I'm just about done reading the book of Numbers in my two-year journey through the Bible which I'm doing with Project 1189. And this morning when I came to 33:55, I stopped to read it over again several times.
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. (NASB95)
I couldn't help thinking of this verse in light of the new covenant. If followers of Christ don't drive out those old inhabitants in our lives—all those bad habits, all those sinful choices and practices that ruled us or entertained us or overwhelmed us before we were believers—they become pricks in our eyes and thorns in our sides. They trouble us in the land where we live.
Sometimes it's easy to read the Old Testament and wonder why on earth the Israelites—after being miraculously set free from slavery in Egypt, after witnessing the power of God and the plagues He sent to force Pharaoh to let His people go—so quickly decided to worship a golden calf, to be disobedient and to grumble and complain. But are we so different? No. We're not so different.
If we've experienced knowing Jesus, if we've been born again, we've entered a promised land flowing with milk and honey. But if we are to truly enjoy all the riches of the new life, we have to drive out the old inhabitants in our hearts and minds. And that takes an act of will, a conscious effort. Some of those old inhabitants ran away the instant they saw who we became when we believed. Others we have to fight with everything in us in order to achieve victory. We have to suit up in full body armor and enter the battle.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Eph 6:10-17, NLT)
I don't want to allow any old inhabitants remain to prick my eyes or to be thorns in my sides or to continue to trouble me in the land God gave me. How about you?