~~ By James J. Fire
The Battle of Life Continues – From Victory to Vanquishment
Any believer who has experienced a spiritual victory exults in the joy of it; knowing assuredly that the LORD has been in the midst and has granted such to people like us: mere clay vessels in which the Holy One inhabits and has made us citizens of the kingdom of God!
A series of victories and blessings upon us (and God is ever willing and generous to pour such blessings) however can be a potential spiritual danger. This is often why God must temper His outpourings, because as is often the case, this can lead our deceptive hearts to the lie that there is something about ourselves that is worthy to receive these things from God; that there is something about our own strength, and wisdom, and saintliness that has brought to us these victorious blessings and blessed victories.
In such a state of mind and heart, we are encouraged by our great enemy Satan, and this inevitably (if not repented of) leads to pride of the spiritual sort and a detrimental vanquishment in our lives. Where initially there is a victory, Satan bides his time to plant the seeds of pride, self worth and self glorification, which robs us of victory and lays us low in vanquishment.
The book of Joshua has told us that in the city of Jericho, God wrought a tremendous victory and successful campaign for the children of Israel. As we saw, it wasn’t really Joshua and his proficient battle tactics (though these are even studied today in various military academies), nor was it the strength and prowess of Israel’s valiant warriors. It was the Captain of the hosts of the LORD (Joshua 5:14) that led Israel to victory. The LORD Jesus led the General ‘Jesus’ known as Joshua (in the Hebrew) and the armies of Israel to victory.
We do well always to remember in our own spiritual warfare that we go into such battle, not in our own power or authority, but in the blessed, eternal Name of our “Blessed and only Potentate” Jesus Christ our LORD. We must never claim that such victory was obtained by our own hand or dare to touch the glory of God, but render such procurement to the very throne of God where it came from in the first place.
In the midst of spiritual victory God warned Israel that the city of Jericho was accursed, and that nothing should be taken from that place for personal possession among the people of Israel. Only the gold and the silver, iron and brass were to be taken and consecrated to the LORD (6:18-19). Any that would take possession of the things in Jericho would not only make themselves accursed, but bring such to all of Israel “and trouble” her.
If you are a born again believer, a follower of Jesus Christ and indwelt by the Spirit of God, you are a member of the body of Christ. What’s so astounding is that we who are the church are not merely an organization, but an organism – in a sense, a genuine body of believers. Obviously what affects one part of your body, affects your body as a whole. It was the same with the nation Israel; it’s the same with the church.
We don’t always appreciate the truth of the matter, that when I sin, it affects you; when you sin, it affects me; when one member of the body of Christ sins, it affects all the rest of us in some deep, mysteriously spiritual way. Conversely when one member grows in spiritual might and maturity and begins to walk in holiness and prays fervently for the brethren, this brings blessing and strength to all the body.
None of us are in this spiritual warfare alone; there are no ‘Lone Rangers’ in God’s army! Further, enlistment includes only those born into God’s Kingdom; no citizen of this world or practitioner of any religion can be a part of this grand military of the Mighty God! We stand united in Christ Jesus and in His Word; anything supplemental or divergent from these will always bring disunity and weakness (such is the curse of ecumenism!).
In chapter Seven of Joshua, it opens with tragedy:
But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
Two points: Achan defiantly broke the command of the LORD, and apparently there were some who were aware of this, because God’s anger was not against Achan alone, but against the children of Israel. Perhaps they didn’t think such a thing would be noticed; maybe they were afraid to confront Achan. It could be that they only suspected this man committed an offense but were reluctant to make certain of the matter.
Yet while this happened, Joshua was busy making battle plans for the next location of conquest:
And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.
And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.
In light of the tremendous victory against such a heavily fortified city as Jericho, the considerably smaller and less defensible city of Ai must have look more like a trivial piece of light work to the spies that Joshua ordered to go and reconnoiter. The spies counsel to Joshua was to send only a couple thousand to take out this little morsel. Yet one must ask: where was the counsel of the LORD in all of this? Where was prayer and seeking His command?
Was the promise of victory at Jericho sufficient enough for Ai so that such fervent seeking of God’s face was unnecessary? Yet one must wonder that if such prayer had been issued heaven-ward, Joshua could have averted the impending defeat, for God would have at such a time warned of the sin of Achan (“Achan” by the way in Hebrew means “trouble” or “troublesome”).
But instead, what happened . . .
So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.
And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
Tragic indeed, isn’t it? Incidentally, the name of this city Shebarim means “ruins, destruction, fracture”, among other things – interesting.
Put yourselves in Joshua’s shoes: You’ve just led an incredible, miraculous victory against a seemingly invulnerable enemy when you attacked its fortress walls with nothing but shouts and trumpet calls. You watched as those mammoth walls crumbled into clouds of dust, paving the way for your soldiers to enter into the city and slay the Canaanites (with the exception of Rahab and her family).
Immediately following this sublime conquest you face another city, only a fraction of the size of Jericho, and with entirely negligible defenses. Yet your soldiers end up fleeing before this enemy of minority ranks, and thirty six of your countrymen have been slain. There is no record of Hebrew casualties after the attack on Jericho.
Can you picture Joshua’s bafflement, his dismay, his outright consternation? His abject grief?
And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.
At Jericho the victory of God caused its walls to fall to the ground; at Ai however it was Joshua and the leaders that fell to the ground in defeat.
While it doesn’t mention the time of day this attack was launched against Ai, such campaigns were typically commenced at the break of day when everything can be clearly seen, but before the day grew hot and soldiers would tire more easily as a result. The engagement here appears to be a rout: not merely a retreat, but an immediate one that suffered casualties.
So from the point the campaign began, to the defeat of Israel, its logical to assume that the better part of the day was still available. Joshua and the elders spent this time renting his clothes and sought the LORD in grief and dust upon their heads until the evening:
And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!
O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?
Joshua’s prayer fairly wrings with despair and a distraught heart, doesn’t it? He even questions God’s motivation for bringing Israel into this land, and pines for life as it would have been on the other side of Jordan (the proverbial ‘grass is greener on the other side of the fence’ syndrome).
He even dreads what sort of ramifications this would bring when once the Canaanites hear of this deplorable defeat and come to the conclusion that the destruction of Jericho was some sort of bizarre stroke of happenstance and luck and that Israel was not invincible after all! He even wonders what will become of the reputation of God among these heathen.
Yet God’s answer is direct and dismisses Joshua’s pleas:
And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.
Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.
Israel may have been successful in the military engagement against Jericho, but they failed in the enticements of avarice and greed at Ai – Achan fell from his own steadfastness and into a lust for gain and all Israel suffered a defeat.
In our own spiritual warfare, whether it’s in the realm of evangelism, or endeavoring in holy living, or intercessory prayer for others, how can we expect a spiritual victory when we have given into the enticements of this world which are forbidden to the church, and have “taken of the accursed thing”? Or adopted other “accursed thing[s]” like worldly philosophies of myriad kinds and persuasions, seeker-friendly programs, ‘P.E.A.C.E.’ purposes, Emergent dogmas and intellectual enticements as our own, leaving the Word of God for the words of mere men?
Remember Paul’s words:
1 Tim 6:3-12
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (see also 2 Tim. 2:19-22)
Note that it’s the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself; the adoration and willing servitude of gaining financial prosperity towards the end of acquisition of power is something that readily feeds our flesh and pride. Wealth upon a corrupt heart that would crave power is like gasoline poured upon an open flame.
Even Frederick Nietzsche spoke of “the will to power” for those more ‘highly evolved’ persons with a pre-disposition for the acquisition of wealth and power, and that it’s the evolutionary ‘birth-right’ of such individuals to possess power and become lords over their inferiors (those without any ‘will to power’).
Having the armor of God upon us, we are impervious to such things, but if just once we leave off any part, we are naked and vulnerable; tender and pliant against the adamant, razor sharp weapons of the enemy: is there unforgiveness in our hearts? Jealousy? Greed? Deceits? Lust? Pride? These are ‘chinks’ in our armor that, like the nation of Israel discovered, will prove our ruin and destruction and cause fractures in the “temple of God”. May we be ever more diligent regarding the donning of ALL our armor than our enemy is in looking for gaps!
Our rebellion against God spells victory among the ranks of Satan’s hosts!
Yet God has not given up on His people; they suffered a terrible defeat, yes – but the LORD is teaching them that to acquire victory, there must be humbled, obedient hearts and sanctified lives (refer again to Josh. 7: 12), for if these things are not attended to, we will fall into sin, and sin always leads to death in one form, then another (until finally eternal death occurs beyond the confines of time).
Achan is going to learn these lessons the hard way, and unfortunately he is going to drag his entire family into this mess with him!
Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.
And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.
Think of the nation of Israel in parallel terms to the life of a believer in Jesus Christ, one of His disciples: Just as there was this one accursed thing, somewhere in the ranks and files of the armies of Israel, we Christians can sometimes harbor a single sin. That one accursed thing, that singular sin is enough to spell ruin in our warfare, be it physically in Israel’s case, or spiritually in ours.
Sanctification is simply being Christ-like; it’s the divine nature made manifestly strong and apparent in the life of a believer. Sanctification is a purifying of our lives and hearts from the power of sin that would seek to dominate and control our affections, desires, and goals. Sanctification is a process, not an event. It’s something that initiates when we are first born again, and as we continue in the life of a believer and follow Jesus Christ, it continues in conforming us to Him and transforming our minds.
Scripture speaks of “mortifying” the flesh, which is counting our carnal and wicked desires as dead with Christ on the cross He Himself died on two thousand years ago. The Word also speaks of being sanctified and acceptable for our Masters use. As has been said before, sanctification is being set apart for special use and, or relationship with the LORD. An example I often use is as follows:
You invite some friends over for a BBQ and when they arrive, there you are flipping burgers on the grill . . . with a fly swatter. Well it looks like a spatula, functions somewhat like one, so why not? Your friends won’t be staying for dinner however! For the Christian to live a worldly life, apart from supreme affection and devotion for the LORD and with a yearning for the enticements of this fallen world is even more inappropriate than a fly swatter at a BBQ grill! Spatulas are for BBQ grills and fly swatters are for killing pests! Christians are for the LORD, not the world, not even for themselves!
If we fail to exercise sanctification in our lives, and yes, we are indeed called upon to work with the LORD (Phil. 2:12) by yielding and obeying Him in all things, if we insist on keeping hold of “that accursed thing” then we will know nothing but spiritual defeat and degradation and our fervor and love for the LORD will grow cold (Matt. 24:12). As I like to say, “The Sanctifier is the Saint’s fire!”
1 John 2:6
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (see also Gal. 5:16; Eph. 4:1; 5:2, 15)
Also Romans 8: 9-14
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
And Col. 3: 5-17 as well.
Col 3:5-8, 10
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Note that in vs. 12, 14, 15 and 16 the words “put on” and “let” appear, indicating that there is something we need to do in compliance with the will of God, which is of course our sanctification.
1 Thess 4:3
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
Back to the book of Joshua – because Achan as a type of a failed believer who would not be sanctified, set apart for God and apart from worldly desires and influences; because he refused the purifying fire of God’s Spirit, he would be destroyed by fire, and in this manner becomes a type of unbeliever who will be judged and relinquished to eternal hell.
And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.
So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:
The Governor-General of Israel, Joshua proceeded to diminish by interview the tribe of Israel by families until he whittled down to “Achan, the son of Carmi” and Achan’s sons and daughters. He then asked Achan to make confession and this is what he had to say:
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.
It should be noted that this wealthy acquisition by Achan was no small pittance: two hundred shekels of silver and a fifty shekel weight of gold, along with a beautifully made garment is no trivial temptation. However even if it had been a mere coin of gold, silver or bronze, it would have still been a grievous sin before the LORD, the Judge of all the Earth.
Had Achan initiated his confession before he got ‘snagged’ by Joshua’s inquisition, and brought the incriminating evidence before him and the leadership of Israel, he would no doubt have been spared; yet because he intended on keeping this thing hidden (as we are always apt to do in our sinful nature, apart from yielding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit) he was indicted. Thank the LORD that our own Joshua, the LORD Jesus confronts us on our sin, but under grace that enables atonement and forgiveness and not by the Law which can only condemn (Rom. 3:20)!
Sanctification requires death of self, death to the will to sin, death to a life of self seeking, pleasure and esteem. Achan signed the death warrant for himself and his own children, who would have known about this treasure that Achan buried beneath their own tent (and kept silent about it) and so by their death, the whole of Israel was sanctified from “the accursed thing”. Likewise, when we allow an “eye” or a “right hand” that causes us to offend (Matt. 5:29) to be mortified and die the death, we allow the flow of sanctification to run its course through our lives unrestrained. In both cases, sanctification leads to spiritual victory in our warfare!
And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.
And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? The LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.
And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.
Note that Achan was stoned and also “them” and “burned them with fire”, referring to his children. Spiritually speaking we are not islands unto ourselves; it’s a very sad truth that when we sin, others suffer for it, especially if they are aware of the sin and do not stand for righteousness and truth.
As I look over the landscape of the LORD’s people and see how sin has infested the body of Christ, bringing ailment and weakness and a spiritual immune system to the brink of disrepair, I grieve on the one hand for those who are keeping silent, who are aware of the sinister silver of Sin and the Gomorrah gold that gleams and the politically correct but abominable garments of Babylon; on the other hand I am grateful for those relatively few voices that are not remaining at all silent, but speaking out boldly, confidently, and yet with kindred broken hearts over the deplorable state of the church.
There are many ‘Achans’ today who are taking of the accursed thing and stealing from the wealth of vain philosophies and deceits that is the Emergent Church, who are delving into the treasure troves of humanistic and progressive ideologies which promote Socialism, that have saturated not just our society at large, but our government, our schools, our courts, our businesses and yes, even our churches!
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
Note that even though the vilest of men are exalted, and that the wicked walk on every side, the LORD will preserve His Word and keep them pure and free from taint – as a witness against those vile and wicked persons who reject God and His Word.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
Just as with a city, I believe the same thing can be said of a nation; or the church, if the mouth of the wicked is given an audience in our pulpits; godless philosophies, goals, missions, and ‘purposes’
2 Cor 6:14-18
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Achan was not set apart in his heart; his affections were unequally yoked with the same lust for wealth as those in the world. I see too much of the church in this vain pursuit of health and wealth, peace and prosperity as well. We are no longer a people who are holy and set apart for the LORD – our distinctiveness as followers of Christ has become blurred by compromise in adopting the culture of the world and its own religions (we who are called to be strangers and pilgrims in this world that is passing away have ‘gone native’!) – In the preaching in our pulpits, in the music industry (no longer a ministry), in the sorts of books that are written. Most all of these lack the holy fire and love for the truth that we have seen prior to the enemy’s flood of apostasy swamping the church! The conviction of the Holy Spirit in challenging the sin of a wayward world and the body of Christ beleaguered by baneful transgressions is no longer felt. More and more professing Christians are favoring all the things of the world, the lust of the flesh, and acquiring blessings that are all about self, and self-satisfaction:
1 John 2:15-16
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Greg Reid, of YouthFire Ministries has joined Lighthouse Trails ministry and you can view his articles and ministry provisions at the link above. From a couple articles he’s written there are solid points of conviction, truth and challenges that we need to hear, and by God’s Spirit obey the call of the LORD back to holiness and following Jesus in a truly spiritual walk and thus, march victoriously in His Army. This is essential, and non-negotiable for the impending warfare that we will soon engage in with an increasingly hostile nation that is opposing biblical Christianity at every level. Please read the following powerful articles in their entirety at the links provided below:
Like the Others - Or Why We Have No Power
Here is a quote from the above article:
“The church has grown trendy, hip, multimedia, seeker friendly, more comfortable. It's hard to tell many church services from an Amway convention these days. We wanted to reach (impress) the world using their methods and their tools, but there is little conviction, there is no challenge, and there is no sacrifice. Just a nice place to go once or twice a week, a place we leave unchanged.”
At The Crossroads
Below are some quotes by our brother Greg from his article At The Crossroads:
“In the church's zeal to attract the world, imitate the world and not offend the world, we have lost our fire. We've forgotten that we are called to be separate - spiritual troublemakers - ones who turn the world upside down! We are called to be - dare I say it? Dividers. Dividing truth from lie, reality from fantasy, righteousness from sin and corruption. Who we are, what we believe, who we belong to will put us in direct opposition to the spirit of this age, the antichrist spirit. Get used to it. It's about to get a lot worse.”
“The tide will begin to rise against believers. We believe in the good news of Jesus; but if you read the book of Acts, repentance was preached. In addition, idolatry and sorcery were opposed and immorality decried. Paul opposed a sorcerer and he went blind! Not exactly our modern version of “friendship evangelism.”
“The crossroads we face is a crisis of the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. It is time to get past “devotional reading” and seize the Word of God for revolutionary LIVING. It is time to stop treating the scriptures like a comforting pillow and take it up as a life transforming sword.”
Battle lines have been drawn, church of God; if you are a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, blood bought by the Lamb of God and now indwelt by His Holy Spirit, belonging to the LORD God, both body and spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20), whether you like it or want it or believe it or not: you are in the spiritual ‘crosshairs’ of the enemy, whose influences are increasing exponentially here in America (note: TTUF is about to continue in some more Profiles [to date we’ve had three] based off of Brannon Howse’s book GRAVE INFLUENCES – 21 Radicals and Their Worldviews that Rule American From the Grave. This will be an ongoing series of prolific persons that are responsible for the pernicious paradigm shift we are seeing in all of its aspects. Look for the first new Profile on TTUF, soon!). You will either engage in this warfare or become a P.O.W. – which will it be? Which will you choose?
Are you ready to conduct spiritual warfare in the greatest campaign this nation has ever seen, or ever will again? Are you sanctified and made acceptable for the Master and LORD General of the Hosts of Heaven use?
2 Tim 2:19, 21
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
. . . and every good campaign of warfare, I might add!
In the next article entitled “From Vanquishment to Victory” we will continue in the book of Joshua and witness the victory granted by God as a result of Israel’s obedience and sanctification. Let us be blessed, convicted, and even rebuked as necessary by the LORD as we venture forward in our study of spiritual warfare. Let us learn the truth of these lessons well, for quite soon I believe we will have need of them in practice and not just as simply knowledge. Until then, go with GOD for He will never leave you nor forsake you His beloved!