“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24: 14-15 NIV / see 24: 1-28 for more context)
Who do you serve?
The fact is if you claim to be a disciple of Christ Jesus. You must be committed to his ways and busy battling for righteousness within your own earthen vessel. Focused on the nature of Christ Jesus turning away from the temptations that arise within the world resistant to Christ. Full of people in that resistance enslaved under the power of the gods (devils) in rebellion to God, as we all have been at one time.
The above scripture Joshua 24:14-15 is a part of a covenant renewed at Shechem carried out under Joshua’s headship. A man who was truly committed to God. If you are unfamiliar with Joshua. He is a biblical character worthy of your study whose name means Jehovah is Savior. He throughout his biblical account was a man loyal to God right at Moses side and after Moses died. He led the people into the promised land. Here are a few significant examples from his life story of loyalty. Joshua went up Mount Sinai with Moses when the ten commandments were written down on stone tablets for the nation. How far up Sinai Joshua went, I am not sure, (Exodus 24:13) but he was not back at the camp where the people made an idol and sinned. He also stood at the door of the tent of meeting (see Exodus 33:7-11) and bowed at the feet of the Commander of the Lord’s army (see Joshua 5:13-15) after coming across the Jordan river to battle for the Land as the Lord commanded. A man who indeed served the LORD with wholehearted loyalty.
Those examples in mind, I find it odd when I hear preachers use this Joshua 24 passage and mainly the verse “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” as a word from Scripture to call people to repent and find salvation. You can preach it that way, but I think there is more going on here than a call to repentance. This passage is about loyalty not getting saved. This is God’s nation Joshua is leading into the promised land. A people saved out of slavery by God himself. This is about the loyalty of a people that are saved not about getting saved. This is about taking hold of what God offers with believing-obedience.
How this passage applies to the Christian
The Bible tells us of a time Jesus replied to Jews in his day that the Bible says believed his words. Yet, they were not it seems willing to serve God in the context set out above in the Joshua verses. In Jesus dialogue with those Jews in his day. (see John 8:1-34 for the full account) Jesus says, “if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, “You will become free”?” Jesus answered them. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8: 31-34 ESV)
I think it is essential to keep in mind. The spiritual realm works in relationship with our deeds. God, of course, works all things together for good to those that love him. Nevertheless, the wrong things we do are still wrong and used by the enemy towards their agenda of lying, stealing and destroying. That is why Loyalty to God is so important. If we habitually engage in sinful behavior. We are to put it plainly, bowing down to idols and serving other gods. When we continue in sin, we are sharing in the ways of evil powers.
People love to say they are under grace and they may well be under grace, but wrong is still wrong. The Apostle John says it well, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7 NIV) Our loving heavenly Father provides grace that we might conform to reproduce the character of his Son Jesus. The He in the 1 John 3: 7 verses is Jesus. So, Loyalty to Jesus looks like Jesus.
Friends, it is by the Spirit of God that the meek shall inherit the earth, the promised land of the new covenant. A Land already conquered by King Jesus. Still, the King requires us to be believing, to prevail in Him. Choose this day who you will serve, if it is King Jesus put to death the deeds of the flesh (those things opposed to God’s will) by the power of His Spirit which He freely gifts to his people, his holy nation.
God is with us in Christ Jesus. Be free, choose this day and every day the loyalty to pick up your cross and follow Lord Jesus.