But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live (Numbers 33:55 NIV).
This was an instruction to the Israelites who were about to enter the Promised Land. So it does not hold a physical relevance for us today. But it has great spiritual relevance. Therefore learn from it.
The sin of the people living in that land was great. Therefore God purposed to destroy them. But God allowed a time of 400 plus years to pass before He allowed the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land (Genesis 15:16). And He wanted the Israelites to destroy those people completely. He wanted this to happen not only because their sin was great; but also because He knew that those people would corrupt His children and lead them into sin.
In Christian life too, there are conquests to be made. When God comes into your life, He shows you the Promised Land. The Bible says that “we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17 NIV). That means that whatever God has given to Jesus Christ, He has given to you too, because you are God’s child. But like the children of Israel you will have to fight “the good fight”; a battle of faith and win your spiritual blessings. This is your responsibility even though God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3 NIV).
Winning that battle also means the removal of sinfulness from your life. That is why God warns you today through the example of the Israelites. They failed to drive out the sinful people of that land in spite of specific instructions from God to do so. And they became barbs in their eyes. Ah, how painful they can be! They cannot be dislodged easily without hurting your eyes badly. And the people also became thorns in their sides. Wherever they turned they came into contact with sinful practices. All this happened because they allowed them to remain.
Look at your life honestly. What all things have you allowed to remain? Do you not clearly know that God wants those sinful things to go from your life? But you are not willing to do so. Are you happy with them remaining in your life? You might not like to answer that question because they are barbs in your eyes and thorns by your sides. They are giving you trouble; aren’t they?