98. Put to death all sinful practices

The Israelites were camped close to the Jordan river, ready to move into the Promised Land. And whilst camping there, God gave them the following command:

"Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you cross the Jordan river into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there. You must destroy all their carved and molten images and demolish their pagan shrines. Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy." Numbers 33:51-53.

God told them to totally destroy the Canaanites, because He knew, that if the Israelites allow them to live, they will become like them and follow their customs and worship their gods. God also gave them a warning:

"But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live. And I will do to you, what I had planned to do to them." Numbers 33:55,56

This was serious. If they obeyed they would prosper, if they didn't, God will punish them like He planned to punish the Canaanites. The choice was clear and the consequences spelt out. Unfortunately they didn't listen...

And this lesson applies to us today as well. We have to get rid of sinful behaviour in our lives. Jesus died to free us from our sinful natures and to give us a new nature that is like His. He died to set us free from the power of sin, just like the Israelites were freed from the power of Pharoah. And just as God led them to the Promised Land, Jesus also guides us to our own Promised Land, filled with all He wants to offer us. But we need to let go of sin in our lives that are like the Canaanites. Listen to what Paul had to say:

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not only think about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust and shameful desires. Don't be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry." Colossians 3:1-3,5

The choice for us is clear as well. Follow the ways of God with all your heart and set your sights on heaven, or continue with the sinful practices in your life and see how they become splinters in your life like the Canaanites of old was to the Israelites. I know most of us don't see anything wrong with 'small' sins, but the problem is 'small' sins, like small splinters, can cause a lot of discomfort and pain in the long run. God wants us free, He wants to bless us in our Promised Land and He wants us to thrive. But if we continue in sin and nurture the sin in our lives, we are inviting pain into our lives that are totally unnecessary and we might also experience the discipline of God. Hebrews 12 clearly speaks about God disciplining His children to leave sin behind and to follow His ways. But wouldn't it be better to rather leave the sin ourselves? And strive to be more like Jesus?

I know that to be sinless is wishful thinking, but as we move into maturity, it is possible to come close. Leave the sin you clearly know is prevalent in your life and start to experience the joy of living in the Promised Land.

Father, please forgive us for following and loving sinful practices in our lives. Please give us the strength and the determination to 'put to death' all sin lurking around in our lives. We want to follow You and Your loving ways and we want to live in the Promised Land without splinters hindering our joy there. In Jesus Name. Amen

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