Steps for Spiritual Progress
Joshua chapter 1 gives several steps concerning progress in spiritual things. In verse two the first fact is presented. The old method followed under Moses was know longer effective. It had to be abandoned. This was the method of the law. Actually, of course, in the history of Israel they were still under law, but in their experience in leaving the desert and going into Canaan provides a remarkable illustration of the transition from law to grace. This is brought before us in Joshua 1:2: “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.”
We learn from 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature [creation]: old things [methods, ways, means] are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The verse following tells us that all of this is from God and has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are made the ambassadors of God; and, as Paul informs us, it is the love of Christ that constrains us to plead with men to turn to God. This was the principle to be used in conquering Canaan. We need to do this today—“Today is the day of salvation.”
In the second place we must recognize that what we do for the Lord must be done on the principle of faith. We must take God at His Word. Joshua 1:3 says, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” Faith takes what God has provided. God provided all of Canaan for Israel. It was up to the Israelites to believe Him and act upon that faith just as God provided a complete life for the Christian. It is not only salvation from condemnation, but a life of victory over sin in the daily life as well as great changes for the future. But as Canaan had to be taken a step at a time, so must we progress with God a step at a time through faith. The principle is, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” Joshua 1:3). We cannot sit still and expect God to do miracles. We must walk on with God one step at a time.
The third fact that is basic and essential to this whole Christian life is that nothing can stop or withstand faith when it is in action. In verse 5 of Joshua 1 we read: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so will I be with thee.” According to this, nothing can stop God’s working when faith is operating in His people. The New Testament counterpart of this promise is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Christ has already won the victory for us and now lives in us to produce this victorious living.
Fourthly, in Joshua chapter 2 we learn that Rahab was aware of the fact that the Canaanites were already defeated. They had no courage with which to face the foe. The people were frightened and weakened by fear and had been from the time Israel was delivered at the Red Sea. This is exactly how it is in our spiritual life. The devil is afraid. He knows what God has done in a Christian and trembles. This is why the Lord tells us in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It is through reckoning on our death, burial and resurrection in Christ that we have victory over the flesh. We are also assured through the cross we have victory over the world. So Satan knows that he cannot stand against a man or woman who dares to act in God-given faith.
In the fifth place we must know what is the secret of continuous victory. This is made clear in Joshua 1:8: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” This is the only portion where we will find the expression “good success.” This has reference to continuous victory and the secret is daily devotional meetings with God. While Israel was in the desert they had manna provided for them daily. Then when they came into the land the manna ceased and they were to live on the “corn of the land.” Both the manna and the corn speak of spiritual food, the one, the milk of the Word, and the other the meat of the Word. This must be the daily diet of the person who would have victory in his daily life.
In accord with this is Psalm 1. There we learn that the godly man finds his delight in “the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” As a result we learn that “he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The Psalmist is speaking of God’s Word. It is this Word that makes us strong.
In the sixth place we must know that we need a will and a determination to go forth in the things of God. Satan will try to make us careless or indifferent in these matters. But we must respond as the people of Israel did when they were told what God’s program was going to be. The officers went through the host telling people: “Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it” (Joshua 1:11). The people responded by saying, “All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go” (Joshua 1:16).
Later on Joshua told the people to sanctify themselves for very soon God was going to do wonders among them (Joshua 3:5). This meant they were to set themselves apart to do the will of God. In verse 9 of chapter 3, Joshua called the children of Israel to come and hear the word of God for the purpose that they would do what God said. These were progressive steps with regard to preparing the people for what God had to say and what God was going to do. They remind us that the Christian life is a progressive life. God leads us step by step and from one victory to another.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).