Read Judges 1:27-36.
Although the LORD had allotted the land and promised victory over the inhabitants of the land, the tribes of
did not drive out the
wicked, idolatrous nations but lived among them. In the case of Asher and
Naphtali, the situation was worse: Asher and Naphtali "lived among the
inhabitants of the land." The Amorites actually "forced the sons of
Dan into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the
valley . . . but when the power of the house of Joseph grew strong, they became
forced labor." (1:34, 35) Israel
There is a powerful lesson here for Christians: God has promised us spiritual rest (Hebrews 3 & 4), secured for us by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Yet there are enemies -- "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) -- for us to drive out. We must "put to death the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5). Yet we have the tendency to allow these enemies, the natural "inhabitants of the land," to dwell in our midst, in our thoughts and their resulting actions. What's worse, we sometimes feel we can put these subtle sins to useful work, even the Lord's work. So the arrogant man parades his sin from the pulpit as if it were authority, conviction, or even the filling of the Holy Spirit! The stubborn man may prize his gift as stalwart conviction. The bully sees himself as assertive and the schemer, a problem solver.
Who are the Amorites, Perizites, Jebusites, and Canaanites that we allow to dwell in our "land," our Christian walk with Christ? Are we tolerating them as harmless neighbors? Are we even trying to put them to "forced labor" either for our personal gain or for our service for Christ? Eventually these enemies will corrupt our faith and testimony and even alter our beliefs. As someone has said, "Our beliefs must change our behavior, or our behavior will change our beliefs." That is what happened to the Israelites. They decided that Baal and Ashtoreth were more congenial gods (Judges 2:11-14). We must give no quarter to sin. We must drive out every sin, every natural "inhabitant of the land," if we hope to enjoy a peaceful, happy, and productive Christian life.