When I was in college one of my dormmates had this quote taped to her top dresser drawer. It said, “Keep on the ascending plane.” There is no stagnancy or standing still in the Christian life. We are either ascending, achieving victory through Christ, or we are back sliding.
At the end of the book of Joshua, the aged man of God issues a warning to the people of Israel. He was concerned that since they had achieved a measure of victory (though the job of possessing the land was far from completed), they would forget the LORD. Joshua didn’t want Israel to turn their back on the God who had given them this victory and this land. He didn’t want them to look aside at the heathen nations and start to worship false gods.
I think he was very concerned about the possibility of Israel backsliding, because he issued several warnings against it in the last two chapters of the book of Joshua. And he was justified in his concern, because the book of Judges illustrates the cycle of victory and defeat and idolatry that Israel experienced.
:: 23:3 And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.
:: 23:5-8 And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you. 6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left; Joshua. 7 That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them: 8 But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.
:: 23:11-13 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. 12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: 13 Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
:: 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
:: 24:19-20 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
:: 24:23-24 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. 24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
“Keep on the ascending plane”