A Good Kind of Death
The Bible, in the Old Testament, is filled with killing. But I was struck in the heart recently during my morning Bible reading in the book of Joshua. In the journal that I keep from my reading, I had written, a decade before, “City after city, Joshua destroyed all the old inhabitants and took over the cities as God’s country.”
From the surface this could seem like just more Old Testament killing. If it was breathing it died. God wanted no survivors, whether people or animals. God had picked out a nice place for His people to live, and He wanted it to be theirs, and theirs alone.
This seems really cruel, very selfish of God. But when you look at the big picture—the hundreds of years that preceded this time in history—you remember God miraculously rescuing His people from centuries of slavery under the hands of the Egyptians. There was plague after plague and then the parting of the Red Sea. God was freeing His chosen people from the bondage that had become their way of life.
So, why did there need to be all that horrible killing? you ask. Couldn’t they have just found a pretty area and settled in among the current residents? They were free from those long years of slavery. That would have seemed like a little bit of heaven on earth. But God’s command was to leave no survivors.
So, let’s now look at all this from God’s perspective. God’s chosen people were not just people that God specially loved. They were a people to shine as a bright light to all other people near or far. They were to be God’s special witness of His great love and power. God wanted the neighboring people to look upon the nation of Israel and come to grips with the fact that there was a God in heaven, and that He was blessing these people. Maybe their man-made gods were not really gods at all. Maybe they should look a little deeper into this God of these new neighbors—this God who seemed really real.
Summary: The whole world was filled with Idol worship. If they could make it, they would worship it. God had freed His “Temple,” if you will, and plopped it on a plot of soil for all the world to see. (This was all providing that God’s people continued in worship and obedience to Him, and in Him alone.)
So, enough Old Testament stuff. How about today?
The rest of my journal notes from June of 2005 read,“Like in the life of a new believer, there must be no survivors from the old natural and sinful self.”
The Bible describes the life of a non-believer as a life of slavery to sin. (Sounding a little like the past history of the nation of Israel?) It doesn’t seem like slavery to the yet-to-be-born-again believer, but it is. Then comes that moment in time when this person sees their need for the Savior and places their faith in Jesus Christ.
But that’s not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning. An amount of time goes by, maybe hours or maybe years. The new believer hears that Voice in his head say, “That wrong habit must go; it must die.”
One by one, the old life’s routines of sin are dumped in the trash. God’s Spirit brings in a new way of thinking. The new believer in Jesus is slowly taking on the character of the One who saved him (or her).
The close to my page in my journal reads:
“MY PRIMARY APPLICATION: Be completely rid of the ways of my old sinful nature. Fill myself up with the teaching of Scripture, and follow it.”
God’s people, those thousands of years ago, needed to establish their country with their witness to all who saw or heard of the work of the true God of the universe. There was to be no mixing of the True God with the so-called gods around them. That would only cause God’s light to the world to grow dimmer and dimmer. These chosen people were to be God’s witness to the world.
The believer in Jesus must be totally devoted to serving their Savior. There must be no room in their life for little sinful habits or blatantly sinful living. Their new life in Jesus is to be God’s light to the dark and dying world around them. Death to big sins, and death to the little ones. A life of Christ-likeness is now the new life within this new Christian.
The challenge to the believer in Jesus:
Death to all sin.
Where there is an empty place,
fill it with a deeper knowledge of God’s Word
and the following of it.
(Read Deuteronomy 9:1-5; Matthew 5:16; Romans 7:21-25)