We Will Serve the Lord

Summary Joshua 24:1-13

Joshua detailed for the people of Israel how God had taken care of them and had intervened for them over many years, and how he had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and how he had led them for 40 years in the wilderness, and how he had defeated their enemies time and time again, and how he had then brought them into the Promised Land.

Then, he reminded them that they did not do this with their own sword and bow, but that God did it for them. Yes, they had to obey him, and they had to do what he said, but he won their battles for them. He gave them victory after victory. And he is the one who brought them into the Promised Land.

And that is a lot like our salvation. We can’t save ourselves. And no human can save us, either. God provided salvation for us. We didn’t do it ourselves. But we still have to obey him and do what he says. Those in the wilderness who did not obey did not enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief.

So, even though we can’t save ourselves, and only God can save us, and we can only get to the Promised Land by the grace of God, still we have to follow our Lord. We have to go where he sends us and we must do what he tells us to do, or we won’t make it to our Promised Land, either (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).

Joshua 24:14-15 ESV

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Do you know that we are taught the same in the New Testament? We are to fear (respect, honor and obey) the Lord with all faithfulness. We are to forsake our sins and our idols and follow Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will (Lu 1:50; Ac 10:34-35; Phil 2:12-13; 2 Co 7:1; Heb. 12:28-29; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 6:14-18; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-10; 1 Pet 4:1-5).

And we, too, have a choice, but there are consequences with each choice. We can’t choose either one and still be saved from our sins and bound for heaven. Only one choice leads to eternal life with God. The other leads to death and eternal separation from God in eternal torment.

Either we choose to walk in the fear of the Lord in faithfulness, forsaking our sins and discarding our idols, and we serve God with our lives, or we choose to walk according to the flesh, in darkness (sin, wickedness), holding on to our sins and our idols, and we end up serving the flesh and self, instead.

Joshua 24:16-18 ESV

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

Amen! This is the correct response. This is what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ. For, we can’t be “followers” if we are not really following Jesus with our lives, but if we are still living for the flesh, doing what we want to do. For, if we are walking (in practice) according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, we are going to die in our sins (Rom 8:1-17).

It isn’t that we obey just because we are required to obey, but because we want to obey because we truly honor God with our lives. We truly believe in him for salvation (deliverance) from sin (from slavery to sin) and we want to do what he says and to go where he sends us, because we love him.

And we want to obey him and serve him with our lives because we believe he is the holy God that he is, and that he is worthy of all our praise and honor for all that he is and for all that he has done and is doing for us who are so undeserving of his love, mercy and grace to us.

Joshua 24:19-24 ESV

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”

It is absolutely true that we, in our flesh, are not able to serve the Lord. We can never be good enough to be acceptable to God. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We are only saved by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, which is a gift from God.

But, that gift is not free license to continue living in sin. That gift is deliverance from enslavement to sin and it is empowerment to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. We can only come to faith in Jesus Christ if the Father draws us, and if he is the one drawing us, then the faith to believe in him is going to be what his Word describes.

God is not going to draw us to faith in Jesus Christ and then tell us that we don’t have to obey him, that we don’t have to forsake our sins, and that we don’t have to submit to him as Lord. That goes completely against God’s word (Old and New Testaments) and against God’s divine character and will for our lives.

Thus, genuine faith in Jesus Christ submits to Christ as Lord, it leaves our lives of sin and our idols behind us, and it walks in obedience to our Lord, serving him now with our lives, instead of serving our flesh. But all the glory belongs to God, for we can only serve him because of his love and grace and because he empowers us to do so (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Rom 8:1-17).

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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