“Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land.” Joshua 8:1
Following Jesus is more than a journey or lifestyle – there are evil forces that seek to draw us away from the Kingdom of heaven – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.1 We need to fight a war on lies as false narratives about reality seek to wreak havoc in our souls.2 There is an invisible but real intelligence that is at war with God and all that is good, beautiful and true.3 We have to put on God’s armor to stand firm against all strategies of the devil:
“For you are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”4
The stories of war in the Old Testament point to the reality of spiritual warfare and the judgment of God. Such stories were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us and to give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.5 The stories of the conquests of Jericho and Ai reveal the reality and grievous consequences of the sin of greed. Like the Covid 19 virus, greed is extremely infectious and lethal to our souls. There is a battle in our hearts between the love of money and the love for God. The love of money is the cause of much suffering in our world. It is the love of God that brings great joy to the world.
To see the darkness in the stories of the Old Testament we need the light of the New Testament. Unfortunately, instead of feeling broken hearted, as God is, by human perversity, we are blinded by our fear of God’s judgment. We see God’s anger as vindictive rather than compassionate.6 The light of Christ in the New Testament shines into the darkness in the human heart recorded in the Old Testament so that we can see and understand God’s judgment as restoration and not retribution. Like Joshua we are called not to be afraid or discouraged for we will have victory over all the enemies of our souls:
“Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land.”7
There is a spiritual battle for our thoughts between our “Critical Parent” ego state and the Holy Spirit. Our “Critical Parent” condemns and leads us to hide from God as Adam and Eve did. When our minds are filled with blame and shame, we are unable to come boldly to God’s throne of grace to receive His mercy. We are enslaved by thoughts that flow from fears of God’s punishment for disobedience. But the Holy Spirit convicts us to draw us to the cross of Christ so that our hearts can be filled with the love of God.8 We are set free from the deceptions of the evil one so that we can have transforming loving conversations with God.
Through prayer we can take our thoughts captive to Christ so that the mind of Christ will be formed in us.9 Our hearts will then be filled by the Spirit with discerning love to counter the deception of half truths that we are bombarded with each day. As human beings, we are being spiritually formed every day by the choices we make and our responses to the problems we face. To be a better person or a bitter person. To be an optimist or a pessimist. To be joyful or to be depressed.
Our thought patterns determine our habits and our habits determine our lifestyle. Our negative thoughts become strongholds of evil to keep us away from the love of God. As a follower of Christ, we have a choice – to be formed in our spirits or inner persons into the image of Jesus or to be deformed into the image of the devil.10
Bad thoughts, wrong thoughts lead to evil actions. Gluttony for knowledge leads to fake news, false gospels and false teachers. Our thirst for wisdom can only be quenched by seeking Christ to give us the springs of living waters through prayer.11 And true prayer is the fruit of silence and solitude. It is only through prayer that we can live a life of worship that is rooted in a total dependence of God that frees us from the sins of pride, greed and lust. It is only through returning to and resting in God that we will find strength in quietness and confidence12 as we pray:
“Lead me, Lord, lead me in thy righteousness,
make thy way plain before my face.
For it is thou, Lord, thou, Lord only,
that makest me dwell in safety.13
Lord, fill my heart with discerning love so that I will not fall prey to the deceptive half truths of the world.
1. How does my relationship with God affect how I feel about God’s judgment for sin?
2. What are the wrong beliefs and false teachings that keep me away from God’s love?
3. How can I be led by the Lord in His righteousness each day?
1 I John 2:16, NKJV
2. John Mark Comer, Live No Lies, page xx
3. Ibid, page 20
4 Ephesians 6:12, NLT
5. Romans 15:4
6. Isaiah 54:7-8, NLT
7. Joshua 8:1
8. Romans 5:1-5, NLT
9. 2 Corinthians 10:5
10. John Mark Comer, Live No Lies, pg 73, 88
11. John 4:1-14; 7:37-39,NLT
12. Isaiah 30:15, NLT
13. Samuel S. Wesley, Lead me Lord, Lead me In Thy Righteousness