"But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them."
In the verses leading up to this passage, God is revealing to the Israelites the land which He has purposed for them to inhabit in the land of Canaan. Up until this point, they had been wandering in the dessert for 40 years. Yet God had a plan for them in the land of Canaan; a promise to fulfill; blessings to bestow.
For them to live in the land He called them to, there were necessary actions for them to take. First of all, they needed to drive out those living in the land at the time. Then, since those people were not a people of God, the Israelites were commanded to destroy the inhabitants' deities and places of worship. Afterward, they were free to divide the land up according to family and enjoy the blessings and provision of the God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, where they lived in bondage, and into a land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 33:52-54).
God had great things in store for His people, but if the land which they dwelt in was not rid of the darkness and sin from the former inhabitants, He could not pour out His blessings upon His people. He knew that the former inhabitants would become a hinderance, an irritant, a thorn. The Israelites would become enslaved to another people. They would begin to worship other gods. They would no longer be a clean and holy people before the Lord. They would become like those that God loathed. This would separate them from God.
Sin has always and will always separate us from God. If we allow even a small amount of sin into our lives, it will become a hinderance, an irritant, a thorn in our side. God calls us to live a life holy and pleasing to Him. We must be a diligent and prayerful people. We cannot have tolerance for sin. It will only take us away from the marvelous plans which He has for us.
Much like the land in which He had for the Israelites, He has gone to prepare a land for those that are His children and believe in His Son, Jesus. This land, too, is filled with milk and honey. It is free of all sin, hurt, and tears. He made it possible through Jesus for us to become inhabitants of His land, but similarly, if there remains sin in us, we cannot enter. There is grace and forgiveness, certainly. However, if we allow sin to live within us and be a part of us, we will become like those that do not believe. It separates us from God. We must live holy lives. We must live in such a way as to win the prize He has for us. Diligent. Prayerful.
Are there any inhabitants in your life that need driving out and destroyed? Is there anything that is keeping you from the plans God has for you? Christ died so that we can live in freedom from the bondage of sin. Take hold of the power we have through Christ Jesus and through His blood that rids and cleans us of our sin and live a life pleasing to Him, because the promises He has for those who believe are worth it all.