Posts Tagged ‘pet sins’

Judges 6:1-32 (Part 1 of 5)
Gideon Becomes Israel’s Judge

Back when we were living in California in 2009 and 2010, we were active members of a great start-up church called Livermore Alive Community Church (LACC) in Livermore, CA. It was there while we were at LACC that Elena accepted Christ as her Savior and Lord. And, it was there that I finally began to grow up as a Christ follower (after accepting Christ as my Savior and Lord in December 2001). Up to that point, I had been a spiritual baby unwilling to mature or simply failing to see the need to mature. I thought I was good just having accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord. That way, I could keep dabbling in my what I considered my justifiable sins. The ones that were OK for me to commit because of the rationalizations that I had developed for them.

In the years in between the end of my second marriage and the beginning of a committed relationship with Elena. I went through a series of relationships that all became sexual at some point in those relationships whether they were a one-time date or a relationship that lasted a few months. I thought that sex outside the confines of marriage was OK for me. I had been through two tough marriages and I deserved this freedom and the rewards that it brought. Besides as you have read here many times, even after salvation there was a lot of sanctification to be done (not that the Holy Spirit’s job is finished now by a long shot!) and it took a long time for the Lord to rid me of the god that sexual validation was for me. Because that was my pet sin, validation of my value as a person through something other than God (in this case, validation through sex), it stunted my spiritual growth. It was my pet sin and our pet sins push us away from reading God’s Word. We steer clear of God’s convicting Word when we have active sin in our lives. We may read about the Bible but hardly ever read the Bible. We pick and choose the things that we read about the Bible too. Only those things that keep us clear of God’s Word convicting us of our sin.

God was able to tame me down in this lost world of seeking that perfect relationship when he gave me Elena. She didn’t want a relationship with me. But there was something about her, the challenge of her that kept me around her. Strangely enough for me, we became friends first. Our porch conversations in those days in Rock Hill before we became a real couple are legendary memories in our relationship. It was a first for me for me to be real friends with a woman without sex being a part of the equation. It was only after we became friends that we became lovers. Yes, we became committed to each other and we became exclusive to one another. Even when I had to move to California, we remained committed. Finally, when my temporary assignment out there became a permanent one, she decided to move out to California to be with me. We lived together but we were not married. We were engaged and that was good enough for us. We both had been married twice and justified not getting married again on those grounds. We were committed to each other but we were living together and we were good with that. We weren’t much on reading the Bible back then so we avoided the whole issue of our sexual relationship being outside the boundaries for it set by God. We were committed to each other, right! So, it was OK, right! Allowing that sin to stand was OK, right?

It was not until several months in at LACC that we got confronted with our sin of sex outside of the marriage covenant. Our pastor who was the planting pastor of our church was developing an elder team to come alongside him in the governance of the church. I felt that because we had become so involved in the church and its activities and because we had become such close friends with the pastor and his wife and because we, Elena and I, had grown so much spiritually since we came there, it would be slam dunk for me to be part of the elder team.

One night when I had my interview with the pastor (to me it was just two buddies getting together as he and I were close), he confronted me with my sin. He said that he would love for me to be on the elder team but our interview could not even start. He said how can you be an elder in the church if you are living with a woman to whom you are not married. How can you be an elder if you are having sex with a woman that is not your wife. Bombshell dropped. Sin confronted. Plain and simple. You have unrepentant sin in your life that you don’t even recognize as sin. You cannot be a leader in our church EVER until you see your publicly flaunted, unrepentant sin for what it is. You need to seek forgiveness from the Lord and stop the sin. You must stamp it out from your life. You must destroy it. Drive it out. Turn around from it and run. Within two weeks, Elena and I were married because our pastor loved us enough to confront us about our sin. Our sins will destroy us if we do not stamp them out of our lives. First, we must identify it as sin and then stamp it out.

The irony of that confrontation was that my pastor had his own unconfessed and unrepentant sin that he kept hidden and ultimately destroyed his ministry in that church about a year and half later and it imploded the entire church. It almost destroyed his marriage. His marriage is still reeling from the effects of his pornography addiction. His unconfessed and unrepented sin came out and it changed everything. It came back to haunt him. Sexual sin is one of the sins that in our modern culture we as Christians are often like the culture. It is OK now to have sex any way you want it. It is OK for people sitting in church to be living together outside of wedlock. It is OK for us as Christians to be having sex with everyone we date. It is OK for us as Christian men to be looking at soft porn or even hard core porn because we say there are no victims. It is OK because the culture says it is OK.

We avoid reading through the Bible in its entirety. We avoid reading through complete books of the Bible so that we don’t have to run across convicting passages. We look up themes that we like in the Bible and just read those passages so we don’t have to address the real issue of sexual sin. I was that way about sexual sin. God just wants me to be happy, right? It’s OK for me. God makes an exception for me. It’s all sin, bro! No justifications. No exceptions. We wonder why our families in today’s culture are a complete mess. Sexual sin is at the root of it. My life, until I married Elena, is a testimony to that fact. Our sins always, always, always come back to haunt us.

Today as we begin our five-part look at Judges 6:1-32, let us focus on the first seven (7) verses for this devotional. Here, we need to think about who the Midianites are and how that relates to my opening illustration. Sometimes, it seems harsh to us that the God often called Israel to completely wipe out a group of people. It seemed almost generous of the Israelites not to carry out the total judgment called for by God. Sometimes, we are the same way about sin. This sin is OK to allow to continue. Look God, I have repented of this sin, but you gotta let me keep that one.
6 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”

19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah[a] of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[b] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[d] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second[e] bull as a burnt offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal[f] that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

In this passage, we must remember some things. First, we must remember that the Bible is a continuous story of the history of God’s people. It has a progression. It is not just a collection of disjointed books that are really standalone. No. The books of the Bible are all interconnected and relate to the ongoing history of God’s people and God’s interaction with them. This passage is a reminder of that progression. Second, because of that progression from past to present to future, that history, we should remember that the Midianites were desert people descended from Abraham’s second wife, Keturah, as noted in Genesis 25:1-2. Midian was one of the six children that Keturah bore for Abraham. From this relationship, the descendants of Midian, the Midianites, became a nation that was always a source of conflict for Israel. Years earlier, while Israel was still wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites battled the Midianites and almost destroyed them (see Numbers 31:1-20). Notice I said, almost. Because of their failure to completely destroy them, the Midianites repopulated into to an even larger nation of people. And, here we are again where the Midianites are in conflict with Israel. Here, though, they have through their constant raiding and marauding oppressed the Israelite nation. In a sense, they are ruling over them. So, from this passage, we see something that we can use in our daily lives today. I think the point being that we must eradicate sin completely from our lives when God commands us to do so. We cannot allow it to be something we do halfheartedly as unrepentant sin will come back with a vengeance to destroy us.

What is your unconfessed sin? What is your pet sin that you do not want to let go of? What consequences of this sin are you blaming on randomness or blaming on others that are a result of not seeing your sin as sin? What consequences are haunting you because you do not see your pet sin as sin? Sin always has consequences and the lie that Satan tells us that these consequences are either OK or that they are somebody else’s fault! What sins am I still harboring today that I consider not to be sins? What is my favorite sin now that I do not see as a sin?

Let us examine ourselves, brothers and sisters! Let us ask God to confront us with our sins. Let us repent from them and no longer justify them. Let us walk away from them and return to a God that is just but yet willing to forgive a penitent heart. Let us walk in the grace of Jesus Christ. There is grace for our sin but we must turn away from it and leave it at the cross. We must run from our sin. We must first see our sin as sin and WANT to run from it.

Just as the Midianites should have been wiped away completely by the Israelites but were not and became a constant source of tyranny for the Israelites, we too must stamp out our sins when the Holy Spirit shows us our sins. Destroy them or they will destroy you.

Amen and Amen.


Joshua 23:1-16 (Part 1 of 2)

Joshua’s Final Words to Israel

Over the past few years since I began my quest toward making God’s calling on my life a reality, I have had to prepare my testimony (my journey to the cross and beyond) in short form, long form, you name it. Virtually every job application, every school application, in the church world, you have to lay out your spiritual journey for them. Church jobs require it. Graduate school admission applications require it. So, you gotta get to know your journey to the cross and what has happened since that time. It’s just part of the deal.


Since the summer of 2011 when I began the admissions process for my Master of Christian Ministry (MCM) degree, I have had to hone and develop my faith journey’s story. Then with job applications after getting my degree in May 2014 and with applications to the various doctoral programs to which I have applied since then, I have really been able to flesh out my testimony into a full-fledged autobiographical sketch of myself from first memories of my existence to where I am today. And it is from this process that I have identified some common themes of my life and what my single greatest sin weak spot is. That weakness is seeking approval from others rather than from God. I think it stems from growing up as a preacher’s kid in a Methodist preacher’s home. Moving every couple of years as I did growing developed this need for acceptance but yet always feeling like an outsider. It is something that troubles me to this day. I am a loner of sorts but one who yearns to be accepted by the crowd. That was the dominating theme of my life growing up. It would lead me to throw my socially awkward brother (he’s pretty cool now but was the classic geek growing up) under the bus to fit in with the crowd. It led me to be a certain kind of personality in one place we lived and a different one in the next place to which we moved depending on the kind of community in which we lived. I was a social chameleon – taking on the color of my surroundings so as to survive and thrive.


As an adult, when you no longer that society of school (including college) where we have to impress or be oppressed, you settle into your life’s work and it seems the scale of life reduces to simply the relationships you have in life – the ones in your personal life and the ones at work. No longer do you have that defined society of school where you know the boundaries of the kingdom and your place in it. In the real world, it is this massive place that is ill-defined and has no real boundaries. Real life is this amorphous blob kind of like the universe itself – a thing that goes on and on forever. To make sense of it all, you simply make your world smaller by defining through the people that you know. We make our individual universes small enough to manage. Without school, these relationships of the people that we know become extremely important. For me, I defined my world by the acceptance of and approval from whomever was the woman in my life. My life up to the cross was defined by that and the first two marriages, my need for approval and validation came from these two women. Approval came through validating myself through sex. When we were active with one another, I felt I had their approval. Thus, she who holds the keys then becomes a god. I made each wife my God and I let myself become controlled by the amount of access I had to their feminine charms. I let it become my god. Suffice it to say, and I do not blame either one of them now for why this happened, but I let go of my place as the leader of the home just to maintain approval. The greatest fear I had was being disapproved and alone and without access.


Many people think that salvation will change everything and everything is perfect after that. They are so wrong. Salvation is just the beginning of the journey. And for me, the longest hardest thing that the Holy Spirit had to work on me about was seeking approval from others, specifically the women in my life. In other words, my idol worship was a hard thing for me to give up even after my salvation in December 2001. We are perfected by the Holy Spirit over a course of a lifetime. They are sins we commit that we are slower to open our eyes to than others, but the Holy Spirit does eventually open our eyes to it and expose it to us and that is the time that we must deal with it and put that behavior behind us. It takes time on our particularly stubborn sins that we cling to.


My need for approval, particularly from the women in my life, even after two failed marriages continued on even after salvation. I rationalized away my lifestyle of encounters and pursuit of encounters as OK for me and that it was not sin – not for me. If I ignored the sin, it is not sin, right. Idol worship of women and sexual relationships outside of wedlock was OK – for me. That rule of God applies to someone else, not me. God just wants me to be happy, right? God let me have this one sin or couple of sins to myself and I will obey you otherwise, OK? Deal?


My own past of idol worship and turning away from God’s plan for my life is what I thought of when I read through this passage for the first time of two times this morning. Let us read through it and see how this all ties together after we read the passage:

23 After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, 2 summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old. 3 You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you. 4 Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 The Lord your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you.


6 “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. 8 But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.


9 “The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.


12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.


14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”


In this passage, we see that Joshua knew nation’s weak spots. Before dying, he called the people together and gave commands to them where they would most likely slip – the temptations right in their own backyard: falling into idol worship with the remaining pagans in the land, and intermarrying with pagans. Our associations and relationships can be temptations to us as well. It is wise to identify our weak spots before we break down. Then, we can develop strategies to overcome these temptations instead of being overcome by them.


It was not until I met Elena who DID NOT want to have a relationship with me of any kind at first that the idol worship of women and what I needed to keep access to that I began to relinquish my idol worship. It was through this relationship that I learned what real unconditional love was and what real belonging means. For the first time in my life (over the last decade since I met her), I have not had to jump through hoops (whether self-imposed or imposed by others) to maintain approval. We have been married for seven years now and this is the longest stretch of my life where I feel secure. I don’t feel like I have to jump through hoops to gain her approval. The stupid things that I did in the past to maintain a woman’s approval are now just stupid things of the past.


It is through the Holy Spirit and the circumstances of life that bring you to your knees and through God speaking through other people that we recognize where our sin weak spots are. Sometimes, it takes a while for us to see it clearly. It usually takes some events that come crashing down on us to see it but God opens our eyes through the Holy Spirit. One day we realize that we have been disobedient to Him and worse yet we have justified it as OK. We protect our sin weak spot until it destroys us. Only then are we willing to listen to God about the truth of our sins and how they condemn us in front of Him without repentance on our part and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.


What is your sin weak spot? What is that you are holding onto as an OK sin for you? What are you lying to yourself about as being OK since it is your sin? Are you justifying it? Are you blind to God’s Word about the pet sin you want to keep? God’s Word is true for all and God’s Word is true eternally not just in the past. What is the sin that you need to confess? What is the sin that is sin no matter how you slice it that you must repent from? Are you still blind that is OK for you even if it is a sin because you can handle it? Are you ignoring God’s Word on your pet sin?


Think about it. Examine it. Write down your life story and see the common pet sin that you fall back on all the time. Repent of it. Come to the Lord and ask forgiveness. Ask His help in making your path straight. He will bring people into your life that will help you get beyond your pet sin. The Holy Spirit will help you once you are honest about that pet sin that you are clinging to. Recognize. Repent. Retool. Rework. Rejoice!


Amen and Amen.

Joshua 10:28-43

Israel Destroys the Southern Towns

One of the things that people have trouble with in Joshua is how there is this complete annihilation of the townspeople of the towns as they march through and conquer the Promised Land. How can God condone the complete slaughter of these towns? The text often straight up tells us that not only were the men killed but the women and children also. Sometimes, it just says everyone was killed and that there were no survivors. The only way that we can find justification in it is that God cannot tolerate sin and the Canaanite peoples of the Promised Land were generationally ingrained in their sinful ways. It was their nature to worship gods and perform perverse rituals. So everyone was taught these sinful ways from birth. They opposed God at every turn so that they could continue their culturally ingrained sinful ways. What God knew and what played out later in the Old Testament was that Israel did not completely wipe out other people groups and it was these people groups that so influenced the Israelites that there are periods in Old Testament history that the Israelites completely turned their backs on God themselves. It just goes to prove that when it comes to sin, it must be completely destroyed from our lives. We cannot allow it to stay there and linger.


We cannot be around our sin weak spots and not succumb to the siren’s call of that sin. We must wipe it and eradicate from our lives. If you are a married man and you know that you are susceptible to cheating behavior, you don’t put yourself into situations where you will be tempted to cheat on your wife. We must not allow ourselves to seek out flirtations that could lead to sexual encounters. We cannot fantasize about a woman who is not our wife. We cannot go hang out with single people at bars and similar activities where the point of it all is to hook up with someone. We may enjoy the little fantasies in our minds about what it would be like. We just cannot do it.


If our sin weakness is liquor (or whatever the mind altering substance of choice you have), you cannot buy it. You cannot have it in the house. You cannot rationalize that it is OK to drink it when you are at a restaurant but not at home. We cannot be part time about it. We have to get rid of liquor from our lives altogether. We just cannot take the chance. If liquor is your weakness, just getting involved with it can change the person you are and lead to stupid mistakes and acts that you regret. For you, it might be illegal drugs. Many of us can become consumed by the drug of our choice. That drug that flips all the right switches in our brain and just totally consumes us. We must have more. We can handle it. One shot of Jack Daniels. One snort of cocaine. One pill popped. We can handle it. But once you start, you can’t stop. That’s how sin is. Once you get the taste, it’s all over.


If you have a problem with pornography, you must eradicated it from your life. You can’t have Penthouse, Playboy, you name the magazine. You cannot have it in your life. You cannot have access to porn sites on the internet. You cannot even be subtle about it. You cannot do searches for key terms related to the female body on occasion. You may think you are being sly in this way so you can cover up and clean out your search terms from your search engine. It will still take to the same place. Sin. You must eradicate all porn from your life. Not even lingerie magazines and advertisements. If you have addictive tendencies when it comes to porn, there is no resolution other than to eradicate it from your life.


If you have a weakness for greed, don’t become a bank teller! If we have the inability to stop ourselves from taking money when we have the opportunity, the unchecked opportunity to do so, we must never put ourselves in a position where people would even suspect us for even thinking about mishandling money. We must make sure that there are checks and balances against us taking money if we are even going to be near it. If it is too easy to misdirect funds, we must not take such positions. If we are in such positions we must put systems in place that prevent us from having complete access to functions related to cash. If we are weak when it comes to money, we must place ourselves in positions where we have the capability to divert money.


If your sin weakness is…you fill in the blank. That is exactly where Satan will attack you. We must eradicate that sin from our lives. Oh Mark, you are so naïve. Just saying it won’t make it so for me. I just seem to be drawn to my favorite sin. I say that I don’t want to do it but I find myself there somehow and do it anyway. I think Paul said best in Romans 7:14-20:


14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.


We gravitate to our favorite sin or sins. We rationalize why its OK and we lie to ourselves about the fact that this time we can control it. We rationalize that there will be no consequences this time. Especially when it comes to our greatest sin weakness, our favorite sin that we do not want to give up, we are blinded by these lies. If it’s true that liquor has caused problems in your life before, it will be true again. If pornography has been a problem each and every time that you allowed the addiction to fester, why is it that we think under our own power that we can handle this time. If we taking things too far with a woman who is not your wife or a man who is not your husband has gotten your in trouble before and destroyed your life before, what possible reason can you think of that will make THIS TIME different. If we are addicted to money, or spending money, or having things we can’t afford, do you really think that having 5 credit cards in your wallet is going to be different this time. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can tolerate sin in our lives.


That’s what I thought of this morning when I read through this passage and again read about Joshua wiping out whole populations of towns and why it was necessary. All we have to do is look at our own lives. Let’s read the passage together now:


28 That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.


29 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. 30 The Lord also gave that city and its king into Israel’s hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.


31 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. 32 The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. 33 Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left.


34 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Lachish to Eglon; they took up positions against it and attacked it. 35 They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.


36 Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. 37 They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.


38 Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. 39 They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.


40 So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41 Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. 42 All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.


43 Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.


In this passage, you will notice that in every Israelite victory, the text gives credit to the Lord. All of Israel’s victories came from the God. When we are successful, we may be tempted to take all the credit and glory as though we had succeeded by ourselves, in our own strength. In reality, God gives us the victories, and He alone delivers us from our enemies. In this passage, God had commanded Joshua to take the leadership in ridding the land of sinful occupants of the Promised Land so that God’s people could occupy it. Joshua did his part thoroughly. When God orders us to stop sinning, we must not pause to debate, consider options, negotiate a compromise, or rationalize our behavior. Instead, like Joshua, our response must be swift and complete. We must be ruthless in avoiding relationships and activities that can lead us into sin.


We all have a pet sin or multiple pet sins where we are just too easy of a pushover for Satan. We dabble in that sin and refuse to give it up. We dabble in because we think we can handle it. For some it’s sex, for some it’s alcohol, for some it’s money, for some it’s shopping or spending money, for some it’s illegal drugs, for some it’s …. You fill in the blank. We think we can tolerate it so that we can keep it near to us in our lives. We rationalize ourselves away that we can handle it being near in our lives. We must flee from it. We must eradicate it. But one thing is for sure that we cannot do it under our own power. Our sin nature makes us want our favorite sin near us. We must have God’s help to change our mind, heart and soul from worshiping access to that favorite sin. We must have His help in gaining victory. We must lay our favorite sin at the cross. We must be humble to say that we cannot handle it on our own. We’ve tried and failed miserably each and every time. We must have God’s help. We must then be obedient to Him when we see our favorite sin heading toward us. We must flee. We must eradicate the possibility. God cannot help us if we are wallowing on the shores of our favorite sin thinking this time it will be OK. Flee. Run. Get away. And pray to God that He will steel you against the temptations of your favorite sin, that one that gets you every time. Every time it will be the same result without God’s help.


Amen and Amen.