Joshua 23:14-16 Do not be enslaved by material blessings but covet the Spirit of Christ
“Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. 15 It shall come about that just as all the good words which the Lord your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 16 When you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you.”
Joshua takes one last opportunity to admonish the Israelites not to set their focus on the material possessions of the land but to love God and to walk according to His laws. He explicitly states the consequences should they transgress the covenant of God. God’s blessings must result in causing believers to love Him more and to walk in His ways. But history has it, when the Israelites begin to set their sights on material things and do evil in the sight of God, the end of which is exile and destruction. Today’s devotion teaches us never to be enslaved by material blessings but to above all covet the Spirit of Christ.
Not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you.
Every word that God has spoken will certainly come to pass if God’s people will obey His word. If God’s people will continue to love Him and obey His will, He will certainly fulfill His promises. Joshua substantiated his claims concerning God’s faithfulness with a brief commemoration of Israel’s history starting with Abraham.
Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, (Joshua 24:3a) – God promised Abraham to build him a great nation if he would leave his home town to a place that God would show (see Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham believed God and responded in faith.
… and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. (v.3b) – God promised Abraham a son by his wife Sarah and it came to pass (see Genesis 17:19).
… I brought your fathers out of Egypt (v.6) – By the mouth of Moses, God promised the Israelites to deliver them out of Egypt and that too came to pass (see Exodus 3:17).
… Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan (v.8a) – God promised Joshua that the Amorites would not stand against him and that came to pass (see Joshua 10:8).
… You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Girgashite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Thus I gave them into your hand. (v.11) – God promised Abraham to give his descendants the land of Canaan and that came to pass (see Genesis 17:8).
… I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. (v.13) – In settling the Israelites into the land of Canaan, God had fulfilled his promises to Abraham, all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.
So the Lord will bring upon you all the threats… When you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God.
Even as God is faithful to fulfill His promises concerning the blessings, He will likewise fulfill His promises concerning the consequences should they disobey His laws. The consequences mentioned are grave: then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you. As we know it, the whole of Israel was exiled into Assyria in 740 BC and Babylon in 597 BC when they repeatedly despised the warnings of the prophets.
Never be enslaved by material blessings but to above all covet the Spirit of Christ.
If we are caught up in the pursuit of material things and the cares of life, we will end up losing what we have so painstakingly acquired. Joshua’s successful conquest of Canaan had indeed brought the Israelites much wealth and material possessions. However, history has it that the people transgress the covenant of the Lord and eventually lost the land and everything in it.
The conquest of Canaan during the time of Joshua fulfills the promise that God gave to Abraham. The Old Covenant promises political peace and material blessings for Abraham and his descendants. However, the Old Covenant promise cannot bring true peace and riches to the children of God. Despite the material abundance of the land, the people remain poor in their spirit. They are insecure and cannot emerge from their identity as slaves of Egypt and sons of darkness.
Today, we see many churchgoers pandering to their fleshly desires to become rich. Like the Israelites, they claim their rights to the riches of Abraham by declaring the faithfulness of God towards His promises. Their focus remain deeply rooted in self-centred living; to obtain the riches of the earth and attain a superior standard of living. Yet, those who are wealthy are not happy, being saddled with a myriad of problems: family quarrels, fear of betrayal, depression and sicknesses. They longed for the days when their lives were more simple and spartan. With greater wealth comes greater sorrow. For most who become wealthy, money has not become a blessing but a burden in every aspect of life.
As we have learned, the promise of material blessings did not insure lasting prosperity and abundant living for the Israelites. God envisions a glorious life for His people; a life that is overflowing with the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17). God promises a new lifestyle of righteousness and perpetual peace and joy through the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, in the age of the Spirit, believers must train their sights towards Christ and to be filled with His Spirit. In so doing, God imbues believers with the right heart so that their blessing may endure forever. If believers fix their eyes on Jesus as the model and vision of their lives, not only will God fulfill their financial and relational needs, He will cause them to live a legacy of truth and glory (see Matthew 6:33).
The Spirit of Christ breaks the power of sin and set believers free from its bondages.
The Old Covenant law works primarily by changing man’s behaviour through a structure of laws enforced by kings, priests and prophets. The law may (to a limited extent) restrain destructive behaviour by a system of incentives and punishments, but it can never transform man’s heart. The New Covenant works in destroying the bondages of sin freeing the believer to live wholly for God while trusting Him to provide. A man under the bondage of sin and death cannot resist temptations, neither can he experience heavenly peace and joy.
The sacrifice of Christ on the cross once and for all breaks the fleshly bondage of sin, paving the way for the ministry of the Spirit. As opposed to New Covenant believers, Old Covenant believers were juridically enslaved by the bondage of sin and could not break free. Hence, despite Joshua’s warnings of the consequences, Israel went down the path of idolatry. The apostle Paul taught,
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin,… so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:2-4
The power of sin (law of sin) is forever broken due to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Although, sin no longer has dominion over believers, it can still take up temporal residence within those who are unaware. However, by the authority of Christ, they will summarily be cast out of the believer. How do believers break the bondage of fleshly passions and apathy towards God? By identifying the demons by name and rebuking them by the authority of Jesus Christ. Evil spirits must succumb to the truth and obey it when they hear it being spoken. We will now discuss some fundamentals in breaking the bondages that oppress believers.
a. The devil no longer has juridical right to the believer’s body, soul and spirit as they are redeemed into God’s kingdom.
The apostle Peter wrote,
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:18
For those who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and King, their body, soul and spirit are wholly redeemed into the kingdom of God: He might bring us to God. Christ stakes His claim to the believer by filling His body, soul and spirit with His Spirit. When man enters into covenant with Christ to be redeemed into His kingdom, no evil has the right to indwell the believer’s body, soul or spirit. This is the truth, and the truth will set the believer free. And on account of the truth, demons must obey and leave the believer immediately.
b. The devil will respond to the believer’s command only when he hears his name being addressed and the truth spoken out.
The command to vacate the believer must be directed squarely at the demons by addressing them by their names. You can name the demons by associating their specific characteristics with them. For example, the demon that hinders the believer from understanding the word are called the demons of unbelief. Therefore, the demons of anger, rebellion, lust, fear or hopelessness can be collectively addressed and cast out. Keep reminding the demons of their designated place in hell and send them there. The apostle John wrote,
And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. … And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelations 20:10,15.
The truth is: the fate of the chief demon (the devil) had already been sealed in hell. And unless a spirit’s name is written in the book of life, he cannot remain in God’s kingdom (the believer’s body) but be thrown into the lake of fire.
As opposed to Old Covenant believers, New Covenant believers are no longer helpless against the temptations of sin. We now have the privilege of enjoying the Spirit-filled life by submitting ourselves under Christ’s authority. By exercising our authority in Christ, we can enjoy perpetual peace and joy despite dire circumstances. We can reject and cast out sinful inclinations that oppresses us. We can immediately receive wisdom and find answers to complex issues.
Are you accustomed to repeating the same prayers and asking God to bless you? You may be reading the word daily and attending weekend services consistently, but if your focus is the pursuit of material blessings, you are still harbouring the Old Covenant mindset. The New Covenant mindset pursues the blessings that come by way of the Spirit; the peace, joy and righteousness.
Are you accustomed to living with incessant bondages of sin and the cares of life? The New Covenant has given believers authority to break bondages that hinder abundant living. Be quick to reject and cast out notions of sin and waves of depression and sickness.
Dear Lord, I thank you for blessing me with material possessions. I desire your gifts and covet life in the Spirit. I declare the value of material possession as pale in comparison with the glory of the Spirit. Anoint me with your authority, so that I can destroy the works of the darkness in my church, family and community. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.