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Title: “Until the Enemy is Crushed”
2 Samuel 23:20-21: “Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.”
Benaiah was a man who never allowed his circumstances to dictate his choices or destiny. He was willing to see beyond his present situation and in doing so, change the course of history. George Bernard Shaw wrote, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.”
You may be thinking, “Who are we talking about? I’ve never heard of Benaiah.” Well, maybe it’s time for us to stop reading or watching the latest and greatest post, blog, or podcast from the newest “Christian celebrities” and start focusing on people who are actually heroes of the faith. Benaiah was one of those heroes. He was loyal. He remained true to King David when David’s son Absalom turned against him. He is listed right up there with Nathan the prophet in his importance to David. Benaiah takes life head on. He’s aggressive, he’s a risk-taker, and he’s confident in God. He was born a priest but became a soldier. He began his military career as one of David’s mighty men and was put in charge of David’s personal bodyguard.
You might wonder why a priest would become a soldier. Why give up the relatively safe and easy life of a priest and choose the dangerous life of a soldier? Benaiah was no ordinary man, no ordinary priest, and no ordinary soldier. His courage and skill as a soldier at the time were second to none and his stories of courage are recorded in the history of Israel. Because of his bravery, the Bible tells us, he was honored by his peers. He was also given the distinction of being named as one of David’s mighty men. Eventually, Benaiah became the head of Solomon’s army. He went from a priest to a general. What a transition! Theologian Frank Boreham writes concerning Benaiah, “He met the worst of enemies, in the worst of places, under the worst of conditions; and he won.” Boreham is right—Benaiah found himself in the worst of situations but triumphed. So, what can we learn from Benaiah about facing and winning our own spiritual battles?
1. Benaiah was Proactive, not Reactive
We are told Benaiah went down into a pit with a lion on a snowy day and killed it.
I will never be able to read this verse without thinking about 1 Peter 5:8: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” In verse 20 it says Benaiah “went down and killed a lion.” What strikes me here is that he went on the offensive. When you face the enemy, you cannot play defense; you need to stay on offense. Benaiah wasn’t caught off guard. He didn’t get trapped in a cave by a lion; he took the offensive and went down into a pit.
Whatever sin, temptation, habit, or fear is trying devour you, confront it and kill it!
There’s a great quote in the movie The Avengers. It’s the scene where Thor takes Loki from the plane, and Captain America says to Iron Man, “We need a plan of attack.” Iron Man says, “I have a plan: Attack!”
We need to ask ourselves, are we willing to go on the attack when faced with life’s struggles and temptations? Are we being courageous like Benaiah, or do we just wait and react to what happens in our lives? Are you struggling with an addiction? Attack! Are you trying to overcome your past? Attack! Are you being consumed with fear or anxiety? Attack! Remember the only place Christian soldiers are vulnerable, where there is no armor to protect us, is in the back (Ephesians 6:13-17). In James 4:7 it commands us to “resist the devil” and he will flee from us.
2. Benaiah was relentless in subduing the enemy
He showed his might by overcoming “two of Moab’s best men.” The Moabites were physically related to the Israelites, but they were enemies. As closely related, yet an enemy, they can represent our “flesh,” the sinful nature that we all possess and battle. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
Paul says, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:21-25). While “the flesh” is a part of every one of us, it’s our enemy and must be overcome if we are to become mighty believers.
To be even more specific, we could look at the Moabites as representative of the flesh when it’s not under control. Do you remember the origin of the Moabites? They came from an incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters—the flesh not under control! Do you remember Jericho? It was an enemy stronghold but was conquered by Joshua. But during the time of the judges it was under enemy control once again, because the Moabites were not held in check. Benaiah had a relentless spirit to subdue the Moabites. We need to have that same relentless spirit if we are going to overcome “the flesh” in our own lives. It needs to be held in check at all costs. Galatians 5:16 tells us to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Put to death, it says. Put what to death? Whatever causes you to lose your battles. I have people come to me constantly and tell me their horror stories and most of the time they start with, “I had too much to drink,” or “they had too much to drink.” Or they say, “I got drunk and didn’t know what I was doing…so I ________.” One day when someone was telling me, “I got drunk and didn’t know what I was doing, so I _______,” the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart and moved me to respond in a new way. I said, “Stop saying that you were drunk, so you didn’t know what you were doing, like somehow, it’s the alcohol’s fault. Tell the truth. You got drunk so that you could do this or that.” Until you’re honest, you will never win the battle. If alcohol allows you to make sinful choices, put it to death!
I also hear people say, “Whenever so and so and I go out we always get into some kind of trouble. It always ends poorly.” Then so and so needs to go! If we are going to be conformed to the image of Christ, we need to take radical steps to overcome what’s keeping us in a spiritual rut. Why do you think the Bible is so graphic when it comes to fighting this battle? Matthew 5:29 says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” Tear out the drug, the alcohol, the so-called friend, the computer, the habit—whatever it is that is causing you to be spiritually devoured by the enemy.
What I have seen recently in the church is that we just embrace or accept what we don’t have the courage to overcome, such as sexual sin, drunkenness, or foul language. We no longer call it a sin; we justify it and incorporate it into our lives. Fighting sin is not called legalism; it’s called righteousness.
3. Benaiah took away the enemy’s weapons
In verse 21 Benaiah teaches us another skill necessary to be victorious in our spiritual battles: “And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.”
Listen, when you’re facing your enemy, you need to be smart enough to take away the weapon they’re using to beat you. No matter what situation or circumstance he found himself in, Benaiah proved to be loyal and fearless, and that’s why he triumphed! In 1 Corinthians 15:58 Paul writes, “Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord in not in vain.”
We might not be called on to face ferocious beasts or giant Egyptians, like Benaiah, but our battles to overcome our temptations, fears, addictions, or past abuse are no less challenging. God calls us to be steadfast and immoveable in our resolve to be like His Son. Benaiah was both priest and soldier. If we want to be successful, we need to learn to blend together both roles. The role of priest and soldier, in the Christian context, are aligned.
Peter spoke about the priesthood of all believers in 1 Peter 2:5: “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” He continues in verse 9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
And Paul challenged Timothy to be a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Timothy 2:1-3: “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
We need to be like Benaiah, both priest and warrior. Because if we want to be Holy as He is Holy, we are going to need to fight until the enemy that holds us back is crushed.