We must remember that when it comes to sin, we are in a battle. It is an all-out war that we can and must win (and with God’s help, we will since he is fighting for us!), but it is a war in which there can be no truce. It is total victory or utter defeat. Sin is your enemy, not your neighbor. Treat it ruthlessly!
Going Deep // Focus: Judges 1:21
The tribe of Benjamin, however, failed to drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem. So to this day the Jebusites live in Jerusalem among the people of Benjamin.
The tribe of Benjamin failed to drive out the Canaanites. So did the tribes of Judah (Judges 1:19), Manasseh (Judges 1:27), Ephraim (Judges 1:29), Zebulun (Judges 1:30) Asher (Judges 1:31), Naphtali (Judges 1:33) and while we are not explicitly told the tribe of Dan failed, apparently they permitted their enemies to stay around the edge of their territory (Judges 1:24-26).
So basically, Israel failed to do what God commanded them to do when failure was not one of the options he gave his people.
And it came back to bite them! You see, pagan enemies always make bad neighbors. When Israel allowed the godless Canaanites to live in their midst, or even close in close proximity, they predictably fell victim to a variety of sinful influences these godless cultures embraced—sexual immorality, idol worship, child sacrifice. Let me say it again, because God said it over and over to his people:
Pagan enemies make bad neighbors!
Obviously, we are not commanded to literally drive non-believers out of our neighborhoods. That would be rather poor form these days, and actually against the law. Instead, we are to witness to them of the grace of our Lord Jesus, model for them the redemptive love of God and win over their hearts and minds to his kingdom. Yet the spiritual application from Judges 1 is quite clear: Just as God commanded Israel to drive the pagan enemies out of the land that he had promised as their homeland, we have been called to deal just as ruthlessly with spiritual enemies in our homeland—our hearts and homes. Failure do so will result in these worldly influences harassing us until the day we die. They will be a constant source of irritation at the very least, and at worst, perhaps even trainwreck our relationship with God. Moreover, when we allow godless influences into our homes, especially through the unfiltered and unchallenged inflow of media, we are exposing the vulnerable minds of our children to these destructive pagan influences.
We must remember that when it comes to sin, we are in an battle. It is an all-out war that we can and must win (and with God’s help, we will, for he is fighting for us!), but it is a war in which there can be no truce. It is total victory or utter defeat.
That is not just because I say so, it is due to the nature of the conflict. The reason Jesus came, died and rose again was to defeat the Enemy:
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work…. Jesus shared in our humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.” (1 John 3:8, Hebrews 2:14)
On the other hand, while Jesus’ purpose was to kill that which will steal, kill and destroy us, the devil is committed to our utter defeat. He is not looking just to gain territory, he is not hoping that we coexist, he will not be satisfied with a established demilitarized zone with us, he wants to destroy us. He hates God, and everything of God, which includes you and me:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
That is the nature of the conflict. C.S. Lewis rightly described it thus: “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.” And your life is ground zero in this cosmic conflict. So take note, stay alert, be armed, and get ruthless with sin. And be encouraged, because you were made to win:
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
So just remember, spiritually speaking, pagan enemies make bad neighbors.