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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

 

“The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭7:22‬ ‭NASB‬‬


God wouldn't allow Israel to conquer the inhabitants of the promised land too quickly, because these nations served a valuable purpose: they kept the wild beasts at bay while Israel grew in size and strength! And so God, in His wisdom, did not grant the Israelites the promised victory over their enemies too quickly, else the wild beasts become too numerous. 

This record of God's dealing with Israel paints a helpful picture for us in the new covenant, too, because this is God's way to give us victory over the enemies (sin) in our lives as well. God's will for us is to fully enter the promised land of victory over the lusts of our flesh, and He wants for us to enter more and more into this land each day (Proverbs 4:18, 2 Corinthians 3:18), so we should always expect to be making progress. It is not God's will for us to remain perpetually defeated before any enemy that remains in our lives. 

Similar to how He dealt with the Israelites, He also grants us this victory little by little -- He does not give us total victory over all sin in our flesh in one fell swoop -- and doesn't allow us to put an end to the lusts of our flesh too quickly, else the "wild beasts" become destroy us, just as they would have destroyed the Israelites. What are these wild beasts? One species, at least, are the wild beasts of spiritual pride. 

God gives us victory at a pace that keeps our pride at bay so that we will not become spiritually puffed up. We need to see that being proud of our spiritual victories is is a far worse state than struggling with other sins, because God is actually opposed to the proud, but He will give us grace as we remain humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)! So the hidden tendency to be proud of victory is, in a very real sense, an even greater danger to us than many of the enemies that we may actually see more clearly. 

As long as we see these other enemies, our pride remains in check, because we know we have work to do to fully enter in. But if we look around and say, "humph, I have defeated all my enemies!" then we are in grave danger. That's like being eaten alive by a wild beast! This beast sneaks up from behind just at the moment we glory in the triumph over one more giant slain. 

God's ultimate goal is our flourishing before Him, with Him, and in union with others as members of His Body. Not only our victory over sin, but fellowship, with Him and others who have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3). But what fellowship can light have with darkness? And pride is as dark as darkness gets!

So the Lord is forced to grant us victory only at the exact pace at which we can remain humble. We can thank God that He paces our march into the promised land to protect us from the wild beasts of pride, which are much worse than even the giants we see, but this should make us hate pride! 

We should deeply mourn our tendency to be proud and conduct ourselves with great watchfulness, lest pride sneak up on us unaware. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12)

The reason we do not have more victory in our lives today is because of the pride God knows this victory would stir up. How wretched is this pride, that keeps us from experiencing all that God has for us!! Knowing this should cause us to have a very sober estimate of ourselves -- “I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think..." (Romans 12:3) -- and cause us to cry out to God for help in getting rid of all indwelling pride. 

What is the very best place to learn humility? Under the yoke, walking with Jesus Christ: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart...‭‭" (Matthew‬ ‭11:28-29‬) As we walk with Jesus, and come up under His yoke -- taking His interests and making them our own (loving what He loves, and rejecting all He hates) -- He will teach us humility Himself. 

What this says to me is, don't stop short of learning humility from Him. It is one thing to come to Him when I am weary, and accept His rest. Thank God for that! But it's another thing entirely, having laid my burdens at His feet, to take His yoke upon me, and learn from Him. 

More and more, I want this to be my relationship with Jesus: not only leaving my burdens at His feet to receive rest, but also taking up His burden that I may learn humility from Him. 

As He teaches me humility, I trust that God will speed up my entry into the promised life of victory over every giant in the promised land.