How To Maintain Your Devotion to God
The temptation to forget God is always present. But there is a way to maintain one's devotion to the Lord. Joshua's counsel in Joshua 23:6-11 is especially helpful and can be summarized using four As.
1. Give attention to God's Word (v. 6)
God never blesses disobedience. A mind filled with Scripture can critically evaluate secular society and can see through the empty values of the modern world and resist assimilation.
An unmistakable sign of impending abandonment of God is a diminishing respect for the authority of his Word. A disregard for biblical inspiration is always the first step toward spiritual rebellion. Joshua is talking about "keeping" and "doing" God's Word, not simply giving tacit consent to its claims. We must be "strong" to keep it and do it and not deviate from it either to the right or to the left.
2. Avoid pagan influence (v. 7)
Note the relationship between verses 6 and 7. The way one avoids being shaped after the image of pagan society is precisely by keeping and doing God's Word. There will always be a temptation to think the world has it better than we do (see Ex. 23:13). But if you have Scripture on your lips and the praise of God's name in your mouth, you won't have room or time for even so much as acknowledging anything else.
3. Attach yourself to God (v. 8)
The word "cling" in this verse is translated "hold fast" or "cleave" in Genesis 2:24, where God says a man should leave his father and mother and "cleave" to his wife (compare its use in Deut. 10:20-21; 11:22; and 13:4).
Envision the intimate embrace of a husband and wife, or a young child holding fast to his father's hand. To "cling" to God is to stay so close to him that no sin can get between you and him. To "cling" to God is to strategically plan for time alone with him for prayer and praise and the study of his Word. To "cling" to God is to trust in his promises, to seek his favor, to care only for his approval and not for that of men, to invest time in his service, and to always keep his praise on your lips (Ps. 63:7-8).
4. Cultivate a deep affection for God in every way (vv. 9-11)
"Be very careful . . . to love the LORD your God" (v. 11). The emphasis is on a relationship of intimacy: "I am yours and you are mine!" God is not just God. He is "your" and "my" God because of his desire to give himself to us in covenant loyalty. His passion for us is undying.
Although the enemies we face today are not those that Joshua and the people of Israel encountered, the strategy for confronting them remains much the same:
- Be attentive to God's Word.
- Avoid pagan influence.
- Attach yourself to God.
- Cultivate a deep affection for him.