Joshua-Wayne Barber/Part 19
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|We’re going to talk today about living by faith. We learned earlier in Joshua that the only way to appropriate freedom is to walk and live by faith. That’s what we’re going to talk about today, living by faith so that we can walk in the freedom that God has given us in Christ Jesus.|
Living by faith (Joshua 23)
Turn with me if you will to Joshua 23. We are about to finish this great book. We’re going to talk today about living by faith. How appropriate. It says in Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” But we also learned in chapter 2, the only way to appropriate that freedom is to walk and live by faith. That’s what we’re going to talk about today, living by faith so that we can walk in the freedom that God has given us in Christ Jesus.
When it comes to the Christian life we do have a choice to make. We either trust God or we trust man and his ways and his wisdom. In other words, we could say it this way: faith or flesh, faith or flesh. There is no middle ground. I’m either walking after the flesh or I’m walking by faith, trusting God and trusting His word. You say, “Well, Wayne, that really can’t happen to Christians. We don’t have really that much choice, do we? Oh yes we do. As a matter of fact, the example to that is the Corinthian church. They faced the same dilemma. They had a choice. Do it your way, do it God’s way. Walk by faith, walk after the flesh. And they chose to walk after the flesh. They failed that test miserably. They would rather do it man’s way. They’d rather cling to man’s wisdom than to God’s Word and His wisdom.
So the apostle Paul had to write, because it caused all kinds of problems within the church, and he had to write the epistle of 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 1:11, he says, “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you.” Now we think of the word “quarrel” as something that happened in the car on the way to church. “You didn’t turn the water off.” “You didn’t turn the iron off.” That’s not a quarrel. The word here is the word that means something that’s extremely hostile, that’s dividing the church of Corinth. And he says in verse 12, as he identifies the root of where all this comes from, and he says, “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I’m of Paul,’ and ‘I’m of Apollos,’ and ‘I’m of Cephas.’”
See what they’ve done? Instead of attaching themselves to Christ they’ve attached themselves to preachers. Apollos was the second preacher of the church there. Paul was the first one. And Cephas, of course, was the Aramaic name for Simon Peter, the unsung hero of Christianity at that time. They even had one group that says “Well, we’re of Christ.” They were the worst ones. They didn’t think that anybody else was there except them, and so it was a terrible dilemma.
In chapter 3 the apostle Paul shows that being followers of men and being followers of their wisdom is very divisive, but it’s also very immature. And he says to them in verse 1 of chapter 3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food.” Now he talks about back when they first became believers. They hadn’t quite caught it yet. They knew Christ was in their life, but they were babes, and that’s okay. But then comes the indictment. “Indeed,” he says, “even now you are not yet able.” A similar thing he says in Hebrews, or whoever wrote Hebrews says, “that you should be teachers, but you need to be taught again.” He said, “You’re not even able now.” And then he says in verse 3, “For you are still fleshly; for since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly? Are you not willing on walking like mere men?”
And then he points to the root one more time in 1 Corinthians 3:4, he says, “For when one says ‘I’m of Paul,’ and another ‘I’m of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” Isn’t that the way we are? We either attach ourselves to God or more than likely we’ll attach ourselves to a person, to flesh and blood. We’ll attach ourselves to our own flesh and our flesh wants and how it wants to walk.
You say, “Well, Wayne, that’s fine and I appreciate you telling me all of that, of faith and flesh and I understand that, but what’s that got to do with Joshua? I’m so glad you asked that question. In our study today we’re going to find out that Joshua is passing off of the scene. He’s about to die, and he understands that. And you see, what he wants to tell them is, “Even though I’ve been your leader, you don’t need me; you need Him.” He’d been their leader for years there and taken them through battle after battle after battle as they’ve come into the land. But now he’s about to leave the scene. In fact, the final two chapters of Joshua, chapters 23 and 24 are the last two speeches he gives to the people.
Some people say that it’s the same speech written a different way in chapter 24. But if you’ll study it carefully there are too many significant differences to be one. It has to be two different speeches. Once the land had been divided—and by the way, it’s not chronological right here in chapter 23; it probably goes back to when he said that you’re now old and God told him to divide the land—and once he had divided the land, Joshua took what had been given to him, moved up in the mountains of Ephraim and wanted to live out his days.
But in our text he knows that his time is short. He knows he’s not going to be there as their leader anymore, so he calls all the leadership of Israel together, not the whole, all the tribes, but the leadership of the tribes together. One more time he wants to warn them, first of all, about apostasy, about idolatry and going after pagan gods. But then secondly, he wants to challenge them to trust God and to trust His word and to learn to live by faith, to walk in the victory so that they can claim the land that God says was theirs. Bottom line again, what he was telling them is, “Guys, you don’t need me; you need Him, and that’s the one I’m putting your focus back upon. I’m leaving the scene. I want you to focus upon Him.”
Verse 1 of chapter 23, “Now it came about after many days, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side, and Joshua was old, advanced in years, that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, ‘I am old, advanced in years. And you have seen all the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has been fighting for you.’” And what he does here, he reminds them that even though, yes, I led you, it was really God that was fighting for you all along. It never was your leader. That’s not the key. God’s not a respecter of people. He’s a respecter of faith. So it was He that was fighting for you all along. It was God who won the battles and had given them the land.
Well, Joshua wants them to know that God is all that they needed, He’s all that they need. In verse 4, “See, I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun.” But then he says, hey, that’s all I did. Let me show you something else, verse 5. “The Lord, your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the Lord your God has promised you.” Israel had learned from experience to trust God. They knew what would happen if they didn’t trust God. They knew the defeat. They knew it Ai. They knew it when they made the wrong covenant with the Gibeonites. They had made some serious errors, so they knew that when you walk by faith, saying yes to God, that’s when you walk in the victory that He has. Faith is the only thing that unlocks the power of God in a person’s life. Israel knew this by experience.
You know, we could put it in our context in the new covenant in which we live. We know this by experience. I was watching a video a while ago when we started the service about Duane Blue. Duane knows this by experience. Duane was a member of the Hell’s Angels, lived in a bus, couldn’t read or write, and God saved him. Iris, his wife was in prison for all those years and she said, “I knelt down as a tramp and I stood up as a lady.” See, all of us in here that are born again, that we’ve been saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we know the power of God. And we know what faith will do. We know that the times we’ve walked through the valleys in life that God has got a hold of us and when we said yes to Him we’ve walked in that marvelous victory that only He can give. And so what Joshua’s doing is what we ought to do today. We ought to go back and rehearse the power of God in our life. And when we have walked in it, has been when we’ve been willing to walk and live by faith.
Well, today, by looking at Joshua’s speech at the end of his life, we want to see what walking by faith really looks like. You say, “Wayne, I want to walk in the power of God. What does it look like when you walk by faith? Can you help me?” Well, let’s look at Israel and learn from them. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:6 says, that all these things happen to Israel for our example. So let’s look at them again and let’s just see what Joshua says to them and hear what God is saying to our hearts this morning. Remember Hebrews 11 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Perhaps this will help us to understand we cannot attach ourselves to men and to our own ways and to our flesh. We must attach ourselves to Christ. And as we glue ourselves to Him, as we attach ourselves to Him, then and only then do we possess what God says is already ours.
The activity of faith
Three things that I want you to see this morning from the text. First of all, the activity of faith. You say, Wayne, what is the activity of faith? Biblical faith clings to God and to His Word. And you see, you’re going to say, “Well, Wayne, what does faith do?” It clings to God and to His word. If you’ll jump down to verse 8 he gives you the key and then you back up and see how he got, he gets there. In verse 8 he says, “But you are to cling to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.” And I love that word “cling.” The word “cling” is the word dabaq in Hebrew. It means to glue yourself to. That real strong glue that people sell and you put it on and it just adheres comes to my mind. It’s to glue yourself to. It’s to stick close to. It’s to cleave to. Real faith glues itself to God and to His word.
You see, it’s God’s word that jumpstarts our faith. Anybody who says they love God has to love His Word, because that’s what God is saying. That’s how we know His will. If you love somebody and you want to serve somebody you need to know what his will is, and so you glue yourself to God and you glue yourself to His word. Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes from hearing and hearing from [what?] the word of God.” So that’s what jumpstarts our faith. So real faith glues itself to God and to His word.
Verses 6-7 show us why this is so important and why he builds to this point. He says in verse 6, “Be very firm then to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left.” Now, when he says “be very firm,” the Hebrew idea is to prevail against something. It automatically anticipates an enemy, an adversary; to stand strong in the face of something. Now you say, well, against what? What am I to prevail against? I mean, what’s he talking about? And here’s his point, and you’ll see it in a minute in verse 7; against a temptation to abandon our faith, now listen carefully, and to embrace idolatry. Idolatry is nothing more than the opposite of faith.
Now understand what I’m saying. If we’re not walking by faith we’re living in idolatry. There is no middle ground. And he says, listen, if you want to stay away from that, glue yourself to God and glue yourself to His Word. That’ll keep you safe. That’ll keep your focus. That’ll establish the boundaries in your life. Remember that idolatry is nothing more than religion that’s made by man. It was made by man. It was based on his wisdom and it was meant to satisfy man.
So interesting, I have a friend of mine that’s in the music area over in Texas and he was telling me recently, he said that they were having quite a bit of trouble over music. And he said this certain man says, “I don’t like the songs. I don’t like the music. I don’t like what you’re doing.” And my friend had the wisdom from God to tell him, he said, “Sir, I am so sorry. Can I ask your forgiveness?” And the man liked that and he says yes. And he said, “But for what?” He said, “Somehow in what I’ve written, somehow by what I said, I have communicated to you that the music was for you instead of God, and I am so, so very sorry.”
Idolatry is anything that takes away from the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s when we choose to walk after the flesh instead of walk in the Spirit of God. And idolatry can take a thousand forms, and I just gave you one of them. Idolatry lurks on all sides. So Joshua says, “Don’t turn aside from God’s word to the right hand or to the left.” Cling to the Lord and to His word. Glue yourself to Him and to His word.
And then verse 7 brings it out very clearly, “So that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them.” See, his whole point is idolatry. And, he says, the word “associate” means exactly that. Don’t intermarry with them. Don’t recognize their gods. Don’t even mention them he said. And certainly, by all means, don’t bow down to them.
You say, “Now, Wayne, how does this help me? I’m in the new covenant. How does this speak to my heart?” Well, for us it would be a warning, to be in the world but not of the world. You see, a boat in the water is by design, but water in the boat is absolute disaster. You see, our flesh gravitates towards the world and the way it does things and the way it thinks and its wisdom and its works. But what Joshua tells them is, “I’m going to be off the scene, but I’ll tell you how you can be safe and secure.” He says, “Glue yourself to God. Glue yourself to His word. Be strong. Be firm. Walk in the freedom that only He can give to you. Possess the land that He has already given to you.”
The temptation for you and for me it lurks on every side. It comes in a thousand different forms, for us to walk away from walking by faith, to choosing to walking after the flesh. The attitude of faith is to cling to God and to His word. The consequences of not doing that is to fall into the trap of idolatry. To put our faith in man and in his wisdom, literally—now I’m going to say this—but it literally makes no sense whatsoever to the believer. It makes no sense. To sit in a committee meeting and to apply the principles of the world to something when you haven’t heard from God makes no sense. To sit in a family and to make decisions not based on what God says and what His Word is trying to get across to us makes no sense whatsoever. We’re like the children of Israel. We’ve already learned many lessons and those lessons have been that God is faithful, and if we will glue ourselves to Him and glue ourselves to His word then we don’t have to worry about idolatry ever falling into our life. We can continue to walk by faith.
One of England’s most enduring legends involves the Danish King Cnut. I now know where he’s from. He ruled Britain from 1016-1035. He was such an imposing and successful king that never-ending praise was rendered to him. His courtiers were afraid to mutter anything to him but flatteries. And Cnut grew tired of it. And one day in the year 1032, taking them to the coast in North Hampton, he placed his throne in the sand as the tide was coming in. Now he sits down on his throne and the tide’s coming in. As his advisors stood around he asked them, “Do you think I’m the mightiest of the mighty?” “Oh yes, your majesty,” they replied. “Do you think I can stop the tide?” “Oh yes, your majesty,” they again replied, only this time a little more doubtfully.
Looking at the ocean breakers he said, “Oh sea, stay, come no further. I, Cnut, ruler of the universe, command you.” But despite his commands the tide rolled in until it was lapping at the feet of the men. It came to their knees. Then, as the waves engulfed them, the king and all of his men ran for safety. “You see”, said Cnut, “how little I am obeyed. There is only one Lord over land and water, the Lord of the universe. It is to Him and to Him alone you should offer your praise.” Slowly the king and his courtiers walked back into town where at the cathedral King Cnut, the mightiest of them all, took his crown off and hung it in the church.
He had more sense than many believers do today. You see, there is no god but our God. There is no king but our King. And if we adhere ourselves to Him, if we glue ourselves to Him and to His word, we’re safe, we’re secure. We can walk through this life and we can be protected. We can possess the life that God has given to us. But if we choose to do it our way we’re idolaters, and at that point He is not being glorified in our life; flesh is being glorified, man is being glorified. And it’s almost as if our worship in heaven is silent. They can’t hear us because the heart has been ripped out. Real faith knows the fallacy of trusting man. It knows to cling to God and to His word. Then why does it do that? That’s the activity of faith.
The attitude of faith
Well, it’s built upon the attitude of faith. This is like a backwards three verses. It’s like you’re starting at the end and working backward. Secondly, the attitude of faith.’ This is the key. The attitude of real faith, it has the activity of clinging to God and clinging to His word is a deep love for God and for His word. In Joshua 23:11 it says, “So take diligent heed to yourselves,” and I love this, “to love the Lord your God.” Now the word “love” is the word that we are familiar with in the English, but its definitions are deeper than what we give it. In the Old Testament it describes the hunger one has for something.
You know, when I first came here I remember you all took me out to a Mexican restaurant. Was I ever in for a surprise. You know, I found out real quickly that in New Mexico the word “mild” means nothing. The first thing they did was do you want red or do you want green? Want red or green what? They said chili. And I said, well, let me try the green, but make it mild. And I thought I noticed a grin on that waitress. You know, sure enough I’ve never eaten sour cream in my life, and I started eating it just to keep the blisters off the roof of my mouth while I’m eating the “mild” green chili.
But, you know, that was over two years ago, and do you realize now I actually have a hunger for it? I went to get a hamburger the other day. People back in the south, they give you a jalapeño and say that’s hot. I say, oh no, y’all, that’s not hot. Come on out, come on down.” I love it. I just got a hamburger and I said, “Do you have any green chili?” That’s kind of like duh! You know, everybody’s got green chili. Put that green chili on it and, oh man, there’s a hunger now that’s been established. Why? Because I’ve tasted of something and because I’ve learned now to love it and understand what it does.
Love the Lord your God. Have you tasted of Him? Are you saved this morning? Have you walked in His fullness and have you walked in His grace? It develops a hunger and it’s not something you really have to do, it’s a consequence. You’re just simply focused on Him and this is what is birthed out of that. You’re going to love Him. You’re going to love Him! It’s used of lovers and the desire they have to be with one another. What a beautiful picture that is. They just can’t spend enough time in each other’s presence. And it’s used of hunger like for food and you can’t enough of something.
When true faith is present it is evident in the one who loves God and desires to be in His presence and has a hunger for His word. No wonder he glues himself to God. No wonder he glues himself to His word. There’s a love here. This is all birthed out a love for who He is. If you think about it, since we’ve tasted of Him, why shouldn’t we, why wouldn’t we love Him?
Joshua reminds them of why they ought to love Him. He says in verse 9, “For the Lord has driven out great and strong nations from before you. And as for you, no man stood before you to this day.” God had driven out their strongest enemy. Now let me ask you a question. Did you ever struggle with alcoholism? Did you ever struggle with drugs? Did you ever struggle with lust, or whatever and God, when you came before Him, replaced you and drove out your strongest enemy? No wonder you love Him. It’s like the disciples said, “Oh Lord, if we leave You where are we going to go?” And so he’s just building his case. What has God done in your life this morning that’s caused you to love Him, that makes you want to glue yourself to Him, that makes you want to glue yourself to His word?
God has chosen to use him in a powerful way. Now this is the most exciting thing. Did Israel deserve to be used? Are you kidding? Do we deserve to be used? Absolutely not. But in Joshua 23:10 he says, “One of your men puts to flight a thousand.” Why? “For the Lord your God it is He who fights for you just as He promised you.” Take one of you, any one of you and let him be filled up with what God wants to do. Glue yourself to Him and a thousand people will run from him because it’s God in him, fighting for him. And that’s why Joshua’s saying, that’s where you want to be. You don’t need me. Don’t attach yourself to me. Attach yourself to Him. You know, it just doesn’t take long to love God when you’ve trusted Him and seen His faithfulness in your life.
I was listening to Moody radio one day and there was a program that came on and said let’s do a God watch. I thought a what? And they said why don’t you just write down every way in which you see God working in your life for a certain day. Do it for 30 days. I didn’t tell anybody. I just too unconsciously doing that. I did it during the day I just started watching for Him. It almost became a reflex for me. And the most precious thing dawned on me. God is all around me. God lives in me. God is moving and speaking and working and loving me in a thousand different ways, and I had been living not focused on Him. And when you cling yourself to Him and when you see Him work in your life it just makes you want to love Him like never before and cling to Him. That’s what faith is. Faith is not something you go out and do. Faith is something that He births within you and then out of that comes your love for God and this is what it’s all about. It’s life, it’s a relationship. It’s not a religion.
He says, “So take diligent heed,” verse 11 says, “to yourselves to love the Lord your God.” The word “Lord” is an awesome word. It’s the word Jehovah. As a matter of fact, the Israelites wouldn’t even say it in a full word. It was a whisper. It was so sacred, so precious to them because they had experienced Him, that they didn’t even want to say it in any way that would bring shame to it. They wanted this name to be so important. The word Jehovah means I am; He’s the self-existent One. He’s the unchanging eternal One. And He’s the I AM, the I AM. A lady came to a preacher once and asked him, He is what? That doesn’t help me. The I AM what? The preacher very wisely said why don’t you fill in the blank? Because whatever you need He is, that’s who He is. That’s the word “Lord.” Just fill in the blank. He is the God who is the answer to every dilemma we have in life. He is the God who says, “Come to Me, Wayne and fill in the blank. If it’s in a spiritual realm of your life fill in the blank. I AM that I AM.”
And then the word “God,” why would he put the Lord God? The word “God” is the word Elohim. Elohim is the plural form of that word, “God.” You say, oh, is there more than one God? No! He’s speaking of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The word used over in Genesis. In other words, in all of His aspects, God the Father who determines the effects in our life, God the Son who gives us the ministry in our life, God the Holy Spirit who gives us the gifts in our life. God, the Lord God, love the Lord your God! This is his whole point. There is no other God.
Where you going to go? If you’re not going to walk by faith do you see how foolish it is not to walk by faith? Where you going to go? There is no other God. Elohim, Jehovah is to be worshiped, is to be loved. Out of that will flow a clinging to Him and a clinging to His word. That was Joshua’s whole point. You don’t need me, folks. You don’t need me, Joshua says, you have what you need. Now walk with Him. Glue yourself to Him. Love Him.
Well, sin again is idolatry. All of us have been there. We’ve all done it. Israel had done it. Doing things our way is idolatry. And so, in the face of that, God says, “Now, is that what you want?” No, through Joshua He says, “You love Me, you cling to Me and cling to My word.” So the activity of faith is a clinging to God, but that is totally based on the attitude of faith which is a loving God. And you will only have to be in His presence, you will only have to experience Him as He works in your life to come to that place.
A dear, dear man, this past week that I just fell in love with when I met him, said to me, “I’m a recovering alcoholic and I thank God for it every day. It’s a gift He gave to me.” And then he said, “Because that is what it took to drive me to where I should have been to start with. And to drive me into a relationship with Him, it is moment by moment by moment.” Nicholas Herman, 1611-1691, was a Carmelite mystic born in France, converted at the age of 18. But he’s best known, and this is how you’ll know him, for his little book of sayings published under the name Brother Lawrence, called The Practice of the Presence of God. When Brother Lawrence lay on his death bed, rapidly losing physical strength, he said to those around him, “I’m really not dying. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for the past 40 years and doing what I expect to be doing for all of eternity.” And they looked at him with great curiosity and they said, “What is that?” He said, “I am worshiping the God that I love.”
And that’s what faith is. That’s what faith is wrapped around. Do you love Him today? Do you love Him? “Oh how I love Jesus.” Boy, we can sing it, can’t we. Do we love Him enough that we would cling to Him and cling to His word? Then what Joshua tells them and what God’s telling us, you’re safe. You’re secure. Don’t worry about the left and don’t worry about the right. Walk in the safety and the security of knowing that you’re focusing on Him, then you can possess the life that God has given you in Christ.
The affliction of no faith
But then, finally, the affliction,’ now listen carefully, of no faith. You say, “Well, brother Wayne, I’m not going that route.” Actually that’s really not a true statement, because we’re going to walk by faith one way or the other; it’s the object of our faith. But I’m going to call it no faith. When it comes to spiritual faith and what we’re talking about, I’m going to say no faith, because it doesn’t measure. We can rest assured if we choose not to cling to God and His word, we choose not to walk by faith, there’s a huge price in there that we’re going to pay. Now, does God work in that? Absolutely, He drives us right back to Himself. But I want to tell you, if you’ve been there you know what I’m talking about, a lot of pain.
Verse 12: “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations,” this is a warning. They only had two choices just like us, we’re clinging to God or we’re clinging to our flesh. He continues, “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you,” and notice, they had divided the land but had not conquered it, so remember that, because the book of Judges picks that up. “And intermarry with them so that you associate with them and they with you.” Joshua presents a possibility; it had happened before. And so he presents the possibility again and which it does happen, by the way, in Judges. This possibility, and it’s a blatant disregard for everything God has done, everything God has said, and he presents that as a possibility.
And here comes the warning, verse 13, “Know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out in before you.” It’s almost like God is saying if this is really what you want, and this is what you’re going to pursue, okay, I’ll give it to you. I don’t think we want that. In fact, America today doesn’t want what it’s getting if you’ll really think about it. “But they will be a snare and a trap to you.” A snare and a trap produced bondage in a person’s life. And then he says, “And a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes.” A whip and thorns produced pain in somebody’s life and ultimately brings about some form of death. He says, “Until you perish from off this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.”
And then he says, “Now behold, today I’m going the way of all the earth.” He speaks of dying. He says, “I’m dying.” And he says, “And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed.” Not one; he said, now listen, God is faithful. Look at what he said. “All of you have been fulfilled and not one of them has failed.” And Joshua once again reaffirms this is why you want to cling to Him. This is why you want to glue yourself to Him. But then Joshua warns, “And just as He is faithful,” God is faithful to honor when people yield to Him, there is also the other side of that: He’s also faithful to chastise their obedience. You say, well, is it for a good reason? Well, certainly it is, to drive us back to Himself. But there’s a lot of pain and there’s a lot of bondage when we choose not to walk by faith.
Verse 15, “It shall come about that just as all the good words which the Lord your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the threats until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given to you. When you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given to you.”
Thank God we’re in the new covenant. Thank God He doesn’t wipe us off the face of the earth. Thank God He doesn’t take His Spirit from us. However, we have to see the spiritual principle here. There is a consequence to choosing not to walk by faith, whether we like it, whether we don’t like it. But when we choose to say, “I’m doing it my way, I’m not going to do it Your way,” there’s pain and there’s bondage. And what we do, we fail to experience and possess the life that God says is ours; bottom line, transgress the covenant of the Lord, and there will be pain and there will be chastisement.
You know what? This would be really good for our nation to hear over this weekend. Do you not agree? To understand what we’ve done and what we’re now living in. There’s a godly woman that tried to get this across. I doubt if anybody listened to her, but thank God she said it. It’s the best I’ve heard. It’s Billy Graham’s daughter, Ann Graham Lotz. I have a lot of respect for her. Here’s a transcript from when they asked her the question about 9/11. Why would God allow such a thing? Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed and they asked her, “How could God let something like this happen,” referring to September 11. Ann Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, “I believe God is deeply saddened at this just as we are. But for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. Being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
In light of recent events, terrorists attacks, school shootings and so on, I think it started when Madelyn Murray O’Hare complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools. And we said okay. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said okay. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they’ve misbehaved because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. We said an expert should know what he’s talking about and we said okay. Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates and themselves. Probably if we think about it long and hard enough we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with we reap what we sow. Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but we question what the Bible says.
Pretty clear. America involves you and me, folks. And I’ll tell you what, when we put this in the Christian perspective, glue yourself to God, glue yourself to His word. “Why would I do that, Wayne?” Well, if you’ve never experienced Him you won’t. But if you’ve experienced His power and seen what He wants to do in your life then you can’t help but do that because it comes out of a motive of love, which He has Himself produced in your life. And as you live that way, then chapter 24, which comes up next week, will be understandable. “Choose you this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my house,”’ Joshua says, “we will serve the Lord.” That’s what it looks like to live by faith.
Can I ask you a question? Just simple, you can ask me the same one. I mean, we’re all in the same boat. Are you walking by faith or are you walking after the flesh? If you’re not walking by faith remember this, remember it carefully, that’s idolatry. That is idolatry. How many forms it takes, millions of them. It’s either faith or flesh, faith or idolatry. And that’s what he tells them. You don’t need men. You don’t need to be of Chuck Swindoll. You don’t need to be of John McArthur. You don’t need to be of Wayne Barber. You be of Christ. Glue yourself to Him. Attach yourself to Him and walk in the wonders of what He has for you. That’s the message Joshua leaves to the nation of Israel.