Exchange Captivity for Freedom
…go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
hen Joshua reached the border to the Promised Land, the Lord appeared to him as the Commander of God's Army, sword in hand. Joshua reacted with awe, and worshiped the Lord. He expressed no dismay when confronted with signs of battles to come, but as a soldier who awaits orders he simply inquired what the Lord wanted him to do.[i]
Joshua must have been prepared for the resistance shown by the inhabitants of the land, because his reply revealed, in Matthew Henry's words, "...an earnest desire to know the will of Christ, and a cheerful readiness and resolution to do it."
If the Israelites' forty years in the desert are compared to a marathon, crossing over the border into Canaan is not analogous to the finish line, but is more like a signpost saying "five more miles to go!" If God's people had expected to enjoy the fruit of the land without being willing to battle for it, they would never have entered in.
We feel a sense of entitlement because of all we’ve been through. We ignore the truth that God has strengthened and helped us through every life challenge, and expect to be rewarded for years of service. However, our ideas of appropriate compensation for the trials we’ve endured may differ substantially from the Lord’s perspective. When we are receiving His call to action, God does not appear to us as a gentle and benevolent parent who offers a cup of hot chocolate by a warm fire following a long day in the cold. The challenge we feel from our Lord is more akin to Joshua's encounter with Him; the Almighty is glorious in power and a drawn sword is in His hand. We are invited to follow Him into battle to take possession of the land He has promised.
In the physical realm, losing weight isn't all that complicated. The message at the heart of every dieting book boils down to two simple edicts: eat less and exercise more. But, winning freedom from the enemy's hold on our lives? Now that's a challenge.
We mustn’t be lackadaisical about this effort, but focused and watchful.[ii] We are called to utilize spiritual weapons of praise, Scripture, prayer, and fellowship as we strive to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.[iii] The majority of our work is done as we cultivate the spiritual disciplines that serve as conduits for the Holy Spirit’s transforming power in our lives. We have to avoid the idea that we must work harder to transform our physical bodies when the true effort required is, in spite of the noise and distractions of this world, to focus upon God’s love. Our labor consists of the mental and spiritual disciplines of keeping our hearts and minds open to Him. All of our good works flow from this center of loving and being loved by the Lord.
Pray: Lord, please forgive me for being careless about habits of prayer, praise and worship, petition, Scripture reading and memorization, and for neglecting fellowship with other Christians. Help me to be as committed to putting on my spiritual armor as I am to cover my physical body with clothing. Rather than cowering from the prospect of spiritual labor, or worse, channeling my energy to some physical effort toward my own transformation, help me to be prayerful and watchful. Open my eyes to the many ways You have taken care of me throughout every challenge I’ve faced and forgive me when I’ve doubted Your good intentions; Lord forgive me for complaining. I trust Your perspective and not my own. I am confident in Your plan and Your care. Please strengthen me according to Your word.[iv] Help me to have “an earnest desire to know the will of Christ, and a cheerful readiness and resolution to do it.”[v] Amen.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds
2 Corinthians 10:4