Read Joshua 23
Focus on verse 11
Part of our nature as humans is that we tend to easily become addicted to all kinds of things. These addictions range from being mildly annoying, like caffeine or sugar, to being more harmful of even fatal if we do not find a way to free ourselves of them. One of the latest addictions that seems to be plaguing us is apparently an addiction to electronic devices. While not as physically destructive as an addiction to something like crystal meth, any addiction can ruin our relationships and seriously mess up our life if we allow them to.
In today’s reading we find what I would call the only true cure to all our addictions. In the context it is not speaking directly to personal addictions, but I believe there is a principle that can be applied to help us with this very real struggle that many of us face.
Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you. (v. 11-13)
God was warning Israel that if they did not nurture Him as their first love, they would find themselves ensnared by the false gods of the nations they had displaced. The principle here is that if we turn our back on God and cling to anything other than Him, we put ourselves at risk of becoming enslaved to an addiction that will ultimately ruin our life.
“Be careful therefore, to love the Lord your God.” Why? Two significant reasons are given in the text. The first has to do with gratitude toward God for fighting for them and driving the Canaanites out before them and giving to them the land. The second has to do with obedience. That if they turn back and do not continue to be vigilant in driving out the remaining nations, the nations they do not destroy will become “a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off the good land the Lord has given you.”
Here again is a picture of what happens when we are not vigilant to evict destructive behaviors and habits from our lives as followers of Jesus. He does not stop loving us, just as God never stopped loving Israel, but He does allow us to bear the consequence of our rebellion. In the case of Israel it was to be overpowered and controlled by their enemies, for us it is to be overpowered and controlled by the sin that entangles us…perhaps not an issue of salvation, but certainly and issue of victorious living.