Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). – Judges 3:1-2 (ESV)
“War… what is it good for?” Well, if you are channeling your inner hippie, you would answer that question with (all together now), “absolutely nuthin’!” Is it? I’m not asking about violence for the sake of violence. I’m talking about war. Warfare is defined as – the process of military struggle between two nations or groups of nations; war. 2. armed conflict between two massed enemies, armies, or the like. 3. conflict … For all intents and purposes, we are talking about the ability to fight.
I know some people think there is no reason to fight. We all just need to learn to get along. We need to be tolerant. Tolerant to the point of surrendering our thoughts and ideals because someone else has voiced theirs. Fighting has been replaced with simply stating an opinion? If that is what we are supposed to do, then I would suggest we are still in a form of fighting because that would mean the first person to speak wins!
Conflict is all around us, and I am not going to try and argue that all conflict is good conflict – it’s not. It is always good to learn how to deal with conflict though, and that is a type of warfare! Dealing with conflict is a battle inside ourselves to arrive at an outcome that is good without an escalation to violence IF possible.
I might start losing some people if I don’t get right to my point here, and if I am pushing any buttons with anyone, I want to let you know that my goal is not conflict in through this post. I have a direction here, and if you bear with me, we will get back around to it. I promise!
When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land they had some fighting to do. God had given them the land, but there were people in it that did not serve God and He wanted them gone. He promised the Hebrew people that if they would go out and take the land, He would drive their enemies out. They just needed to act on it. Well, they went to work, and they took much of the land – but not all of it.
Through many little slips, compromises, and probably a little laziness, they allowed several of the nations in Canaan to stay in the land. Long story short, those nations were full of pagan religions that eventually led many of the Israelites away from God. Why did the Israelites let this happen? Would a better question be to ask why God allowed this to happen? He could have just driven the rest of them out by Himself. He could have just made them all drop dead on the spot. Why did He let them stay if He knew that the Israelites would stray from Him?
They needed to know how to fight for what God had given them.
The generations that had fought were dying off, and the young men coming up had no experience on the battle field. They needed to have opportunities to learn and strengthen their skills in defending what they had been given. They needed to be able to stand strong as God’s people in the face of enemies. They needed to be tested.
Think of those pagan nations as the sin in our lives today. Wouldn’t it be easier to live the Christian life if there was no sin? Think about it! We could go through the day and never need to feel that tweak of the conscience that we had done the wrong thing. We could end each day with a clean slate and know that tomorrow would be the same thing! We could stand before God and say, “I am without sin!” Hmmm. Wouldn’t that be a bit prideful?
God has allowed sin to still be in our lives for a couple of reasons that I can see:
We need to learn to lean on Him
There are things in my life that I cannot have victory over by myself. I have weaknesses that Satan knows how to exploit. I get tired, bored, self-absorbed, and he pounces. I need to have God with me to give me strength, to keep me alert, and to keep me so focused on Him that sin cannot gain a beachhead in my life. Sin is a reminder of how much I need God.
We need to learn how to teach others
I have sinned too many times to count, and some of those sins have brought me great pain. My hope is that by sharing my experiences with others and allowing them to see how I failed and how I was able to get up and keep fighting with God holding me up, I will be able to help someone else struggling with the same sin. Help them avoid the pain and be victorious!
Sin will one day be taken away. Until that happens, I have a life ahead of me that requires warfare. It requires a dedication to training myself to fight against sin and its temptations. The presence of sin in the world makes it necessary for me to equip my friends, to train up another generation for the battle. Relentless Living is not putting my head in the sand and thinking that if I don’t offend I will not need to fight. The fight is always there. The question is, am I ready for the battle?
The best way to fight and win a battle is to prepare for it. I’m not sure when I am going to fall in to a trap of temptation, but I know that if I am spending time with my God in the Word and in prayer, I will be better prepared when the battles come. The best offense is a good defense.
So, my challenge to you is this. What are you doing to make sure that you are preparing? Are you devoted to Relentless Growth in your life? It’s going to mean conflict. It’s going to mean a fight. There is no better way to be ready than to be in God’s Word.