When I say, “don’t settle,” I mean don’t settle for partial victory when God has given you complete victory.
Through the blood of Jesus, God has provided for us:
Complete victory over the dominion of sin (Rom. 6:14)
Complete victory over every foul, wicked, and immoral spirit that is in this world
Complete victory over every lying, seducing, discouraging, confusing, oppressive, and religious spirit that is in the church
Complete victory over Satan
More important and impressive than all of the above is complete victory over unbelieving, self-dependent, self-trusting, self-glorying, and selfish self—our own flesh (Gal. 5:16).
That’s a lot of victory provided to us through belief in Christ and His victory on the Cross for us. But we have a tendency to get to certain points in our Christian journey and settle. We settle in and get satisfied at the level of growth that God has brought us to, and we stop believing God for more. This can happen both individually and corporately, as a church. At times, we settle for talent, professionalism, protocol, church tradition, and going through the motions rather than being desperate for the anointing of the Spirit that breaks yokes in the lives of other people and our own.
We should always be pressing in for more of Christ and less of us (Phil. 3:12-14).
We have many examples in the Bible of individuals who settled in rather than pressing in for more. It not only affected them personally, but others around them—even future generations after them. Unbelief always does.
A prime example is Joash, the wicked king of Israel, in II Kings 13:14-19. In that passage, Israel was losing ground to the Syrians—Israel’s enemy. The Syrians were taking more and more of Israel’s country, and there was nothing that Israel, the northern kingdom, could to do about it. Joash heard that the man of God, Elisha, was dying, so he came to Elisha and wept over him (vs. 14). He sought God’s help near Elisha’s death when he should have been seeking God’s help when Elisha was much younger.
Elisha told Joash to do something that was strange to Joash; he told him to take his bow and an arrow and to shoot an arrow out the window facing eastward. Elisha rose up from his sickbed and put his hands on Joash’s hands, and told Joash, “Shoot.”
Joash and Elisha shot the arrow, and Elisha declared, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria” (II Kings 13:17)
Elisha putting his hands on Joash’s hands was a type of our union with Christ that we received when we first got saved, and that we continue to have through faith alone in Christ and His death and resurrection. We are helpless without the hands of Jesus. We need His hands and His help in everything we do. The “arrow of the Lord’s deliverance” is a type of the Cross—it is His deliverance, His victory, His everything—and He gives it to us. For Joash, this arrow typified deliverance from the Syrians and every enemy that would stand against them, if Israel would trust God. God’s plan was that Israel would completely defeat the Syrians until they were consumed.
In II Kings 13:18, Elisha told Joash to do something else that was strange to Joash. Elisha told him to take the rest of the arrows and strike the ground. In ancient days, it was common, when armies were facing each other, that each army would strike the ground with their spears or anything they had to produce a pounding sound that was meant to intimidate the enemy. It was a way of saying, “This is how we’re going to defeat you, over and over again, until you are completely defeated.”
I believe Joash understood this, so he struck the ground three times probably thinking that three times would be enough. Maybe he thought Elisha would be impressed with him. Instead, Elisha was fuming angry with Joash and told him, “You should have smitten five or six times; then had you smitten Syria till you had consumed it: whereas now you will smite Syria but thrice” (II Kings 13:19)
Because of unbelief Joash settled for partial victory when God desired to give Israel complete victory over the Syrians. Israel eventually defeated the Syrians three times just as Elisha said, but 100 years later they would come back and completely destroy Israel, the northern kingdom.
Joash’s lack of faith not only affected him, but also future generations to come. The same applies to us: our faith or lack of faith today will affect not just us, but also future generations to come. God wants us to keep on striking the ground—keep on believing—and don’t settle for less when God has provided so much more.