Today’s reading: Josh 7:1–8:35, 2 Cor 10:1–8, Ps 49:1–20
Today’s theme: The battle for the mind
Today we learn about the battle for the minds of men. We must not allow our mind to be taken captive by the enemy, we are called to live transparent and honest lives before God, shunning compromise and confessing our sins before God, to the glory of God.
Like Paul we are called to tear down the mental strongholds that keep people in bondage and hostility toward God.
For Your great name
For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?” Joshua 7:9 (ESV)
Like the intercessory prayers of Moses, Joshua appeals to God’s desire to be glorified in the earth, and for His great fame to be spread across the earth, (see Moses’ prayers in Exodus 32:11–13 and here Numbers 14:15–16).
Israel was God’s chosen nation as a means to being glorified in the earth, through the fame of His name and great acts among them being spread throughout the nations. It is through God’s covenants and dealings with His people that we start to get a glimpse of who He is.
We can learn from this way of praying, that we too should appeal to God’s zeal for His own glory and fame.
The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Joshua 7:10 (ESV)
When there is sin and compromise to be dealt with, there is really nothing to pray (ask) about, we need to repent (turn away from the sin) and get rid of the contaminating compromise. God does not need to be sought concerning sin, His word is clear, He calls on all men everywhere to repent. So repent! See Acts 17:30
Compromise affects everyone
Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. Joshua 7:12 (ESV)
When we allow compromise into our lives, we will fall under God’s judgement and discipline. It is important that we do not compromise with sin or bring any cursed objects into our home. Paul picks up on this with sin and compromise in the church having a negative affect on the whole body, in 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9. Compromise in this way not only marks us for destruction, but causes harm and danger to those around us.
Confess sin to God
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Joshua 7:19 (ESV)
Openly admitting and confessing our sin before God, acknowledging that we have sinned against God and are without excuse, brings glory to God. We must seek to be honest and transparent.
We must be humble as followers of Christ and one element of this which will keep our conscience healthy before God, is to give God glory by confessing our sin. See Acts 19:18-19, James 5:16 and 1 John 1:9
Do not covet
And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.” Joshua 8:2 (ESV)
There was no need for Achan to covet in the earlier chapter, here we see God would in this instance, provide goods for the people. Achan’s coveting showed not only short sighted greed but a fundamental lack of faith.
Coveting at its root shows that the one coveting does not trust God for guidance and provision and is instead driven by their own desires and will harm themselves and those around them to get what they want. We must learn to be content and trust God for provision. See Philippians 4:11 and 2 Corinthians 9:8-11
God honours obedient faith
Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. Joshua 8:18 (ESV)
In our human reasoning it may seem strange that Joshua should hold out the Javelin / Sword to Ai until it had been destroyed, however this was a command directly from the Lord and so on Joshua’s part, this was an act of faith. It was also a sign of decisive leadership from Joshua and his confident faith in the Lord, who would win the day for them.
Moses did a similar symbolic act of faith at the Lord’s command when Joshua was fighting in the trenches against the Amelikites, in Exodus 17.
We can learn from this that we should act on God’s word in faith, even when it seems strange or illogical, God will honour our faith as we honour Him in obedience. See Hebrews 11:6
The bible, central for all society
There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them. Joshua 8:35 (ESV)
The renewal of the covenant was centred around God’s written word, for all members of society. If we want to see renewal in our own lives, families, church or wider society, it must be centred around God’s revealed and written word which can only be found in the bible.
2 Corinthians 10:1–8
The battle for the mind
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4–6 (ESV)
The battle is for the minds of men. The fleshy way of fighting for men’s hearts and minds, is to use human reasoning and underhanded tactics to manipulate the targets. Paul does not fight in this way, he fights with God’s weapons and so fights in God’s way.
The imagery Paul is using is of a full siege which has three stages: 1) destroying defences 2) taking captives 3) punishing resisters. We should use these three stages of attack as we fight for God’s glory and fame.
The strongholds that we need to tear down are the intellectual arguments that have been set up against the truth of the Gospel. The captives are the very thoughts of those who were imprisoned by these mental strongholds (i.e. evolution or false religion).
The weapons we use include the truth of the Gospel, prayer, God’s wisdom and even our holy living. We must fight for the hearts and minds of those in our church and the wider culture. God’s story must be set over and against all the false narratives of this world.
All men die
For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Psalm 49:10 (ESV)
This call goes out to all mankind, God calls men to not have foolish confidence in the riches or wisdom of this world, as we read in today’s other readings. All men have an appointment to keep with death, everything in this life is temporary so all men need to be prepared to stand before God.
We should not seek to seem “blessed” in the eyes of others, we should live before God knowing that our time on this earth is short. Eternity is forever. See Hebrews 9:27
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on 2 Corinthians 10