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Hold Fast To The Lord -(A Renewed and Renewing Mind)

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

The title of today’s lesson is, “Hold Fast to the Lord.” The text, the book of Joshua chapter 23 verses six through 11. Listen to the Word of God. “Be very strong. Be careful to obey all that is written in the book of the Law of Moses without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you. Do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them, but you are to hold fast to the Lord your God as you have until now. The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations. To this day no one has been able to withstand you. One of you routed a thousand because the Lord your God fights for you just as he promised. So be very careful to love the Lord you God.”

In the last chapters of the book of Joshua, chapters 23 and 24, the general, the leader, Joshua addressed the leadership of Israel in his last days. He addressed the elders, the judges and the officials and he told them he was old and well advanced in years. And so this was Joshua’s farewell address, his parting words of wisdom and warning toward the future for Israel, but also applicable to us today as believers in the Lord.

As with the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy chapter four and verse seven, Joshua had fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith. And so it must be for each of us. At Joshua’s farewell most of Israel’s external enemies had been defeated. And in our study text of Joshua chapter 23 and verses six through 11, Joshua emphasized internal reinforcement to defeat internal, moral enemies which are much, much more difficult to defeat and this is very applicable to each of us today.

In Joshua chapter 23 and verse six Joshua warned them to be very strong. Here not physical strength, but inner strength, moral integrity. Joshua went on to tell them to be careful to obey all that is written in the book of the Law of Moses, that is, in his case, from Genesis to Deuteronomy, the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, which at that time was the only Scripture that had been written down, recorded and preserved.

Today we need to be careful to obey all that is written, especially in the form of commands from God to us. From Genesis to Revelation in all 66 books Scripture is not just head knowledge to read and to study, but it needs to be of the heart, a change that goes even to our hands and feet, to live it without turning aside to the right or to the left. Our goal in the Lord is straight ahead, on the straight and narrow with the Lord and to follow in his steps. And it is not enough to know the Word of God. We must know and obey the Word of God. It needs to be personal. It needs to be an individual, obedient relationship to grow in fellowship with the Lord through his Word, by his Spirit. And Jesus Christ today is our perfect example of obedience. We value God’s precious promises. We are intrigued by God’s prophecies, predictions, especially those that are yet future. But we need to heed, obey God’s commandments. God’s moral law has not changed. And that has to do with the heart, with the mind, with the will internally.

In Joshua chapter 23 and verse seven Joshua told them to not associate with these nations that remain among you. For an application to us today it is in regard to our witness to unbelievers, even to those who would ridicule and mock us, because witnessing the truth, witnessing the way, which is Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father, does not mean imitating or involving ourselves in their sins, in the sins of this world’s system. I had a rather immature Christian tell me many years ago that he often went into bars and taverns to witness to drunks or those that were getting drunk. That is not a good idea. That is the wrong way of doing things, because, first of all, most drunks are not clear headed enough to receive the gospel when they are getting drunk, and bars and taverns are not the appropriate place. The appropriate place and time is away from temptation and sin with a clear head and an open heart and a hand without liquor in this case, because it is not about intoxication. It is about an invitation to Christ. And we need to be clear headed and open minded to receive this invitation and to know Jesus.

Christians do witness, but must remain apart from the world’s ways. We are to be different, even radically different, because we are set apart. The Scripture says we are a chosen people, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, similar to Israel in the Church today, even a royal priesthood.

 

Jesus said in the gospel of John chapter 15 and verse 19, in part, “If you belong to the world it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”

In the epistle of James chapter four and verse four it says, in part: “Friendship with the world is hatred toward God.” Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. We cannot be compromising our lifestyles as Christians with one foot in the world and one in the kingdom, because we are not part of this world’s system or this world’s lifestyle.

In Romans chapter 12 and verse two the apostle Paul wrote, inspired of the Holy Spirit: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And how do we do this? One example is in Psalm 119 and verse 11 where we find this: “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” That is, we are not saturated with the world’s ways, but we are saturated with the Word of God and strive to live for the Lord.

In Colossians chapter three and verse 16 the apostle Paul wrote, in part: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” And, therefore, a renewed and renewing mind is one that is constantly being saturated and controlled by the Word of God through the Holy Spirit, growing in the mind of Christ, not the mindset of the world.

Then, likewise, as in Joshua chapter 23 and verse seven, we are not to invoke or to call upon the names of their gods or to swear by them. They were not to serve them or bow down to them. Today in the world we have many false gods besides Allah and Satan. In our affluent, modern society we have gods and idols of sports, of entertainment, even of education, of money, of prestige, of pleasure, of science and technology, none of which are evil in themselves. These are all good things in their place. But when they become saturated in our minds and hearts and we become, as it were, worshippers of these things, of these matters, if we swear by them, if we serve them, if we bow our hearts and minds to them, if we are devoted to them above God, then they become idolatrous, idols, like gods to us today, even modern gods. And this should not be.

In Joshua chapter 23 and verse eight Joshua said: “But you are to hold fast to the Lord.” And so must we today. How so? This is summed up by Joshua in probably his best known words of the entire book of Joshua found in the 24th chapter and the 15th verse where it says, in part: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Notice Joshua as the father and head of his household. He took responsibility and accountability for his own household as should all fathers today, especially spiritually, morally and ethically.
Elijah said in 1 Kings chapter 18 and verse 21, in part: “If the Lord is God, follow him.” The New Testament equivalent of this would be: If Jesus is Lord, follow him. That continues to be our challenge. We not only believe in Jesus, we want to follow him, emulate him. He is our model. He is our Lord. And, therefore, we worship him. We serve him. We work for him. We live for him.

But how, ultimately, do we hold fast to the Lord? The answer is in 1 John chapter five and verse four. John says here that this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. We don’t live by feelings. Christians, born again, baptized believers live by faith from first to last. And we hold fast, we hold on to the Lord with persevering faith, a real trust, a reliance, a leaning upon the Lord first and foremost. The New American Standard Version refers to it as we are to cling to the Lord our God, that is, to stick, to be steadfast in the Savior.

In Joshua chapter 23 and verse 10 it says, in part: “The Lord your God fights for you.”   In Joshua’s day, literally, physically, regarding warfare against the Canaanites, the many enemies of Israel as they repossessed the land in Joshua’s day. But the same is true spiritually regarding spiritual warfare, because, ultimately, our battle is not against flesh and blood. And the Lord our God is with us as believers today even indwelling us by the Holy Spirit to help us, to guide us, to protect us, give us victory.

The apostle Paul wrote that we can be more than conquerors. And, for example, we have the principle in the New Testament, in 2 Corinthians chapter 10 and verses three and four where the apostle Paul wrote: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.” The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strong holds. That is, believer’s weapons have divine power mainly with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. And just as Jesus fought off the devil’s temptations with the truths of the Word of God, so can we fight against temptation, against evil by using and living the truths of the Word of God.

In 1 John chapter four and verse four in the New Testament we find these words, in part: “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” That is, the indwelling Holy Spirit within the born again baptized believer is far, far greater than the devil, that is the evil one, who now controls the world as allowed by God temporarily. But the evil one does not control the believer who is in God’s kingdom, not the world.

I remember many years ago I was counseling with a recently married young lady who was also a new Christian who had been converted to Christ while she was at university and studying. And she was just recently graduated, recently married and a recent Christian. But she made a mistake as a born again, baptized believer to marry a non-believer. She married him because he promised that he would take her to church and evidently a few months after they were married he broke his promise. And she was sharing with me with tears running down her cheeks that she didn’t know if she could hang on, if she could hold fast to the Lord, because she had so much that she was dealing with being a new Christian, a babe in Christ, being recently married, recently in the job market, having been recently graduated from college. And she was looking for some encouragement, some wisdom. And I shared with her this verse, 1 John chapter four and verse four. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

We have the power. We need to tap in and cooperate with the Holy Spirit and we can defeat the devil with God’s help, because we all need to hold fast. The Lord will fight for us if we cooperate and trust in him and persevere in faith. And 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us the precious promise that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear, but we will have a way of escape. But we need to look for that way of escape. And the Holy Spirit will help us.

In Joshua chapter 23 and verse 11 it says: “So be very careful to love the Lord your God.” So many today misunderstand what this really means, to love the Lord. It is not just about hugs and kisses. It is not just about affection emotionally. In the gospel of John, chapter 14 and verse 15 Jesus said: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”   In John 14:24 it says: “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” So be very careful to obey, which is to love the Lord your God and be very strong. Trust and obey and hold fast to the Lord.

 

                           David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

 

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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10