How Can We Drive Them Out?
James Smith, 1858
"You must destroy all the peoples the Lord your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you. You may say to yourselves: These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?" Deuteronomy 7:16-17
Every view we take of Israel's history is impressive and instructive, whether we consider them as typical of the whole Church, or representing the experience of the individual believer. In the latter view, their residence in Egypt — sets forth his natural state; their wilderness journey — his experience wider the law; and their condition in Canaan — his exercises after being brought into the liberty with which Jesus makes his people free.
He is brought out of the Egypt of nature, by the mighty hand of God, and the Red Sea forever forbids his return to it. He is led through the desert by the lawgiver, and learns his own weakness, dependence, and sinfulness. He is led into Canaan, the rest of the gospel, by Jesus, where he has to conquer, in order to possess, and obey in order to be happy.
In the prospect of Israel's entering Canaan, Moses cautions, exhorts, and encourages them. He supposes, that they may be intimidated by the sight of the people of the land, and ask, "How can we drive them out?" and therefore he reminds them of what God had done for them, and assures them that he will still be their deliverer and friend. This question may still be proposed by the Christian, and a few minutes' meditation upon it may not be unprofitable.
It supposes that there are FOES in possession. And this we find to be the case, and these foes are more numerous, and more powerful, than we once supposed. What numerous doubts and fears, what powerful inclinations to evil, and what wandering thoughts lodge within us! The natural unbelief of the heart is still there, and we have to oppose it, strive against it, and maintain a daily conflict with it. What hosts of evils we discover lurking in the soul! What corruptions! What lusts! What mischievous principles! How strong, united and determined, they are! They are natives in the soul, and each seems to claim it as his own.
We hoped once that they were all destroyed — or if not destroyed, that they had fallen into a weakened state, and would soon die — but, alas! after years of conflict and strife, they appear to be as young, as vigorous, and as determined as at the first, so that at times, we despondingly ask, "How can we drive them out?"
This shows what is DESIRED — even entire freedom from them. Every believer wishes, and longs ardently to be free from the innate evils of his heart, for they hinder him in all his holy duties — they carnalize his mind from day to day — they annoy, disturb, and distress him in his devotions — and they often bewilder and lead him astray. "When he would do good, he finds these evils present with him; so that he cannot do the things that he would!" They are like rebellious subjects, who set the laws at defiance — or a band of robbers lurking in the mountains, hiding in the forests, and keeping the peaceable inhabitants in constant fear. They are outlaws, they neither fear God, nor regard man.
The believer has passed sentence on them, and condemned them; he has renounced them, and declared his opposition to them; and he strives and struggles with them from day to day. He desires to dedicate and consecrate his whole soul to God — but the thing that he would do — he does not; but the evil that he would not do — into that he falls. He would be entirely holy — but these heart evils, these home devils, defile and pollute him from day to day. He fights and opposes — but is often foiled, which makes him cry out, "How can I drive them out?"
This brings us to the inquiry proposed — "How can we drive them out?" Can they be driven out? Not by human wisdom, not by natural tact, nor yet by the creature's power! But they may be subdued and brought under, as the old inhabitants of the land were by David and Solomon.
But if we would conquer, subdue, and finally dispossess the hidden evils of the heart — we must take God's armor. He has provided us with a complete suit of armor, and has prepared weapons both offensive and defensive. Let us therefore, "put on the whole armor of God — that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." And not only against the wiles of the devil — but all the corruptions found in our own hearts!
We must also call in God's aid. He must teach our hands to war, and our fingers to fight. If we conquer — it must be in God's strength. If we overcome — it must be through the Lord. He says, "I will strengthen you, I will surely help you;" and with God on our side, we can conquer. We must beware of self-dependence, for if we depend on our own wisdom, or strength, or courage — we shall be sure to fall. The least corruption will prove too strong for us, and, like Peter, we shall disgrace ourselves, and dishonor our Lord.
We must be much in prayer. Not satisfied with paying the Lord a formal visit in the morning, and another at night — we must cry mightily to God. It is by prayer that we acquire wisdom, obtain courage, and receive strength.
We must be often at the Cross. At Sinai, sin revives and gathers strength — but at Calvary it is weakened, droops and dies. No corruption can flourish, no sin can triumph — while we have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. At the cross, we feel determined to destroy that which crucified our Lord. At the cross, we are emboldened to resist even unto blood.
We must watch against Satan. Every evil within us, is in league with Satan without. He gets access to our hearts. He influences our evil passions. He stirs up our dormant corruptions. He works upon our depraved imagination. He sets the whole soul on fire at times with lust, or passion, or enmity. He comes craftily, he works at first insensibly, and often deceives us cunningly.
We must daily confess over the sacrifice. Much depends on keeping the conscience clean and tender, and the only way to do this, is often to examine ourselves, and very frequently laying our hands on the head of the slaughtered victim, the accepted sacrifice, confess our sins to God, and implore a Father's forgiveness.
If we have on the armor of God — if we heartily call in Divine aid — if we are cautious never to depend on ourselves — if we are much in prayer — if we are often at the cross — if we watch against Satan — and if we keep the conscience clean and tender, by frequently confessing our sins over the scape-goat — we shall bring the evils of the heart under tribute, and ultimately drive them out.
Believer, our INWARD foes are the worst! Our conflict with the world and Satan may be severe — but of all conflicts, the inward conflict is the worst. Nothing is so deceitful as the heart; nothing is so vile, as what is deeply imbedded there. Before conversion, we see it not — for we are blind; we feel it not — for we are dead; we hate it not — for we are carnal. But when once we are made new creatures in Christ Jesus, and have obtained pardon and peace — from that moment, the flesh will lust against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh! A deadly, determined war commences, which will never cease, until grace reigns through righteousness, unto eternal life.
Inward and outward foes are in league. Satan and the world act in concert with the flesh. The foe without tempts — and the foe within approves! The enemy without lays the snare — and the enemy within tries to lead us into it! As bad as Satan is — he is not worse than the evil that is in our hearts! There is nothing however bad, that he tempts to — but if left alone to the corruptions of our hearts — we would approve of and fall into!
Our foes are God's foes. This is a great comfort. The moment we take God's part — Satan opposes, and corruption works. And just in proportion as we sympathize with, and endeavor to glorify God — will our foes attempt to hinder and prevent us. While we are enemies to God — all is quiet within, nor does Satan roar without. And therefore many dream that they have good hearts, and that Satan is a fiction. No man will give human nature credit for being so bad as it is — but only the man that is taught of God, and has been well exercised with the conflict within.
The conflict will continue until death. Not that the battle is always alike hot, for then we would know no any peace. But we are always being annoyed, thwarted, and disturbed, in our holiest exercises; and have often to draw the sword, determined to conquer or die. Our foes are often weakened, and at times appear paralyzed — but they revive again, and the last conflict is roused until the end.
Fearful has been the struggle often on the bed of death. Faith could scarcely hold up its shield, and the helmet of hope has been sadly battered, the sword has even, in some cases, fallen from the hand. But the true believer is like Gad — though a troop may overcome him, he shall overcome at the last. Rejoice, Christian, rejoice, the day of release is at hand. The trumpet that calls you from the battle will soon sound. Then, then, your inward foes will be slain! There shall be no Canaanite in the house of the Lord. Every grace will be perfected, and every corruption destroyed. Holiness will characterize you, eternal pleasures will be enjoyed by you, a white robe will be put on you, a palm of victory will be given you, and a glorious crown will be awarded you. No more will you have to ask, "How can I drive them out?" But the promise shall be verified; the enemies you have seen today, you shall see no more forever!