One of my favorite things to do with old friends is reminisce. Retelling stories, laughing at old inside jokes, and waxing poetic about the meaning of it all.
For some reason, the challenging times are the most fun to go back over. There’s something sweet about remembering how hard you pushed yourself in school or to meet a goal, and knowing you succeeded.
Sometimes it changes your perspective.
Joshua 12 is a chapter of reminiscing. But instead of funny stories, what’s listed in this chapter are captured cities and overthrown kings.
The chapter is a list of victories that the children of Israel have racked up.
It seems like cold recordkeeping at best, and cruel gloating at worst, but there’s something more here.
The Israelites were not an ordinary people. Their battles weren’t ordinary battles. And so these victories were not just reckless raids.
God chose Israel. They were a nation that fought His battles, not their own. Human battles were for greed, gain and glory. God’s battles have always been against sin.
So these victories are not just Israel’s, they are God’s. These victories are symbolic of victories over sin. These victories are promises to you and to me.
Because the same God that fought for the Israelites gave His life for me and you. And He didn’t do that just so we would continue to live in sin, addicted and suffering the consequences, for the rest of our earthly lives.
The story of the Bible is the story of what God did to save us from sin. If we let Him take over our lives, then we’ll have lists of victories as long as Joshua 12, and even longer:
These are the sins that God’s children defeated, and the blessings that came into their life.
The sin of pride – DEFEATED
The sin of gluttony – DEFEATED
Addiction to pornography – DEFEATED
The sin of jealousy – DEFEATED
And the blessings of love, joy, peace, and relationship with God, which have taken their place.
This isn’t just wishful thinking. If God did it before, He can and will do it again.
That will be us someday.
“I have come to transform your heart and mind and life.”
It is painful to look back and realize that the sins you are struggling with today are the same ones you were promising to overcome ten years ago.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way.
And this chapter is just one piece of evidence that we can and will overcome when we fight with Jesus.
We can’t DIY victory over sin. We can’t grit our teeth and will ourselves to be better people.
We also can’t pick and choose what we get victory over. We can’t ask God to give us victory over one sin because its consequences are painful, but expect to keep the rest of them because they’re fun and easy.
God loves us too much for that. He knows sin only causes suffering. So when He walks in, He changes every inch of us, inside and out.
But it will only happen if we choose to follow Him, like Israel.
At the end of it all, what will you be looking back on? A string of failed attempts at change?
Or a list of victories?
What do you think? What victories have you won through God’s power?