Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.” Judges 2:3Containing an enemy is expedient, but deadly. History has shown time and again that such a policy simply gives opportunity for the enemy to regroup and train itself for more deadly assaults. The fatal blow must be struck or else there will be no peace.
It seemed wise at the time to the Israelites. Nations either struck peace accords with them or pledged to be their servants. Not a bad deal when you’ve wandered for forty years in the desert and then had to fight to stake your claim. Most of us would have applauded our leaders for such diplomacy. But the Israelites practiced containment with deadly results. Not only were they perpetually harassed by enemies, they lost the battle for their souls to idols and immorality.
I’m quick to practice containment in my own life – I corral those sins I think I can tame, fencing in small transgressions, putting borders around my disobedience. “This far and no further,” I will say to certain bad habits. Once my disobedience settles down to a manageable level, like a low grade fever, I easily move to other more pressing needs at work or with family. But sin is never contained for long.
If God does not get His way with your sin, His mortal enemy, it will rear its ugly head at another time, and in uglier ways. Our contained sins can limit our effectiveness, kill our joy, and fool us into thinking we are gods that are able to manage our sin-life quite nicely on our own.
God won’t have it. His enemy must be defeated. He loves you too much.
Lord God, enemy of sin, reign victorious in the battle that has already been won. Kill your enemy that I might know the peace You’ve secured for me.