• Pastor Bowler

Presumptuous Faith

Harold Urey, a nuclear physicist from the University of Chicago, played a key role in researching the potential of the atom. As a result, he was invited to speak all over the world. He had a chauffeur who took him to his various banquets and engagements, but before long he got tired of giving the same talk. So one night he came up with a novel idea.

He asked his chauffeur to change places with him. The chauffeur had heard the speech so many times that he was capable of giving it himself. Urey told the chauffeur, “No one knows what I look like and I think we could get away with it. You know the speech well enough now to give it like I do.”

So the next night, the chauffeur gave the speech. It was flawless. The chauffeur had done a magnificent job, but there was one hitch. The speech was followed by a question and answer session.

One pompous professor stood and asked a very technical question. Urey’s stomach knotted. He knew there was no way his chauffeur could possibly answer the question. The charade was about to be exposed.

However, the chauffeur remained steady and calm. He eyed the arrogant professor and said, “I’m very surprised that you would ask such an easy question. The answer is really quite simple. In fact, the answer is so obvious that I’m going to ask my chauffeur to answer it for you.”

Joshua chapter nine outlines how Joshua and the other leaders in Israel were deceived by a group of Canaanites. This serves as an illustration to us of the subtlety of Satan who, if he can’t overthrow our plans with one method, will try another. This is why we read in Ephesians 6:11—“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Satan will disguise himself as an angel of light in order to further his ends. The child of God must be on the alert, lest he “get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). At times he comes as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). But at other times he comes as subtle as a snake. This was how he appeared to our first parents: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). The roar of a lion may give us speedier warning than the hiss of a serpent.

Jericho had fallen, and after Israel had gotten right with God, Ai was captured and destroyed. Each victory however, seemed to be a fresh invitation for an attack by the foe. This was true in Israel’s experience in Canaan, and it is also true in our spiritual experience as we move out into the life of conquest prescribed for us by God and provided for us in Christ. As we appropriate the life of Christ for moment by moment victory, Satan will do everything he can to thwart God’s purposes through us. Even though Satan’s power has been broken, he is not idle. The wing feathers of an eagle may be clipped so that he cannot fly, but he is still dangerous. So it is with Satan. Though his power was annulled through Christ’s death and resurrection, Satan can still act against us if we provide him with the opportunity.

There came a day when the Canaanites realized that they had a common enemy in Israel. These pagan tribes temporarily play down their petty squabbles and hatred and decided to join forces against the common enemy. The Bible says in Joshua 9:1-2, “And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof; That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.”

There are times when the world has united. Nations forgot their differences and united to repel a common enemy which grabbed more land and power for themselves. The devil is so subtle that he can unite certain groups to fight the true church and oppose the things of God.

Satan’s greatest wrath is exhibited when he realizes God is getting the upper hand in your life or mine. It is then that he will gather all his forces; but our Lord can easily dissipate the power of these evil beings.

One tribe did not join with the others in their battle plans against Israel. They decided to use guile. Joshua 9:3-4 says, “And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up.” They disguised themselves as though they had come from a long distance. Their garments were old and even their bread was moldy. They came to Joshua at Gilgal and duped him and the Israelites (Joshua 9:6). Israel at this time was in the right place, but once again there seemed to have been a powerlessness on their part and that always destroys the spirit of discernment. Joshua and Israel’s leaders believed the lie, because they did’t ask the Lord about it.

It is as we pray that God gives us wisdom. Remember James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

The Gibeonites wanted Israel to make a league with them, which was contrary to God’s instructions. God had said all the Canaanites were to be destroyed. Unfortunately, the leaders of Israel believed the lying Gibeonites and did as they suggested.

We are no match in ourselves for Satan’s subtle ways. We can defeat him only as we remember the admonition of Proverbs 3:5-7 to trust the Lord with all our hearts and to lean not on our own understanding. We are to acknowledge Him in all our ways and He will direct our paths. It is when we turn to Him that He gives us wisdom.

Israel’s problem was that they were presumptuous, acting on the basis of their own wisdom. In our case, Christ has been made unto us wisdom, but we must watch. Be especially careful of decisions that have to be made under pressure. It would be better to wait on the Lord and even have Him wait on us, than to be too quick in a decision, only to be left with a feeling of indecision and not knowing for sure the will of God.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

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