Joshua-Wayne Barber/Part 8
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|I want you to make sure that you understand that in the Christian life, only when you’re walking yielded to Christ does the battle begin. There’s no battle in the wilderness. Wilderness is when the flesh is ruling our life: there’s no battle. We’re defeated and walking around confused and not having any direction. But when you cross over that Jordan, when you step into the waters of God’s will, and you step over into the land that God has given to us, then the battle begins.|
Preparing for the Battle (Joshua 5)
Would you turn with me to Joshua 5. We’re getting ready for the battle now. The battle comes in chapter 6 when they get to Jericho. They’re preparing for battle: preparing for battle. And I want you to make sure that you understand that in the Christian life, only when you’re walking yielded to Christ does the battle begin. There’s no battle in the wilderness. Wilderness is when the flesh is ruling our life: there’s no battle. We’re defeated and walking around confused and not having any direction. But when you cross over that Jordan, when you step into the waters of God’s will, and you step over into the land that God has given to us, then the battle begins. And what we’re going to see here is the fact that Joshua and the people are preparing for battle.
Now, we’ve got to make sure we’re in the flow. Crossing the swollen Jordan River, the barrier that stood between them and what God said was theirs, was such an awesome event in the life of Israel. They stepped into the water of God’s will and immediately the water was not really parted, it was removed; it was backed up 17 miles. And the river bed dried up so that they could walk across. Now this event would serve now to direct the rest of their lives. It was to show them what walking by faith is all about. But it would also do something else: it would determine their leader. God is no respecter of persons, He respects faith, and just like Moses trusted Him when he was with Him, Joshua trusts Him and he’s with Him. And what happens is that once they cross the Jordan, the people had no doubt that God had his hand on Joshua as their leader. But this event would also serve to disciple their little ones. God wanted the whole world to know that He is the One true God. And the way to do that, obviously, is to be telling your children who tell theirs, who tell theirs, and you pass it on and it begins to spread out and the world learns that God can be trusted and that God is faithful.
Well, this event was not just about God parting that water and moving it back. Many people think that, and that’s all they talk about is how God moved the water back. No, that was just part of the event. The event was about how to experience the power of God. If you ever want to know how to walk in His power, study this event. It was about how to see the swollen rivers of our circumstances removed as we learn to trust God. Well, and it’s how we experience His power. We experience His power in the very same way, just like Israel. Israel had to focus on Him and consecrate their lives to Him. And we’d see it differently in the New Covenant. We’d see Jesus saying, “Abide in the vine.” We’d see Paul saying, “Be filled with the spirit.” We’d see John saying, “Walk in the light.”
It’s all the same thing. You focus on Him, you consecrate, you set yourself apart to Him and to His Word and to His will, and then God does what only God can do. And this is what they were to remember. They were to remember the whole event, not just that God had done it, but what they had to do to walk in His power. And that was the key; that’s the key to all of us and that was the key to them. Faith is not just believing that God can do something. That’s not faith; it’s just an understanding of who God is. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God. And faith involves a focus on Him, a dying to our understanding, a dying to our emotion, and a dying to our will. Faith comes when we consecrate ourselves to Him and to His will and to His Word, and when we obey Him and say yes to Him, then we walk in the victory that God says is ours.
Well, this even was so important that Joshua had the people build, or God had Joshua have the people build, a memorial at Gilgal. Gilgal was about seven or eight miles from where they crossed and two miles from Jericho. What a perfect place to put it. Right before your first big battle you have to remember what faith is all about. And then Joshua himself went back and put one in the middle of the river while the priests were still standing there, so when the waters receded after flood time, people could still understand what God did on that miraculous day when the people trusted Him and He did what only He could do.
Well, in verse 1 of chapter 5 we find another thing that this event did. If you’ll look with me at 5:1: “Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.” See, not only did the miracle of the crossing of the Jordan become a memorial to the Israelites; it became a monster to the Canaanites. It overwhelmed them: it melted their hearts. When they heard about what God had done to get those people across, it just sucked the spirit right out of them. They were now putty in the hands of the Israelites. The Amorites, the kings of the Canaanites, I mean, they didn’t know what to do; they were scared to death.
And what was happening? God was preparing the way. Isn’t it awesome! God’s already gone before them. God’s put so much fear into people’s hearts, “Listen, a piece of cake! Go in and get your land,” is what He’s trying to tell the Israelites. God was preparing the way for His people. But I want you to notice something about that verse. It’s not really the Israelites they were afraid of; it was their God that they were afraid of. In that last part of it, it says, “When they heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel, until they had crossed.” Then they were frightened.
You see, God had shown Himself strong for His people. That’s been my prayer for years: that we would live in such a surrendered way that God would show Himself strong and that would send a message to this lost world, that He is the one true God. And that’s what was happening right here. It was a witness that went out, but it was God that the pagan world was afraid of. When they heard that He had dried up the waters of the Jordan, I love that phrase, they were frightened, their hearts melted.
Well, there is no enemy that can take from us what God has given to us. I don’t know when I’m going to fully grasp that and when we all are going to grasp that. I’m still a pilgrim, I’m still struggling. Nobody can take my joy from me. When my joy is gone I have given it away, I’ve chosen not to walk in it, because God said we don’t have a land like Israel, we have a life and when my joy is gone, something is wrong with me, something is not wrong with God and something is not wrong with the joy. Something is wrong with me; I choose not to walk in it. And it’s the same way here. If they don’t take their land, it’s not the problem of God and it’s not a problem with the victory, it’s a problem they choose not to walk in it. We see this laid out for us right here in this Scripture.
- Their covenant was renewed
Well, now they’re in the land and now it’s time for battle. And they’re preparing for battle in chapter 5 and there are three things that I want us to see, because it’s the same way when we get ready to walk in the light that God has given to us, these three things are very important to us. Three things: first of all, their covenant was renewed. Look in 5:2. “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.’” Now when you first read that and very carelessly you might not understand that. But it’s really simple. What He’s saying is this new generation had never been circumcised, and we’ll see in a moment what a shame that was. Because circumcision was a specific mark upon the male and it had to do with covenant. He explains all this in verses 3-5, that He’s talking about the new generation.
Verses 3 says, “So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath Haaraloth. This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along with the way as they came out of Egypt. For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way, as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised.”
Now we need to understand—and I’m sure you do, but let’s just go over it again—what this circumcision meant to them. It was a mark of covenant. You see, in Genesis 15 God had covenanted with Abraham, but the sign of the covenant, the sign that he was in covenant with God, was circumcision, and it came out in Genesis 17. That’s when it was first mentioned. Circumcision was a cutting away of the flesh on the male organ from which the seed of life was passed on. These Israelites were the physical seed of Abraham, not the spiritual seed, the physical seed, of Abraham. Covenant, the sign of covenant with God is the strongest word in any language for “when two become one.” There’s no more binding word in any language than covenant. When two entered into a covenant—oneness—they each lost their right to independent living. They entered into the newness of life.
It’s like a marriage today. A marriage is a picture of covenant: when two who are single, used to living independent lives, one day become one and then they lose their right to independent living and they move into a dependent stage, and they move into a oneness. It’s a brand new way of living. And that’s what covenant was.
Covenant was always made on the basis of love. You didn’t covenant but with one person, and you looked a lifetime sometimes to find that one person and you entered into covenant with that one person: like David and Jonathan in the Old Testament. God wanted a love relationship with mankind, so He took a word that was familiar to their culture, to their understanding, which was “covenant.” and He began to create a people. He covenanted with Abraham. Abraham was not Jewish; there was no such thing as an Israelite. Abraham came from Chaldea, but then they took him and it was through him that Isaac came and then through him that Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, came, and then Israel had twelve sons. It began to evolve and you began to see the Israelites develop by God’s own personal idea. It was His idea. He wanted a people amongst the pagan nations of the world through whom His Son could find His humanity. His humanity would come through the Jewish people.
Now in the ancient covenant ritual there would have been a sacrifice made. The animals were cut in half and each half was laid opposite each other, forming a bloody path which was called the “way of death.” Now it was here that the two people walking into covenant would walk. They would walk—it was a very sobering thing—they would walk in between these slain halves, showing the very costliness of covenant, and there they would have their wrists cut, each of them. And of course Leviticus tells us that life is in the blood and they would put their arms together so that the cuts of each would bind to each other, the life of one flowing into the life of the other; another picture of that oneness.
Then they would take a rope and they would wrap it around their wrists in a figure eight. That figure eight was a picture of the everlastingness of that covenant. And it was in this humbling position, standing between the dead halves of these animals, standing there with their arms together like this, and the blood of one flowing into the blood of the other, that they would say their covenant vows. Many times people have asked me, “Wayne, will you do a covenant wedding.” And I have had to explain that I’m not exactly sure that’s what you want me to do. Instead of a white dress, it might be better if the bride wore a red dress. It might work a little better. But that’s the way they would say their vows to each other. It was sobering. They understood that to break that vow resulted in death.
But you see, that was what was going on in the cultures, but this was something that God did that was different with the Abrahamic Covenant. It’s such a beautiful picture of His grace to you and me. God put Abraham to sleep and God and Abraham did not walk between those two halves, each making a pledge to the other. That did not happen. There were no vows said back and forth. Abraham was asleep, and God walked between the halves. It was just God that was walking between the halves. Now, the Abrahamic Covenant was then totally unique to anything their culture understood. It was not based on Abraham’s faithfulness to God; it was based on God’s faithfulness to Abraham. And this made all the promises of the Covenant, which are clearly stated in Genesis 12 and 15, totally dependent upon the faithfulness of God: not the faithfulness of man, which meant they were “yes” and they were “amen,” as it says in Corinthians of the promises given to us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God promised three things to Abraham: this is what was in that Covenant. One, He promised him a land; two, He promised him a seed, and that seed would be the Lord Jesus Christ in Galatians 3 tells us so clearly; but thirdly He promised him a people, a nation. It would be through that nation that the seed would find His humanity.
Now this nation inherited a land, this land was involved in the promise to Abraham, and every person who was circumcised entered into that same Covenant. And so God was faithful to keep His promises of giving them the land. The mark again was circumcision. So the land that the people had entered in chapter 4, it would seem obvious to all of us why they would have their males circumcised, because they were going into the land that was promised by God. You see, God is faithful to protect them. God was already faithful to prepare the way for them because this was a part of His Covenant promises to Abraham.
Now, when they were circumcised, this was their way of saying to God, “We will obey You. We will live as Your people. We will live as Covenant people to the living Jehovah God.” And once they took upon themselves the mark of the covenant, circumcision, now they were prepared for battle, because they’re walking with their covenant partner into this battle. And it’s God, as you’ll see later on, that is going to be their warrior. He’s going to be their victor as they pursue that which He had promised to them in the Covenant He gave to Abraham.
When we present our bodies to the Lord Jesus Christ, you see, it’s the same thing. When we want to walk in the life that God has for us, we have to present our bodies as living sacrifices just like it says in Romans 12:1-2. We deal with the flesh of our heart—they dealt with the flesh externally; we deal with the flesh internally—and when we choose to say yes to Him, as it says in Romans12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service of worship.” And then He gives a condition: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” why: “so that you can prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” So that you, in other words, can walk in the light that He promised you can have. You can enjoy what God says is yours.
So a time of renewing the covenant. If you’re here this morning and you’re not living this way but you’re a believer and you’re not experiencing His light, you’re not experiencing His joy and His peace and His patience and His love which is the fruit of His spirit produced in your life, then God says, “Renew your covenant.” Renew your covenant. Go and deal with your flesh, deal with the flesh of your heart, make sure that you have bowed before Him and you have yielded to Him. Present your body as a conduit, as a living sacrifice and then you now are ready for battle. You are ready to pursue and to enjoy that which God says is yours in Him. It’s the same thing.
Before we go into battle, we have to have our covenant renewed; not redone, it’s already been done. When you entered into Christ you entered into covenant with Him. You entered in the way of death, but now that we’re believers, we have to have it renewed if we’re going to walk in the victory He says is ours. So their covenant was renewed. What a picture for you and me.
- Their consequence was removed
But the second thing is that is so beautiful here, is the consequence was removed; their consequence was removed. Let me explain that. Evidently when they circumcised the males in obedience to God’s command, immediately they were set free from the consequences really of their parents’ sin of which they had never repented and had not yet been circumcised themselves. And it’s a sad history about their parents. You see, this young generation that was going into battle was not circumcised, they had not renewed their covenant. They were a disgrace because of their parents, yes, but also because of their own unwillingness to be circumcised. This was brand new. And there was a consequence upon them.
Look at verse 6: “For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the Lord, to whom the Lord had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised, for they were uncircumcised because they had not circumcised them along the way. Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed.” And then look at verse 9: “Then the Lord said to Joshua [watch this carefully now], ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.’” Gilgal had the idea of a circle or something that rolls, and so that was the word Gilgal. The phrase “rolled away” means to take something away. It’s like a heavy weight taken off somebody. I love the picture. If you’ve ever walked in sin you know exactly what he’s talking about. The disgrace, the shame, having been a Christian but yet turned away and done things your own way and now you have to bear the consequence of that. And He says it was rolled away.
The Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, translates it “to put away,” to put away, to take away never to return again. The reproach of Egypt; you see the word “reproach” is the word meaning “blame, scorn, disgrace.” They were bearing the disgrace and the shame and the scorn of Egypt. Now what is He talking about? You see, their parents had so turned their hearts back to Egypt, this is a sad story, I mean, this is what they inherited. Their parents had turned their hearts back to Egypt. When Moses was up on the mountain and God was giving him the Ten Commandments and he didn’t come down and he didn’t come down and he didn’t come down, then what did they do? They went back to the pagan idolatry of Egypt and they built the golden calf.
This second generation had to live in the shame of what their parents had done. Once they obeyed God, once they renewed their Covenant with Him, all the shame and all the blame and all the disgrace was rolled away from them. They had broken out of that which had so deeply shamed them for so long. They had simply obeyed God, they had renewed their covenant.
Now, let me ask you a question. If you don’t understand this, let me throw it at you this way: if you’re not living as a believer, if you’re not living yielded to Christ, people at your work, people in your family, people in your neighborhood, they already know what you’re like, because you’re not living a yielded life to Him, you’re not experiencing the life He wants to produce within you. And because of that, if it’s me, if it’s you, if it’s any of us, then there’s a disgrace which comes to the name of Christianity. All of us have seen this in past months and years of people who claim to be Christians and then they live a different way and it brings shame and it brings scorn down on the Name that we represent. But when we come to that place that we’re willing to deal with that sin, when we come to the place of renewing our covenant and saying, “Oh, God, we have sinned and oh, God will You just take our life and use us, we’re yielded to You,” all that reproach and all that blame and all that scorn just is rolled off of us.
And I’ll tell you what, when that happens, now you’re ready for battle. There’s nothing that’s going to mar your testimony, and your life is now surrendered to Him, and you’re ready for whatever comes your way. One of the ways the enemy gets to us the quickest is when we have a chink in our armor. When we have a weakness in our life that we’ve not dealt with, and when the world can find that out they’ll exploit it and it brings disgrace and shame back upon us. But when we renew our covenant and we’re yielded back to Him, fully yielded as much as we know how, and we’re willing to obey His will and His Word, that’s when the shame and reproach of the pagan world that we’ve bought back into is rolled away and now we have a testimony. Now we’re ready to serve Him.
They did something else. To celebrate this new found freedom that they had, they celebrated the Passover. This is the third time it’s recorded that the Passover had been celebrated since it first originally was instated. Verse 10: “While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.” They celebrated the Passover. Now, just do some thinking. In the New Testament it tells us in 1 Corinthians 5 that Jesus is our Passover. And so what they’re doing and when we have the Lord’s Supper, we’re celebrating the Passover, we’re celebrating our salvation. We’re celebrating what He did for us on the cross, to deliver us.
Well, you know what the Passover was in the Old Testament: the Passover was the celebration of them being delivered from the death angel over in Egypt when the people were in captivity and God said through Moses, “Set My people free.” And Pharaoh would not do it. There were ten plagues and the last plague was the death of the first born. And God told them in such a marvelous way, He said, “All of you get a lamb; I want you to sacrifice a lamb.” Two and one half million people sacrificing a lamb, do you think that might have smelled a little bit different that day? And the guards that were there thinking something was really going on in that Hebrew slave camp. And they celebrated the Passover. Not yet, this is the making of it. They celebrated the eating of the lamb and they killed the lamb and put the blood over the door post and each one of them had to partake of the lamb. And as the death angel came in, here they were satisfied with the lamb and the blood protecting them. Such a picture of salvation. The death angel moved down the street and all the houses that had the blood on the door post, they were spared, they were passed over. And it was a picture of them being delivered from Egypt, from the bondage they had in Egypt.
And of course God parts the Red Sea and they come through. And this Passover was a memorial to them. But do you realize what’s happening here? They have renewed their covenant, and if you put this into a new covenant language, what it is, is you and I celebrating our salvation so that we can renew our covenant. And then they would eat of the fruit of the lamb. Verse 11: “On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land so that the sons of Israel no long had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.” The unleavened bread was attached to the Passover Feast. That was when you got rid of all the leaven, which was a picture of sin. And it’s such a beautiful picture to you and me.
They ate of the first fruits. We have of the first fruits of the spirit, that’s what Paul identifies us as in one of his epistles. He says, “We that have the first fruits of the Spirit,” in Romans 8. And what he’s saying is, “Hey, when you renew your covenant with God and all the shame is rolled off of you, and you celebrate your deliverance from sin to begin with, and then you begin to partake of the first fruits of the Spirit, that’s what it’s all about. And that’s when you’re getting ready for battle. That’s when Jesus is being Jesus in you, and nobody can touch that which God is doing in your life. Such a beautiful picture of a Christian life we see pictured here in Joshua.
So their covenant was renewed. I just thank God that He lets us renew our covenant over and over again. How many times in my life I’ve had to go back and renew my covenant: Deal with the sin that has brought shame in my life; deal with the sin that has brought disgrace in my life. And then celebrate the fact that I’m even saved, and then partake of the first fruits of His Spirit, the things that God wants to do in my life that’s far beyond what I could ever produce myself.
- Their captain was revealed
So the covenant was renewed, their consequence was removed. But here’s the one: here’s the one. Their Captain was revealed. When we renew our covenant, and when the consequence of disgrace and shame is rolled off of us and we begin to partake of our Passover, the Lord Jesus, when we begin to experience the first fruits of what He produces in our life, then people don’t see us, they see Him. Our captain is now revealed, just like He was to Israel. Look at verse 13: “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked and behold a man was standing opposite him [look at this] with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or are you for our adversaries?’” I would have said the same thing! This is the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament. He is being visited by God Himself.
This is what you call a theophany. You know, Jesus has been around a long time. Before there ever was a beginning He always has been. He’s God! And this is a picture of Jesus appearing in the Old Testament. And He shows up with a sword in His hand. The Divine Captain is ready to lead Israel into battle. Just like when they got to the river, what was the first thing that went into the river? The priests who had carried the what: the Ark! God led the people through the river and now their mighty Captain has come to lead them into the spiritual battle that they’re going to have with Jericho. Joshua was just a follower, remember?
And by the way, it’s all about God, it’s not about us. I hope you understand that. All we need to do is renew our covenant, partake of our Passover, enjoy the first fruits of what He produces in our life, and the rest is history, because Jesus takes over. Now it’s Him in us.
Verse 13: “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked and behold a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand and Joshua said to him, ‘Are you for us or are you for our adversaries?’” Look how He answers it. “And He said, ‘Neither.’” I like that answer. He didn’t really answer that question, did He? He said, “I didn’t come to take sides, I came to take over.” Look what He says, “No, rather I indeed come now as the Captain of the Host of the Lord.”
You know what I’m so grateful for? I’m so grateful that when I renew my covenant, and the world and all hell is coming against me, I can say to my Captain, “Oh, Lord Jesus, will You take over? I can’t handle this, but You can.” And He begins to be revealed in my life. And what is it that brings fear to people that would do you and me spiritual harm in our life? It’s not us. It’s Christ in us; it’s our Captain being revealed. Joshua shows his followship, “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and bowed down and said to Him, ‘What has my Lord to say to His servant?’” In other words, it doesn’t matter; the answer is yes. He’s ready to hear whatever God tells him. “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
And verse 15: “The Captain of the Lord’s Host said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet.’” Now, you ought to know that by heart by now. Chapter 1, every place that your sole of your foot steps upon. Get your shoes off! The priests, when they stepped into the water, the sole of their feet stepped and touched that water. And He says, “Remove the sandals from your feet for the place where you’re standing is holy.” “We are standing on Holy Ground.” On holy ground! We’ve already sung this. Do we understand it? It means we’re standing surrendered and obedient unto God.
“‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you’re standing is holy’ and Joshua did so.” He did it. He didn’t ask any questions, he didn’t in any way fight this. He did what God told him to do. No question of who is in charge: the Captain has shown up, and He’s the One that’s going to lead the people into battle. As we seek to possess the life that God has given to you and me, we have got to understand that He and He alone calls the shots. He is our life, but He also is our Warrior. The moment we think we can do it—and I’m telling you, this is what the flesh deceives us into thinking—the moment we think we can do it and we don’t need our Divine Captain living His life though us, is the very moment we’re going to fail. He’s our Divine Source, He’s our Divine Warrior.
Now I want you to turn to a place in the New Testament to show you how this works out in our covenant. Look over in Ephesians 4:24. I’m going to show you something here. After verse 22 he’s said take off the old man, and he speaks of the behavior of the old lifestyle. Verse 24, Look what he says, “And put on the new self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Now what is that new man? That new man is Christ in us. Put Him on, put Him on; take the other off and but the other one on. And, by the way, don’t measure your life of taking something off and saying no to sin. If you’re only saying no to sin you’re still living under law. When you’re saying yes to Christ, you’re putting on the new garment, and that’s a big difference. That what grace says: say yes to Christ; law says say no to sin. And if all somebody is doing is saying no to sin, they’re just moving from one addiction to another. But when you say yes to Christ, that’s when you’re actually taking a garment off and putting a garment on, but you’re putting it on from the inside out.
I don’t know about your Bible, but chapter 3 comes before chapter 4 in mine. Sort of happens that way. He tells you how to put on the new man in chapter 3 if you’ll look in verses 16-17: “He would grant you a prayer according to the riches of His glory [which 3:8 tells you are unsearchable], to be strengthened with power through His Spirit [but look where it happens, look where the dressing takes place] in the inner man.” Now, understand, religion says do it from the outside in; Christianity says inside out.
When I did some meetings in Salt Lake City, Utah, some converted Mormons came to me and said, “Wayne, I finally understand. We wore a garment of righteousness every day when we’d get up underneath our clothes. We’d put it on from the outside. But what you’re saying is, and what God is saying is, that we can’t put it on from the outside. Jesus has to dress us with it from the inside out.”
Verse 17 tells you exactly how it happens: “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” That little “so that,” I don’t know why it’s there, because it makes it look like where 16 has to happen in order for verse 17 to take place. But if you’ll look at the Greek, it’s not that way. It’s Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith. The “so that” comes later on. Here’s my point: Christ dwelling in your hearts—katoikeo. Kata means down, oikeo means dwell or home. Down home. When you renew your covenant, when you come to that place of surrender, you let Jesus be “down home” in your life. Have you ever been someplace that you didn’t feel welcome? You’ve gone over to their house and you think you’re going to break something and they’ve got all the doors locked and you can only go in one room.
That’s not what he’s saying here. We were in a little town in Mississippi, and it’s in the middle of nowhere. And there was a house we were staying in, and that house was big and it had a lot of bedrooms. There were some people that we knew very well and we were doing a meeting there, a revival. And the music fellow and I went in and when we pulled up, at the basketball goal, they had two big sticks laying against the goal. You say, “Wayne, what’s that got to do with anything?” Listen, he had a mean dog. I took one stick and he took the other stick and we beat the dog off of us getting into the house. I mean, they thought of everything. We got inside the house, they had about seven bedrooms, and they said just help yourself. We played musical bedroom there for awhile. We just swapped around to see what the different bedrooms were like. And we’d walk into the kitchen and there was a big old glass of iced tea. Oh, son! And then there was either a coconut cake or a pound cake, but I’m not talking about the dry kind that gags you! I’m talking about the kind, you put it on your forehead, and your tongue will slap your brains out. I mean, it’s good stuff! They knew what we liked! They had the remote over there by the television set and had a little list of channels and how to work the remote. And I’m thinking, “Man, this is down home!”
I was so “down home” while I was there. One night, they were getting dressed for church and I was sitting on their bed while they were getting ready to go to church. Now that’s being home in somebody’s house! That is exactly what this verse is saying. You want Jesus to be Jesus in your life? You want to renew your covenant? You want to step into the power that God can do in your life? You let Him be “down home” in your life: every area of your life.
“How do you do that, Wayne?” He says through what: faith. Isn’t it amazing how we keep coming back to that? What is faith? Focus on Him and consecrate your whole life to Him and say yes to Him, and when you do, He becomes the garment that you’re dressed in, and people don’t see you anymore, they see Jesus being Jesus in your life. You say, “Wayne, why did you go to that? We’ve already talked about renewing your covenant.” I’ll tell you why. Go to chapter 6 now, verse 10. He’s going to talk about the battle, just like Joshua is talking about the battle. I want to show you something. How many times I’ve bought these books on spiritual warfare and I wake up in the morning just so confused that I don’t know what to do. It says I’ve got to put on a helmet, oh, and that’s right, and I’ve got to put on the belt and the breastplate and,… Listen, that’s not it at all! Somebody has made a lot of money confusing the whole body of Christ. Look at verse 10, “Finally, be strong [Where?] in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God,” which means don’t leave off a piece, “so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” here’s the battle, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God so that you’ll be able to resist in the evil day and having done everything to stand firm.”
Look at verse 14: “Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in addition to all taking up the shield of faith with which you’ll be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.”
Now, I want to show you something that maybe you’ve never seen. When you renew your covenant with God and the disgrace and the shame of living like a pagan rolls off of you and you become usable to God, the garment, the garment of chapter 4, Christ in you, now listen to me carefully, is the armor of chapter 6. There’s nothing new that you need to do. Once you have Him on, you not only have your life on, but you have your armor on. He is our armor. You say, “Wayne, I don’t believe that.” I’m so glad you said that!
There’s a prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 59. Let me show you some familiar words, verse 17. “He,” speaking of Jesus, “put on righteousness like a breastplate and a helmet of salvation on His head, and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.” And what he’s saying is He is the loins girded about with truth, He is the breastplate of righteousness, and He is the helmet of salvation. That’s why chapter 6 in Ephesians comes after chapter 4 and after chapter 3.
Here’s what I’m trying to tell you: when you renew your covenant and the shame and the disgrace is rolled off of you, your Captain is now revealed in your life. His character is revealed through you, but He is the armor to face any spiritual battle that you have to face and you don’t have to worry about it. He doesn’t give you victory, He is your victory.
“So Wayne, I want to learn now. How is it that we prepare for battle?” Well, first of all you’ve got to enter into the life. But you renew your covenant with Him, you come back to the place of surrender to Him, and when you do, all that disgrace—you may still have consequences in your life—but His mercy will help you bear up under. But you’re free to be usable again, and all that disgrace rolls off of you. But not only that, He is life and Him being your Captain and Warrior is revealed within you. And that’s what brings fear to others, not you, but the Christ that lives in you. He is our Divine Captain.
One illustration that I want to share. Darlene Rose gives her testimony of how she was on an island that the Japanese controlled in World War II. She was a missionary in a compound. The Japanese came and took the men and put them on the death march and her husband died on the death march. Well, she was left alone with a group of ladies there in a compound, I mean, totally vulnerable to whatever the cruel war would do. And they had a man who would be a servant to them that came every day. And one night they heard the Japanese coming. They heard them coming. And they, of course, are not known to be real nice to you, and so they began to get on their knees. And Miss Darlene said, “We got on our knees and we cried out to our Divine Captain and we said, ‘Oh God, we cannot defend ourselves, you’re going to have to defend us. We don’t know what else to do. We make ourselves available to You.’”
They said the men surrounded the place and suddenly there were shouts like they had never heard and the men dispersed and ran away. And they couldn’t understand what happened. After the war, when they could go back to that compound in that area, they found that young man that they felt like had probably told them, which was that servant boy, and they said, “Did you tell them that we were there by ourselves?” And he said, “I did, they paid me.” They said, “We don’t care about that; why did they run, why did the people run when they got there? What happened?” And the man said, “You didn’t see it?” They said, “What?” “They said that when they got there suddenly they saw the biggest men they had ever seen in their life, with sword in their hands, dressed in white. They were huge and they completely encircled the whole compound and they all ran in fear.”
I want to tell you something, folks, they didn’t see it, they didn’t even see it, but the world saw it. When we walk renewed in our covenant, dismissed from the disgrace and shame of living lives that aren’t befitting to a believer, then our Captain is revealed in our life. And that’s what makes the world tremble. They don’t see us, they see Him, and brother, we are ready for battle.