“The men of Israel were summoned from Naphtali and Asher and all Manasseh, and they pursued Midian” Judges 7:23.
These were the very men who God told Gideon to send away. God had given Gideon success in the battle because he was faithful in laying something down…his resources. It was when Gideon reached out for those forbidden men that began Gideon’s spiritual dissent. What happened after God gave him success that made Gideon pick up what God had asked him to lie down? …selfishness…pride…weakness…a sense of entitlement? Gideon reactivated what God had sidelined, and everybody was affected by his bad decision. ‘So when God defeated the Midianites that fateful night, Gideon seemed to slip back into his old pattern…’ Gideon, p. 128. It compromised both his role as spiritual leader of the group and his relationship with God.
As Christians we are no different than Gideon. We all have things in our lives that we have battled and failed in our own strength. We are riddled with areas of weakness that we surrender over and over again only to fall victim to our lack of self-discipline. We know we don’t want to walk by our weaknesses and yet we do. Even Paul, a spiritual champion, experienced this after turning and following Christ. ‘I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do, but it is sin living in me that does it’ Romans 7:18-20. How can we be encouraged this morning when a man who lived and died for Christ felt this way? We can be encouraged through 1 Co 10:13: ‘The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.’
We must take note that the escape route He provides is in direct correlation with the level of obedience in laying it down. When we give into sin we lose our spiritual standing, we damage our testimony before others and we will not have the success that God intends us to have. God will be faithful in guarding our minds and hearts against sin, but we must be faithful in not resurrecting it. No one will be asked to lay down anything greater than what Christ Jesus laid down for us – His very life.