Joshua 23:10-11 “One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.”
There is a distinction in Japanese here that clears up what I think is a common misunderstanding about this and similar passages. We are prone to think that if the Lord fights for us, we don’t have to fight at all. Sometimes that is indeed true, as in Exodus 14:14 and, perhaps most notably, 2 Chronicles 20:17. However, such cases are the exception rather than the rule. The Japanese grammar here makes it clear that the Lord fights on our behalf, rather that in our stead. If we didn’t have to fight at all, then why would this talk about one person routing a thousand? Like so many things in the spiritual realm, what is called for is our choice; we have to choose to fight. That’s why the devil tries so hard to convince us that “Resistance is futile” (to quote Star Trek). In Christ, that is absolutely, never, true. This past Sunday I preached on how the devil is afraid of believing Christians, and it was a true Word indeed. We need to believe that life in Christ is worth the fight, and take our stand in obedience to Him. When we do that, the devil indeed turns tail and runs, just as James said. (James 1:22)
I have certainly tasted this from all sides. I well remember a particular “besetting sin” that the devil kept reminding me of, and I kept falling into. It wasn’t until I really grasped that I was forgiven that I was able to shake loose of it. In other words, I had to receive the faith and hope God had for me, and choose to act accordingly. I can’t say that I’ve never been tempted with it again, or even that I’ve never stumbled since, but I can say that I have the victory, and I know that it’s because God is on my side, just as Joshua said. As a pastor, I deal with people who are just as weak as I was/am. I need to help them understand that God will supply all the strength they need if they will only choose to receive and apply it. Without our choice, it’s only potential and not actual. It’s the same way with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He supplies them, but it is our choice whether to apply them. He might give a gift of prophecy, for example, but we have to choose to open our mouths, or perhaps write it down. Almost every time I have been used in prophecy I have only known the beginning when I started speaking, and I have been as surprised as those hearing me at what I have ended up saying. Sometimes I’ve had no idea at all, but just had the feeling that God wanted to say something, and He wanted to use me to express it. My words by themselves are of no particular benefit, but I’ve got to choose to speak if I want God to speak through me.
Father, this is an important point. As is so often the case, I had no idea I would write this, just from reading the passage. Help me choose to fight, to speak, to do Your works, knowing that You will do the “heavy lifting” if I will just make the choice to serve You. Thank You. Praise God!