Choose This Day
"But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15
In Chapters 23 and 24 we read Joshua's final instructions and farewell messages to the people he had led for so long. He was now one-hundred-ten-years-old and approaching death. It was his last chance to encourage them to "get it right." He reminded them God chose them even before Abram followed Him from Haran.
"The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:1-3
He rehearsed for them the history of the nation's relationship with the LORD their God. He implored them to be faithful to the One who had always been faithful to keep His promises.
"So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the LORD your God as you have done until now."
The people listened to Joshua warn them of the consequences of turning away from God. Twice, the people vowed they would follow the LORD and serve Him only.
"You are a witness to your own decision,' Joshua said. 'You have chosen to serve the LORD.' 'Yes,' they replied, 'we are witnesses to what we have said.' 'All right then,' Joshua said, 'destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.' Joshua 24:22-23
Sin was already drawing them away. They had begun intermarrying with the inhabitants of the land, bringing their idols into their tents and worshiping them. The sin nature has a tenacious hold over mankind.
Until Jesus offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin at Calvary, we were captives to the reign of the sinful nature over us. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
"...The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway." Romans 7:14b-19
Can you relate? I know I can.
"I have discovered this principle of life--that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 7:21-25a
Caught between wanting to do good yet bowing to sin--what a miserable, depressing condition. But, when Jesus came into our lives, He not only set us free from the hold of sin over each one of us, He gave us His Holy Spirit to make us able to follow through on our choice to live righteously.
"But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)" Romans 8:9
So, dear sisters, we, too have a choice to make. Whose nature will we follow? The righteous nature of Jesus living within us or the nature of sin inherited from Adam? The choice is ours. Who will we serve? May we all, with the help of the Holy Spirit, proclaim...
"But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15b
by Marilyn Allison