Maturing Over Time
“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” —Joshua 13:1
The Initial Victory
This passage speaks of a time long after Joshua’s initial victory in the lands of Palestine. Because of the fact that Joshua and his armies had defeated those who ruled supreme in the area, it was now left to the people of Israel to settle and possess the land that had been won for them. In a sense, this is what Jesus’ victory at Calvary has done for believers. His death and sacrifice at Calvary have made it possible for us to go in and possess the land. The payment for sin has been made. As well, the power of sin’s grip over the believer has been broken. Now, with sin being dealt a death blow and the righteousness of Christ being imputed into the believer’s account, we are ready to begin the process of spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within us at conversion, and He will continue to perform His transforming work as long as our faith remains stayed upon Christ’s finished work. Those who realize what Christ has done and who place their faith in His finished work will be able to enter into and maintain God’s maturing process. So, while the cross defeats the enemy, our spiritual growth might be looked upon as land that is yet to be possessed.
Growth Never Ends
Every Christian must realize that the potential for spiritual growth is never-ending. We can always grow closer to God. There are none who have “arrived” at a place in their Christian experience that are not needful of growth. To think this way will produce a severe stumbling block that hinders our maturing process.
Let us consider the statements made by the apostle Paul. In Philippians 3:12, the apostle speaks of his unending desire for coming to know the Lord intimately. He first states that he has not attained, which many believe refers to the glorification of the body. Secondly, he refers to the need to apprehend that for which he was apprehended. Both of these statements can refer to the believer’s constant need of being conformed to the image of Christ. That is the reason God saves us. It is not only to deliver us from the power of sin, but to also transform us into the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus. Therefore, Christian growth and maturity are to be constant in the life of the believer. No matter how far we have come, there “remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” This is not an insult regarding what God has done in the past; far from it. Instead, this knowledge should provide us with both the drive and the desire to realize what more God desires to do in and with us.
Applying What We Have Come to Know
In recent years, with the message of the cross being voiced so strongly by Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, I have seen something I would like to mention. When one first comprehends the message of the cross and begins to consistently place his faith in Christ’s finished work, the growth process is ready to begin. It is a glorious day for the believer who sees the truth of Christ’s finished work at Calvary; but the revelation of the cross is not to be learned in one day and then laid aside the next. Having the revelation of the cross (how God truly works in a believer’s life) is just the starting point. After we realize how God works, it will require a lifetime of applying what we know to get the work of progressive sanctification done. In this process, the initial revelation is relied upon again and again, confirming to our hearts God’s true process of growth. As we experience victory after victory and are moved from glory to glory, the truth embraced validates its continued placement in our lives as believers.
The Process Takes Time
Some believers get discouraged and move away from the proper object of faith. They see the areas in their lives that need to change and feel that if they really understood the way that God works, they would experience a speedy and lasting victory. I do not know why some areas of a believer’s life are corrected faster than others, but I do know that there is only one way possible by which we can experience complete victory. That is by remaining true to God’s way, even when we do not understand God’s timing. If we will stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, we will come to realize a complete triumph. It is important not to lose heart in the midst of the process. Your faith in Christ will prove justified as you wait on His promise of liberation and victory. During this time of waiting, God teaches us about ourselves and reveals things about His person. This process of time allows us to receive what we need to know. Whatever you do, do not quit believing and depending upon Calvary’s finished work! Do not let anything other than the cross become the object of your faith. Though it tarry, wait for it, for victory and relief will come!
Acknowledge Your Inability
Joshua was old and quickly getting older. This indicates a diminishing of vitality and natural strength. Then, seemingly adding insult to injury, the Lord showed up and told him that he was old and stricken with years. What did the Lord mean by saying such? I believe that the Lord was simply revealing to both Joshua and to us, as well, that in our own natural strength, we are unable to possess the land. However, in the grace that is supplied from our heavenly Joshua, by faith, we are enabled. There is yet much land that needs to be possessed. I have no strength or faith in myself. By my faith in Christ and Him crucified, I will possess the land!