JUDGES 2:20-23: “Then the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the Lord, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Why do we battle with sin? Why doesn’t Jesus wipe away evil from the world? Why is there a constant struggle between the flesh and the spirit? Is there a purpose to all of this?
I must admit, I still struggle with these questions. I know that we live in a fallen world that is under the influence and the power of the enemy. However, I also know that Jesus Christ broke the power of sin and death through His sacrifice on the cross and victorious resurrection. What I don’t understand is why He doesn’t fully transform us in this life so that we can escape the inward and outward battle with sin.
It doesn’t take long for a new believer in Christ to experience the unwieldy struggle with their old sinful nature. This is a strange experience for a new believer. There is a moment of supreme joy that is much like courtship. The new believer is so filled with love for Jesus Christ that they are lifted above their struggles, much like a newborn baby is lifted by their mother. In the protecting arms of the Savior, it seems that everything is perfect…
UNTIL IT ISN’T!
It is a bold awakening when the old nature tries to assert itself once again!
- “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:17 NKJV
The new believer quickly finds out that they still struggle with old temptations and feelings. Why didn’t Jesus take all of this away? Why do we still have this daily struggle?
The book of Judges reminds me of our struggle with sin. There are times when we walk in victory and think we will never fall again. Then there are times when we find ourselves caught in old thoughts and patterns that we know we should have victory over. We cry out to God for deliverance and He meets us with His grace. We walk in victory for a while and then find ourselves slipping once again.
Why doesn’t the Lord simply remove all temptation and struggle from our life? It is because He is trying to test us and teach us. The temptations and struggles that we face each day are a choice we are called to make. Will we walk in the Spirit or will we succumb to the flesh? Will we count ourselves dead indeed unto sin (through Jesus Christ), or will we allow the old man to climb out of the grave once again?
The children of Israel had difficulty walking in obedience to the Lord and His covenant. They would be faithful for a while and then slip back into idolatry. When Joshua died there were still many nations left to conquer. Yet, because of their disobedience and stubbornness of heart, the Lord allowed these nations to remain as a test of their faithfulness and obedience.
- “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the Lord, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a great advantage over the children of Israel. We are not resigned to fighting our battles in our own strength and ability. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been given all things that pertain unto life and godliness. We have been fully pardoned by the blood of Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, and given all the great promises of God so that we can escape the corruption that is in the world because of lust!
- “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” II Peter 1:2-4 NKJV
Yet, like the children of Israel, many times we do not lay hold of these promises. We do not cultivate our life in the Spirit. We do not draw upon the grace of God. We try to make it on our own and soon find out that we cannot. These struggles are allowed to bring us to an end of ourselves and to redirect our hearts to the Lord. Without these trials, our faith would stagnate and we would not mature in Christ.
- “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:12, 15 NKJV
- “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 NKJV
Someone has noted the following,
- Before we placed our faith in Jesus Christ we were UNABLE TO NOT SIN.
- Now, as believers in Christ, and through the power of his death and resurrection, we are ABLE TO NOT SIN.
- And, when we stand before Him in glory, we will be fully transformed into His image and we will NOT BE ABLE TO SIN!
Until that glorious day, we will face the daily temptations and trials of life. Yet, we have been made more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us and has given Himself for us. We are not on our own. Jesus lives within our hearts through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. We are empowered by His grace as we walk in faith and obedience. And, with each trial and temptation, He will give us both grace to endure and an avenue of escape!
Lord, remind me today of Your faithfulness. Your word says that even when we are unfaithful – You remain faithful for You cannot deny yourself. Help me to straighten the feeble knees and the hands that hang down and walk in Your great grace! Remind me each day that You are teaching and perfecting me as I walk along this rocky road we call life. I look for that day when I stand before You, complete, set free from all my weaknesses, and fully clothed in Your glory and righteousness!
- “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” I John 3:2-3 NKJV
In Jesus’ Name!