It would do us all well to meditate again on the fact that what we see of the children of Israel as they occupied and dwelt in Ha-aretz ha-tov, the good land which God gave to them is in many ways paralleled in our own entrance into the Christian life upon salvation. Our journey as Christians through this life, with its struggles, trials, tribulations but also its victories, joy, peace, and times of blessing is not unlike the nation of Israel’s encounters in the Promised Land. In particular, we should see this in Psalm 44:5-8,
“Through thee will we push down our enemies; through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.”
At the risk of sounding too allegorical, I would suggest that that the *enemies* we face today in our walks are the sins that seem to beset on all sides. And just as Israel was required to be faithful and trusting in the Lord to gain the victory over the enemies they faced, likewise must we. Our sins are like those nations that God commanded Israel to extirpate from the Promised Land. Our reaction to the presence of sin in our lives can take one of two forms:
1) Tolerance which will eventually lead to consortium with that sin
2) Diligent vigilance to drive sin out
At various times, Israel did both. When they were faithful, God gave them the victory, often against exceeding overwhelming odds. When they failed, tolerated the presence of those whom God said to do away with, they began to be polluted by the idols of Canaan and their other pagan neighbours, and brought God’s chastisement down upon themselves.
As vv. 5-8 above indicate, merely being opposed to sin in our lives is not enough, however. Faithfulness is founded in loyalty to Christ, which entails far more than taking a proper and correct mental attitude (though that is the obvious first step to gaining victory over any certain sin that besets). It requires a full-fledged commitment to hate that sin which tempts and tries – “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13a) and “..I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). And most of all, it requires the Christian to loose themselves completely from any attachment, however tenuous, to that sin. God hates that sin, and we must as well, and be willing to forsake it completely, which is the only true and complete repentance. Once this is done, the decision made, then the act of humility of calling upon the Lord and diligently seeking Him to gain the victory is made. If Israel was to gain the victory in some battle in the Promised Land, they needed to repent and call upon the Lord, not sit back and rest on their place as God’s Chosen and think that this would win them the day.
For ultimately, it is only God who even CAN cause us to have victory over our sin. We have not within ourselves the means by which to succeed spiritually under our own power or goodness or self-discipline. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18) If Paul wasn’t good enough to win the battle under his own strength and goodness, then friend, I certainly am not!
So, like vv. 5-8 say, my sword nor my bow shall deliver me, for it is HE, the Lord God, who is able to save us out of the hand of our enemies, the sins with which the great enemy of all God’s children, satan, seeks to snare us with as he walks about seeking whom he may devour. God will push down our enemies, these sins, and it is HE in whom we, at the end of the day when all is said and done, must make our boast. A verse I’ve always tried to hold onto comes to mind,
“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)
The word translated as “subdue” is the Hebrew kabash, which means to subjugate or tread down violently, to overcome and bring something under control by force. It can also carry with it the idea of disregarding something, presumably because it is of so little worth that it is inconsequential. The use of this word here, coupled with the allusion to God casting our sins into the depths of the sea indicates that, when we are faithful and call upon the Lord, and when He extends His compassion to us, He will work to remove and subjugate the power and presence of sin in our lives (i.e. the process of sanctification will go forward). He treads it down, subdues it from our lives, and by removing it completely as though it were cast into the ocean deep, deems our iniquities once they are forgiven and defeated, to be inconsequential, He remembers them not. We can and will have that freedom from sin that Jesus promised in John 8:31-36!
By remaining faithful, seeking the Lord, walking with Him daily, reading and meditating upon His Word, fellowshipping with Him in prayer, relying upon Him in witnessing, and every other thing that we ought to do to stick close to our great Friend, we can and will have victory over whatever sins plague us and shame us. We can get victory over the Canaanite of alcoholic drink, or the Jebusite of lust, or the Perizzite of thievery, whatever the specific enemy may be.