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Overcoming Our Walled Cities - Part 3
Intro: Have you ever thought about how a worm gets inside an apple? Perhaps you think the worm burrows in from the outside. It doesn’t! Scientists have discovered that the worm comes from inside. But how does it get in there? It is a very simple, but amazing process.
An insect lays an egg in the apple blossom. Sometime later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats its way out.
For the last few weeks I have been preaching from this section of Joshua. We have been talking about Overcoming Our Walled Cities, and we have been using the ancient city of Jericho as our example.
Jericho was an impressively built city. As I have already told you, it was surrounded by two massive, stone walls. The outer wall was 6 feet thick and 20 feet high. The inner wall was 12 feet thick and 30 feet high. Between these walls was a 15 foot guarded walkway. It was a very secure city, from a military standpoint. Those alls stood between the city of Jericho and all their enemies. They felt safe behind their walls. They felt secure. They believed they were beyond the reach of any army. They actually believed that they would never be defeated.
There was a day when those walls did not exist. A group of people walked out on that hill where that city was built, and they built those walls. Those walls were erected around a city that probably already existed. Those walls, which protected that city, were an obstacle, standing between Israel and victory. Those walls had to go before victory could be achieved!
We have been considering the ancient walls of Jericho and for us they are a picture of the walls of sin that surround our own hearts. We all have walled cities in our lives that hinder us from being everything God wants us to be. We all have entrenched sins, bad habits, problems with our attitudes, errors in our thinking, and flaws in our character that prevent us from walking in victory day by day.
The truth is, we are a very messed up people. We are all just a bunch of cracked clay pots, 2 Cor. 4:7. The root of our problem is sin. Sin, like that worm in the apple, begins in the heart. You are born with a sinful nature that lays the foundation for all the walled cities and strongholds that will ever exist in your life. As you grow older sin works its way out of your life through your thoughts, words, and actions.
Here is how Jesus put it: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemes: These are the things which defile a man…,” Matt. 15:19-20a. Our problem is a problem on the inside that eventually makes its way to the outside. The corruption of the heart, eventually manifests itself in the corruption of the flesh.
Most people think of themselves as basically good, but the Bible is very clear on this matter. We are not good at all, we are totally depraved and completely evil in our hearts. Jer. 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Because of that seed of sin within us, we have problems with holiness and righteousness. We have problem with human relationships. We have problems with our walk with God. Sin is the issue. It is the foundation of our problems, but as we mature, we add layer after layer to the walls in our lives. We build walls between ourselves and the Lord’s best for us. If we are going to enjoy victory, the walls must come tumbling down.
What kind of walls am I referring to?
• It may be some besetting sin that prevents you from going deeper in the things of God.
• It may a root of bitterness and unforgiveness that stands between you and God’s best.
• It may be an old, bad attitude that is holding you back.
• It could be something from your past that you struggle with day by day.
• It might be some person that stands larger than God in your eyes.
• It might be some hurt, some slight you have suffered that keeps you from moving forward with God.
Whatever it is, that thing stands as a stronghold in your life and it stands between you and God’s best for you. Whatever it is, it has you stopped in your tracks, and you will move no farther until you overcome that stronghold in your life. Before you will ever receive all God has for you, that stronghold must be torn down!
This passage about an extraordinary victory over a great walled city. As we study the principles associated with Israel’s victory, we can learn how to achieve victory over our own walled cities. We have already seen that overcoming our walled cities involves Lessons About Submission. There must be a total submission tot he Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. We have also seen that overcoming our walled cities involves Lessons About Supremacy. We must come to the place where the will of the Lord supersedes every other consideration in your lives.
Today, I want to share with you a third principle that will help us move forward to victory over the walled cities in our lives. Today, we will see that overcoming our walled cities also involves Lessons About Success. Let’s move together through these verses and consider the principles that present themselves here as we think once more about Overcoming Our Walled Cities.
I. v. 6-15 SUCCESS INVOLVES DETERMINATION
I would just remind you that the Lord’s plan to take the city of Jericho is a strange plan. Joshua 6:1-5 gives the details of this plan. Israel was to walk around the city once each day for six days. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times. During those thirteen trips, they were commanded to be absolutely quiet, v. 10. The armed men were to lead the way, v. 3. Seven priests carrying seven trumpets of ram’s horns were to march next, v. 4. The Ark of the Covenant came next, v. 6-7. After all that, came the rest of the people, v. 13. This odd procession marched around the city, as commanded, thirteen times. Since the city of Jericho covered about nine acres at the time, it would have taken about thirty minutes to encompass the city. They went out and walked, then they went home to the next day.
It was a plan that, from a purely human and military standpoint made no sense at all. Yet, when they did it God’s way, it worked. They might have been tempted to fight. After all, the people of Jericho were terrified of the Israelites! Yet, they just walked! That is all God said to do!
When make the determination to simply live life according to God’s plan, the end result will always be victory! When will we ever learn this? The path to victory as a believer is to simply follow God’s plan and walk with Him. We just need to patiently, consistently, and humbly walk with God and carry out His business, His way.
Here is what the Lord expects of His people.
• Micah 6:8, “The Lord hath showed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
• Ephesians 4:1-3, “1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
• 1 John 2:6 says, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
The key to success in the Christian life is not to outdo everyone else. It is not to try and be the best, the most well known, the most popular, or the most successful. The successful believer is the believer who simply walks, day in and day out. There is something truly special about a consistent, daily walk that glorifies the Lord.
We think that we are only serving the Lord when something big is happening in us and through us. The fact is, there is nothing bigger than a Christian who simply walks with the Lord day by day. There is something to be said for finding yourself in His Word every day. There is something to be said for spending time with Him in prayer every day. There is something to be said for simply walking with Him every day.
• When life does not make sense, just keep on walking.
• When others quit, just keep on walking.
• When some want to fight, just keep on walking.
• When some devise a new method, just keep on walking.
You see, obtaining the victory is God’s business; obedience to Him is ours!
He will give grace for a consistent daily walk. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint,” Isa. 40:31.
By the way, this same principle will work when it comes to the success of the local church. For us to walk in victory as a church, we simply need to determine that we will do it God’s way.
• We need to determine that we will adopt the Bible as the sole standard for our faith and practice.
• We need to determine that we will walk in love both to those in the church and those outside the church.
• We need to determine that we will give faithfully to the support of the church.
• We need to determine that we will faithfully support the worship and the work of the church.
• We need to determine that we will take advantage of every opportunity to share the message of the Gospel with a lost and dying world.
• We need to determine that we will come to the Lord’s house with excitement in our hearts, to worship the Redeemer Who died to save us from our sins and from the wrath of God.
We need to band together and make a covenant to do it God’s way! If it is God’s way, it will work. If it isn’t it will fail! Let’s get up and march forward with the Lord. The greatest days on this church are not in the past, they are in the future. Wait and see! If we will do it God’s way, we are guaranteed success! Ill. 1 Cor. 15:57, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I. Success Involves Determination
II. v. 16-20 SUCCESS INVOLVES DEDICATION
Israel walked around that city six days. When they did what happened to the walls of the city? Nothing! When they walked around that city six times on the seventh day, what happened? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Why? The walls did not fall because they had not gone far enough. The walls did not fall because they had not yet done everything the Lord commanded them to do! When Israel marched around that wall the seventh time and shouted, the wall fell down flat!
The number 6 in the Bible is often used as the number of “man.” Man was created on the sixth day. The number of the Antichrist, also known as the Mark of the Beast, will be “666.” 6 is a number associated with human weakness and failure.
The number 7 in the Bible is a number associated with fullness. In fact, if you study the number 7 from Genesis to Revelation, you will find that it is the number most often associated with the complete, or perfect works of God. Do made the world in 6 days, but He rested on the 7th day. The word “seven” occurs 287 times in the Bible, or 7 x 41. The word translated “seven” comes from the Hebrew word “shevah.” It means, “fullness or satisfaction.” The number 7 is found so many times, and in so many usages and combinations, that it would be impossible to get into all of its implications. Suffice it to say that the number 7 is a number linked to God’s work, God’s power and God’s completeness!
The whole point is this: Israel kept going in their dedication until they passed from the realm of their own power, into the realm of the power of God!
After marching around that city seven times, they would have been too exhausted to fight! When they came to the place where they couldn’t, but knew He could, a miracle took place and the walls of the city came tumbling down!
That’s the point of them shouting before the wall fell down! They were praising God for the victory by faith, even before it could be seen with the eyes! That is what faith is all about, Heb. 11:1. That kind of faith honors the Lord, and the Lord honors that kind of faith
Let us remember that victory over our walled cities will most likely come when we get to the place where the victory is totally out of our hands and in His alone! When we get away from the realm of our ability and move into the realm of God’s ability; then we will see what God can bring to pass in a life wholly dedicated to Him!
If we want to achieve victory over the strongholds in our lives, we must realize that we lack the power to make such a victory a reality! The only way we will ever achieve victory over the walled cities in our lives is for us to dedicate ourselves wholly to the will of the Lord. We must surrender ourselves completely to Him, His Word and His will. We must give up all rights to our own lives, and place everything we have and everything we are in the mighty hands of the Lord.
• Romans 12:1-2, “1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
• Romans 6:6-7, “6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
• Romans 6:13-14, “13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
• Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
• Romans 6:19, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.”
My friends, that is the key to walking in spiritual victory! Anything implies that we are continued bondage to the flesh, Satan and this fallen world. Until we are ready to sell out completely, and do it God’s way with determination and dedication, we will always be prone to fail. But, when we do it His way, we are guaranteed success!
Do you want victory over the strongholds and wall cities that hold you captive today? If you do, that victory will only come when you wholly dedicate yourself to the Lord!
Here is what we must ever keep in mind.
• 1 Cor. 6:19-20, “19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
• Matt. 16:24-25, “24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
I. Success Involves Determination
II. Success Involves Dedication
III. V. 21 SUCCESS INVOLVES DEATH
After the walls fell down, the Israelites went into Jericho and did exactly what the Lord commanded them to do. They killed everything that lived within the walls of Jericho, with the exception of Rahab and her family, v. 22-25.
Does this seem extreme to you? God knew that if the people of Jericho were allowed to live, they would influence the people of Israel away from Him. It had happened while they journeyed through the wilderness, when the people of Israel came into contact with pagans, and the Lord knew that it would happen again. So, when the walls of that stronghold came down, everyone in the city had to die.
When you come to the place where you can identify the strongholds that are in your life, and God, by His power brings those things down for you; you must rise up and make sure that every trace of those things is forever eradicated from your life!
There are some here who need to bring some stronghold or another before the Lord and put it to death! Some things must not be allowed to live! If we defeat them today and don’t do away with the root of the problem, that stronghold will rebuild itself in our lives and be stronger than ever. Next time, it will harder to bring down!
Ill. How Samuel handled Agag after the wicked Amalekite king had been spared by Saul - “32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. 33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal,” 1 Sam. 15:32-33. Agag is a picture of the flesh, and for the flesh to be defeated, it must be hacked to pieces. For you to achieve victory over your strongholds, they must die!
The problem with Jericho wasn’t the city! The problem with Jericho was the people in the city. They hated God and all He stood for and they had to perish!
Whatever it takes to root out the strongholds in your life, I challenge you to do it today! God will enable you to see those things put to death forever!
• Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
• Colossians 3:5-10, “5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”
Some things in our lives will have to die, if we are to be free from our strongholds. Everyone in this room, if you are saved, possesses a license to kill! We are command by the Lord to put the flesh to death!
• Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
• Galatians 5:24, “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
Conc: As we think about this passage, I am thankful that God was able to give the people of Israel victory over Jericho. The destruction of those ancient walls was a miracle of epic proportions. But, the removal of Jericho signaled to the Israelites that God was with them and that He would give them victory over all the enemies they would face, if they would simply face them the Lord’s way.
That is what He is saying to you today. Have you identified the strongholds that prevent you from going deeper with the Lord? Are you ready to be free of them forever? If you will be, they must be destroyed. The place to do battle with your strongholds is on your knees, before the Lord in humble worship and surrender to His will.
If you are not saved, let me challenge your to heed the voice of the Lord and come before His presence asking Him to save you.
If you are struggling in your walk with Him, there is help in the Lord for you to reach a place of victory in your own walk with God.
There are strongholds in our lives and in our church that need to be destroyed. We need to yield to Him, lay our swords and His feet, acknowledge the fact that we can’t but that He can, and follow His plan for victory.
What needs to be brought before the Lord today and given over to Him? What needs to die? What do you need to nail to His cross?
Death is your only hope for victory. Unless you are willing to put some things to death, you will never have His victory. What do you need to do?