The Bible teaches us from many texts that we have three major enemies in our struggle with sin. These are The Flesh, The Devil, and the World. Whereas we saw how the Achan through his own flesh was led astray and brought about the defeat of God’s army under Joshua, we will now see how the devil orchestrated a scheme of deception to lead the army of God under Joshua astray.
We shall compare this blatant deception with the way the devil cunningly pulls us into rabbit trails so that we may miss our ultimate goal of following God’s will.
The hymn, “what a friend we have in Jesus,” holds very true statements that we shall follow as we explore our text. I will break this section into several sermons because of their relevance to our Christian lives.
PART ONE: Oh What Peace We Often Forfeit
In our text, we find that Joshua falls for a scheme of deception by the people called the Gibeonites. They disguise themselves as messengers from a distant land and come to make a treaty of peace and non-aggression with Joshua. They carry old bread, broken sacks and wineskins, torn clothes and worn-out sandals as evidence of their long journey to meet Joshua. They know that if they say they are from a distant land and pose no threat to Joshua’s campaign to possess the Promised Land, they will be safe. In reality, they are just next-door neighbours to Joshua. They are directly in the way and pose a threat to Joshua’s acquisition of the Promised Land.
I want us to remember that God had made an express command to the Israelites not to make such treaties with the inhabitants of Canaan (Exodus 23:32-33). They are to completely drive out all inhabitants of Canaan. So the devil was luring Israel to fall away from the direct instructions of God.
Don’t we also have such a command?
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” 2 Cor. 6:14-15.
The Bible in the text above reminds us not to enter into covenants with unbelievers that will make us unequally yoked. To be unequally yoked is to enter into a relationship where the other party has an equal or greater say in what happens in the relationship than yourself. This can be in such covenants as marriage, business ventures/ work relationships or even ordinary friendships. Such partnerships dilute our Christian witness by: –
- Corruption of our righteous – you cannot have a healthy relationship if you stand firm on your values, to please your partner you will have to compromise.
- Dimming of your light – You do not become a good example for other believers if you entangle yourself in such a way. Eventually, your witness is by word of mouth only not by actions. You become a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ Christian.
- Who is your master? – As believers, we are to honour Christ as Lord of our lives. When we yoke ourselves unequally with non-believers, how can we honour our Lord? Who then becomes our master?
- Compromise of Faith stance- if we yoke ourselves unequally we cannot exercise our faith with freedom. In marriage, we find out that our freedom to worship and serve is greatly curtailed. In business, we also realize that we cannot do some things that we would freely do to advance the course of the gospel. At work, we realize that we cannot serve and worship as we would want. So really “what portion does a believer share with a non-believer?”
- Our bodies as God’s temple- The ultimate trade-off that we make is to render our bodies to the advanced evil courses. When our partners do not share our values we are therefore forced to join them in doing things that dishonour Christ with our bodies. Since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, are we then not forcing God’s temple to agree with and serve idols?
Just like in Joshua’s time the warning for us is also very clear if we bind ourselves unequally with non-believers, we are simply giving up our peace of mind. We are trading off something that is of infinite value for the transient joy of the moment! I am reminded of the famous quote by Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” What peace we often forfeit by simply giving ourselves to ungodly unions!