and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Deuteronomy 7:2
I cringe when I read the rathful statements in scripture. God asking his people to strike out and utterly destroy people. But there have been times throughout history that it was necessary to utterly conquer the evils in this world. I don’t think any of us doubted that unless we conquered Osama Bin Laden that he would have continued to seek to do harm to innocent people around the world. There are many others even now that are doing the same, and sometimes I am sad that we can’t help them all. So when you see the realistic side of “utterly destroying” people - or things that would utterly destroy you if they could - it is possible to see the side of God that wants certain things gone for good. No Mercy.
According to Revelations, there will come a day when Christ utterly destroys the author of such evil, and frankly when I see children abducted or abused, it can’t come soon enough. Julia spoke of mercy on Tuesday, and today I want to speak of its opposite. Learning to know the difference between when to show mercy and when to show no mercy. Oddly the two complement one another- opposites that fit like the puzzles of God to make an amazing whole.
When people are not having a good day, a little mercy could turn their day around. And within God’s law of reciprocity, that mercy given will return to you. (Give and it shall be given to you… and Cast your bread upon the waters and it shall return to you.) When Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, it was about giving people the grace that Christ so generously gave us. We must step out and be first to make the positive action. It is our own decision to do what is an action opposite to what we are feeling, which breaks the cycle of hurt and despair.
But there are times when God wants us to make such a strong stand against Satan’s attack that we can utterly destroy its place in our life – conquer it. Fear is one of the things we have discussed recently - a feeling. The oddest thing happens in our feelings. When people are dishing out stuff that hurts, we feel like dishing back, but we need to respond in love. Yet when Satan is dishing out his stuff, we draw back and take it! We feel like avoiding the
confrontation, or just giving in? And for some strange reason we think we are doing it out of love??? Think about it. Abused women take it because they “love” the person who abuses them. Or from fear of not feeling loved. They have difficulty lashing back out at the abuser.
It’s backwards, don’t you see. It is because Satan is an expert liar. He is the Father of lies,and he is a cunning manipulator. In life it becomes important to test the things in our life against God’s gage. Is it a time to respond in love even if we don’t feel like loving (show mercy), or is it a time to draw a line and put a stop to the manipulation (be conquerors)? To utterly overcome the lies.
For instance: it is a common occurrence in most marriages that we feel like our spouse is out to get us. Not the horribly abusive ones in this example. The “normal” husbands and wives. Times when every way we turn we are butting heads. Satan’s lie is that there is malice behind those times when we trip over each other. We FEEL confused about the word LOVE.
How many times have I said, “If this is love…” or “I don’t feel loved right now…” I can’t tell you how many cards my husband has given me that say, “I really do Love you…” because I am always contesting that his actions sometimes don’t make me feel loved. I used to hang on the feelings, and have a great deal of difficulty believing he genuinely loved me. I succumbed to feeling unloved and added to it self-pity, poutiness, anger, anxiety, etc, etc. My feelings were legitamate, and deserved to be heard, but how I dealt with them was yeilding nothing but unhappiness. I learned that:
when I conquer those feelings, I
- utterly do away with them,
- and believe instead in his love,
- realizing that the stumbling blocks in our marriage are usually straight from Satan to confuse us,
then, I look past my feelings to the truth.
- He does love me.
- And he is a person worth staying with.
- He’s not perfect, and not a mind reader.
All we need is better communication - a healthy discussion on why we are butting heads, and how we can utterly destroy anything that hinders our love. It starts with making a decision to destroy the act of butting heads. Not as easy as it sounds, because God appropriately used the word conquer. It is a battle to rid ourselves of the habits we develop that keep taking us down the wrong paths over and over.
In our example of marriage we would do battle by making a rule. Only one person needs to break the cycle. It doesn’t take two. It is also Satan’s lie, when you keep thinking, “if he (or she) would just decide to do this with me.” Nope. Just as when we decide to show mercy even when the other party shows mean words, making a decision to stop abuse, or stop butting heads takes only you. The rule would be: I will no longer accept the abuse. Or I will not accept the lie that when we butt heads, my spouse no longer loves me. I utterly destroy that concept from my beliefs, and conquer my fear. From this day forward I will determine a new way to have a conversation about this.
Now obviously, I have to interject that there are marriages where love has been lost and or being in God’s will can only happen upon dissolving the marriage. Abuse is definitely one of those times, but a marriage can seem unsalvageable and just applying God’s principles will save it, sometimes. There was a time that I had to put that decision before the Lord and ask, “to be in your will, how do I do battle regarding my marriage? Do I fight to save me, or my marriage?” And the resounding answer from God was: “BOTH.” By honoring God, I put the decision in my husband’s court, and it was up to him to stay and also fight to save himself and our marriage, or give me no choice but to leave him. I was very blessed that he decided to fight for our love. In that time, God conquers our situation by becoming our refuge and help in time of trouble. Yet another means of being a conqueror can be to leave the situation!
For me, these days, doing battle often means that when my husband is belittling me, or rebuking my statements, I speak up for myself. Not defensively, or sounding hurt. Not angrily, although sometimes confrontational. I insist that I be given respect. I sometimes say, “My opinions deserve as much respect as yours.” Sometimes, right in front of our friends. I kill the urge to be a victim of his dominance when it destroys the inner me. God asks us to submit to one another, and domination is not an element of submitting to one another. I learned that submitting to one another means that I can ask that he also submit to my opinion if he loves me. It gives him a choice. And an opportunity to say what’s going on in his head. As a result I can sometimes see where Satan is lying to him. Knowing his thoughts often reveals that Satan is trying to manipulate him as well.
There are 4 basic references to being a conqueror in scripture.
- Sense of Place: In Deuteronomy the Israelites were learning to obey God, and defend their place and direction. They were instructed to conquer anything that stood in the way of them being in the place God would have them be, and to not make compromising covenants with the people that stood in the way of being in that place.
- Resisting the opposition: In the book of Joshua (who is a type of Christ), many verses tell the story of how Joshua, under Moses’ leadership, conquered the people who stood in the way of them being where God
told them to be. As with David (also a type of Christ the conqueror) who sent out Joab to conquer the people who came against them. Once given the place to be, they now had to resist the people who would stand in their way of being where God wanted them to be.
- Putting our feelings to the test: In Romans we are told we are more than conquers over our own feelings that keep us from being where God would have us be.
- Following His example, yielding to the Spirit: In Revelation we are given Christ’s own role as a conqueror. He becomes our perfect example of how to resist the evil that disrupts our daily walk and threatens our hope and futures. We are assured that only God’s present Mercy delays his intent to totally destroy the master of mean. Satan will fall when the Lord comes to conquer him. Now and in a final day - for all time.
When Romans 8:37 says:
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
It means beyond being capbable of conquering everything that would steal us away from God’s will, we balance that power with mercy. That means we are able to discern when our emotions get in our way, and have the courage to be merciful instead of going straight to conquering our problems. Conquer emotions and bring them under the Lord’s monitor, but show mercy to people choosing rather to love them. And sometimes loving them means we can walk away! It feels strange sometimes to live in God’s opposites, until you see how God comes through for you in mighty power and blessing, when you take on his divine nature, which is, by the way, free for the asking.
Lord help us be more than conquerors. Help us conquer the things that hinder us frorm the divine nature, and show mercy when the need is to love those that hurt us. Help us add mercy to being overcomers, and to not live in one without the other. AMEN