the churches in Revelation. Remember and repent He commands them in order that they may overcome, persevere, serve and remain faithful to the end. This is non way we can guard against influence of culture toward unbelief.


What we adore and admire we will become attached too. Ultimately, whatever has your heart has your attention. Joshuas concern is that the surrounding cultures will vie for Israels affection and bring a curse upon them. To prevent this:

(1) 6-7 Be Firm about Keeping the Word of God. Be determined to know nothing more than the Bible knows. The Word of God, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. This Word will prevent them and us from becoming secularized and assimilated into the culture vs 7. This is the means of resisting the worldly tendencies that can sneak up on us. Charles Spurgeon even said, our very blood must be bibline. A sure sign of letting our guard down is a lessening of respect for the Word of God.

(2) 8-10 Cling to the Lord our God. Genesis 2:24 describes marriage this way. This idea is to hang on tight, to stick like glue. Trust God and nothing else. Hang on to the Lord and attach yourself to His will and way exclusively. The temptation would obviously be strong to forsake God and cling instead to the people of Canaan vs 12. That would include (1) marrying its people and (2) flirting with their gods vs 16. These practices were the ultimate undoing of the nation. This is where the battle is waged. It is about who or what we are going to cling too. God has proven His worth vs 9-10. We can cling to Him wholeheartedly. He fulfills all He promises. But the culture will allure you in the meantime. It will tempt you to cling to its philosophies and flirt with its priorities.

(3) Diligently love the Lord your God vs 11. Here is a moment of intense self-examination. Moses commanded them to Hear O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and all your might Deut 6:4-5. We can grow cold in love and distant from God. So here is a call to keep the fire of passion for the Lord burning deep within! Here then is how we increase our affection for the Lord. It is proactive! We must determine it to happen!


On the one hand there are rewards for faithfulness, obedience and trust in the Lord. On the other hand, there are severe consequences should we wander and turn to the influences of our surrounding culture. When we have the firm assurance that God is able to do what He promises, and we sinfully compromise this, Gods judgment, discipline and anger is even more intense. Joshua foresaw Israels sinful compromise and the tragic fate that would inevitably overtake them in Gods wrath. The whole climax to this message to Israels leaders is that Israels greatest danger was not militaryas many may have suspectedbut the greatest danger was moral and spiritual. For us today, that includes Gods disciplining of us and loss of reward. We, too, are warned about the consequences of unbelief due to surrounding influences of culture.

So, the Bible is a call to intimacy with the living God. You are on a journey which leads you toward knowing God. The spiritual life is learning to think Gods thoughts. Dont keep yourself from knowing God intimately by:

(1) Letting culture define or influence your definition of God. Culture will define God for you but not biblically.

(2) Letting circumstances interpret what God is doing. Only Gods Word interprets what God is doing. Circumstances can be interpreted many different ways.

(3) Letting your wishes define God, that is, defining God by how you want Him to be. This is idolatry. Only scripture defines God for us.