No Victories Are To Be Won Easily

On Joshua 7:3:

J.C. Ryle, “Expository Thoughts on Matthew”:

Dresden - Rüstkammer - 1831“…we see in these verses that Satan’s kingdom is not to be pulled down without diligence and pains. This seems to be the lesson of the verse which concludes the passage we are now considering: ‘This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.’ A gentle rebuke to the disciples appears to be implied in the words. Perhaps they had been too much lifted up by past successes. Perhaps they had been less careful in the use of means in their Master’s absence, than they were under their Master’s eye. At any rate they receive a plain hint from our Lord, that the warfare against Satan must never be lightly carried on. They are warned that no victories are to be won easily over the prince of this world. Without fervent prayer, and diligent self-mortification, they would often meet with failure and defeat.

The lesson here laid down is one of deep importance. ‘I would,’ says Bullinger, ‘that this part of the Gospel pleased us as much as those parts which concede liberty.’ We are all apt to contract a habit of doing religious acts in a thoughtless, perfunctory way. Like Israel, puffed up with the fall of Jericho, we are ready to say to ourselves, ‘The men of Ai are but few;’ (Joshua 7:3;) ‘there is no need to put forth all our strength.’ Like Israel, we often learn by bitter experience, that spiritual battles are not to be won without hard fighting. The ark of the Lord must never be handled irreverently. God’s work must never be carelessly done.

May we all bear in mind our Lord’s words to His disciples, and make a practical use of them. In the pulpit, and on the platform,—in the Sunday school, and in the district,—in our use of family prayers, and in reading our own Bibles,—let us diligently watch our own spirit. Whatever we do, let us ‘do it with our might’ (Ecclesiastes 9:10). It is a fatal mistake to underrate our foes. Greater is He that is for us than he that is against us—but, for all that, he that is against us is not to be despised. He is the prince of this world. He is a strong man armed, keeping his house, who will not ‘go out,’ and part with his goods without a struggle. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. We have need to take the whole armor of God, and not only to take it, but to use it too. We may be very sure that those who win most victories over the world, the flesh, and the devil, are those who pray most in private, and ‘keep under their bodies, and bring them into subjection’ (1 Corinthians 9:27).”



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