They have greatly oppressed me from my youth — let Israel say, they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. But the LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.
May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame. May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow; with it the reaper cannot fill his hands, nor the one who gathers fill his arms. May those who pass by not say, “The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we bless you in the name of the LORD.”
Like the olive tree, Israel cannot be destroyed. For three thousand years, Israel’s enemies have come in many forms and at numerous times but the result is always the same. Eventually the enemy is vanquished and Israel remains. Not because of their power but because of God’s promise.
This is a great model of our battle with our enemy. Because of the love our Lord has for us we can always emerge victorious as well. “I will give you victory over any enemy you choose to engage,” the Lord told Joshua. (Joshua 10:25) “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” He tells us. (James 4:7) Because our victory was assured at the cross, we have only to engage our enemy to achieve it.
In my career as a business consultant I would often lead managers of failing companies through a series of exercises designed to stimulate their creativity. I began by asking them to imagine what great accomplishment they would attempt if they knew that success was inevitable. The purpose of the series was to help them see that the solutions to their problems were not external but internal, and could be found by focusing the power of their minds on the possibilities of success instead of the fear of failure. Many companies were saved from possible bankruptcy when their managers realized that in most cases if they changed the way they thought about their problems they could change the outcome.
I learned this principle from one of the greatest behavioral scientists of all times, the Apostle Paul. He said, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) 2000 years ago, he knew that we can change our lives by changing the way we think about them.
When I led those managers through my exercises, I asked them to imagine that they could achieve whatever they set their minds to. I had to get them to imagine this because we all knew that success is not guaranteed. And some of my clients, in spite of their best efforts, went broke anyway.
But with believers it’s not that way. Paul’s admonition to us is not based on fantasy because we have one giant advantage in our personal lives that my clients in the business world lacked. We have the promise of the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, that we can be made new in the attitudes of our minds and therefore can put on a new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
We’re no longer slaves to circumstance, or to our background or upbringing, or to the habits and attitudes we’ve picked up along the paths of our lives. We can be made new in our minds, and in our reality, because we’ve been given the regenerative power of God’s Holy Spirit. It’s an incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephes. 1:19-21)
Like the olive tree and like Israel, we’re indestructible. No spiritual enemy arrayed against us can prevail. We have been promised victory over every enemy we choose to engage. Whether that enemy appears in the form of an addiction, a lifestyle, an emotion or an evil desire, in the power of God we can resist the devil and he will flee from us. Guaranteed.