Joshua’s Battles Point to Victory Over Sin
by Pastor Dan Delzell
You probably know that “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho.” These words from the popular children’s song describe a remarkable event when “the walls came tumbling down.” But did you know that Joshua’s battles point to the victory which every Christian can experience over sin? We glean spiritual insights as we consider the land which God’s people came to possess after Jericho.
If you are a believer in Christ, you are like Joshua in many ways. You belong to God’s family. You seek to serve the Lord. And you want to have victory over sin in your life. That’s just who you are and what you desire by virtue of being in God’s family.
Like Joshua, most Christians come to their own “Jericho.” It’s the biggest roadblock in your life of discipleship, but one which you must get past if you are going to move on to other victories over sin in your life. Your Jericho may be an addiction of some kind; or a deep-seated grudge which has lasted for years; or even a persistent thought pattern such as worry, lust or fear. But there is a way for the walls of this habitual sin to come down.
Repentance, faith, prayer and obedience are all part of God’s plan for freedom in the life of a Christian. And unlike Solomon, for example, who started out strong but later allowed his heart to stray, Joshua consistently walked with the Lord and experienced one victory after another.
God is not focusing on the sins of your past, but on the potential victories in your future. You can either go the way of Solomon who departed from wisdom, or you can go the way of Joshua as you “possess the land” within your heart for Christ. In other words, you can say “no” to that behavior which is contrary to God’s will for your life.
For example, Joshua went on “to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. The Lord handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword.” (Joshua 10:31,32) If you have already seen the Lord give you a Jericho victory over a habitual sin in your life, perhaps you have moved on to your own “Lachish.”
There are various areas of our heart and life which the Lord wants to correct. And when He does, it can turn weakness into strength. After Joshua took Lachish, it would later become one of the strongest fortresses of Judah. This is what the Holy Spirit does for us. When an area of sin is taken captive in our heart, it can then become a place of tremendous strength in the Lord. Once that area is under the control of the Holy Spirit, it makes for a much stronger life of discipleship.
Many have wondered why God sent His people out to kill the enemies of Israel in the Old Testament. We must remember that God is not only loving, but also just, and the Old Testament battles and bloodshed delivered divine judgment against man’s sin. Just think about it. The killing of unbelievers in the Old Testament is nothing compared to what the New Testament says will happen to unbelievers on the other side of the grave. So God’s wrath against sin certainly is not limited to the Old Testament.
But never forget: Jesus bore God’s wrath against sin on the cross, and all who receive Christ through faith receive a pardon for their sins. God’s love and His justice were perfectly displayed at the cross.
And today God continues to “kill” the sin within His children. We are already forgiven through faith and on road to heaven, but along the way we still face many battles against sinful desires. As long as we are in these bodies, there will be battles to face and victories to pursue. The ultimate victory over sin was won at the cross, and today these minor skirmishes are all part of the Christian life.
From Lachish Joshua went on to capture Eglon, and “then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it.” (Joshua 10:36,37) Hebron still exists today under the same name, and is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Likewise, if you and I as believers are going to “take Hebron” in our heart, it will require total dependence upon the One who is called “the Ancient of Days.” (Daniel 7:22)
Your “Hebron” cannot be defeated “in the flesh,” but only by the Spirit of the living God. And only by Christ Himself. If you and I want victory over our “Hebron” sin, we will need to “go old school.” We will need to rely completely upon the Ancient One who grants victory for His children. Only He can give us Hebron, and then lead us on to other areas which need to be taken for Christ.
“Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. They took the city, its king and villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors.” (Joshua 10:38,39) If you and I are going to have victory over our “Debir” sin, then it must be totally destroyed. We cannot toy with it any longer. There can be “no survivors” in our heart relative to this sin. It must become a thing of the past as we trust the Lord to take it out of our heart. This happens as we confess our sin to the Lord; trust Jesus to forgive us; and resolve by God’s grace not to go back to that place again.
Unfortunately for God’s people, Debir subsequently fell back into the hands of the Canaanites. This can happen to us as Christians today. Land which was taken for the Lord can end up going back under the control of sin in our life. This development is often called “backsliding.”
For example, the prophet Jeremiah described such behavior among God’s people this way: “They went backward and not forward.” (Jer. 7:24) “No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle.” (Jer. 8:6) “They go from one sin to another.” (Jer. 9:3)
Perhaps you have a Debir sin which has resurfaced in your life. You thought it had been defeated once and for all, but it’s back. You have made some unwise decisions and given into that particular temptation all over again. But don’t despair! The land of Debir in your heart belongs to Christ because you belong to Him. Therefore, God wants to regain that land for His glory and purposes.
It is interesting that Joshua’s son, Caleb, came up with a plan to get Debir back for God’s people. Caleb decided to offer his daughter as a bride to whoever would regain this land for God. Such a victory indeed came about, and Caleb’s daughter was given in marriage to the conqueror. But Caleb’s daughter still had a bold request to make to her father. Since the land was in the desert region, she said to Caleb: “Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the south, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Joshua 15:19)
What a beautiful picture of the Christian life! It’s not enough to just say “no” to sin. We also need the living water of the Holy Spirit in order to refresh our parched souls and fill us with a holy love for the things of God. We need to live as Spirit-filled believers everyday, but this is only possible if we are given what Caleb’s daughter was given by her father. We need springs of living water from our Father in heaven.
No wonder Jesus told His followers, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Luke 11:13) Asking God to fill us daily with living water is a key to victory over sin. And it’s not something we can produce ourselves. We are entirely dependent upon our Lord to provide these necessary springs.
You are either a believer in Christ, or an unbeliever. If you are a believer, you have either seen the walls of your Jericho come down, or not. If not, then that is where the battle will take place until the walls fall down. And then there will be other land in your heart to take for the Lord. You will face battles involving your own Lachish, Hebron, and Debir.
You may experience some backsliding as you follow the path of Solomon. Or your life from this day forward may resemble Joshua. You get to make the daily choices. But be assured that you are loved unconditionally by your Savior. He will fight for you in your daily battles against sinful desires.
Is there anything the Lord expects us to do in these daily battles? Yes indeed. He tells us to say “no.” (see Titus 2:11-13) This is something the grace of God teaches us. If we will say “no” to sin and not keep giving into temptation, the walls of our personal Jericho will come down. But if we say “yes” to sin, we will be like Solomon and all those who started well, but tragically went astray in their walk with the Lord.
If you don’t know Christ, today is the day for you to repent and believe the good news. If you do know Christ, be encouraged my friend. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
Joshua’s battles point to continual victories over sin. And such victories can become a daily reality in your life of discipleship as well.