I never was really good at seeing metaphors in literature when I was in my teens and twenties. I’ve trained myself to read differently over the years. It’s been a skill that has also brought great insight into the Word of God, too. Like as I’ve been reading through Judges again.
I love Judges. (Hm, do I say that about every book of the Bible?) But I generally race through the first few chapters to get to the interesting characters. Yet this time when I read Judges 1:28, it struck me differently. Yes, I read it in terms of the Israelites and their enemies, but I also saw the historical scene as a metaphor for my spiritual ife.
It came about when Israel became strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely. Judges 1:28
When I read that, I stopped cold with a new thought. How many times do I become strong and subjugate my sin to my self-control rather than seek to eradicate it, drive it out completely?
Wow. Talk about conviction! The goal is to drive out sin completely. Of course while we live in flesh we won’t have complete victory over sin, but still, it’s what we strive toward. As I considered this, I hung my head. And yet as guilt rolled in, the Lord reminded me that this, like so many things in the Christian life, is a fine line to walk. For sometimes the Lord left Israel’s enemies on purpose–both to test their obedience to Him (Judges 3:4) and to teach them war (Judges 3:2). It reminded me of Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7) which the Lord would not remove.
So what’s the takeaway from all this? That I need to watch to make sure I don’t seek to subjugate my sin to my will rather than let the Lord eliminate it from my life. And on the flip side, I need to be careful to learn what I am to learn from those things that hang around in spite of my desire for them to be gone. They may be the exact things the Lord wants to use to teach me to do spiritual battle or to reveal the state of my heart’s desire to obey God instead of my will.
What do you think? Can you see areas of sin in your life you’ve subjugated instead of sought to eradicate?