MOVING FORWARD IN SPITE OF DEFEAT
Is there such a thing as defeat in the life of a Christian? Yes, but it does not have to happen! The Bible tells us that we are involved in spiritual warfare and that Satan is doing everything that he can to defeat us. Doubts about our faith, discouragement concerning our circumstances, and despondency over our future are just a few of the "flaming missiles of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16). If he cannot tempt us to quit the battlefield, his aim is to attack us with his weapons until we are defeated. Defeat should not be part of the normal Christian experience. Battles, yes; defeat, no! Our Lord Jesus has given everything we need to be continually overcomers. However, when we deliberately disobey our Master and are careless in what we do and what we say, we will face defeat.
The defeat of Israel’s army at Ai described in Joshua chapter 7 is the only defeat recorded in the book and the only report of Israelites slain in battle. Why would this happen when God had already promised them victory? Israel was so self-confident that they figured, using man-given wisdom, only two or three thousand men were needed to conquer Ai. Fear will make the enemy appear larger, but self-confidence will make the enemy appear smaller. Both extremes are wrong for the Christian soldier. We are not to cringe in fear before Satan and we are not to think we can fight him in our own strength. Our confidence must be in the Lord. "Be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power" (Ephesians 6:10). We are particularly vulnerable to defeat right after a victory in our lives. Israel had just won a major victory at Jericho, so how could little Ai possibly pose a threat? They took their eyes of the Lord and placed it on themselves.
Another reason for this defeat was the lack of communication with the Lord to know the will, the plan and purposes of God. We do not read of Joshua and the leaders of Israel coming to the Lord in prayer until after the defeat. Continual communication with the Lord is essential for us to move forward in life. Many of our defeats in life would be avoided if we took the time to pray before the battle, and not after. Had Israel prayed prior to going to battle, the Lord would have revealed to them the presence of disobedience and sin in the camp that needed to be dealt with. God had clearly told His people when they conquered Jericho that they were not to take any of the treasures of Jericho for themselves, but instead send it to the treasury of the Lord. A man named Achan took what wasn’t his and buried it under his tent. Achan probably reasoned that his little cut wouldn't be missed. But God saw it differently!
Defeat comes when sin goes unchecked. We cannot move forward with the Lord if there is sin in our lives. Sin breaks our fellowship with God. We can’t deliberately and habitually sin against God and still be in communion with Him. So before we engage in spiritual warfare which is inevitable in the life of every Christian, we must take time to examine our lives, confess and repent of our sins, and walk closely with the Lord everyday. It is the only way to move forward as overcomers.