“Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD.” Joshua 24:23 (NIV)
The people immediately responded by telling Joshua, “We will serve the LORD” (24:21). After all, these were the same people who had been worshipping in the desert for forty years. They built the tabernacle. They were God’s special people.
They probably thought, You’re preaching to the choir, Joshua. Of course, we’re going to serve the Lord. But when Joshua called for a decision, he was looking for more than words.
Joshua said, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins” (24:19). This is astonishing! Did you know there is a verse in the Bible that says God will not forgive your sins? What did Joshua mean?
Notice Joshua said, “Throw away the foreign gods that are among you.” Did you catch that? Although the people said they would serve the Lord when they were in the solemn assembly at Shechem, they never parted with their idols.
Their position was simple: they wanted all the blessings of God’s covenant, but they wanted to keep their options open regarding their personal choices.
Joshua said, in effect, “That won’t work.” Commitment has to be more than just words. It must be a commitment of your life. Simply saying you will serve the Lord will not save you. You have to throw out the idols. And if you will not throw out the idols, then don’t trick yourself into thinking you are forgiven. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5).
God has never promised to forgive a sin that you will not forsake. A life that’s not changed is evidence of a soul that’s not saved. Where there is no evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in repentance, there is no reason to suppose a person is forgiven.
Is there a sin (or an idol) that you need to forsake?