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Claiming Your Canaan Series #7

Joshua 8:1-35


Intro: Chapter 8 finds Israel facing the same city that they faced in chapter 7. The little city of Ai. The first time Israel went up to do battle at Ai, they were defeated by the inhabitants of that city and 36 of their number lost their lives. The reasons for their defeat are many, but the primary reason was that there was sin in their midst that had not been dealt with. That sin caused them to be defeated at Ai. Now, they are back and it was time for Israel to go and face these people in battle once again.

Before we move into these verses this morning, I want to tell you that Ai, in the Bible, is a type of the flesh. The word "Ai" means "a heap of ruins." That is a good way to describe this flesh in which we live. The first mention of this city is found in the book of Genesis in connection with the life of Abraham, Gen. 12:8; 13:3. The Bible tells us that Abraham pitched his tent "between Bethel and Hai." Now, the name "Bethel" means, "The house of God." Isn't it interesting that many saints have pitched their tents somewhere between the house of God and a heap of ruins? Do you see the connection? You can either live in a place of victory and blessing, or you can live in a place of defeat and misery. You can either have a Bethel kind of life or an Ai experience, which is up to you!

Just like Israel, we often lose battles to our Ai, (this flesh), but through the Lord, we can learn how to ambush our Ai and walk away with the victory in our lives. I don't know the battles that you are fighting with your flesh, but I do know that you can win the victory. These verses tell us how. Let's look together at these verses and learn How To Ambush Your Ai.


A. V. 1 A Word About Winning - When the Lord speaks to Joshua, after the death of Achan, God tells him to go to Ai. However, he tells him that things will be different this time. He assures Joshua and Israel of the victory.

(Ill. It is interesting that the Lord called them to return to the place of their greatest defeat. God knew that they needed to overcome the defeat at Ai before they could move on in the conquest of Canaan. Folks, it's the same for you and me this morning. How many times have we lost the battle to the flesh? How many times have we been defeated by this old sinful nature's lust for the forbidden? How many times have we fallen and wonder if we will ever get back to where we were before. I think the Lord has a word for that this morning! Notice what He told Joshua, "Fear not!" I think that is the Lord's word to us this morning! To those who have fallen and have lost a battle to the flesh, God says, "Fear not! I am giving you the victory!" I think it is a blessing to know that I do not have to live in defeat as a Christian! I think it is a blessing to know that I am no longer a slave to sin, the flesh and the devil, Rom. 6:14! I am thankful that God has promised the victory in this area to His children - 1 Cor. 15:57.)

(Ill. I will remind you once again that the Lord did not save your soul to leave you defeated and beaten by the flesh. He saved you to walk in the victory that He can give to those who will walk in His ways and not in their own ways or in the ways of the world.)

B. V. 2 A Word About Waiting - Notice that the Lord tells them that they will do to Ai what they did to Jericho, except for the fact that in Ai, they are to take all the spoils for themselves! If Achan would have waited just a few more days, then he could have had all the riches that he could have imagined. Instead, he ran ahead of God and grabbed for himself that which was forbidden by God and as a result, Achan paid the ultimate price.

(Ill. What a lesson for you and me this morning! We are guilty of the same kind of foolishness aren't we? If we could just learn top wait on God and let Him lead and bring into our lives the things that need to be there, we would be far better off. Unfortunately, this flesh want what it wants and it wants it now! It doesn't want to wait. Regardless of the arena you name, you are far better off to wait on the Lord to bring those things into your life that He knows are best for you, (i.e. Mate, sexuality, finances, ministry, etc.), than you are to run ahead of God and mess things up really bad and then expect Him to bail you out! When we can learn to wait on the Lord, we are well on our way to victory in the Christian life, Rom. 12:7; Psa. 130:5; Psa. 37:34.)

I. The Victory Is Promised


A. V. 3-17 They Had God's Plan - God told them in exact detail how they were to mount their attack against Ai. (Ill. The Context.) They were to lay an ambush for Ai and they would take the city and all its inhabitants.

(Ill. Israel had already learned what happens when you do things the Lord's way. When you fight the battle by following His plan, you cannot fail. They had also learned what happens when they refused to do it God's way. They learned that failure awaits that person who goes against the will of the Lord.)

(Ill. Remember, we are talking about fighting this flesh that we all carry around. If you are going to pursue victory over your flesh and if you ever expect to gain the victory, then you must go about it God's way. No other plan will work! I will say more about God's plan for dealing with the flesh in a moment, but for now, you need to know that if you will win the victory over your flesh, then you need constant contact with the things of God. We are strengthened spiritually when we are exposed to the things of the Lord. There are several that need to be a huge part of our lives:

1. The Word of God - 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:15

2. Prayer - Luke 18:1; 1Thes. 5:17; James 4:2

3. Church Attendance - Heb. 10:25

4. The Fellowship of the Saints - 1 Cor. 12:27

None of these things will give victory in and of themselves, but we need each one to strengthen us and to help us grow in the Lord. When we begin to neglect even one of these essential areas, then we are sure to suffer spiritually. You see, when we feed the flesh and ignore our spiritual needs, then we are headed for trouble in our spiritual lives!)

B. V. 18-23 They Had God's Power - Il. The Context. Israel fought the battle, but God gave the victory! You see, the first time Israel went to Ai, they went in their own power and they suffered terrible, humiliating defeat. This time they went to battle walking in the power of God and they were victorious.

(Ill. Again, there is a lesson here for those of us who struggle with this flesh. The battle will not be won by our ability to say "No!" The battle will not be won because we are more powerful than the temptations we face. The fact is, if you try to fight the spiritual battles of life in your own power, you are headed for terrible defeat in your life. You might as well plan now for a string of sins and defeats in the flesh. My friends, there is just one way for us to prevail in this battle, and that is for us to learn to appropriate the power of God in our lives. We need to realize that when we cannot win the battle, He can! When we are unable to fight the flesh, sin and the world, God will fight it for us. I'll tell you how to fight the flesh: fight it in God's power - Eph. 6:10; Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 10:13. The only way any of us will ever see victory over this flesh is through the power of God!)

C. V. 24-26 They Had God's Performance - (Ill. The Context) These verses tell us the news that Israel trusted in the Lord and absolutely prevailed over their enemy. God did what He said He would do!

(Ill. May I remind you that we are serving the very same God that gave Israel the victory? He hasn't changed one bit! He is still the same God this morning that He always has been and always will be. You can count on God to keep His Word - Rom. 4:21; Psa. 119:89; Matt. 24:32. You see friends, when we are engaged in a battle with this flesh, we need to be able to count on God, and let me tell you for the record that you can! He is all powerful and He is able to help you as you fight the flesh and the battles of life, Heb. 4:14-16.)

I. The Victory Is Promised

II. The Victory Is Pursued


(Ill. At this point in this story, Israel has followed God's plan and that have achieved the victory. Now, they must maintain their victory. They take two steps that make this a reality for them. In our lives, we can achieve the victory over the flesh! We can walk in the will of God and be alive to spiritual things. However, for us to maintain that victory, the same steps that Israel took need to be taken in every one of our lives this morning. Let me share them with you.)

A. V. 27-29 Victory Is Preserved By Death - Please notice that they did not leave a single person alive in Ai. No one from the king down to the humblest servant was spared from death in this battle. Joshua knew that this enemy had to be totally eradicated or there would be problems down the road.

(Ill. The lesson for us this morning is this: Your flesh is still alive and well, but it needs to be put to death! Now, there are some preachers going around telling folks that when they got saved, their flesh was put to death. But I've got news for you, they are wrong! Your flesh is as alive this morning as it ever has been. It still likes all the things that it used to like, and if you turned it loose, it would run to sin like a pig to a wallow. Your flesh is not saved. Your flesh is not holy. Your flesh is rotten and it hates God and everything He stands for! Of course, I am talking about our old sinful natures. Now, we need to understand some things about our flesh if we are to have the victory over it today. Allow me to share some truths with you about your flesh.

1. Your flesh is alive and is at war with the Spirit of God Who is in you - Gal. 5:16-24. (Ill. We have been given the divine nature - 2 Pet. 1:4) (Ill. This is a struggle that the Apostle Paul dealt with in great detail - Rom. 7:14-25.)

2. At the same time, your flesh was crucified with Jesus Christ - Rom. 6:6-7. (Ill. This is our positional standing. In the eyes of God, our flesh, all it works and everything it stands for was crucified with Jesus at Calvary. God reckoned the wicked, sinful natures that we possess to be in His Son on the cross.)

3. We are to put the flesh to death daily- Col. 3:1-10. (Ill. This is how we are to live practically everyday.) Why this list of sins? Because these are things that seem to have a way of dominating our lives. Notice what some of them are:

a. Fornication - Illicit sexual activities. There is only one appropriate place for the expression of the sexual appetite and that is within marriage. I know that is an old fashioned attitude in this day and time, but you can either live to please the flesh or you can live to please God. Just ask some who have experienced the dark side to sex to tell you whether it was worth it or not.

b. Uncleanness - Moral impurity. Doing things that dirty and pollute the soul life.

c. Inordinate Affections - Passions and intense arousals for things that are forbidden by God. This is a desire or craving for wrong things.

d. Evil Concupiscence - evil desire, a yearning and an aching for all kinds of evil. It is that within a person that pulls him to desire, grasp, grab, and take hold of all forms of evil that give pleasure to the body and its members.

e. Covetousness - Craving, grasping, grabbing, desiring to have something. It is desiring to have something when it is not needed; it is desiring more than what we need and more than what we should have. Note that covetousness is idolatry.

4. The secret lies in being able to reckon the flesh dead like God does - Rom. 6:11-14; Gal. 2:20. When we come to the place that we can look at our flesh and its lusts and remind it that it is dead to sin then, and only then, can we expect victory in our lives. (Ill. We don't crucify the flesh by gratifying it! You cannot feed every lust that enters your mind and claim to be living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. The flesh must die today! When tomorrow comes, it must die again. I must reckon it dead to sin and to the lust for sin!)(Ill. We are told to flee those things that tempt us - 2 Tim. 2:22.

5. It all boils down to whether or not you want to please the Lord by the life you live - Rom. 8:1-13.

6. Thankfully, there will come a day when the battle with the flesh will end. One day, the Lord will deliver us from this vile flesh and we shall be changed to be like Him. You see, positionally, God says that our flesh is dead to sin. Practically speaking it can be, but only as we take the initiative to reckon it dead day by day. However, one day, we will be changed and we will be perfected by the power of God, Rom. 7:24-25.

B. V. 30-35 Victory Is Preserved By Devotion - Ill. The Contest. After the enemy had been eradicated and victory had been preserved, Israel finished by doing what the Lord had told them to do through Moses, Deut. 27:1-28:6. Half of the nation was to stand on Mount Ebal and the other half on Mount Gerizim. The Levites were to stand in the valley between these mountains and were to read the cursings and the blessings. As they read the cursings, the crowd on Mount Ebal was to shout "Amen." When they read the blessings, the crowd on Mount Gerizim was to shout "Amen." This exercise was to remind them of what God would bless and of what He would not bless. They were reaffirming their commitment to live by the Word of God every day! So, in obedience to the command of the Lord, Israel made the 30 mile trips to these mountains and they stood there facing one another across that 2 mile wide valley. As the commandments were read, they shouted "Amen!" Imagine what that scene must have looked and sounded like that day! There's was a devotion to living by the Word of God.

(Ill. Folks, if we are to ever experience lasting victory over this flesh, then we too must learn to walk in the Word of God. It isn't enough to fight the war with the flesh and hope to achieve the victory. If we are to win and preserve the victory day by day, then we must learn to live by the Word of God. If God said do it, then do it! If God said don't do it, then don't do it. If you have a doubt, then leave it out! Where is your devotion this morning? It needs to be to the Word of God! Are you living by the book like to should? Can you echo what Job said in Job 23:12? Can you honestly say that what God says matters in your life? If you want lasting victory over the flesh, there must be absolute devotion to the Word of God!)

Conc: Who would be honest with the Lord this morning and say, "You know preacher, this message has been for me. I have a terrible battle with my flesh and all the things that it lusts after. I need help to overcome it this morning." Friend, if that describes you, then there is help in the Lord Jesus if you will come to Him for it today. If you have lost the battle and the flesh has whipped you again and again, there is forgiveness in our Lord, 1 John 1:9. Some of you deal with lust, some with anger, some with bitterness, some with that besetting sin. Some of you have been sneaking around doing and saying things that aren't right. Some of you know that you are messing around in dangerous territory this morning. I warn you now that if you keep letting your flesh feed itself and grow stronger, there will come a day real soon when it will take over your life. Today is a good day to come before the Lord and seek His help in reckoning your flesh to be dead. Others of you have never been saved. My friends, you don't need to reckon your flesh dead, you need to know that your spirit is dead. What you need is a salvation experience. You need to be born again. It's no wonder that you can obtain the victory in your life, you need to be saved.

I don't know your need this morning, but I do know a God Who can help! Will you come to Him and seek what you need to be able to live your life in a manner pleasing to Him?

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