Irritants & Thorns

The Lord had told the children of Israel to dispossess the inhabitants of the land and to dwell in it. Then He gave them a warning. Numbers 33:55 says, “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you go to dwell.”

How can we make personal applications for our lives? First, we need to ask some questions. What harasses me? What is a constant irritant in my life? What remains a thorn in my side? Making a correct assessment requires an understanding between our standing and our state. In our standing, 1 Corinthians 2:16 says that we have the mind of Christ. In our state Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23 say that we must renew our minds.

Before salvation, we were bound in sin. Ephesians 2:3 says, “…we…conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind…” Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” John 15:4 Amplified says, “Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. (Live in Me, and I will live in you.) Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.”

When we do anything apart from the Lord, we are acting in our state. When we dwell in Him, we are abiding in our standing. All flesh is state activity. When we follow the Holy Spirit, He will be leading us in righteousness. My working definition for righteousness comes from Hebrews 12:11 Amplified. It says, “…in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action…”

Let’s go back to these words in Numbers. “…those you let remain…” What unresolved issues have you let remain? What harasses you that is an irritant or a thorn? You can define them through stubborn negative habits, negative dialogue, and fleshly reactions. Proverbs 4:23 says to guard our heart with all diligence. 2 Peter 1:5 says that with diligence we are to add certain inward graces to our faith.

Diligence is a character quality that is developed. Romans 5:3-4 gave the progression of our trials. They produce perseverance, character, and hope. Verse 4 in the Amplified says, “And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character (of this sort) produces (the habit of) joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.”

Negligence is a negative character quality. The Shulamite woman in Song of Solomon 1:6 said, “…but my own vineyard I have not kept.” The lazy man of Proverbs 24:30-34, through negligence, allowed his vineyard to become, “…all overgrown with thorns, its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down…” Our fleshly reactions spring up from the unresolved issues that we have let remain. How are you keeping your vineyard?

Our fleshly reactions reveal the root that we have neglected, and that should have been replaced through the diligence of renewing our mind. Ephesians 4:23 Amplified says, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude).” It is not a hit and miss correction, but one that is constant. If you have been negligent to take care of the hidden, then confess it as sin. Lay hold of Scriptures that will help you root out and destroy those fleshly things that harass you.

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