Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: After Joshua and the Children of Israel won several major battles they encountered some con-artists. Nancy Leigh DeMoss says they weren’t prepared.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: This is Joshua’s first major mistake as a leader. He evaluated the situation, and he made a decision on the basis of what he could see. He made a decision on the basis of his own human understanding, but he failed to seek direction from the One who could see beyond the visible appearance of things, the One who knew men’s hearts.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

If deception were easy to spot, it wouldn’t be very deceptive. Unfortunately, those who would feed us lies are very tricky and you need to be on guard. The life of Joshua illustrates this, and Nancy will take you into the scene as part of the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 11): Waging and Winning Spiritual Battles." 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts for a while you’ve probably heard me talk about what I call "the battle after the battle." That’s something I talk about in my own life as I realize that many times after I’ve been through a spiritual battle or a great victory that God has given in some area, I find that the aftermath can be where I struggle the most.

That’s why I have people who pray for me not only when I’m speaking or doing conferences or recording radio, but afterwards as well. Because sometimes there can be that letdown. You let down your guard and you find out that you can be more defeated in the battle after the battle than you were challenged in the battle itself.

I think it’s a principle of the Christian life that every spiritual victory in your life issues a challenge for the enemy to launch another attack on your soul, and sometimes those attacks can be pretty fierce.

Today in Joshua chapter 9 we’re going to see an illustration of the battle after the battle and what happened to the Israelites who are now fresh on the heels of a fresh victory at Ai. God has been so great not only at Ai but also at Jericho and at the crossing of the Jordan River. They have seen the hand of God in spades. God has just been doing such great and powerful things.

Now the opposition heats up, through no fault of their own I might add. The fact that there’s a battle after the battle doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. It may mean you’re doing something right and the opposition has been stirred up.

Look at Joshua chapter 9 beginning in verse 1.

As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites (vv. 1–2). 

As soon as all these “ites” heard of this . . . heard of what? As soon as they heard about what had happened at Ai, what had happened at Jericho, what had happened at the crossing of the Jordan River, the news spread and all these pagan nations throughout the land of Palestine, as soon as they heard of this "they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel" (v. 2).

So the Canaanite nations heard of the defeat of Jericho, the defeat at Ai at the hands of Joshua, and they united together against a common enemy. They said, “We are not going to sit back and let this Joshua—whoever he is—run us over." They intended to stay in the land and to fight for their survival.

Now, they weren’t in fighting mode until some victories started to be won. And then they said, “We’re not going to take this lying down.” Well, that’s the way the enemy is in our hearts. When God starts to win some victories in your life or your family or your church or your marriage or your relationships or your own walk with God, Satan gets stirred up. He says, “I didn’t have to bother with you before. But now I see you starting to give land over to Jesus Christ and to conquer land for Him, and I’m not going to let you do that without a fight.”

This world does not acknowledge the fact that Christ has the right to reign and rule over this planet. This world is anti-Christ. So as we seek to further the kingdom of Christ in this world, we need to expect resistance—resistance from Satan and all his forces who are opposed to God. We need to expect things to heat up.

Now the battle may be in our own hearts; it’s not just out there in the culture. What happens? Christ redeems us from our bondage to sin and He says, “I want to have control. You’re mine now. I want to take possession of your life.”

So He claims control of our hearts and then He begins that process of conquering every part of the territory within us that rightfully belongs to Him. He’s saying, “I’m going to have what is mine.”

Now, this is a holy King and a loving King, a wise King, a King who wants what’s best for us and knows that our lives will be blessed when we come under His control. So He’s not doing this to work against us; He’s doing it to bless us.

He’s saying, “I’m going to little by little take over every part of your life. I own it all. I possess it all. But I’m gong to infiltrate every part that rightfully belongs to me.”

Now when Christ begins that process in our lives, our flesh doesn’t like that. And our flesh is quick to rise up and protect the territory that it has claimed for so long. Here you have a battle that ensues between the flesh and the spirit.

The flesh says, “I’m not going to surrender my habits, my tongue, my time, my thoughts. I’m not going to surrender those up to somebody else, to Christ to rule without a fight.” And so the flesh amasses all its confederate forces just like the confederate forces did there in Canaan.

You see your various lusts and sins and habit patterns and inclinations, and they begin to come together to resist the work of God in our lives. Sometimes the battle we face within is greater after we get saved than it was before because before every part of us belonged to the flesh and to Satan; there was no battle. It was all on the same side.

Now we’ve got the Holy Spirit within us saying, “I want to rule your tongue. I want to rule your marriage. I want to rule your time.”

And the flesh says, “Not so fast. There’s going to be a battle here.”

I see that pictured in this battle in this group of kings who came together and said, “We’re going to fight against Joshua,” who is a picture in the Old Testament of Christ the conquering Captain.

Now throughout the book of Joshua, especially the parts we’re coming up to next, we see a lot of insights about spiritual battle, about waging spiritual warfare—the warfare that’s going on within us and the warfare that’s going on around us. This confederation of kings represented the entire land of Canaan. You may not have recognized all the names of those kings, but they were representative of the north, central, and south portions of Canaan.

Humanly speaking, this was a fearsome coalition. They could have crushed Israel. But in God’s providence—we don’t know how because we don’t have the whole story written out here—God diffused this immediate threat. We don’t read anything again about this particular group of kings all coming together. God diffused the threat and God restrained them from carrying out their plans. It never came to pass.

That says to me that God is in control. As you face battles, remember that God decides which ones are actually going to be fought and which ones He’s going to diffuse. Sometimes the things that appear to be serious threats in our lives turn out not to be quite as fierce and fearsome an issue as we had dreaded they might be.

So let God decide. If you do find yourself on the battlefield facing a coalition of forces waging war against your soul, realize God is still sovereign there. When He takes you into the battle, He will be sovereign, and He will enable you by His grace to have victory in that battle.

But sometimes we start to dread the things that are threatening, that are looming on the horizon, and then God diffuses it, and it doesn’t even happen. So don’t dread the battle. Don’t fight your battles until they happen because some of them may actually never come to fruition.

So we have in this first couple of verses this picture of this threat that came and it never came about. Now there were other threats yet to come, and we’ll be reading about those in the next days. But this one never came to pass exactly as it was.

Then in the rest of this chapter, Joshua chapter 9, the Israelites face another challenge, one that is much less obvious but a challenge that really caught them off guard and tripped them up. Let me point out that some threats to our faith are obvious and others are more subtle.

Satan sometimes comes to us as a roaring lion and sometimes he comes as a deceiving serpent or even as an angel of light. It’s the subtle threats that can be the most deceptive and can be the most dangerous. So let’s look at what happened here beginning in verse 3.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning. [They didn’t amass an army; they acted with cunning.]

And they went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. [I get worn out reading about all this.]

And all their provisions were dry and crumbly.

Now keep in mind we’re being told something here that Joshua does not know is happening.

And they went to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us” (vv. 3–6).

Now the fact is—and many of you know the story—they had not come from a distant country at all. They had come from Gibeon which was about twenty-five miles from Gilgal. If you put the rest of chapters 9 and 10 together, you learn some things about Gibeon.

First of all you learn that it was a great city. You read that in chapter 10, verse 2. And the city of Gibeon was actually the head of a confederation that included three other nearby towns. So it was a cluster of cities that were about twenty-five miles from where Joshua was camped with the Israelites.

We also read in chapter 10 that all its men were warriors. This was a fighting group of men, a group of warriors. They had heard what had happened at Jericho and at Ai, and they said later, “We feared greatly for our lives.”

So under a threat of fear, they realized, "We cannot defeat this power, these Israelites in battle." So they disguised themselves in order to gain the sympathy of God’s people. They deceived the people. They set out to convince Israel to agree to a peace treaty.

Now in Deuteronomy chapter 20 we read that the Children of Israel were permitted to make peace with people who lived outside the Promised Land. But they were commanded to utterly destroy all those who lived inside the land. The land belonged to God and God says, “It belongs to My people.”

It was very clear that if they knew these people were coming from within the land there was not an option to have a peace treaty.

It’s interesting to me that if the enemy cannot win by outright force, he will sometimes attempt to do so by means of deception and compromise, seducing us to a treaty, to agree to a truce, to make peace with a force or an enemy that God has said should be destroyed.

And again I go back to this issue of the flesh and the spirit that war against each other. Galatians 5 tells us that the flesh and the spirit are opposed to each other. The flesh wants us to compromise with it. But God says you cannot make a compromise with your flesh. You cannot compromise with your natural sinful passions.

We want to come up with some agreement whereby we can manage our flesh or coexist peacefully with our fleshly passions. But God says, “No. The flesh must die. You can’t let it live.” Flesh and Christ cannot rule in the same heart. They cannot peacefully coexist. The flesh must go to the cross. That’s what Galatians 5 says. It must be crucified, our sinful flesh with its passions.

Now most of us in our Christian lives are not going to be tripped up by an obvious frontal attack. We recognize the enemy when he comes in those obvious forms. Sometimes we can still fall before that, but that’s not where I think most of us get tripped up. It’s in the more subtle attacks, the disguises, the deception, the compromise; that’s what's difficult to detect at times.

That’s why the apostle John says in 1 John 4,

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (v. 1).

There is a lot of deception in our world today and there are a lot of Christians who are being caught off guard and who are falling prey to deception—not the overt frontal attack, but the disguises, the call to compromise.

Now Joshua and the Israelites did not immediately fall for the deception. Their first response was somewhat guarded. Look at verse 7.

The men of Israel said to the Hivites, "Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?" They said to Joshua, "We are your servants." And Joshua said to them, "Who are you? And where do you come from?” (vv. 7–8).

So you can see that Joshua was a little suspicious. These people said, “We’ve come from afar,” but Joshua says, “How do we know? It looks like you’re telling the truth, but how can we be sure?”

So Joshua asks questions and tries his best to check out the situation. But the Gibeonites had a response for these questions. Verse 9:

They said to him, "From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God.” [They’re spiritualizing it here.] “For we have heard report of him, and all that he did in Egypt.”

It reminds you of Herod saying to the Magi who came to look for Jesus, “Bring back a report so I can come and worship him too” (Matt. 1:8 paraphrased). 

“We want to worship him. We’ve come from afar. We’ve heard about your God. We admire Him.” Bologna. They’re not telling the truth.

[We’ve heard about all] that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan. . . .

So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, "Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, "We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us." [We want to be part of you. We want to be joined with you.]

Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. [The wine has gotten that old.]

And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey (vv. 11–13). 

So they have this incredible sob story, the whole thing made up. Now we know that but put yourself in Joshua’s sandals. This explanation sounded plausible, and it looked plausible. He’s seeing the evidence here of the sandals and the clothes and the bread and the wineskins.

The Gibeonites convinced the Israelites that they were trustworthy and even convinced them that there was a spiritual motivation here. “We’ve heard what God has done. We want to come and be a part of you. We want to have a covenant, a treaty with you. We are your servants.” Wow, wow, wow, what a story.

Now the Israelites had been warned to be careful about this very thing. In Exodus 34 God said to Moses, “[Be careful] lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst” (v. 12). Be careful. They had been warned, but they weren’t careful enough.

We’ve been warned and sometimes we’re not careful enough. We end up making a treaty, a covenant with the enemies of God that have posed as friends of God. So what does Joshua do? Look at verse 14.

So the men [the Israelites], took some of their provisions, but [and here’s the key phrase] they did not ask counsel from the Lord.

God had said, “Take care. Be careful. Watch out. Be on your guard.” They asked some questions, but they did not ask counsel from the Lord. So verse 15:

Joshua made peace with them. [With who? With these pagan, idolatrous, wicked Canaanites that God had said, “I’m determined to destroy.”] Made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

This is Joshua’s first major mistake as a leader. He evaluated the situation, and he made a decision on the basis of what he could see. He made a decision on the basis of his own human understanding, but he failed to seek direction from the One who could see beyond the visible appearance of things, the One who knew men’s hearts.

He checked out the Gibeonites’ story as far as he could, but he didn’t ask counsel from the Lord. He inquired of the Gibeonites, “Who are you? Where have you come from?” (v. 8). But he didn’t inquire of the Lord.

As a result, he struck a compromise; he struck a truce with the enemies of God. Now it’s important to check out the facts before we make a decision, to use wisdom, to use common sense. But let me say, that’s not sufficient.

We need to ask the One who knows all the facts. We never know all the facts. We don’t know men’s hearts. We can be deceived. We need to ask the One who knows how to interpret the facts for us and who knows how to direct us in paths of righteousness regardless of what the facts seem to indicate.

You see, our tendency is to walk by sight rather than by faith, to rely on appearances, to rely on natural human reason. When we do, we end up deceived. We end up choosing less than God’s best—making a job decision, where to go to school, getting married.

And oh, if you could read the emails that I get from Revive Our Hearts listeners saying, “I married outside the will of God. I was deceived. I didn’t know.” Now some made a willful choice; they knew it was the wrong choice. But some made a choice that seemed like the right thing. It made sense; the facts seemed to come together. They may have even said, “God seems to be so clearly leading in this.”

But they got into marriage, and they had failed to ask the Lord, to get counsel from the Lord, and they end up in desperate, difficult, hard situations that God never intended them to be in. They had struck a truce with the enemy.

Verse 9 tells us, “The Gibeonites acted with cunning.” They deceived. Our enemy is subtle. He is crafty. We are no match for his schemes. We cannot outwit him, and we are prone to being deceived. Only God has infinite knowledge. That’s why we have got to ask counsel of God on everything.

So how can we be protected from being deceived in little decisions and in big decisions? We need to go the One who knows the hearts of all men. Wisdom comes from the Lord. Discernment comes from the Lord. That’s why we must seek Him; we must inquire of Him; we must ask counsel of Him.

I love that verse in Psalm 23 that says, “The Lord is my shepherd. . . . He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (vv. 1 & 3). 

We’re faced with some decisions right now as a ministry. There are big decisions for me, and they have a lot of implications. We’ve been seeking the Lord; we’ve been looking at the facts. We’ve been studying. We’ve been doing our homework. But when it comes down to it I say, “Lord, I need You to lead us. You are our Shepherd. Lead us. Give us discernment, and give us wisdom. Show us what to do.”

As Proverbs 3 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding.” That’s what Joshua did. He leaned on his own understanding. “In all your ways”—the big things, the little things, the daily things, the life-changing things. “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths” (vv. 5–6).

James 1: “If any of you lacks wisdom”—do what?—“let him ask God.” Ask God. “And he will give generously the wisdom that you need” (v. 5 paraphrased). 

So how do we get counsel from the Lord? Well I tell you what, the starting place and the place where you’ve got to live is in His Word, in His Word.

Psalm 119 says your testimony is the Word of God. Your testimonies are my counselors. That’s how you get wisdom. That’s how you get direction. That’s how you get understanding.

Again in Psalm 119: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v. 105).

Ladies, you cannot get the discernment, the wisdom, the counsel that you need to make the smallest decisions in life if you are not consistently in the Word of God. You need to be knowledgeable of all of God’s Word so that when you’re faced with a decision, the Holy Spirit can bring the word that you’ve come to know, can bring it to bear in your life. Here’s a principle. Here’s an insight. Here’s a passage. Here’s the way of God. Here’s what I’ve seen in the Scripture.

We’ve got to be women of the Word if we’re going to be women who make wise decisions. Otherwise, we’ll end up deceived, and we’ll end up making compromises that will be deadly to our souls.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering a warning about deception showing you how to prepare and encouraging you to spend time in God’s Word. 

That message is part of the series “Lessons From the Life of Joshua Part 11: Waging and Winning Spiritual Battles.” And by part 11, we mean this. This is such an in-depth, thorough teaching, we’ve broken it up into several smaller series. You’re hearing this study of Joshua’s life through the fall here on Revive Our Hearts. To hear any of the archived programs you’ve missed, or to order on CD, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

We can bring you this kind of biblical teaching for women thanks to listeners who support this ministry financially. When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts this month, October 2014, we’ll send you a wall calendar you can’t get anywhere else. It’s the “Peace in the Storm” calendar with quotes from Nancy and some of her friends and artwork from Timothy Botts.

Each month’s entry will encourage you, point you to biblical truth and help you when storms come your way. I think you’ll like the way Timothy Botts took these quotes and interpreted them through his calligraphy and background artwork.

We’ll send one calendar per household when you make a donation of any size. Ask for the “Peace in the Storm” calendar when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you and I don’t pray, it’s evidence of pride.

Nancy: I think sometimes in our lives when there is no leading or word from the Lord it's because we are not asking him to direct us. Not to seek counsel from the Lord is to trust in ourselves, to trust in our own wisdom, to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, independent. It's really the essence of pride. "I can figure this out."

Leslie: God's strength for your battles—tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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