Whose Side Are You On?

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” Joshua 5:13 ESV

We all want God on our side. In fact, we often claim He is without ever bothering to ask Him. We assume we have the power of His Name behind us, fighting for what we believe.

But the real question, dear one, isn’t whether God stands on our side. It’s whether we stand on His.

Joshua discovered that when he faced the commander of God’s army outside Jericho. The question left his lips in hopeful anticipation. “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” His response brought Joshua to his knees.

And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” Joshua 5:14

Essentially the angel told him, “I’m not for you or your enemy. I fight for the Lord.” In that moment Joshua humbly asked the only question he could ask, the one each of us should be asking.

“What does my lord say to his servant?”

You and I want to be on God’s side, beloved. When we are, we have the full power of His might behind us. Joshua’s trust in God’s words collapsed the walls of an impenetrable city, giving the people of Israel their first victory in their Promised Land. Our trust in God’s words will secure our victories as well.

But look at what happens when we don’t live according to His Word.

In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Isaiah 63:9-10

Sobering, isn’t it? These verses don’t describe God coming against a foreign enemy. They depict Him turning against His own people, those He had loved and redeemed. Why would He do that? Because His own people ignored Him.

“These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:3-4

We have this idea that when we bear God’s name, He always fights for us. But when we don’t stand for what He stands for—when we rebel against His Word—God actually turns and fights against us.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.  1 Corinthians 3:18-19a

Wisdom that comes from anywhere other than God is folly. And folly leads to death.

So you and I have a choice to make, dear one. Will we stand on His truth even when it’s not popular? Or will we stand with the world opposing God?

Because that’s exactly what aligning our beliefs with the world does, dear one. It sets us up against God.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? James 4:4-5

When we’re not for Him, we’re against Him. So you and I better know what He says. We can’t afford to make assumptions about His Word or His character. The cost is too great.

Isaiah 59:14-15 offers a fitting description for our days.

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

Evil increases in our days, dear one. The one who deceives the whole world has convinced it to exchange the truth of God for a lie. Truth has stumbled in the public squares. We cannot trust the wisdom of the world.

But there is wisdom that saves, beloved, wisdom rooted in the only source of truth.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways. Proverbs 2:6-15

It’s time we take sides, dear one. Jesus died to deliver us from the deceptions of this world. When we stand with the world, we stand against God.

Don’t just assume He’s got your back, beloved. Open the Word and make sure you’ve got His.

Passing the Test

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

Scripture calls us to examine ourselves. For what purpose? To make sure our faith is genuine.

I don’t know about you, but I find that thought pretty sobering. After all, faith saves us and ushers us into the kingdom of God. If our faith isn’t genuine, dear one, we can’t claim the promises that come through it.

Heaviness grips my heart for the body of Christ. Half-truths and deceptions have woven their way into our theology. If we allow them to remain, beloved, I fear it will cost us dearly.

Take a moment to ponder Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Jesus said the way that leads to life is hard, and few actually find it.

Yet the message often heard from our pulpits suggests something else. “It’s easy to come to Jesus. You just have to pray a simple prayer inviting Him into your heart, and it’s done.”

I wonder, dear one. Why would Jesus tell us it’s hard if it’s so easy?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that anything other than faith in Jesus Christ ushers us into eternal life with the Father. I’m suggesting that you and I ought to be certain we know what that means.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.

You and I need to know, dear one. Is the faith we profess to have truly saving faith? Or when examined against the entirety of the Word of God, will we find that it falls short?

Jesus said some things that we find a little too easy to ignore.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

You and I certainly want to follow Jesus into heaven. But are we willing to do what He says is required to do so? Will we lose our worldly lives for His sake? Or are we trying to use Him to achieve the life in this world we desire?

On another occasion Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).”

Scripture offers several warnings about the dangers of “looking back.” Yet that’s our tendency. We often look back with longing on the life Jesus seeks to rescue us from.

That’s what happened to Lot’s wife. God chose her for deliverance from the punishment about to descend on the immoral. Yet as He was leading her away to safety, she looked back with longing on the life she was leaving and became a pillar of salt.

She missed the deliverance God intended for her because her heart had grown attached to the world she was living in, defiled though it was. She loved the things of the world more than she loved God, and it became her downfall.

Jesus said in Luke 17:32-33.

Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Jesus calls us out of a world defiled by immorality. That’s the point of the redemption poured out on the cross. He offers the power to free us from our attachment to sin and worldly philosophies so that we can know Him and walk in His righteousness.

Do you desire to be rescued from the world, beloved? Or do you find that your heart longs for what it offers?

If your heart longs more for the things of the world, you may be standing on dangerous ground.

. . . Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

You see, saving faith in Jesus Christ can’t occur without repentance. We must desire to leave behind our life of sin and embrace God’s righteousness. And we must believe that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross offers the means to accomplish it.

And that’s the most beautiful part, dear one. Becoming righteous has nothing to do with our efforts to clean ourselves up. It’s about believing and receiving what Christ did. And as we spend time with the Lord we profess, our belief in His Word changes our thoughts and attitudes to make us like Him.

Behold, He is coming soon. Take hold of Jesus’ words, dear one.

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36