“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” (Joshua 7:1-5)
Sin in the Camp
It seems, on the outside, that the church is in some sort of super-spiritual awakening. Somehow the devil got his foot in the door of the hearts of the churchgoers over the years, and he has found it easy to keep it open, to the dismay of the few believers in our day who truly are saved. Men have concluded that everyone who reads the word of God may have their own idea about what is meant by any given passage of scripture. It is an accepted fact that being a christian means that you are going to have to take a stand for the truth and this “middle ground” philosophy that allows everyone to be his own interpreter is forgetting, or ignoring the truth that the natural man cannot understand the things of God.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually disc-erned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Corinthians 2:14-16)
The word of God is foolishness to a lost man. He may read the word of God but the only way a lost man has within himself to reason is his flesh. This creates the great problem that when he reads the bible he has the blinders of the flesh over his eyes and is unable to grasp much of the truth that the true child of God can easily see. This man will also argue and fight any truth that he hears from a true child of God, which disagrees with his flesh. Therefore we have numerous and common church splits, and the liberalism and pharisaism which prevail in our day. There seems to be no end to the troubles which arise from this war between the flesh and the Spirit. If not for the very promise of Jesus,
“and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,”
then we would despair of the church as a whole. And it is no wonder to despair when we take note of all the new versions of the bible. Per-versions of the truth, they testify of themselves that they are not the word of God.
From the great host of anti-Christ’s which have infiltrated our nation and the church we have seen every false religion in the world saying they are right because “the bible says”. None of them, on the other hand, can stand before the simple truth of the word of God, the 1611 King James Authorized Version Bible. It is the perfect, complete word of God for the English speaking people of this world. This world-wide departure from the true Word of God has resulted in a cloak of darkness which makes it doubly hard to show a lost world it’s condition. The loose attitude the world has toward scripture has broken all holds on sin and we see the results all around us. And even in the church. The attitude of the world has come into the church along with the world itself. Preachers are being told to “Stay off the bad things and just preach the good things.” Friend, if you don’t want preaching, don’t call on me. If you seek to make a puppet call a circus. Not preaching the whole counsel of God is not preaching at all and not preaching against sin is not preaching the whole counsel of God. You cannot show the glories of heaven without showing the horrors of hell, you cannot show the beauty of Christ without showing the ugliness of Satan. You cannot preach the joy of righteous living without preaching on the sorrows of sin. Sin is a problem, it has been ever since Lucifer was lifted up with pride. And it will be
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)
until all Christ’s enemies are put down once and for all eternity. Sin is a problem and must be dealt with. It cannot be ignored or avoided. It must be confronted and dealt with. If it is not dealt with then the whole church will suffer. All the family of God will suffer. You may think not. Have you been told “I don’t want to come to that church because old so and so goes there and he is the biggest hypocrite I know”? The church suffers for sin. There are people who refuse to go to church with the bar-room crowd that they are drinking with on Saturday night. The whole world suffers for sin. They don’t mind going to hell together, just not to church. Here in Joshua 7 we see that sin wears a big price tag.
Sin in the Camp
In our text, Joshua, the son of Nun, has just taken the position which God commanded him too. A position of servitude, a position of authority, a position of responsibility, and one of great accountability. As well as a position of great visibility. In 1:2 God told him that Moses was dead. Imagine Joshua’s position. The great man of God Moses led them out of Egypt just over forty years earlier. No doubt Joshua had been nearby at times that God had spoken to Moses. Faithfully had Joshua followed and obeyed God and God’s man. But now, suddenly, as if lightning struck Joshua hears that same God who had commanded Moses calling his name. Joshua has just seen Moses go up on the mountain. That was the last time Joshua saw Moses in this world. What a testimony! The last time that the man of God was seen in this world was when he was on the mountain. Close to God. Oh, to die on the mountain. Now God tells Joshua that his friend, his leader, his pastor, is dead. He knew it was coming, that he and Moses would part for Moses had explained to them that he would not be allowed to enter the promised land with Israel. But now, here it is, dropped on him suddenly. Joshua has found himself the one to whom the Lord is speaking and the first news from God is, “Moses, my servant is dead,” Oh the pressure on a young preacher. It is easy to feel the inadequacy of yourself when you have to step in where another of more experience, and more wisdom has been. Too often young preachers find themselves trying to fill the shoes of the man that they follow behind. This is not possible. There was only one Moses, one Joshua, one Elijah, one Elisha, etc., and there can be only one you. We must do as Joshua, heed God’s call and accept God’s word,
“Moses my servant is dead,”;
and obey God’s command,
“now therefore arise, go over this Jordan.”
So we must be sensitive to God’s call, subject to His word, and submissive to His will. Joshua showed himself to be all three. In 1:2-9 God gave Joshua his commission and in verse 10 Joshua assumed his appointed duties as leader of the great nation of Israel. This is just another picture of the fact that God does not leave His people without a leader. Look at Israel’s history. Joshua accepted his com-mission and assumed command in 1:10. Now Joshua finds himself in a place of great visibility. He was heretofore almost unnoticed in the shadow of Moses, his master and leader. Now, suddenly, all eyes are on him. Not only were the eyes of Israel on him but the whole world around him. Notice 6:27,
“So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.”
How, important it is that the man of God carefully guard himself against reproach. Let us never forget what Paul told Timothy,
“A bishop therefore must be blameless,”
Because all eyes were on Joshua it was very important that he be careful. Still today, we must be very cautious. In 7:10 we see also that Joshua was in a position of great accountability. Joshua bore the rep-roach of the entire nation before God insomuch that his very prayers were useless until he found out that sin which had held up the congregation. In a sense,God told him, “Don’t pray to me till you preach to them”, and this principle is almost forgotten in our day. Many churches are not moving forward today because of sin. Sin is not being dealt with and we must remember when we hear preaching that nails our hides that they that preach are watching for our souls as they that must give account. That preacher will stand before God and give an account for the things that he has preached and taught. When things get cold at church, remember, there may be hidden sin in your life which is hindering the whole church. Joshua had no choice but to deal with sin. He had too. We do today. Look at the results of sin in the camp. We already looked at the fact that it displeases the Lord. He will not bless when sin is prevalent. Next, you will see that the innocent suffer for sin. There may have been thirty six mommas with children at home weeping over the loss of a husband and a father. Thirty six house-holds in a turmoil, in heartache, in pain,For one man’s sin! Who suffered? Wives and children. Isn’t that how it usually turns out? Even now, in our day? Everywhere you look you can see mommas with their children at church and daddy nowhere to be seen. I’ve watched little boys visiting their dads in prison and I’ve seen them trying not to cry in front of their daddy. It breaks my heart to see children, little boys fighting back the tears because visitation is over, and it is time to go. Daddy can’t come home this time either. Oh friends, the ones who suffer the most are usually the ones who had nothing to do with it at all. And where was Achan after the battle was over? He was safe at home with his family. Probably wondering what to do with his stolen loot. Never a thought of repentance. He never did repent but he did confess, and that only when he was found out and there was no escape. Next you will notice that when there is sin in the camp the flock dwindles. Not only is there no growth in most churches, but many are dwindling away and are down to almost nothing. Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth were a sharp rebuke for allowing sin in the church. He addressed them as brethren and rebuked their sins throughout. In (1Corinthians 11:23-34) Paul is exhorting them to judge themselves and clean the sin out to the best of their ability and he further warns them that some have died and are dying because of sin in their lives while participating in communion. (See verse 30 of 1Corinthians 11)
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
There are christians all around us who are out of church, leaving one church and going to another, starting new churches. All because of sin. ALL BECAUSE OF SIN! It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how well sin may be hidden, no matter how deep it is buried, God always brings it out. There is some sin behind all trouble. When families and flock suffer wrecked lives and testimonies, it hurt ‘s national morale, and weakens the faith of the entire congregation. Notice also that this was not public or open sin but HIDDEN sin. Sin that no one else was supposed to know about but Moses had already warned them, “be sure your sin will find you out.” And it will. If you are having trouble at home, it will show in the church. When husbands are mistreating their wives, when people are unfaithful to their mates, sneaking behind their parents backs, it will manifest itself for all to see. Usually, by that time, the damage has been done and is irreversible. We may think that it is unnoticed by the world. In Acts 2 the people saw the church. The bible says that the church had favour with all the people. By the same token, the church can also be held in reproach by the people. One church member on a bar-stool on Friday night is all it takes to make a multitude say, “I don’t want to go down there with that bunch of hypocrites.” One foul-mouthed deacon is all it takes to drive many members away. Hidden sin is just as dam-aging as open sin. The sin you may harbor deep within your heart can and will manifest itself. Look at a good biblical illustration. (I Samuel: 18:9)
“And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.”
Saul’s pride is exposed in verse 8 of that chapter and it’s result was a bitter and critical attitude toward David for the rest of Saul’s life. In verses 10 and 11 we see that it was manifested for the whole world to see in his attempts to kill David. Now look at Achan. His sin cost a great deal more than he had ever dreamed it would. It brought with it a terrible price tag. And if Joshua had not dealt with it things would only have gotten worse. A man of God must deal with sin not in cruelty toward those who offend, but to protect everyone else. Hidden sin had cost innocent lives, depleted the flock, wrecked lives and testimonies, hurt national morale, and weakened the faith of the entire congregation. Notice also that this was not public or open sin but HIDDEN sin. Sin that no one else was supposed to know about but Moses had already warned them, “be sure your sin will find you out.” And it will.
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