The book of Joshua has a lot to do with warfare. This is very relatable to our lives as Christians because we, too, engage in warfare, spiritual warfare, on a daily basis — whether we know it or not.
Therefore, as you read this article, I’d like to kindly ask that you assume the posture of a soldier who is receiving instruction that can help you with your day-to-day fight. After all, we are all soldiers in the Lord’s army.
First, however, I’d like to make it clear who our enemy is through this passage of Scripture:
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” - Ephesians 6:12 NLT
- Our fight is not against our mean boss at work or any other difficult people we encounter.
So, how do we win the battles that ensue from spiritual warfare?
Well, from reading Joshua it became quite evident to me that the Lord will grant us victory in the battle if we trust him enough to obey him. In Joshua’s case, God instructed him to lead the nation of Israel into the promised land, which included moving from region to region and conquering cities that showed hostility towards Israel and God’s kingdom.
However, before God told Joshua to conquer cities with Israel’s army, he gave Joshua a very important command. He commanded Joshua several times to be strong and courageous and not to fear.
This command was significant because if obeyed, it would align his posture/mindset – his spirit – in a way that would permit him to achieve victory in a war. (It would also help him obey further commands.)
Remember, our attitudes (mindsets) affect our perceptions – how we see and understand the world – as well as our behavior. Therefore, we should be aware of the attitudes we assume, because it is our minds that determine what we believe in and how we behave. I mean do you really think a soldier who believed he had no chance of victory in a conflict (in other words, he had a weak spirit) would be very effective on the battlefield? Probably not.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
- Often, the words heart and mind are used synonymously in the Bible.
Just imagine how more effective your obedience to Jesus would be if you adopted the same kind of mindset that God commanded Joshua to have right before he commanded him to go to war against fierce enemies.
Now, keep in mind, God never tells his children to do things of varying degrees of difficulty without reassuring them that he is there every step of the way with them and in them, providing them with strength and equipping them with everything they need to fulfill his commands. This is what he did with Joshua, saying, “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b).
God then announced his allegiance to Joshua again, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
As a child of God, you, too, have your Heavenly Father not only with you but also living in you through his Spirit, equipping and empowering you to overcome, regardless of how small or large each battle might be. (We need God for both the large and the small battles). You just need to obey him, trusting that he will give you all you need.
Now, I would like to talk about something else other than trust and obedience that is very important for a soldier in the Lord’s army, and that is discipline. In general, soldiers must be disciplined, for an undisciplined soldier is a weak soldier, and a weak soldier can easily be overtaken. For us Christians, being undisciplined in our walk with Jesus and just life, in general, can create doors or windows of opportunity for the enemy to exploit to our detriment. We need to realize that a very important aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is self-discipline and that God calls us to trust him for the strength to live out that fruit by faith.
For instance, a Christian with a weak prayer life and/or who doesn’t read Scripture is spiritually undisciplined. How can we as Christians possibly stand firm against the trials of life if we don’t communicate with God – the source of our life and all our strength – and nourish our minds and spirits through his Word on a consistent basis? Furthermore, how healthy can our relationship possibly be with God if we neglect to spend time with him through prayer? Lastly, how can we possibly walk with God in the power of the Spirit if we are not nourishing our relationship with him moment by moment?
In the same way, Christians who live like sloths or gluttons are also undisciplined in the area of self-care, and this lack of discipline might affect their ability to achieve what God wants them to. I believe Joshua and Caleb were very disciplined in taking care of their minds and bodies since they were fit enough to fight in an actual war while they were in old age.
“I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming” (Joshua 14:11).
Any lack of discipline is a sign that we are walking in our own strength rather than that of the Spirit, and that can hurt us in large ways. And the enemy is an expert at exploiting our weaknesses if we trust in our own power rather than the strength of the Lord. Thankfully, however, our God is much greater than the prince of darkness.
Now, discipline and obedience are not isolated from each other, for both are very much related to one another, as they are both the fruit of the Spirit. And, in fact, having discipline in our lives makes it easier to obey God.
When we trust the Spirit for the ability to be disciplined, we are better able to succeed because we are organized, focused, and better able to persevere. And when this is the case, we can better listen to our Heavenly Father and carry out his orders. That’s why the enemy specializes in encouraging us to live in the flesh because it makes us vulnerable to his tactics of confusion, distraction, and discouragement –– which are things that can effectively influence us not to obey God.
Think about it. Why do you think the military requires their recruits to undertake a difficult training regime? Yes, the training routine gets them in shape physically, but it also forms mental toughness and tenacity, the very things that make up discipline and which are needed to survive and persevere through a war.
Remember God’s commands throughout the book of Joshua: “Be strong and courageous.” And, “Do not be dismayed or fear.”
Trusting God for both physical and mental strength will help you follow those commands till the end. And to be both physically and mentally strong, you must trust the Spirit to give you the discipline needed to live a healthy lifestyle.
This fruit of the Spirit – self-discipline – makes you stronger and more productive, which helps you to be faithfully obedient to God.
Lastly, obedience is not just a surface-level thing we do without any underlying foundation. Yes, trusting the Spirit to renew your mind and grant you discipline are important aspects of a life of obedience, but the most important factor that drives one to have obedience is knowing that God is trustworthy. Think about it. Why would you genuinely listen to someone and carry out their requests if you didn’t think they were reliable?
Trust is the foundation for many things. And, for us Christians, it is the foundation for our relationship with God, as it is with all relationships.
I think it’s fair to say that Joshua trusted God a whole lot. In fact, he trusted him to the point of obeying God’s commands to engage in a series of battles with ruthless enemies, some enemies being literal giants!
So, if you ever find yourself having difficulty obeying our Heavenly Father, you should first ask yourself if you trust God –– if you trust in his good and perfect nature, the promises he gave to all his children, and believe that he is reliable, regardless of what he asks you to do.
And, how do you build trust with God? Well, you spend time with him by praying, reading his Word, gathering with brothers and sisters in Christ, and taking the steps of faith he asks you to take in obedience, knowing he is faithful to his promise to strengthen you by his Spirit so that you can obey.
Ultimately, If you want victory over the challenges in your life, you must learn to obey God in the Spirit’s strength and not your own. And, if you want to be faithful in your obedience to God because you love him, then you need to learn to trust that he is reliable and that his Spirit will provide you with the discipline necessary to live God’s way in all things through faith.