OUR "LITTLE BY LITTLE" JOURNEY INTO HOLINESS.
INSTANT HOLINESS OR LITTLE BY LITTLE?
“The Lord your God will drive out those nations
before you, little by little.
You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once,
or the wild animals will multiply around you.”
Do we understand that the 40-year Promised Land trek was designed by the Lord God to test His people? And that He does the same for each believer in Christ who truly wants to follow Jesus on the narrow Way?
Do we understand that this is a journey, full of danger and difficulty? That God leads us, but it is our feet that hit the ground, and it’s our backs that lift the burdens? That Christ will give us strength, and courage, and determination, and power, but that He actually has a purpose in testing us and disciplining us?
God took His people into the desert for forty years. Yes, they kept themselves there longer than necessary, because they didn’t exercise faith, but these things happened so that we can learn from them today. So with us, God works in the same way.
We have been taught that Christ brings peace, and a good life, and days full of hope and joy and love. We have been taught that He brings us prosperity. That when we leave
(that former life of sin and rebellion against God) we will suddenly be transported into the Promised Land! Rich with plenty, pleasure and the good things of life. At ease on our couches, we will enjoy the plump fruits of righteousness that will bud from the tree, and grow quickly, and our lives will instantly reflect the glory of Christ. Egypt
Unfortunately, like Moses, we come down off the mountain after seeing the glory of God Himself, and in the melee of worldly attitudes and sins that dance around us, the glory that was in our faces begins to fade. We sometimes put on the veil, as Moses did, to pretend we’re still radiant with God’s presence, yet we are just masking its fading. Brothers and sisters, I believe that much of our “church activity” is designed to mask the fact that we aren’t really experiencing the glory and holiness of Christ. We are afraid to admit that if we didn’t have the noise and the crowds, and the loud music, and the media frenzy, then we would have nothing but the faded glory on our tired faces.
We must read and listen to Moses in Chapters 7 and 8 of Deuteronomy. It was never intended that the people of God meet Him on the mountain and be instantly transformed into a glorified, perfected nation. NO. They were to walk the desert, on foot, carrying all the gold and silver and precious gifts they had been given by the Egyptians. They were to make a journey, and it was not to be easy or fast.
Not only would they walk for forty years, learning the hard Way that God does not tolerate sin and double-mindedness in His true People. But when they came to the edge of the Promised Land, they would be told they were entering another phase of the journey. Now they would be forced to apply all they had learned with real people, in the real world, and face down the evil that lay in that Promised Land they were to inherit.
We face our own evil every day. I mean not only the world’s evil, but what lies within us. God intends this picture of
entering the Promised Land to show us also what it means to let Christ cleanse us of sin. He will do it, but He will do it step by step, “little by little”. He knows that if at salvation we were instantly cleansed of everything in us that is not of Christ, we would soon be overwhelmed by evil that would come in and fill the emptiness that was there. Here we see evil thoughts and intentions, wrong attitudes, sinful desire, all represented as “wild animals”. These wild things spawned by Satan would take over where the evil human attitudes and actions that were there have been eradicated. Like the nations before them, Israel would fall prey to these wild animals and, as Jesus said about the one emptied of evil spirits, “his last state would be worse than the first.” When Christ drives out one bad habit, or one bad attitude, He replaces it with another, and mortars it firmly into place in the New Man, before He moves to the next. If we are obedient, then in our lives, one after another of these evil, idolatrous nations falls to the Sword of Christ in us, and we drive them out gradually. Israel
This is how we attain holiness in Christ, brothers and sisters.
Quit looking for an instant cure. The disease is in the hands of the Great Physician, and He will prompt us to move against each cancerous cell until the whole mind and body are cleansed. And that means our discipline is required, our holy patience is required, in order for Him to do His work in us.
We must stop sinning, but it is Christ in us who will destroy these things as we move through the desert, and on into the Promised Land. Think of the times in the Sinai when
sinned, and God then took action, swallowing up that sin with a huge opening in the earth, or sending a plague that took out the disease. Israel Israel bowed again before Him, and He led them on, closer and closer to the physical , which is a picture for us of our spiritual journey to holiness in Christ. Land of Promise