In the Book of Judges, the Israelites fight one foreign nation after another: the Canaanites, Hivites, Moabites,
Midianites, Amalekites, and Ammonites. By the time of the birth of the judge Samson, the Israelites had finished fighting all the “–ites”; they were now being oppressed by the PhilistINES. And toward the end of Judges, the Israelites had become so spiritually depraved that their enemy was no longer some external enemy. The brutal andsenseless civil war in the last chapters of Judges (20–21) reveals how the Israelites’ greatest enemy had become Israel itself.
Leading up to this civil war, the strange story of Micah and the tribe of Dan in Judges 17–18 illustrates how many of us are good at keeping idolatrous practices in our life while merely adding Jesus on. But Jesus said we must put to death any part of our lives that are not of Him. He will not share our hearts with idols, no matter how small.
The Israelites gradually sunk into deeper levels of idolatry, because they became more and more ignorant of the Lord’s law—and so everyone pretty much began to make up their own. What’s the lesson here for us?
We must read God’s Word, the Bible, daily. Jesus is His word. To abide in Him means to abide in His Word. And His Word is a “double–edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), sharper even than a pruning knife (John 15:2). From the Bible, we learn God’s commands and what to put to death and how to make ourselves clean.
As believers, we will be fighting one spiritual battle after another throughout our lifetime, because the devil hates us … and because of our own sinful flesh as well. But God uses these battles for our good—which the devil means for evil—to test and refine us. (“I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their ancestors did,” Judges 2:22.) If we abide in Jesus, we will be victorious and grow in Christlikeness. If we don’t, we’ll keep fighting that battle until we cry out in helpless desperation to Jesus and humble ourselves before Him … and submit completely to His ways. Or else, if Jesus was never truly our Savior and Lord in the first place, we will be defeated—what we call “backsliding” or “falling away.”
Now the battle may come from outside: financial difficulties, persecution, ill health, or death, for example. But so long as we abide in Jesus and rely on His Holy Spirit’s power to put to the sword our enemies within, in our hearts, we will stand strong against these external “–ites” and “–ines.”
“5 So put all evil things out of your life: sexual sinning, doing evil, letting evil thoughts control you, wanting things that are evil, and greed. This is really serving a false god. 6 These things make God angry. 7 In your past, evil life you also did these things.
“8 But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk. 9 Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. 10 You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God” (Colossians 3:5-10).
“4 ‘I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!'” (Luke 12:4-5)
“The battle belongs to the Lord” (1 Samuel 17:47)—let us follow our Commander Yahweh, the Lord of hosts, and fight the battle His way.
(By the way, if you want to know how to fight spiritual battles God’s way, check out the armor and weapons of God in Ephesians 6:10-18)
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. “18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:10-18).