Claiming Your Canaan Series #7
HOW TO AMBUSH YOUR AI
Intro: Chapter 8 finds Israel facing the same city that
they faced in chapter 7. The little city of Ai. The first
time Israel went up to do battle at Ai, they were
defeated by the inhabitants of that city and 36 of their
number lost their lives. The reasons for their defeat are
many, but the primary reason was that there was sin in
their midst that had not been dealt with. That sin
caused them to be defeated at Ai. Now, they are back
and it was time for Israel to go and face these people in
battle once again.
Before we move into these verses this morning, I
want to tell you that Ai, in the Bible, is a type of the
flesh. The word "Ai" means "a heap of ruins." That is
a good way to describe this flesh in which we live. The
first mention of this city is found in the book of Genesis
in connection with the life of Abraham, Gen. 12:8; 13:3.
The Bible tells us that Abraham pitched his tent
"between Bethel and Hai." Now, the name "Bethel"
means, "The house of God." Isn't it interesting that
many saints have pitched their tents somewhere
between the house of God and a heap of ruins? Do
you see the connection? You can either live in a place
of victory and blessing, or you can live in a place of
defeat and misery. You can either have a Bethel kind
of life or an Ai experience, which is up to you!
Just like Israel, we often lose battles to our Ai, (this
flesh), but through the Lord, we can learn how to
ambush our Ai and walk away with the victory in our
lives. I don't know the battles that you are fighting with
your flesh, but I do know that you can win the victory.
These verses tell us how. Let's look together at these
verses and learn How To Ambush Your Ai.
I. V. 1-2 THE VICTORY IS PROMISED
A. V. 1 A Word About Winning - When the Lord
speaks to Joshua, after the death of Achan, God
tells him to go to Ai. However, he tells him that
things will be different this time. He assures
Joshua and Israel of the victory.
(Ill. It is interesting that the Lord called them to
return to the place of their greatest defeat. God
knew that they needed to overcome the defeat at
Ai before they could move on in the conquest of
Canaan. Folks, it's the same for you and me this
morning. How many times have we lost the
battle to the flesh? How many times have we
been defeated by this old sinful nature's lust for
the forbidden? How many times have we fallen
and wonder if we will ever get back to where we
were before. I think the Lord has a word for that
this morning! Notice what He told Joshua, "Fear
not!" I think that is the Lord's word to us this
morning! To those who have fallen and have
lost a battle to the flesh, God says, "Fear not!
I am giving you the victory!" I think it is a
blessing to know that I do not have to live in
defeat as a Christian! I think it is a blessing to
know that I am no longer a slave to sin, the flesh
and the devil, Rom. 6:14! I am thankful that God
has promised the victory in this area to His
children - 1 Cor. 15:57.)
(Ill. I will remind you once again that the Lord did
not save your soul to leave you defeated and
beaten by the flesh. He saved you to walk in the
victory that He can give to those who will walk in
His ways and not in their own ways or in the
ways of the world.)
B. V. 2 A Word About Waiting - Notice that the Lord
tells them that they will do to Ai what they did to
Jericho, except for the fact that in Ai, they are to
take all the spoils for themselves! If Achan would
have waited just a few more days, then he could
have had all the riches that he could have
imagined. Instead, he ran ahead of God and
grabbed for himself that which was forbidden by
God and as a result, Achan paid the ultimate price.
(Ill. What a lesson for you and me this morning!
We are guilty of the same kind of foolishness
aren't we? If we could just learn top wait on God
and let Him lead and bring into our lives the things
that need to be there, we would be far better off.
Unfortunately, this flesh want what it wants and it
wants it now! It doesn't want to wait. Regardless
of the arena you name, you are far better off to
wait on the Lord to bring those things into your life
that He knows are best for you, (i.e. Mate,
sexuality, finances, ministry, etc.), than you are to
run ahead of God and mess things up really bad
and then expect Him to bail you out! When we
can learn to wait on the Lord, we are well on our
way to victory in the Christian life, Rom. 12:7; Psa.
130:5; Psa. 37:34.)
I. The Victory Is Promised
II. V. 3-26 THE VICTORY IS PURSUED
A. V. 3-17 They Had God's Plan - God told them in
exact detail how they were to mount their attack
against Ai. (Ill. The Context.) They were to lay
an ambush for Ai and they would take the city
and all its inhabitants.
(Ill. Israel had already learned what happens
when you do things the Lord's way. When you
fight the battle by following His plan, you cannot
fail. They had also learned what happens when
they refused to do it God's way. They learned
that failure awaits that person who goes against
the will of the Lord.)
(Ill. Remember, we are talking about fighting this
flesh that we all carry around. If you are going to
pursue victory over your flesh and if you ever
expect to gain the victory, then you must go about
it God's way. No other plan will work! I will say
more about God's plan for dealing with the flesh
in a moment, but for now, you need to know that
if you will win the victory over your flesh, then you
need constant contact with the things of God.
We are strengthened spiritually when we are
exposed to the things of the Lord. There are several that need to be a huge part of our lives:
1. The Word of God - 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:15
2. Prayer - Luke 18:1; 1Thes. 5:17; James 4:2
3. Church Attendance - Heb. 10:25
4. The Fellowship of the Saints - 1 Cor. 12:27
None of these things will give victory in and of
themselves, but we need each one to strengthen
us and to help us grow in the Lord. When we
begin to neglect even one of these essential
areas, then we are sure to suffer spiritually. You
see, when we feed the flesh and ignore our
spiritual needs, then we are headed for trouble in
our spiritual lives!)
B. V. 18-23 They Had God's Power - Il. The
Context. Israel fought the battle, but God gave
the victory! You see, the first time Israel went
to Ai, they went in their own power and they
suffered terrible, humiliating defeat. This time
they went to battle walking in the power of God
and they were victorious.
(Ill. Again, there is a lesson here for those of us
who struggle with this flesh. The battle will not
be won by our ability to say "No!" The battle
will not be won because we are more powerful
than the temptations we face. The fact is, if
you try to fight the spiritual battles of life in your
own power, you are headed for terrible defeat
in your life. You might as well plan now for a
string of sins and defeats in the flesh. My
friends, there is just one way for us to prevail in
this battle, and that is for us to learn to
appropriate the power of God in our lives. We
need to realize that when we cannot win the
battle, He can! When we are unable to fight
the flesh, sin and the world, God will fight it for
us. I'll tell you how to fight the flesh: fight it in
God's power - Eph. 6:10; Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor.
10:13. The only way any of us will ever see
victory over this flesh is through the power of
C. V. 24-26 They Had God's Performance - (Ill.
The Context) These verses tell us the news that
Israel trusted in the Lord and absolutely
prevailed over their enemy. God did what He
said He would do!
(Ill. May I remind you that we are serving the
very same God that gave Israel the victory? He
hasn't changed one bit! He is still the same
God this morning that He always has been and
always will be. You can count on God to keep
His Word - Rom. 4:21; Psa. 119:89; Matt.
24:32. You see friends, when we are engaged
in a battle with this flesh, we need to be able to
count on God, and let me tell you for the record
that you can! He is all powerful and He is able
to help you as you fight the flesh and the battles
of life, Heb. 4:14-16.)
I. The Victory Is Promised
II. The Victory Is Pursued
III. V. 27-35 THE VICTORY IS PRESERVED
(Ill. At this point in this story, Israel has followed God's
plan and that have achieved the victory. Now, they
must maintain their victory. They take two steps that
make this a reality for them. In our lives, we can
achieve the victory over the flesh! We can walk in the
will of God and be alive to spiritual things. However, for
us to maintain that victory, the same steps that Israel
took need to be taken in every one of our lives this
morning. Let me share them with you.)
A. V. 27-29 Victory Is Preserved By Death - Please
notice that they did not leave a single person alive
in Ai. No one from the king down to the humblest
servant was spared from death in this battle.
Joshua knew that this enemy had to be totally
eradicated or there would be problems down the
(Ill. The lesson for us this morning is this: Your
flesh is still alive and well, but it needs to be put to
death! Now, there are some preachers going
around telling folks that when they got saved, their
flesh was put to death. But I've got news for you,
they are wrong! Your flesh is as alive this morning
as it ever has been. It still likes all the things that it
used to like, and if you turned it loose, it would run
to sin like a pig to a wallow. Your flesh is not
saved. Your flesh is not holy. Your flesh is rotten
and it hates God and everything He stands for! Of
course, I am talking about our old sinful natures.
Now, we need to understand some things about
our flesh if we are to have the victory over it today.
Allow me to share some truths with you about your
1. Your flesh is alive and is at war with the
Spirit of God Who is in you - Gal. 5:16-24.
(Ill. We have been given the divine nature - 2
Pet. 1:4) (Ill. This is a struggle that the Apostle
Paul dealt with in great detail - Rom. 7:14-25.)
2. At the same time, your flesh was crucified
with Jesus Christ - Rom. 6:6-7. (Ill. This is
our positional standing. In the eyes of God,
our flesh, all it works and everything it stands
for was crucified with Jesus at Calvary. God
reckoned the wicked, sinful natures that we
possess to be in His Son on the cross.)
3. We are to put the flesh to death daily- Col.
3:1-10. (Ill. This is how we are to live
practically everyday.) Why this list of sins?
Because these are things that seem to have
a way of dominating our lives. Notice what
some of them are:
a. Fornication - Illicit sexual activities. There
is only one appropriate place for the
expression of the sexual appetite and that
is within marriage. I know that is an old
fashioned attitude in this day and time, but
you can either live to please the flesh or
you can live to please God. Just ask some
who have experienced the dark side to sex
to tell you whether it was worth it or not.
b. Uncleanness - Moral impurity. Doing
things that dirty and pollute the soul life.
c. Inordinate Affections - Passions and
intense arousals for things that are
forbidden by God. This is a desire or
craving for wrong things.
d. Evil Concupiscence - evil desire, a
yearning and an aching for all kinds of evil.
It is that within a person that pulls him to
desire, grasp, grab, and take hold of all
forms of evil that give pleasure to the body
and its members.
e. Covetousness - Craving, grasping, grabbing, desiring to have something. It is
desiring to have something when it is not
needed; it is desiring more than what we
need and more than what we should have.
Note that covetousness is idolatry.
4. The secret lies in being able to reckon the flesh dead like God does - Rom. 6:11-14;
Gal. 2:20. When we come to the place that we
can look at our flesh and its lusts and remind it
that it is dead to sin then, and only then, can we
expect victory in our lives. (Ill. We don't crucify
the flesh by gratifying it! You cannot feed every
lust that enters your mind and claim to be living
a life that is pleasing to the Lord. The flesh
must die today! When tomorrow comes, it must
die again. I must reckon it dead to sin and to
the lust for sin!)(Ill. We are told to flee those
things that tempt us - 2 Tim. 2:22.
5. It all boils down to whether or not you want
to please the Lord by the life you live - Rom.
6. Thankfully, there will come a day when the battle
with the flesh will end. One day, the Lord will
deliver us from this vile flesh and we shall be
changed to be like Him. You see, positionally,
God says that our flesh is dead to sin.
Practically speaking it can be, but only as we
take the initiative to reckon it dead day by day.
However, one day, we will be changed and we
will be perfected by the power of God, Rom.
B. V. 30-35 Victory Is Preserved By Devotion - Ill. The
Contest. After the enemy had been eradicated and
victory had been preserved, Israel finished by doing
what the Lord had told them to do through Moses,
Deut. 27:1-28:6. Half of the nation was to stand on
Mount Ebal and the other half on Mount Gerizim.
The Levites were to stand in the valley between
these mountains and were to read the cursings and
the blessings. As they read the cursings, the crowd
on Mount Ebal was to shout "Amen." When they
read the blessings, the crowd on Mount Gerizim was
to shout "Amen." This exercise was to remind them
of what God would bless and of what He would not
bless. They were reaffirming their commitment to
live by the Word of God every day! So, in
obedience to the command of the Lord, Israel made
the 30 mile trips to these mountains and they stood
there facing one another across that 2 mile wide
valley. As the commandments were read, they
shouted "Amen!" Imagine what that scene must
have looked and sounded like that day! There's
was a devotion to living by the Word of God.
(Ill. Folks, if we are to ever experience lasting victory
over this flesh, then we too must learn to walk in the
Word of God. It isn't enough to fight the war with
the flesh and hope to achieve the victory. If we are
to win and preserve the victory day by day, then we
must learn to live by the Word of God. If God said
do it, then do it! If God said don't do it, then don't do
it. If you have a doubt, then leave it out! Where is
your devotion this morning? It needs to be to the
Word of God! Are you living by the book like to
should? Can you echo what Job said in Job 23:12?
Can you honestly say that what God says matters in
your life? If you want lasting victory over the flesh,
there must be absolute devotion to the Word of
Conc: Who would be honest with the Lord this morning
and say, "You know preacher, this message has been
for me. I have a terrible battle with my flesh and all
the things that it lusts after. I need help to overcome
it this morning." Friend, if that describes you, then there
is help in the Lord Jesus if you will come to Him for it
today. If you have lost the battle and the flesh has
whipped you again and again, there is forgiveness in our
Lord, 1 John 1:9. Some of you deal with lust, some with
anger, some with bitterness, some with that besetting sin.
Some of you have been sneaking around doing and
saying things that aren't right. Some of you know that
you are messing around in dangerous territory this
morning. I warn you now that if you keep letting your
flesh feed itself and grow stronger, there will come a day
real soon when it will take over your life. Today is a good
day to come before the Lord and seek His help in
reckoning your flesh to be dead. Others of you have
never been saved. My friends, you don't need to reckon
your flesh dead, you need to know that your spirit is dead.
What you need is a salvation experience. You need to be
born again. It's no wonder that you can obtain the victory
in your life, you need to be saved.
I don't know your need this morning, but I do know
a God Who can help! Will you come to Him and seek
what you need to be able to live your life in a manner
pleasing to Him?