“So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.” (Joshua 5:1)
The new generation of the children of Israel had been circumcised and were gathered between the Jordan and Jericho. As I wrote in the previous article we, the Church of Jesus Christ and the brothers of the second Adam, are the new generation who will enter the Land of Promise: the old generation, the children of the first Adam, cannot enter. And we live in a time when many prophetic voices are declaring that the Divine Nature will be manifested more powerfully than ever before when a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit equips us to live more fully in the good of the “great and precious promises” that we find in the Word (See 2 Peter1:4). So we too find ourselves between the Jordan and Jericho: we’re born again of the Spirit – we’re over the Jordan – and we know that there is a great advance ahead of us. But first we need to get past Jericho. What can we learn?
First of all, we need to remember that “greater is he that is in us than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) The darkness is scared of the light, because it knows the light is stronger. The devil knows that he is no match for the spiritual weapons of our warfare, which are “mighty for pulling down strongholds (2 Cor 10:5),” because of course he knows what they are. The question is, do we? I think one of the devil’s main strategies in our warfare is to make sure we don’t. Jesus cast demons out ‘with a word’ because they knew who Him. The demons that overpowered the sons of Sceva knew Jesus, and they knew who Paul was, but they obviously couldn’t see anything of Jesus in the sons of Sceva. Their words alone were not enough.
Over the years I have done my share of “spiritual warfare.” I think I’ve won a few battles, but I have also lost many; and I have come to the conclusion from reflecting on my own experience and applying what I understand from Scripture, that we spend a lot of time firing blanks when we think we are shooting down the enemy. We can talk, pray and declare all night, but Paul says that we are to “stand” when we have “done all.” When we “stand” in prayer against the forces of darkness, have we “done all?” Are we actually wearing the armour of God, walking in faith, righteousness and truth, spreading the gospel and speaking God’s word, or have we just rushed into prayer mode while the armour of our spiritual selves is still shut away in a locker in our heavenly home? James says we need to be “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22). The two house builders of Jesus’s sand and rock parable have both heard His word, but only one of them keeps it.
The enemy knew who Paul was because he clearly didn’t just teach the church about the armour of God; he wore it himself, all the time. To put on the armour of God, stand in it, and to “do all” is to put on Christ and walk in the Spirit. The enemy looked at Paul, and doubtless at Peter and the other apostles after Pentecost, saw Jesus, and had to succumb to the victory of the cross. Paul didn’t give us a check-list for a quiet time procedure in Ephesians 6, he gave us a picture of what the weapons of our warfare look like when we let our spirits do the walking in our lives. If we are walking in the light before confronting the enemy, he will see us coming before we reach him: he will recognise Jesus in our faith (the shield), our righteousness (the breastplate), our thinking (the helmet), our words (the sword), and our footsteps (the shoes). He will still put up a fight, but will be defeated in the end. But if he doesn’t see them he won’t know who we are, and no amount of “praying against” him will make any difference: we will just be firing blanks.
We must remember that the same spiritual powers of darkness that were over the “Kings of the Canaanites” are at work in today’s world. If they had had shut up Jericho for fear of the people of God, what weapons of warfare are they scared of finding in our possession today? The answer can be summed up in a single word: Christlikeness. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more like him we become, and the more likely we are to pull down the strongholds that stand between us and the promised land.