An Exposition of Joshua 6:1-27

AN EXPOSITION OF JOSHUA 6:1-27

     1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

     2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.

Historically, Jericho is one of the most ancient cities in the world. When the children of Israel first came across Jericho during their wilderness journeys, it was perhaps the most important city of the Jordan Valley (Num. 31:12; 34:15; 35:1).

Joshua, in charge of the Israelites after the death of Moses, planned to siege the city of Jericho as one city of many that would be conquered in the land of Canaan. Many years before God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob a piece of real estate stretching from “the river of Egypt” i.e. the Nile unto the Great River, the river Euphrates (Gen. 15:18).

Before Joshua died, that Divine promise would be fulfilled. This is taught in Joshua 21:43-45. Nehemiah 9:29 teaches the same thing. God keeps His Word. The covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was fulfilled, according to promise.

     3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

      4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

Joshua was not told to create priests, or an Ark of the Covenant. He was told to use the spiritual power he had. That is true today. There is enough spiritual power in this church alone to win this community for Christ. The only question is, “Lord, when do we march?” “How do we accomplish what we know is your will?”

     5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

     6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.

      7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.

What is history to us was prophecy to Joshua. When Joshua stood with the children of Israel on the threshold of the land of Canaan, he was armed, not only with spears and weapons of warfare, but with a Divine promise. Joshua was also armed with divinely given field orders on how to maneuver in the hour of conflict. Never before in the course of military warfare had such a unique order been given.

First, the priests of Israel were to march with all the men of war once around the city walls for six consecutive days. Jericho covered only about 8.5 acres at this time, making it rather easy to obey this command. On the seventh day, the priests and the soldiers were to march around the city seven times, and then the priests were to blow the holy trumpets. At the blowing of the trumpets, the people of Israel were to shout, being assured that when they shouted the wall of the city would fall down flat.

     8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.

      9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.

      10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.

There is a great spiritual lesson, and it involves silence. Silence is a potent weapon in the hands of God. The instruction of verse 10 is full of meaning.

In silence, the men of war were to march because in silence the men could meditate. Each tramping of the feet, every step taken, was an opportunity to realize what God was about to do. When soldiers talk, they often engage in idle chatter or unnecessary conversation.

During the siege of Jericho, a holy hush was imposed, so that personal fears were not verbalized. Any personal dissatisfaction with the way the military operation was going would not be heard. A holy hush needs to come upon God’s people again before we engage in any serious spiritual battle. Many people cannot hear the voice of God because they are too busy.

Some are too busy doing good tasks, but not the best tasks, much like Martha who was busy about the house while Mary was occupied with the person of Christ. Some are too busy being critical. “This is not right, and that is not right.” “This should have been done, and that should not have been done.” It is enough to make the angels weep. Others are too busy expressing their fears. There is fear of the future. There is fear of lack of finances. There is fear of fear, as if God were dead, and can no longer protect, or provide for His own.

A holy hush will stop all the wrong talk in order to build a measure of excitement as to what God will do. In the silence, God speaks. It is not easy to get a multitude of people to be silent, but history says it happened. Let the church then be silent with inappropriate comments about others.

     11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

 Can you imagine what must have been the thoughts of the people in Jericho, when they saw the soldiers of Israel going around the city in circles, day after day? At first the citizens probably were a little disturbed, and perhaps amused. Never before had a siege been conducted like this. From the top of city walls the people of Jericho watched. They watched in curiosity as the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, symbolizing the presence of Jehovah.

The Ark was made of wood and gold, anticipating the Divine and human nature of God manifested in the flesh. The Ark of the Covenant had two angels on top of the lid. Their faces were covered in holy awe, and were turned downward, always beholding the mercy seat, where the blood of propitiation once a year was placed. Inside the Ark of the Covenant were sacred objects. There was Aaron’s rod that budded, reminding the Jews that God gives life to individuals, and to nations. There was the table of shewbread, reminding the Jews that God provides for His own. And there was also the second copy of the Ten Commandments, reminding the Jews that the broken law was still the Law of God, and should be obeyed.

The priests marched under divine orders with wonderful symbols of God’s covenant, and the warriors followed. Here then is the first lesson to learn. A nation is only as secure as the spiritual power of its people. Atomic and neutron bombs will not protect America. The Bible says that righteousness will exalt a nation. Let the moral and spiritual fiber of a nation be ripped apart, and the civilization will deteriorate. History is filled with examples of how great civilizations engaged in self-destructive behavior because their spiritual power was destroyed.

Joshua 6:12-27

Conquest

     12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.

      13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.

      14 And the second day compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.

     15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.

      16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.

      17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

      18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.

      19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.

      20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

      21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

 The great lesson of our passage is that the army of God has power. It has spiritual power, in spiritual people, who can hear the voice of the Lord, and obedient people, who will follow Divine directives. As we prepare our heart for spiritual battle with the world, and against the cultural rot, that is being imposed by acts of judicial legislation, let us prepare in the same manner as Israel of old. We want to be free from sin, personal sin, judicial sin, and legislative sin. And we want to see others free.

 Sin has come to enslave souls, and to do much damage. Nevertheless if the Son makes us free, we shall be free indeed. We can be free, but there is a price to pay. Freedom is not free. Christ had to die on the Cross. And you and I must become good soldiers of the Cross. Let us lift then our voices by faith in a spiritual battle cry of freedom, and then go forth to oppose personal, legislative, and judicial enslavement to sin. Let us issue forth a battle cry of freedom from heaven from this generation that will shake and rattle the very gates of hell. God will do His part when we do ours, and we shall yet again have just judges on the bench, and men and women of Christian character, worthy individuals, to hold the highest offices in the land, with Biblical wisdom to guide the nation, and to protect religious freedom.

Joshua 6:22-25

The Salvation of Rahab

     22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.

     23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.

      24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

      25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

 The Curse on Jericho

Joshua 6:26-27

     26 And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.

 First Kings 16:34 reveals that Joshua’s curse did come true during the time of King Ahab: “Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.”

“Several important details must be noted. First, Joshua did not promise Jericho would never be rebuilt. Instead, he said the person who rebuilt it would be judged by the loss of his firstborn son and youngest son.

Second, God confirmed His word through Joshua, taking the lives of Hiel’s sons Abiram and Segub. At the beginning of the work (the laying of the foundation), the first son died; at the end of the work (the hanging of the gates), the youngest son died. This proved God’s faithfulness and revealed the consequences of sin that often affect one’s family members. Though the sin was Hiel’s, the consequence included the deaths of two sons.

Third, Hiel’s rebuilding of Jericho is included as part of a longer passage describing the evil that took place during King Ahab’s reign in Israel. Ahab took a pagan, non-Jewish wife named Jezebel and even worshiped her god, Baal. Further, Ahab had a temple of Baal built in the capital city of Samaria and erected an Asherah pole. The conclusion of this account is that “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). During this wicked time, Hiel disregarded Joshua’s curse and rebuilt Jericho.

This moral low point in Israel’s history was also the point at which God raised up the prophet Elijah to fight against Baal, revive the hearts of the Israelites, and turn many people back to the Lord. After a three-year drought during Ahab’s reign, Elijah defeated the priests of Baal and helped begin a spiritual revival among the Israelites.” (Got Questions Ministries)

     27 So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised through- out all the country.

An Exposition of Joshua 1

 

AN EXPOSITION OF JOSHUA 1:1-9

Hebrew Name            Yehoshua “Yahweh is salvation”
Greek Name                 Iesous (Greek form of the Hebrew)
Divine Author             God the Holy Spirit
Human Author           Joshua
Date                                  c. 1451 to 1425 BC
Theme                             Conquest of Canaan
Types and Shadows   In Joshua, Jesus is the Captain of the LORD’s host

Outline

                   I.  Joshua 1-5      The People Prepared

  • Joshua 1          The Commissioning of Joshua
  • Joshua 2          The Confession of Rahab
  • Joshua 3-4      The Crossing of the Jordan River
  • Joshua 5          The Consecration of the People

                   II.  Joshua 6-12    The Enemy Subdued

  • Joshua 6              The Power of God
  • Joshua 7-10      The Problem of Sin
  • Joshua 11-12   The Progress of Israel

                  III. Joshua 13-22 The Land Settled

  • Joshua 13-19   The Division of the Land
  • Joshua 20-21   The Delegation of the Cities
  • Joshua 23-24   The Death of Joshua

Joshua Commissioned
Joshua 1:1-9

     1 NOW after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,

He had been born into Egyptian slavery, c. 1500 BC. However, his godly parents, from the tribe of Ephraim, believed that one day the Lord would deliver His people as He had promised. So they named their child Hoshea (Oshea) “salvation” (Num. 13:8; Deut. 32:44). The child grew to be a young warrior of exceptional courage and leadership ability which was recognized by Moses. Two months after Israel’s exodus, c. 1446 BC, Joshua was honored to be appointed Moses’ commander. The selection was a good one for Oshea successfully repulsed an Amalekite attack (Ex. 17:9).

To honor the man and the mission, Moses changed the commander’s name to Jehoshua, “Jehovah’s salvation” (Num. 13:16; 1 Chron. 7:27) which in Greek is “Jesus” (Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8). Joshua became a symbol of the Substance to come. Joshua remained close to Moses. He was with Moses on Sinai (Ex. 24:13; 32:17) and he stood guard over both his tent (Ex. 33:11) and his position (Num. 11:28). Every spiritual leader needs faithful men of like mind and heart to support him in the work that God has called him to do. Without such total support there can be no forward progress or positive direction given.

Not only was Joshua loyal to Moses he was a man of great faith. In 1445 BC, when Moses sent out spies to report on the land of Palestine, Joshua, along with Caleb, opposed the majority report, insisting that faith in God could lead the way to conquest of Canaan. He was almost stoned for excessive optimism (Num. 14:7-10). The Lord honored such faith (Num. 33:12). Joshua and Caleb were assured that they would enter into the Land of Promise while the rest of their generation died in the wilderness (Num. 13:30; 14:24; 26:65).

Words of Reality
Joshua 1:2

      2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.

The time had come for Israel to enter into Canaan. Joshua would be the leader of the people in this endeavor for Moses was dead. He who had led Israel for 40 years was now dead. The importance of Moses to the national life of Israel cannot be underestimated. His influence on the Jewish people, and the world is still recognized to the present hour.

Without doubt, the greatest legacy Moses left Israel was the Law as set forth in the Pentateuch.

In the first five books of the Bible the whole of the Christian life is anticipated, and set forth reflected in the great doctrinal themes of salvation in each work. Genesis is the book of beginnings both physically and spiritually. Physically, the beginning of the heavens and the earth is recorded. Spiritually, doctrinal truths begin to be set forth. In the book of Genesis we find the Doctrine of Election, reflecting the fact that salvation began in God’s eternal purpose.

In Genesis we read that Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Shem, rather than Japheth, or Ham, was the one selected to be the channel through which the Savior would come (Gen. 9:26). We see the call of Abram to be the father of the chosen Nation. We behold God passing by Ishmael, to love Jacob while hating Esau. We witness God appointing Joseph from the twelve sons of Jacob to be the honored instrument of saving his brethren and their families from starvation.

The same principle of election applies in the selection of the younger son of Joseph to be blessed, instead of his firstborn. And so it is, “God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation” (2 Thess. 2:13). As election is a great theme in Genesis, the Doctrine of Redemption is displayed in Exodus. The sovereign God has a right to pass by one, and chose another to salvation and service. Those who are elected by God for salvation will be redeemed. Moses was commanded to speak to the people of Israel and say, “I am the Lord, and will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians, and I will rid with great judgments” (Ex. 6:6). God kept His word.

On the other side of their passage through the Red Sea, the children of Israel sang praises to God saying, “Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people which Thou hast redeemed. Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy holy habitation” (Ex. 15:13). The natural desire to praise and worship the Lord was encouraged in Leviticus.

The book of Leviticus covers a very short period of Hebrew history, of less than two months (Ex. 40:17 cf. Num. 10:11). The doctrinal theme of Leviticus is that of fellowship and worship. Elect persons who have been redeemed will want to worship and have fellowship with their God. From the door of the tabernacle “the Lord called unto Moses and spake unto him” (Lev. 1:1) to instruct him on the proper form of worship. God will be “sanctified in them that draw nigh Him” (Lev. 10:3). The elect who have been redeemed will also be sanctified, so that they might walk in an acceptable manner before God. Such is the teaching of the book of Numbers.

Numbers, the fourth book of the Bible, teaches the doctrine of sanctification. God has a numbered people who are to walk before Him in righteousness and love. But notice that Leviticus precedes Numbers, which reminds the believer that it is only as they commune with God within the veil they are able to go out into the world and walk before Him. It is not easy to be in the world, but this is the place the Lord would have His people remain for a little while after conversion. The Christian is not to be isolated from the world, but insulated from its corruption through sanctification. The reason why people fail morally and spiritually in their personal lives is because they stop the process of sanctification. They turn away from having a faithful communion with God.

Anticipating failure in life, God in matchless grace comes again to His people to tell them once more, “This is the way, walk in it.” The book of Deuteronomy teaches the doctrine of a second chance, and gospel obedience. The name Deuteronomy literally means “a second law.” In this book the law is repeated a second time (Ex. 20 cf. Deut. 5) after the horrific sin of Israel at Kadesh-barnea. It was at Kadesh-barnea that the people tested the Lord’s patience. In His wrath God swore that all the adult Israelites who came out of Egypt, with two exceptions in Caleb and Joshua, would perish. In His mercy God renewed the law with His people. The new generation was expected to obey the law reflected in the key words of Deuteronomy: “remember” (14 times); “hear” (over 30 times) and “do” (about 100).

There is a natural progression in the divine revelation of the Pentateuch. The doctrine of election is followed by redemption, which is followed by fellowship and worship. This in turn leads to a holy life, and, if marred by sin, a return to the Lord by repentance, and remembering the Laws of God. When a people is chosen, redeemed, worshiping the Lord, large in number, and united in gospel obedience it becomes a powerful force in the world.

And that is the scene that is set before us in the book of Joshua. In the nation of Israel God now has a people He can use. He will send them forth to fight for a possession, but only according to principles of righteousness.

However, before the people of Israel could fight for their possession, other events had to take place, such as the death of Moses. So the Lord gave to Joshua words of reality in verse 2 by saying, “Moses my servant is dead.”

When the people of Israel learned that Moses was dead, the Bible says the nation mourned for 30 days (Deut. 34:8). There was appropriate weeping and mourning, for such is the nature of love and respect, but then life moves on. A great lesson is learned. A nation is not to be dependent upon any one person for its survival. God wants His people to be dependent upon Him.

Words of Promise
Joshua 1:3-6

      3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.

      4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

     5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

     6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

 When Joshua heard these words of the Lord faith welled up inside his heart. He believed God, and He believed in the promises of God. When the presence of the Lord was withdrawn Joshua could still move forward for the Lord gave to Joshua and thus the people of Israel abiding words to regulate their behavior. Now and forever, they would have the Law to study and meditate upon.

Words of Encouragement
Joshua 1:7

     7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

Words of Regulation
Joshua 1:8

     8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

The noblest purpose in studying God’s Word is to lead the believer to a life of gospel obedience.

The Bible is not to be studied to try and figure out how to control God according to presupposed fixed principles, or spiritual laws.

The Bible is not to be studied in order to find temporary comfort for a guilty conscience, though the words of Scriptures do bring healing to hurting hearts.

The Bible is not to be studied in order to find out how to grow rich and powerful. In fact, there are strong warnings against such a pursuit for Christians.

“Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.” (Prov. 23:4)

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1 Tim. 6:9-11)

The Bible is to be studied so that it might lead to a life of obedience. Only then will there be true spiritual prosperity and success.

      9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

The LORD wants His people to be strong in the faith. The Lord wants His people to have courage to face the daily challenges of life without fear or worry. The reason for such a positive attitude: “for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Herein is hope for living. Christian, if the path of life leads to valleys, “the LORD thy God is with thee.” If the path of life leads to mountains, “the LORD thy God is with thee.” If the path of life leads to sickness, or even death, “the LORD thy God is with thee.” Believe this and be of good courage.

How To Have Victory Over Temptation

“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.” (Mark 1:12-13)

The Bible says that it was by Satan that Jesus was to be tested. In the days of His humiliation, Jesus was moved “from the Father’s approving smile, to Satan’s contemptuous wiles” (W. Hendricksen). Here is a great mystery but the Bible says that Christ was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin.

Now, this does not mean that Jesus faced every situation that we do. There are many special temptations that we have that Jesus did not. However, what can be said is that Jesus was exposed to every type of temptation that you and I face. In the final analysis there are only three ways to be tempted. Every provocation to do wrong may be listed under one of three categories which are set forth in 1 John 2:16. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. By these three avenues you and I are tempted. By these three avenues Jesus was tempted, if we put them in a slightly different order. Briefly the scene may be reconstructed. As Jesus was alone in the desert, fasting and praying, the Bible says that the Devil came to him on three separate occasions with three specific offers.

The Pride of Life

First, Satan wanted Jesus to prove Himself. “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Here was the temptation to brag. Here was the temptation for Christ to exalt Himself in an inappropriate manner. Was there any doubt that Jesus was the Son of God?

Had not the angels sang at His birth? Did not the Wise Men of the East seek Him out and worshipped Him? Had not John already told others to, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world?” Of course Jesus was the Son of God. But as an obedient Son, Jesus would not exalt Himself. He would not brag and He would not do anything independently of the Father. And so Jesus answered Satan with Scripture saying, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3)

The Lust of the Flesh

Frustrated by that effort, the Devil took Jesus up into the Holy City of Jerusalem. Together they stood on a pinnacle of the Temple. Looking down into the valley below, Satan taunted the Lord.

“If thou the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands thy shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Matt. 4:6; Psa. 91:11) Here was a temptation to the lust of the flesh. It might be fun to leap from the side of a cliff knowing that the angels would come and save the body from any ultimate harm. It would also be wrong. And so Jesus answered and said unto Satan, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matt. 4:7 cp. Deut. 6:16)

The Lust of the Eyes

Still determined to find some way to cause the Saviour to sin, the Bible says that Satan took Jesus into an exceeding high mountain, and shewed Him all the kingdoms of the world. “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall and worship me.” (Matt. 4:9) Here was a temptation according to the lust of the eyes and Jesus said unto the Devil, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13) It was enough to say. The Devil was forced to depart. The victory was won by Jesus, through the Word, and by the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. That is the way to victory for every Christian as well.

Now, as Jesus was tempted, so shall every Christian be tempted. No one is above the Master. As Christ had to endure satanic suggestions, so shall the saints. Someone has asked, “Why is it that opportunity knocks only once, yet temptation bangs on the door?” There is no real sin in temptation; there is only sin in succumbing to temptation. Martin Luther used to say that you cannot keep the black crows from flying around the head, but you can keep them from landing. Billy Graham has often said that temptation is the first look; sin is the second, or lingering look. There are several purposes for the times of testing.

First, God allows temptation to separate the true from the false. Judas looked like all the other disciples, but he was different, and the difference was manifested when he was tempted to trade his faith for thirty pieces of silver in exchange for the Saviour.

Second, individuals are tempted to keep the heart humble. The Pharisees and the Scribes were proud of their religious inclinations because they felt they had no sin. That spirit is alive today, for there is a dangerous doctrine being taught by many Protestant groups called Perfectionism. Times of testing are often simple reminders of how deceitful the heart is, and desperately wicked. Even Paul cried out “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24)

Third, individuals are tempted in order to promote holiness. When the moment of temptation comes, and is passed without shame, the soul is stronger, and the Father is pleased.

Fourth, temptation comes in order to receive a blessing. The Bible says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12)

How to Have Victory

To enhance victory over sin in the time of testing the proper application of Scripture remembered is essential. It is significant that Jesus responded to every temptation with a scriptural quotation (and they all came from Deuteronomy). The Psalmist said, “Thy Word will I hide in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

However, care must be taken. Knowing Scripture, and being able to quote it, is not enough to keep the soul from sinning. David knew the Word of God and fell into grievous sin, as did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Peter. The world is filled with former ministers, Sunday school teachers, and religious leaders who have fallen into sin, despite knowing full well what the Bible teaches. Still, quoting Scripture is effective.

If reflected upon, temptation can be anticipated and prepared for. We have already discovered that there are only three categories of temptation, so that is the first line of defense against sin: be aware of the broad assaults.

A second line of defense, is to consider how others have been specifically tempted to sin. Adam and Eve were encouraged to become like God. Beware of the intellectual seductions to sin, as is found in Self-esteem theology, the New Age Movement, and the cults, such as Mormonism. Abraham was tempted to love his family more than he loved the Lord. (Gen. 22:1) Isaac was tempted to lie. David was tempted to lust, deceive, and murder. Paul was tempted to unjustified anger. Peter was tempted to compromise his doctrinal convictions. (Gal. 2:11-14) All the disciples were tempted to forsake Christ. Consider how others have been tempted, and take heed.

A third line of defense against sin is to remember that God is always watching. “The father of a small boy would occasionally sneak into a neighbor’s orchard and pick some of the best fruit. He always made sure, however, that the coast was clear by looking around. One day, with his son tagging along, after carefully looking in every direction and seeing no one, the father crept through the fence. He was just about ready to help himself when the young boy startled him by whispering loudly, “Daddy, You didn’t look up! You forgot to see if God was watching.”

When temptation comes, and we are inclined to yield because it is dark, or no one is around, if we are a Christian, we remember that God is always watching. For those who have been tempted, and succumbed to it, take hope in the promise of 1 John 1:9. And then, go and sin no more.