In Numbers 13, the Israelites are about to enter the land of Canaan to fulfill the promise God had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their descendants would be given the land wherein these faithful patriarchs dwelt. God instructed Moses to send 12 spies to spy out the land and bring back a report. As is well known, the report they brought back was not a good one. The land was as promised, “flowing with milk and honey”, but there were giants in the land, inhabitants stronger than the Israelites. The consensus among the 12 spies was that the land could not be taken. Of course, we remember that two of these spies, Joshua and Caleb, urged the Israelites to trust in God. They were confident that with His help the land could be taken. But, alas, the Israelites sided with the 10 spies who gave the evil report and the whole assembly began to murmur and complain against Moses and against God. We know the outcome of this story. God punished the Israelites by not allowing any adults 20 years or older to enter the land of promise, except for Joshua and Caleb. They were not allowed to enter the promised rest because they did not trust God to help them overcome the stronger inhabitants of the land. They were not willing to put forth the effort to overcome.
Christians are also promised a land of rest – a beautiful home in heaven (Revelation 21). But to reach that rest, Christians face a conquest just as the Israelites did. Ours is not a physical conquest, but a spiritual one. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
There are many spiritual enemies facing Christians. These enemies can, at times, appear invincible, as giants in the land. I John 2:16 tells us what these giants are: (1) lust of the flesh, (2) lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life. These three “morph” into one huge giant called SIN. But they can also “de-morph” into numerous smaller giants such as those described in Galatians 5:19-21 – “idols, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, reveling and idols;” These things are all around us, everywhere, every day. It can be overwhelming at times. We may come to the point to where we feel we just can’t be righteous in the face of so much evil. But, let us not be as the Israelites who gave up without even trying.
There are three ways in which we can overcome those evil spiritual giants:
- Trust in God – In Romans 7:18-25, Paul realized that he could not overcome by himself. He understood the war that was waging within himself between the flesh and the spirit. He realized that the flesh would win if he relied only on himself. In verse 24, he seems on the verge of giving up, but then, in verse 25, he turns it over to God who could deliver him “from this body of death.” When we fail to trust in God, we will end up as the Israelites who perished in the wilderness instead of enjoying the promised rest in the land of Canaan.
- Stand strong – In I Kings 17, we can read of the champion giant, Goliath, who defied the armies of Israel. No Israelite was willing to stand against him. But when David heard his challenge, he stepped forward, knowing that, with God’s help, he would be able to overcome just as God had helped him overcome the lion and the bear that tried to steal his sheep. But David still had to do his part to overcome. In Ephesians 6:13-18, we can read of the spiritual armor God has provided for us to overcome spiritual giants. But this armor will do us no good if we do not equip ourselves with it, learn how to use it to fight against evil, then stand strong.
- Look for help from the brethren – Galatians 6:1-2 exhorts those who are spiritual to restore those who are caught in sin. In Hebrews 3:12-13, we are told to “exhort one another daily” to guard against “departing from the living God.” From the inspired words of Paul in I Thessalonians 5:14, we are to “warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
With God’s help, we can overcome evil spiritual giants and enter that rest He has promised us. But we must have faith (trust in Him), we must be put forth the effort (stand strong), and we must help each other if we are to overcome.
By Tim Johnson