God specifically commanded Israel to drive the Canaanites — the inhabitants of the land — out of their midst (Exodus 23:23-33). Unfortunately, Israel struggled for decades to be completely free of their influence and tyranny.

“But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.” —Joshua 15:63 ESV

This was also true for the tribes in Ephraim and Manasseh’s territory (Joshua 16:10; 17:12).

God commanded Israel to completely drive the Canaanites out of their land (Deuteronomy 20:16-17), but remnants of these groups of people remained in some of the territories of Israel for years.

In Judges, as Israel began to deal with resistance from the tribes they failed to drive out, they began to turn to the false gods of these people groups. Something God had expressly warned them not to do.

Eventually, God made the following statement to Israel:

“‘I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.’ 23 So the Lord left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.” —Judges 2:21-23 ESV

In Judges 3 God provided insight as to why He allowed these nations to remain in the land.

“Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.” —Judges 3:1-2 ESV

Don’t miss that. God actually allowed some of these enemies to remain in the land for the sake of teaching warfare to the nation of Israel. He permitted challenges to remain in the land because He wanted His people to grow in obedience to keeping His commands!

This wasn’t only true for Israel. It’s also true for the individual believer, as well.

Why is it that God allows spiritual warfare in the lives of His people? In some cases, the warfare comes as a result of us not fully obeying the Lord in various areas of our lives. But, in other cases, it could be that God is allowing us to experience challenges and difficulties because, through this process, we are growing in faith and learning something about ourselves, about the tactics of the evil one, and about God’s character and faithfulness.

Without resistance, people don’t grow. For instance, without the sun to reach toward, a tree not only wouldn’t grow taller, but it would also eventually die.

God rarely allows us to experience life completely void of temptation. Why? Because we’re called to run a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). If there wasn’t the potential to give up or stumble, it couldn’t be called a race.

But not only are we running a race, we’re also battling a foe.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” —Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 gives us insight as to how we’re to fight the enemy.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” —2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV

The weapons of the Christians’ warfare aren’t meant to be designed to destroy people, they’re meant to be used to help us break down demonic powers and strongholds.

We are being taught to war, not for ourselves, but for those who need our help. When we fight in faith to break free from bondage and curses in our own lives, we are developing the muscle and resiliency necessary to help others break free of their own captivity and bondage.

The warfare we engage in is for our sanctification. But our holiness is also part of a march toward the liberation of other captives.

We don’t fight for ourselves! We fight to help experience the same kind of freedom that we ourselves have experienced!

To learn more about the believer’s victory in Christ and how we can continue to overcome and help others in their pursuit of freedom, as well, check out the ISOW course, Ephesians In Depth: The Warrior’s Strategy (In English Only).

To view courses in Spanish, click here.

Matthew Foley
ISOW, Staff Writer