Joshua: “Winning Purity”

Joshua • “Winning Purity”

Joshua 10:16-22; 34

November 27-December 1, 2017

 
I love dark chocolate! In fact, it was a joyous day when research began to be published showing the health benefits of dark chocolate.

The overall health benefits range from being filled with anti-oxidants to lower blood pressure and helping fight against cardiovascular disease. Of course, studies indicate that you must not over indulge but need to consume daily amounts in moderation.[i]

 

 

Even the prestigious

Mayo Clinic

touts the benefits of dark chocolate:

Can chocolate be good for my health? Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

 

Healthy chocolate sounds like a dream come true, but chocolate hasn’t gained the status of health food quite yet. Still, chocolate’s reputation is on the rise, as a growing number of studies suggest that it can be a heart-healthy choice.

 

Chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate — also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.

 

In addition, some research has linked chocolate consumption to reduced risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. But more research is needed to confirm these results.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/healthy-chocolate/faq-20058044

 

Even

BeatCancer.org

touts the health benefits of dark chocolate:

Top 7 Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

  • Antioxidant Benefits
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Diabetes Protection
  • Anti Cancer Benefits
  • Bone Health
  • Dental Health
  • Brain Health

 

I know, hardly any of you doesn’t like milk chocolate? However, when compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate nudges ahead in the overall benefits because of the purity of the chocolate. Milk chocolate has been diluted by the milk products in it and therefore its influence on your health is not as effective. The dictionary defines the adjective pure as not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material. The more pure the chocolate is, the better its influence on your health because it is not mixed with impurities or even other ingredients.

 

So, how does this delicious discussion about dark chocolate factor into our study of Joshua and Winning God’s Way? When it comes to a relationship with God, the standard of purity or holiness is God himself. He is perfectly pure in holiness and His desire for those that follow Him is the purity of holiness in our lives. The more pure your commitment is to God and His directions, the more benefit there is for you. The more you allow contaminants to dilute the purity of your commitment, the less will the value in your life. Remember this:

15 But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16

 

Even in the early days of God establishing His people in the Land He prepared for them, His desire was always for holy purity.

2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2

 

As God was leading Israel to conquer the Promised Land, His desire was for purity of the people and purity of the land. He wanted them to have a winning purity and that meant following His instructions to the letter. There was no room for compromise. The title of this sermon in this series called Winning God’s Way is “Winning Purity.” Let’s see how well they did and what the consequences of their choices were…and what lessons we can draw from their actions.

 

One of the greatest challenges to studying the book of Joshua is the graphic warfare that is described. Israel under the direction of the Lord begins conquering the land in the latter portions of the book and their instructions were to completely destroy the inhabitants of the land. Joshua began by killing the five Southern Kings

16 During the battle the five kings escaped and hid in a cave at Makkedah. 17 When Joshua heard that they had been found, 18 he issued this command: “Cover the opening of the cave with large rocks, and place guards at the entrance to keep the kings inside. 19 The rest of you continue chasing the enemy and cut them down from the rear. Don’t give them a chance to get back to their towns, for the Lord your God has given you victory over them.”

20 So Joshua and the Israelite army continued the slaughter and completely crushed the enemy. They totally wiped out the five armies except for a tiny remnant that managed to reach their fortified towns. 21 Then the Israelites returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah. After that, no one dared to speak even a word against Israel. 22 Then Joshua said, “Remove the rocks covering the opening of the cave, and bring the five kings to me.”

34 Then Joshua and the Israelite army went on to Eglon and attacked it. Joshua 10:16-22,34.

 

Come on now, when you read that didn’t it cross your mind to ask, “How can a holy and loving God have commanded such a thing?” Remember back several weeks ago that God had demonstrated 400 years of mercy towards the Canaanites giving them an opportunity to turn to Him but they continued to live in wickedness. The sinfulness of the Canaanites had set them up as the object of God’s judgment with Israel being God’s instrument of judgment. Parenthetically, as an aside, would God ever use some other people or nation to be His instrument of judgment on our nation and culture? I’m just asking.

 

So just how wickedly sinful were the Canaanites? Take time to read Leviticus chapter18 and you will see that the sinfulness of the Canaanites included incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality. Any of that sound familiar today? Israel was commanded to never make themselves unclean by practicing these things because,

I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 18:30

 

And again, in Deuteronomy 9:4-5, the Lord says their wickedness is the reason for driving them out of the land.

4 Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. 5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that He may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Deuteronomy 9:4-5

 

The Lord used Israel to drive out the Canaanites because of their sinfulness, NOT because of Israel’s righteousness. Israel was not to pridefully drive them out thinking it was their own doing, but rather with great humility to do exactly what God demanded, because Israel was not righteous either. This reminds me of a powerful truth concerning sin.

 

MONDAY: From God’s Viewpoint All People Are Sinful And Deserving Of Judgment.

Israel was no better than the Canaanites, but at this point the Canaanites were receiving the judgment all people deserve. They had rejected God’s call on their lives for more than 400 years and now the tab was due.

23 For all have sinned have fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

 

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

At this point, Israel was a new nation and only by the grace of God were they spared judgment that could easily have been much more disastrous than it was through their 40 year hiatus in the wilderness. A somber and sobering comparison is easy to make today. You and I have been so blessed in our culture and nation, and it’s painfully plain that so far the United States and Western Culture have been spared God’s judgment. The judgment of the Canaanites was to serve as a strong warning to Israel about the judgment they would experience if they followed the same sinful practices. This Demotivator poster from www.despair.com speaks volumes for our day

 

Therefore, the cleansing of the land was about purifying the land of the sinful influences of the Canaanites so that God’s people would not be led into the same sinfulness. Why? Because the nation of Israel was intended to be a light to other nations pointing them to the One true God. When the Lord made His covenant with the founding father of Israel, Abraham, it was so all nations would be blessed. The Lord said of Israel

6 I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations. Isaiah 42:6.

 

So let’s see how we might grade Israel’s success in purifying the land? They took a path they thought they could justify before God. Stick around to see how that worked out.

12 Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 13 Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out. Joshua 17:12-13.

 

Not too well. The people of Manasseh and Israel did not totally drive them out but let them live in the land as slaves. Big mistake! The result of not purifying the land was a thorn in Israel’s side for years to come. In the years that followed, Israel was influenced by the sinful practices of the Canaanites. God does not and did not set a double standard when it came to sin. The Lord was patient and merciful with Israel, but ultimately He judged Israel for their sinfulness and send them into captivity at the hands of the Assyrians in 722BC and Babylonians in 586BC.

 

God’s patience only lasts so long and the bill come due. With Israel, and by extension, the USA failing to demonstrate the Winning Purity God desired, He finally said ENOUGH!

 

With all the warnings signs out there about the consequences of NOT demonstrating a Winning Purity, it’s time for you to figure out what it takes to demonstrate a winning purity. The answer to that is vitally important as you strive to follow Christ because you have been called to fulfill the purpose of God in pointing others to Christ now through the light/influence of our lives.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

 

For you to fulfill that purpose, you must purify your life of sinful influences. For you to win God’s way you must demonstrate a winning purity by removing sinful influences from your life. What is the take away from the book of Joshua about developing a winning purity in your life so that you can be the pure person God wants you to be? Let’s think about some applications.

 

Living the Word Applications: Develop Winning Purity

 

TUESDAY: Understand Sin’s Persistence…Don’t Give Up 17:12-13.

Joshua 17:12-13 gives you a hint, “the Canaanites persisted in the land…” It was difficult dealing with the Canaanites and their sinfulness because they were entrenched in the land. They persisted with such tenacity that the Israelites eventually gave up trying to remove them and tolerated them staying. Even though Israel grew strong, they still gave up and allowed the pagans to stay. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you know that every day is a battle because of sin’s persistence. Keep fighting. Keep battling. Don’t give up! The battle over persistent sin will never go away. Never. You must continue the fight every day. The powers of evil never take a day off.

WEDNESDAY: Understand Sin’s Persistence…Don’t Give It A Place 17:12-13.

If you give sin a place in your life, it will lead to trouble. Once the camel of sin gets its nose under your tent flap, it will soon occupy house. By giving up, they gave the sinfulness, the idolatry of the Canaanites a place in the land, but more importantly a place of influence in their lives. As followers of Christ, we are not to give sin a place in our lives. What are the sins that keep on knocking at your door?

  • Do you struggle with lust?
  • Do you struggle with addictive behaviors?
  • Do you struggle with pornography?
  • Do you struggle with an affair?
  • Do you struggle with an eating disorder?
  • Do you struggle with greed?
  • Do you struggle with holding a grudge?

 

26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27

 

Opportunity” means place or room. In this verse, Paul talked about resolving sinful anger so that unforgiveness doesn’t have a place in your life. You can take this same application to other areas of sin as well. You must ferret it out. If you give it a place, then it will be like termites…its influence will slowly eat away at your life. When sin shows up…as it always will…ask God to drive it out of your mind and give you the courage to walk away from it, in the name of Jesus. Then, walk away.

 

THURSDAY: Recognize The Sinful Influences In Your Life 17:12-13.

The Canaanites as a people had the ability to be a sinful influence that would hinder Israel’s living for and worshiping the one true God. Israel needed to recognize their sinful influence and remove it. The old Southern-ism that if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get fleas applies here. What are the sinful influences in your life? What things cause you to struggle with particular sins?

  • Is it the circle of friends you have?
  • Is it music you listen to?
  • Is it TV shows or movies that you watch?
  • Is it the places you go?
  • Is it the things you read?

 

FRIDAY: Deal With Sinful Influences Aggressively

In the same way that Joshua and the people had to battle the people of the land of Canaan you must battle sin in your life. War is aggressive and you are in a war to the death with sinful influences.

11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11

 

Paul mentions some of these fleshly passions:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Galatians 5:19-21

 

I can hear it now. You read this and stopped short of the last four words. You said, I’m not sexually immoral, impure, plagued with sensuality. I am not an idolater or a sorcerer. I don’t have enmity or strife or jealousy toward anyone. I am not prone to fits of anger or rivalries or dissensions or divisions. I don’t envy anyone and I certainly don’t get drunk or participate in orgies…I must be doing pretty well.

 

However, you cannot get past and things like these. If you are honest, you are guilty of a casual attitude toward sinful impurity in your life. The devil launches all-out war on your life every day and he has one goal in mind…destruction of your witness. If he can’t steal your soul, he will steal your life and influence. You must make a fearless moral inventory of your life and then deal with sin aggressively. Jesus instructed His first followers to deal with sin aggressively.

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. In Matthew 5:30

 

The particular word for “sin” here meant to make stumble.[ii] This word was also used for bait used to spring a trap.[iii] The point is that anything that continually traps you into sin or causes you to sin should be dealt with aggressively. What do you need to do? Change our attitude towards sin. You can no longer deal with it casually, it must be pursued aggressively. Get an accountability partner to help you.

  • Where are you too casual in your attitude towards sin?
  • Where do you need to be more aggressive in dealing with sin’s influence?
  • Do you need to change your playmates and playgrounds?
  • Do you need to change the music you listen to?
  • Do you need to stop watching certain TV shows or movies you watch?

 

Pastor Alan Redpath wrote these words…

There will be no victory in the name of Christ until you declare total war against everything in your life that is sinful…there will be no personal experience of the power of Jesus Christ in victory until you declare war on sin. I ask you in the name of heaven, are you attacking on all fronts? Have you identified yourselves by declaring war on pride, on self, on tongue, and on criticism, by determining to attack and conquer them in the name of Jesus? You have a constant attitude to maintain and a victory to claim.[iv]

[i]

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate

[ii]

GramCord Bible Program. Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon.

[iii] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7.

Moody Publishers 1985, 305.

[iv] Redpath, Alan. Victorious Christian Living: Studies in the Book of Joshua.

Fleming H.Revell, 1955, 1993. 155.