What Keeps Us from Going to Battle?

What Keeps Us from Going to Battle?Text: Deuteronomy 20:1-9

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were called to fight. These physical battles teach us lessons for our spiritual war. In our text, Moses encouraged the people to not fear the enemies they would face and also gave certain exemptions that would excuse certain men from their responsibilities to go to war. As Christians involved in a spiritual war, there are no exemptions that would excuse us from serving. However, the exemptions in the Law of Moses are often used as excuses for not fighting. In this lesson, we are going to notice these exemptions/excuses – what hinders us and how to overcome.

Worldly Possessions (v. 5)

  • If a man built a new house, he was exempt – so he would not die and another would live in it
  • Someone told Jesus he would follow Him wherever He went (Luke 9:57-58) – Jesus told Him that “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head“; the implication was that following Christ may mean giving up the things of this life (the possession or pursuit of them)
  • Jesus warned that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom (Luke 18:25) – the rich are weighed down by the things of life and it is difficult for them to give them up (Luke 18:18-24)
  • We need to understand that worldly possessions are temporary (Matthew 6:19; 1 Timothy 6:17) – the battle we are fighting is for our souls (cf. 1 Peter 1:9); nothing more valuable (Matthew 16:26); we must not allow our attachment to riches cause us to depart from Jesus (Matthew 19:22)

Earthly Labor (v. 6)

  • If a man recently planted a vineyard, he was exempt – so he would not die and not use its fruit
  • Jesus told a parable of people invited to a dinner, but gave excuses (Luke 14:16-19) – they were making excuses based upon their work; but since they did not accept the invitation, they would never “taste of [the] dinner” (Luke 14:24)
  • It is important that we are willing to work to provide for ourselves and our families (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:8) – Christians are expected to be hard-working (Colossians 3:23)
  • As we labor in this life, we cannot do so to the neglect of our spiritual well-being (Luke 12:19) – work is necessary, yet we must not become so entangled in the affairs of this life that we cannot fight (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Personal Relationships (v. 7)

  • If a man was engaged to be married, he was exempt – so he would not die and another man marry her
  • Two potential followers of Jesus went back to family first (Luke 9:59-62); another used the fact that he “married a wife” as an excuse (Luke 14:20) – these people were putting personal relationships (family) ahead of Christ
  • Jesus said that we must be willing to put Him ahead of our family (Matthew 10:37) – often, there will be conflict with family if we want to follow Christ (Matthew 10:34-36); they will not join us
  • It is understandable and natural to value family relationships – however, our relationship with the Lord is more important (1 John 3:1; Hebrews 2:11); we must also recognize the importance of our spiritual family of like-minded brethren (2 Peter 1:1; John 19:26-27)

Fear of the Enemy (v. 8)

  • If a man was afraid/fainthearted, he was exempt – so he would not cause his brethren to fear
  • After Jesus’ crucifixion, His disciples were in fear (John 20:19) – this is understandable given the warnings that Jesus gave them (John 15:18-20; 16:1-3)
  • We are up against powerful opponents (Ephesians 6:12) – yet ultimately, they are powerless (Hebrews 2:14-15; Colossians 2:15)
  • No reason to fear those who can kill us (Matthew 10:28) – we have hope through the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-22; Philippians 3:10-11); we can take courage because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33)


  • The Lord will be victorious whether we fight for Him or not
  • But we will not share in the victory with Him if we are not fighting on His side
  • Therefore, let us not make excuses – instead, let us do all we can for the cause of the Lord

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