How often do we face enemies? How often do we retreat? I’m not talking about physical enemies. We are in a war in the spiritual realm. Every day, if we are wise, we put on our armor, ready to do battle. The battle does not wait on us—it is around us all the time. We can choose to be caught in the cross-fire or become effective combatants. And though the battle is not physical, the best examples on how to fight in it can be drawn from physical parallels.
The Old Testament is filled with these parallels. Probably because God understood that we need these illustrations in order to wrap our minds around spiritual concepts. I ran across one of these parallels the other day. In it there is a key to standing before our enemies. It is not all encompassing, but I find it valid in so many circumstances.
Joshua 7:11-12 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. –ESV
Once again, how often do we find ourselves powerless before our enemies? In the verses above, God is telling Joshua why the Israelites had fled before the people of Ai when Israel had tried to conquer them. Achan had taken some plunder from Jericho just before this, which was forbidden. The plunder had been devoted to destruction, except for the gold, silver, bronze and iron. Those things were supposed to go to the treasury of the house of the Lord. Achan had taken something which was to be destroyed and he had also taken items that were supposed to go to the treasury. So he robbed God of His due and took into his possession something that was defiled by idols. When the Israelites had left Egypt God said He was judging the gods of the Egyptians when He did all those signs and wonders against the Egyptians.
A Holy God
So we get a picture here of how God judges the presence of unclean things in people’s lives personally and corporately. Though the Israelites were many, they were rendered powerless by the sin of one man. He had brought an unclean thing into the camp of Israel. A thing that was devoted to destruction. And the thing that was devoted to destruction had the power to defile the entire camp just by being there. God’s wrath was against that object and against anyone who tolerated its presence.
But God was merciful in ultimately judging Achan for his sin personally and thus cleansing Israel and making them to stand once more before their enemies.
Let’s Consecrate Ourselves
So the next time we find ourselves fleeing before our enemies, let’s ask ourselves: do we have any unclean thing in our lives that has been polluted by the enemy? Have we robbed God of His due? These things can make us powerless against our spiritual enemies. We cannot eat at the Lord’s table and eat at the table of demons. If we eat at the table of demons, do we expect their power to work against themselves? Obviously not. We need pure devotion and the pure power of God in our lives in order to be effective combatants against the ones who hate our souls.
These days it is easier than ever to buy things and be entertained by things that are polluted by the demonic. None of us are exempt in needing discernment in the deceptive hour we live. But I think if we humble ourselves and acknowledge before God that we are weak vessels, His mercy is great in revealing things in our lives that are conduits for demonic power. It is when we become proud and think we can by our intellect know all the things we need for life and Godliness that we are in danger of falling.