Read Romans 6 and talk about it together. When you are finished, read over the words below from Rick James’ book “Flesh” and chew on the implications. What needs to happen in your life?
In the book of Joshua in the Bible, we are given the account of how God delivered the land he had promised into the hands of the Israelites. While the land was a gift, they still needed to engage in conquering it. (This is the kind of gift I’m tempted to give: “You see that football stadium on your campus? It’s yours. Simply kick out the 80,000 people who attend games there, as well as the football team – a mere formality.”)
Of course, the Israelites were promised God’s power, protection and direction as they were ordered to drive out or destroy all who lived in the land before they could fully occupy the territory. Most, however, did not. They surged forward, and when the fighting became too difficult, they compromised and allowed certain portions of the land to remain unclaimed and unconquered.
As a result, we see Joshua encouraging them to take full conquest of the land. “So Joshua said to the Israelites: ‘How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you?’” (Joshua 18:3 NIV).
Yet they did wait and allowed powerful pockets of the land’s inhabitants to form in unchallenged territory. These pockets became strongholds: unconquered kingdoms within the borders of the Promised Land. Not content to remain little islands and outposts, they waged terror attacks against the Israelites, steadily growing in power until we read, “The Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds” (Judges 6:2, NIV).
The Israelites didn’t fully drive out their enemy and allowed strongholds to remain from which their enemy began to reign. The result was that the Israelites were run out of their towns and houses. They found themselves hiding in hills within the land they owned and should have controlled.
The implications for your spiritual growth and your fight against lust should be obvious: when we let lust remain in our lives, it grows in power until it is influencing your life as much or more than God. The battle against lust is “kill or be killed,” “fight or be attacked,” “conquer or be conquered.”
Allowing lust to remain, or tolerating its presence, is not an option. What Joshua was calling for, and what the passage in Romans is calling for, is a decision to fight. We are to commit ourselves to completely clearing the land, so that there isn’t a trace, “not a hint,” of our enemy, lust.
Assign 1 John 1 to read on your own this week.