Driving Out The Canaanites – Part One


I’ve often wondered what the “sin which indwells me” of Romans 7 really is. I was recently reading in Exodus and a lot of light was shed on the subject for me by the Word of God. The Old Testament is full of historical happenings which are simultaneously illustrations of truths or realities if we have eyes to see them and do a little digging into meanings of Hebrew or Greek words with a lexicon. The Passover is Christ our substitute; the Exodus from Egypt is our deliverance from bondage to sin; the Ark of the Covenant, made of wood overlaid with gold, containing the unbroken tablets of the Law and the jar of manna, is Christ, his humanity overlaid within and without by the gold of Deity, our living Law and daily Bread from Heaven.

Bear in mind that humans are three-part beings, spirit and soul (Heb 4:12) and body. The word “flesh” is from the Greek word “sarx”, and in the sense in which Paul uses it means the body and soul of man taken as a unit. Eph 2:2 says that there is a “spirit that works in the children of disobedience (literally, ‘the unconvinced’) and that this spirit is “the prince of the power of the air.” In Christ this spirit is removed and we are given a new inner spirit, a new source – the Holy Spirit. Thus, our soul/body is a container, a temple or vessel of a spirit – either the Holy Spirit or the unholy one. Bearing all this in mind, let’s take a look at Exodus 33.

The LORD said to Moses:
“I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” Ex 33:20

One day not long ago I wondered what the various names of the inhabitants of Canaan meant. I already knew that most of the old Gospel songs about “The Promised Land” being Heaven were wrong. Heaven won’t have Canaanites to subdue. And my experiences in the Word and in faith over the last few years have taught me that God works from the center outward; He implants His life in us and changes us from the inside out. So that the Church ruling and reigning with Christ will take place when she learns to rely on her inner Husband at all times and in all things.

So from the inside out, the Promised Land is first our own soul/body. Our flesh. Our “land” in which God plants Himself, unifies Himself with us, and then wants us to take over in faith. This Land becomes populated with Canaanites early on, often as children, as Satan implants these hooks for his latching-on. These hooks foster our fleshly ways and means of coping with life, and bring passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive behaviors, phobias, and any other kind of tool by which Satan lives through us. We’ll deal with these hooks in Part Two.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


  1. Kory

    Anxious to see where you go with it; I like the metaphor already. People usually just try to argue with me when I talk about ‘center outward’ or ‘ground up’ approaches to faith. 😛

  2. Tony Heringer


    Interesting post, however the Canaanites and other peoples of the land were already there when Israel shows up to take the land and they don’t completely drive them out when they do enter. This is very much like our sin nature that we inherit from Adam.. Sin is our ever present enmey and the Holy Spirit is our everpresent help. I think the analogy still holds, but we have to face the facts that the enemy is already present and primarily that enemy is us – part of the real axis of evil that includes the World and the Devil (Eph 2:1-2).

    Paul is hammering away on the fact that we are sinners through and through in Romans. Our propensity toward sin keeps us dependant on our Savior. Back in Romans 6, he states “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7). I’ve heard it said by those who understand the original text that the phrase “done away with” in reference to our sin nature/flesh is a poor translation.

    There is a text note in most translations that is said to be clearer which says that it is “rendered powerless.” The best analogy of our flesh that I’ve heard is that of being a sailor on a pirate ship. The ship is captured, the captain is chained to the deck and even though he is no longer in charge, he still barks out orders. And you and I being good sailors will obey our former captain unless we remember that he no longer is in charge. This is what I think Paul gets at in Romans 7 which is so dark until verse 24ff which says “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    Lately, I’ve been using Michael D. Williams book “As The Curse Is Found: The Covenant Story Of Redemption” as a devotional text. Here’s a little more food for thought from that book on the OT Promised Land.

    Under the heading “Why Canaan?” it is noted that “it was neither a mistake nor happenstance that Canaan, the crossroads of the ancient world, was chosen to be the dwelling place of Israel.” Then he gives the following paragraph that just turns my idea of the Promised Land on its head:

    “There is nothing particularly inviting about Canaan simply as real estate. To be sure, the Book of Joshua records that when the spies surveyed the land, they returned an reported it was a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Idyllic descriptions of the land are common throughout the Pentateuch. Certainly, there were fertile areas in Canaan at the time of the conquest, and undoubtedly the land was more inviting then that it is today. But overall the climate of Canaan, then as now, was semi-arid. The encroachment of the Sahara across North Africa and into Canaan began in the third millennium B.C. And the ground was extremely rocky. An old Jewish saw quips that when God created the world He had a spare handful of rocks left over. With no particular interest He tossed them to the ground, and they covered the land of Canaan.”“

    He goes on to say “God’s choice of Canaan as a land for Abraham was intentional and central to the redemptive mission for which Abraham was chosen. … [This] particular piece of real estate…was a doorway to the world, on the way to everywhere else.” (quotes from pages 114-115) This is similar to the setting that Jesus enters into in the New Testament.

    Well, enough of my rambling. Thanks again for Part I, looking forward to Part II.

  3. Ron Block



    Our indwelling Canaanites resident in our flesh – psyche/body – were already there when we became new creations in Christ. They are implanted because as Eph 2:2, pre-Christ people we have an indwelling lord. And he directs us to find ways of getting our needs met – thus, the land becomes populated with inner Canaanites – ways and means of coping with life that are not from God.

    The Israelites didn’t completely drive them out – but they were commanded to by God Himself. Drive them out, make no covenants with them or with their gods. “They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me: for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto you” (Ex 23). By not following this command they were disbelieving and disobeying God.

    Likewise, if we refuse to “through the Spirit (not by self-effort) put to death the deeds of the body” we are disbelieving and disobeying God. The TCNT translation says, “…by the power of the Spirit, you put an end to the evil habits of the body…” We as God’s new creations in Christ are to live according to the Spirit – as new creations, are to know this: “that our old man was crucified with Christ.” Other translations say, “..our old self was nailed to the Cross with Him,” “…our old selves died with Him on the Cross”, and the NEB says, “We know that the man we once were has been crucified with Christ.”

    We “put off the deeds of the old man” and “put on the new man” by simply recognizing the truth and finality of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us, to us, and now accomplishes through us.

    The primary subject of Paul in Romans 7 is Law. He’s discussing indwelling sin “which is in my members.” He is delineating what it looks like to fight them with flesh-effort: When I will to do good, evil is present.” “I have the will, but cannot do.” Paul’s entire point in Romans 7 is that a Law-consciousness (trying to do good by our effort) cannot achieve victory over the Canaanites; it takes a total grabbing hold of God’s promise that “sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the Law, but under grace.” Law-effort, human effort, cannot achieve holiness, just as Israelite effort could not subdue the Canaanites; that takes reliance on God, stepping out on His promises, and a serious change of perspective.

    Romans is Paul building a case for the righteousness of faith. It starts with “we’re all sinners.” Then it moves into justification by faith (4, 5), then into our co-death and co-resurrection with Christ (dead to sin, 6). But without knowing we are dead to law (our own efforts to be sanctified, 7) we cannot know the power of Christ in our lives as He uses these earthen vessels to work His holy will. And so we move into Romans 8, where, we are “not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of Christ dwells in us” and that we are not to “walk according to the flesh”, meaning as if we are just fleshly people trying to make our own life work out the way we want. We are now Holy Spirit indwelt saints of God, not condemned, in the Spirit – and why has Jesus Christ gone to all this trouble to be incarnated, live, die, and rise again? “That the righteousness of the Law (love-for-God-and-others) might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh (fleshly effort to be righteous) but by the Spirit (reliance on the indwelling Spirit of Christ).”

    After delineating that Spirit-directed life in 8, Paul moves on to 9 and beyond, where we love others so much we’d even give up our own salvation for them if we could.

    “Further in and further up.” That’s the life God calls us to.

    When we are thinking deep down “I am an independent self that must be good with God’s help” we’re setting ourselves up for life in Romans 7.

    As I’ve gotten older and gone through the Neo-like death experience of Romans 7 in a deep way, I’ve realized that anytime I feel serious stress about anything I need to pause for a few minutes, take stock of what I’m stressed about, and then turn from the unbelieving attitude that puts my humanity at the helm of my life. Christ Himself is my life; I am not my own; I am bought with a price. And so I can grasp the fact that nothing happens in my life that is not filtered directly through God Himself, who is sovereign and in control of my life.

    Through being made aware of these ‘hooks’ in my psyche, places where Satan long ago hid away batches of Canaanites, God gives me the grace to repent of “allowing the devil a foothold” and instead of unbelief festering in those hidey-holes I can stick faith in there. Faith in Christ is like using a giant bottle of Raid especially formulated for Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, and all other forms of Canaan-dwellers

  4. Ron Block



    That God works from the center outward is shown in the layout of the tribes of Israel when they camped out in the wilderness. The Tabernacle was at the center. Chuck Missler says that with the amounts of people in each tribe, and sketching out where they were situated, the entire camp (thousands upon thousands of people) was in the form of a cross, with the Tabernacle and Levites at the center.

    It has also shown in my life. As God gets ahold of those inner places in me where I’ve had hidden unbelief, and fills them with faith, the outer shows the change.

  5. Tony Heringer

    Ron…amen brother. “Further in and further up.” I’ve always loved that line from The Last Battle. In fact you forced me to go back an re-read it. Here’s a great word picture to agument your prose above:

    “Of course, Daughter of Eve,” said the Faun. “The further up and further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.”

    Thanks for the post and the follow up — both were very edifying. Looking foward to part II.


  6. Stacy Grubb

    “When we are thinking deep down ‘I am an independent self that must be good with God’s help’ we’re setting ourselves up for life in Romans 7.”

    That is always my knee-jerk reaction when I hear someone say that they need God’s help or that they couldn’t do anything without God’s help. No doubt about it, we require more than help. A helper makes the load easier, but doesn’t carry the full weight. A helper works side by side.

    I bought a cabinet one time and the instructions said it required two people to put the thing together. Not willing to wait for my husband to feel inspired to help, I took on the project alone. Now, I got that durn thing put together by myself. I didn’t need a helper, but it sure would’ve made the process a whole heck of a lot easier.

    That’s the sort of thing I think of when I hear about needing God’s help. Again, it’s a knee-jerk thought process, but I usually know that the person who said it didn’t mean it the way it sounds to me. There are projects we may take on in life where we could successfully do something alone, but a helper would make all the difference in the world. That’s not the case with what God does for us. There is nothing we could do for ourselves. He has to do it all.


  7. Ron Block



    Norman Grubb said, “God doesn’t help you to do a thing. He does it for you.” That’s God’s way. We couldn’t save ourselves – so He saved us. We can’t sanctify ourselves – so He sanctifies us. We can’t “live a good life for Jesus” even with God’s help – He lives it for us. That’s why Paul, after years, could so solidly state, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” In other words, it’s not me living – it’s Christ living through me, as me. And the life that I now live I live by the faith of the son of God (faith of, not in), who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” At that point it’s even His faith kicking in – that inner knowing and quiet confidence of who we are in Christ that through shaking becomes unshakable.

    That’s the Christian life in a nutshell. I’m a cup. He’s the Wine. I never become God; I always remain the vessel containing God. But then we move onto branch/Vine, and suddenly I am one’d with God; branch and Vine are one Tree.

    We’ve got to get “vessel” in our heads, and “I can do nothing of myself” before we can know the fullness of Christ within us. Only then are we safe – safe from pride when He does live through us, never to take glory from Him, but rather continually expressing to others the powerful grace and glory of Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith.

  8. Tony Heringer

    Amen and amen!

    You are not only the Rabbit Rooms’ bouncer, you are its brains! I love the picture of being a vessel. As to the “I can do nothing…” that is always my response to folks that say “Christianty is a crutch.” Crutch nothing! Its life support! 🙂

    Thanks dude! Keep bringing the good words.

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