The Consequences of Coddling Sin – Joshua 7

Good morning everyone, I’m happy to see the many faces here and I wish I could see the faces of those who are online. But whatever it is, it’s good to have you all here.

And I hope you’re all doing well. I’m guessing the past week must’ve been challenging for many of you, and I believe that many of you must be having some good stories to share.

Whatever the place you find yourself in, you’re here and this is probably the best place to be on a Sunday morning. Not necessarily the Gathering Church, but with God’s people, gathering together to sing and hear God’s Word being preached, and to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

Before I pray, I also want to acknowledge the terrors occurring in Eastern Europe. The Ukrainian people are suffering, and it’ll have a ripple effect across the world. Whenever you pray, pray for the people who are suffering, pray that evil will not continue, and pray for God to bring peace and justice in those regions.

Let me pray before I start.

So, what is happening in Joshua 7? The Israelites are given a directive from their leader Joshua to attack and conquer the people of Ai. Joshua’s spies do some reconnaissance and conclude that only a few thousand men are required to defeat them, because the people of Ai are few in number.

But what happens? The people of Israel are routed. They run away from their enemies and return with their hearts melted and like water.
Why does this happen? The first verse in this chapter gives us the answer. What does it say? “Israel broke faith with regard to the devoted things for Achan from the tribe of Judah took some of the devoted things.

What are these devoted things again? In v18 and 19 of the previous chapter, it says 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

The Lord commanded not to take the devoted things but Achan did. Joshua 7:21 spells out for us Achan’s confession. It reads, “when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.””

So why was the Lord angry? Because Israel broke faith. How did they break faith? They took some of the devoted things for themselves.

Now in response to this defeat, Joshua prays to the Lord as you can read in v6-9. What is God’s response to the prayer? “11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.””

I want you to bring to your attention two consequences of Israel’s sin: one, in verse 12 it says, Israel turned their back before their enemies, and in the same verse God says “I will be with you no more”.

The reason I bring these two consequences is because it has some bearing on our lives too. The time and the circumstances of the Israelites were so different from what we are experiencing today. Yet there is one thing in common. There is one way we stand in solidarity with the people of Israel. It’s our common nature of sin.

Since we have the same fallen nature, that is why I’m saying that the consequences of sin mentioned in verse 12 has some bearing on us.

The First Consequence: Separation from God

So ultimately, the reason for the whole mess was sin. We can call it in different terms, like covenant breaking, breaking faith, transgressing the covenant, rebellion, etc. But it boils down to this one thing: sin.

This sin was a direct transgression of the covenant that the Israelites had with the Lord God. God always said in the Old Testament, as long as you obey I will be with you.

Because of this sin, Israel experienced her first defeat, if we look at the book of Joshua. The first six chapters were a display of Israel being on a high. Last week we heard the miraculous story of Israel and Jericho. The walls came crashing down just by people marching around it.

Because of this sin, God said I will be you no more.

Why is God so averse to sin? Because every sin is a mockery against His holy name. In Habakkuk 1:13 it says of God “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil”. He is the God who sits “enthroned on high and looks down on earth and heaven” (Ps 113:5-6) with the angels singing “holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty The whole earth is full of His glory” (Is 6:3). He is the God who looks down on the rulers of the world who conspire to go against Him and laughs at them. (Psalm 2:4). This is who God is therefore any sin is a Mockery of His majesty.

You should know that God’s attitude towards sin has not changed. He is still averse to it, He still hates it.

He is not only averse to sin but God cannot allow it to go unpunished. That is why, every sin needs to be paid for. And that is exactly how God reacts to the sin of Israel through Achan. In verse 15 of Joshua 7 the Lord says, “In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. And the tribe that the Lord takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households. And the household that the Lord takes shall come near man by man. And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.’””

The Lord knew what was up. He knew that Israel sinned and He probably knew that it was Achan who did it. Because God is holy and just, He cannot let stand sin nor can He let it go unpunished. And the degree of punishment depends on the kind of sin committed and against whom it is committed. So, what happened to Achan? V25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.

You should have been the one who was dragged out, questioned, shamed, guilted, and ultimately stoned to death.

But God was going to have none of that.

Instead of you, someone else was dragged out, accused, cursed, beaten, mocked, pierced, and ultimately killed so that you could be free. That one is Jesus Christ, who on the cross said, it is finished. The work has been done, redemption has been won and the war is over.

Psalm 103:10-11 says
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

I would end this point by saying the first consequence of sin is of no consequence because Jesus stepped in and saved us from our sin and from the wrath of God.

If you’ve been struggling with sin, and yearning for righteousness, the Bible says that Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matt 5:6). Those of you who are striving to live righteous lives, continue to do so because your labor in the Lord will not be in vain (1 Cor 15:58). And finally those of you who consider yourself too big of a sinner, gone too far off, a wayward rebel, the Christ calls you. The Bible says that Jesus came not to call the righteous, but the sinners (Matt 9:13). So if you’re a sinner, good, because Christ came for sinners, and He calls you.

The Second Consequence: Unconfessed Sin can lead us to be Ineffective in our Christian lives.

Remember I highlighted verse 12 which said that Israel turns their back before their enemies because of their sin.

Like Achan, who hid his sin that led to Israel losing a battle, in a similar way we can lose our spiritual battles if we allow sin to be hidden.

There could be a variety of sins like anger, unkind words, disrespectful conversations, obscene talk, gossip, indulging in different kinds of sexual immorality, binge watching movies and TV shows, over eating, excessive consumption of alcohol and other vices.

And if there are any among you who can identify with these then bring it out to the light. Don’t let it eat away at your life, don’t allow the devil to have a foothold in your life and render you ineffective in your walk with the Lord and your service to His work and your church.

Instead of hiding your sin, bring it to the light. James 5:16 says confess your sins to one another. 1 John 1:9 says if you confess your sins God who is faithful and just will forgive you.

These are all examples of sinful behaviors we exhibit.

But these sins are just what is seen on the outside, taking Achan’s example. These sins are a result of a deep fallenness within us. Inside of us there is work of lust, bitterness, enny, malice, anxiety, idolatry, covetousness, and so on and so forth.

These are of greater danger. The reason Achan sinned was because he coveted the treasures. He didn’t trust in God’s command, provision, or all sufficiency.

So, you should be on alert about what’s going on in your heart. What are you thinking about? What are you saying to yourself? Are you setting your mind on things that are pure, noble, lovely, praise worthy?

Whatever it is, confess it. Confess to whom? First, confess to God, in fact pour out your heart before God. Remember, He doesn’t deal with you according to your iniquities but with grace, so you can be assured before God.

Confess also to others. God has given us a body of believers to help us. Many a time, He works in us through a brother or sister in Christ. I would say to anyone who is the listener of such confessions to reserve judgment, be compassionate, and most importantly listen more than you talk. Remember how much the Lord dealt with kindness towards you and reciprocate that same kindness to the one who is confessing.

If you’re here and you want to talk, be open about your sin, or you want to talk about your wandering heart, we’re here. The pastors are here too. We also have something called DNA groups which are built for such kinds of conversations. Leverage these meetings for your own good.

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