19 Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. (Joshua 24:19 NASB)
When my faith was young, Joshua’s statement in Joshua 24:19 seemed puzzling. Of course, I was a member in some churches that did their best to ignore anything resembling deep theological study. I remember a Q&A session with one of my former pastors in which this passage was read (not by me) then he was asked to explain it. The answer was that this was just an abstraction not to be taken literally and not to be applied to the Church age. Let’s take a closer look.
In answer to Joshua’s challenge, the people had said, in effect, “We will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” But Joshua knew them too well to trust them, and reminded them that they were undertaking, what they could not perform. They did not believe him, but cried, “No, but we will serve the LORD”; but their history after this proved the truth of Joshua’s warning. God’s Word knows us better than we know ourselves. God’s omniscience sees each part of our being as an anatomist sees the various portions of the body, and he therefore knows our moral and spiritual nature most thoroughly. A watchmaker is the best judge of a watch; and he who made man has the best knowledge of his condition and capacity, which is that the unregenerate cannot serve God.