"Ye Cannot Serve The Lord, For..."
The nature of God is such that it is utterly impossible for him to be served by fallen, depraved men. This is exactly what Joshua declares: "Ye cannot serve the Lord, for...". Then he gives us three reasons why men cannot serve the Lord.
l. "He is an holy God." A holy God demands perfectly holy obedience. He cannot and will not accept anything less than absolute perfection. The men of Bethshemesh found out that sincerity, fear, costly-sacrifice and earnestness could never be accepted of "an holy God", after 50,000 were slain for their attempted service to him (I Sam. -21). Only perfectly holy men can serve the perfectly holy God (Psa. 24:3-4).
2. "He is a jealous
God." God is jealous of his honor, his glory and his worship. That simply
means, God will not tolerate any rival to himself. All
graven images (visible and imaginary), like Dagon, will be broken to pieces
before him. He will not tolerate any idol to be worshipped in his place or
along with him. And he will not tolerate the idol of man's righteousness,
service and works to be set up in place of or alongside the righteousness,
service and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who would serve God must
denounce both the false gods of their fathers (Josh. 24:23) and their own
3. "He will not forgive your transgressions, nor your sins." The just and holy God cannot be served by sinful creatures such as we are. The only thing God can do with sin is punish it. And punish it he will. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die!" The only way a fallen sinner can serve God is if he can both suffer the full penalty of the law and fulfill all the demands of the law. And, blessed be God, he has made it possible, by the substitutionary obedience and sacrifice of Christ in the place of sinners (Rom. -26). In his life of obedience, Christ perfectly served God as a man, establishing perfect righteousness, and in his death he removed the sins of all his people, satisfying the justice of God by his atoning sacrifice. Trust Christ, and by faith in him, you will be forever pleasing in the sight of God and accepted as his servant and his son (Heb. 11:6; Eph. 1:6).