Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: If you disobey God, you may be dealing with the results for years, according to Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That’s what happens with sin. We don’t think about—this one thing I want, if I demand it and I get it in a way that is not in accordance with God’s Word—all the long-term implications that will result.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, October 7, 2014.

Stories of heroes doing heroic things have always had a hold on imaginations, but we actually can relate more to characters who face failure. We can see our own struggles in their stories.

Yesterday, Nancy described a defeat Joshua and the Children of Israel suffered. We can learn a lot from this setback, and Nancy is going to pick up the story in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 10): Rising from Defeat." 

Nancy: Have you ever had the experience of hearing some kind of hubbub or commotion in the next room where your children were playing, and then maybe you hear a blood-curdling scream? You know that something has gone really wrong.

Or you hear something crash to the ground. You know that something is broken, and you walk into the room, but there are five kids in there, and you have to figure out who did what.

You ask the kids, and they’re not about to tell you. They’re all just looking like little angels or pointing at somebody else, and you’ve got to figure out, “How do I get to the bottom of this? How do I find out who did what?”

Well, we’re going to look in Joshua chapter 7 today at an incident where there were a lot of people, and Joshua didn’t know who had done what. He was the leader of these people, but God devised a means that brought the guilty person to the forefront.

We’ve been looking at this passage; let me back up for those of you who have not been with us in the last few sessions. You know that the Children of Israel won this incredible victory at Jericho—God won the victory through the Children of Israel, and God got all the credit. He deserved it all.

Then the very next battle they thought was going to be a small one by comparison, but they suffered this humiliating defeat, and they had no idea why. God has told us why in verse 1 of Joshua chapter 7.

Joshua doesn’t know yet who has caused this problem to happen within Israel, why they were defeated at the hands of their enemies. What had happened was that one man had taken some of the things that were to be devoted to God, and he had hidden them in his tent.

Joshua cried out to the Lord. He said, “Lord, what happened? Why have we been defeated by our enemies? We don’t want people to think that You are not God. We don’t want Your name to suffer damage to its reputation, so, Lord, please show me what to do.”

God said to Joshua, “Get off your face. Israel has sinned, and you need to deal with that sin. It can’t be brushed under the carpet. You can’t go on. You’re not going to experience My presence, and you’re not going to be able to deal with your enemies successfully until you deal with this sin.” So God has revealed to Joshua what the issue is, and now God is showing Joshua the action that needs to be taken.

Remember when we finished the last session, God said, “First of all, consecrate all the people and tell them to get their hearts ready, and then we’re going to identify who is the guilty person among all these people.”

So we come today to the part in Joshua 7, beginning in verse 14, where the offender is identified. It was through a process that’s probably a little different than the one you would use with your children, but because God told Joshua to do this, it worked.

In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes.

Now remember, we’re talking about two or three million people here. This is not just five kids you’re trying to sort between. There are a lot of people here! So sort them out, bring them near by the tribes.

And the tribe that the Lord takes by lot shall come near by clans.

The tribes were broken down into clans, and there was a process of drawing lots. We’re not told exactly how this happened.

And the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households.

This is a smaller unit yet. We’re narrowing it down.

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 (vv. 14–15).

It’s interesting, as you look at this sin throughout this chapter, the ways that sin is described.

It’s described in verse 1 as breaking faith with God.

It’s described in verse 15 as transgressing God’s covenant.

It’s described as an outrageous thing, we just read in verse 15.

Later, in verse 20, it’s said that sin is against the Lord.

We read toward the end of the chapter that sin brings trouble (v. 25).

We’ll see after Achan is exposed that sin cannot be enjoyed. You think on the front end that you will enjoy it—that’s why you do it. It brings pleasure for a season, but its pleasure is short lived.

So we’re going to see that sin is a very destructive thing. It’s so appealing. It’s so tantalizing on the front side, or we wouldn’t do it.

If Eve had taken a look at that forbidden piece of fruit and had been able to see that it was spoiled rotten and crawling with worms, she wouldn’t have taken a bite. So the devil has a way of making sin look attractive; but you bite into that fruit, and you find out you’ve got a mouthful of worms.

He doesn’t tell you about the aftertaste, about the effect, about the fact that this is an outrageous thing, this is a transgression against God’s covenant. You’re just thinking, I’m just taking a few things I want. Maybe you’re thinking, I need this.

We’ll look at why Achan might have taken these things, but we’re seeing the true nature of sin, and we want to see it from God’s perspective.

So God described to Joshua the way they were to draw lots and identify who the guilty man was. Verse 16:

So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken.

Now remember, Judah was the line out of which Christ the Messiah would come, so God is particularly interested here in preserving the line of Christ so that His Son Jesus Christ can be born into that tribe.

And he brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken. And he brought near the clan of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. And he brought near his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken (vv 17–18).

Now, as I’ve been meditating on this passage, I’ve asked myself, “Why did God have Joshua go through this whole big long process?” God knew who took the stuff; He knew exactly where it was.

God had told Joshua other things. Why didn’t God just tell Joshua, “Achan has sinned. Go to his tent, and you’ll find the stuff that he took”?

It seems like it would have saved a whole lot of commotion. We just read it in a very short fashion, but I imagine this took some length of time to go through this whole process—a lot of complexity. Why would God have had them go through all of this?

I think it may have been for at least two reasons. One is, for Israel. As the people were watching this process—twelve tribes—they see it narrowed down to Judah, and out of Judah there are different clans. They see it narrowed down; they see it narrowed down from the clans to the households.

They see it narrowed down, and while this whole process is going on, don’t you think all those Israelites who didn’t take the stuff are watching and saying, “This is serious. Who’s the man going to be?” And they’re realizing, “If I disobey God, it’s going to come out.”

Or they’re waiting to see if it comes out, and they’re saying, “If it works this time . . .” Don’t you think that’s going to put some fear of God in some people who might be thinking of doing something else to disobey God?

When we follow God’s process for dealing with sin in the church or in families—in our collective units—it has an effect not only in the person who has sinned. It has an effect on the people who haven’t sinned, and hopefully it will keep them from falling into some of the same sins.

That’s why it’s so important that we deal with sin God’s way. And sometimes, as we’ll see in the next session, that’s why it’s important that we deal with sin publicly, so that all may come and fear God, and God’s holiness can be preserved among His people.

So I think the process was, in part, for the people of Israel, to remind them of the seriousness of disobedience. But I think it was also for Achan.

I believe that this whole process was a chance that God, who is a merciful God, was giving Achan to come clean on his own without having to be exposed, without his confession having to be coerced, which, ultimately, it was.

So all the while these lots were being drawn, Achan had a chance to raise his hand, like they do when they foul on the basketball court, and say, “I fouled. I did it.” He had a chance to repent.

I don't know because it's not the way the story went. But based on what we do know about God, if Achan had repented of his own volition, I believe that God would have shown him mercy. It's like God to do that.

So when you think that God was harsh with this man, when all he did was take a few little things, remember: God was giving Achan time to repent. God didn’t want to destroy Achan and his family. It’s not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3:9).

All this time, Achan stays silent—while they’re taking the tribe of Judah, while they’re taking the next clan, while they’re taking the next household; and never, until the lot comes to him and says, “Look, buddy, there’s nobody else left here; you are the last man; you’re the man; you did it . . .” not until that point does he speak, does he confess his sin.

So now Achan is exposed. The lot has come to him. Verse 19:

Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to Him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

So Joshua says, “Achan, give glory to God. Step out into the light. Come clean. Be honest. Tell what you have done. Don’t try to hide it. Don’t try to cover it. Bring it out into the light.”

And then Achan makes his confession, which I believe is just too late. It says in verse 20, “And Achan answered Joshua, ‘Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel.’”

He’s right, but the evidence that he was not repentant is found in the fact that he didn’t confess until he got caught, until he got exposed. It’s a coerced confession.

One of the signs of true brokenness is that you confess before you get caught. We all sin, and we will all be exposed. The question is, will we expose ourselves by walking into the light and coming clean while there is hope for mercy, or will we wait until we’re caught with the hand in the cookie jar, and we’re exposed?

This is the case with so much moral sin among leaders today. One of the signs of whether there’s been repentance or not, in many cases, is: Did the person get caught, or did they come clean on their own?

Now, you can get caught and still repent, but it makes your repentance suspect when you don’t repent until you have no other option.

So Achan says,

I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 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 (vv. 21–22).

He has no option now but to tell what he’s done. He’s been found out.

But he also has no excuse for what he’s done. Achan had God’s Word.

Now, he didn’t have the Bible like we do today, but God had clearly commanded Joshua and the people, before they marched into Jericho back in chapter 6, verse 18–19,

Keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 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.

God had told His people what He expected, and God has told us what He expects. We are without excuse when we sin. God has given us His law. He has given us His Word. He’s given us His ways.

They had been warned that they were not to keep any of the loot that was under the ban, and if they did, they would bring trouble on the whole nation. This was a presumptuous, willful, intentional, knowledgeable sin. This was not a slip-up. He did not “fall” into sin.

People don’t fall into sin. They don’t fall into adultery. They don’t fall into immorality. They don’t fall into alcoholism. We make choices one at a time that put us on a pathway of sinful lives and habits.

Regarding this thing of presumptuous sin—in Psalm 19, David prays, “Lord, keep me from hidden sins, but also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins” (vv. 12–13 paraphrased). It’s willful; it’s knowledgeable sin. It's when you tell your child, "Don't touch this." And he walks over (your two-year-old who you think isn't smart enough to figure this all out, but they evidence how smart they are) and goes right up to the thing that you said, "Don't touch; that will hurt you." They walk right up to it and they want to touch it. It's presumptuous. It's willful. It's knowledgeable sin.

Now, I think the reminder here is that anyone can commit presumptuous sins. Achan did, but David also prayed, “Lord, keep me back.” David was a man after God’s own heart, and he said, “Lord, keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins.”

Do you pray to be kept from sin? “Lead us not into temptation; deliver us from the evil one" (Matt. 6:13). "Oh, Lord, I don’t want to dishonor You with my life.”

It’s a sobering thing to me to realize that there is no sin that I could not commit; that given a “perfect storm”—certain circumstances, certain choices, certain compromises, certain progression—there isn’t any sin that I could not fall into.

That’s a sobering thing to me. It means we need to be praying:

  • Guard our souls.
  • Keep our hearts.
  • Keep us from taking the steps.
  • Keep us from moving in the direction of things that would lead us away from You.

What was going on in Achan’s heart when he committed this sin, when he took those things? How did he rationalize and justify his disobedience in his mind? We’re not told what was going on in his mind, but I suspect he justified it the same way we do when we sin against the Lord.

First of all, it seems to me that he must have been discontent with what God had already given him. If he was satisfied with what he had, why would he have taken that beautiful Babylonian garment and the silver and gold?

If you have enough, why would you take more? There was a root of discontentment there, and it says to me that discontentment is no small sin; that it becomes the doorway, the pathway, the entranceway into other sins.

I think perhaps he had a sense of entitlement. “I risked my life. I'm one of the soldiers here. We crossed the Jordon River. We handled the Battle of Jericho, and soldiers are entitled to the spoils of war. I deserve this. I’m owed this.”

I find myself thinking that sometimes after I’ve really “sacrificed.” I’ve worked hard. Many times after a day like this when I’ve poured myself out, when I get home I find myself thinking, I deserve a break today. Now, I don't have a drive to go out and steal things after a recording day. But I do have drives of my flesh that say, "You're entitled to gluttony; you're entitled to laziness." I wouldn't say it that way, but it's like I worked hard so I'm owed this. That sense of entitlement can get us into trouble.

I think that apparently God’s restrictions didn’t make sense to Achan. “Why would God say you can’t do this? That seems unnecessary.” It’s possible that he just said, “I don’t get why God would say this, so I’m going to do it my way.”

Apparently he had temporal values. He wanted instant gratification. He certainly was not thinking about future consequences when he was taking those things and hiding them in his tent.

Do you think he thought, I’m going to give my life for this? I don’t think he would have done it if he’d thought of future consequences.

Apparently he thought he could get away with it; that’s why he hid it. That’s why we hide things. He felt he could be the exception to God’s rule.

He certainly was not thinking about how others would be affected—his children, his country, the thirty-six men who lost their lives at Ai, their wives and children and parents. That’s what happens with sin; we don’t think about—this one thing I want, if I demand it and I get it in a way that is not in accordance with God’s Word—all the long-term implications that will result.

We also see in this passage another aspect of the anatomy of sin or temptation. There’s a progression here, and I think it’s worth noting.

In verse 21 he says, “I saw among the spoil this cloak, the silver and this gold.” First he saw them. Then he says, “I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent.”

That’s a progression that sin often takes. I saw it.”

There’s nothing wrong with seeing something that you want, seeing something that’s beautiful, seeing something that’s valuable, seeing something that’s forbidden. There’s no sin in seeing it.

You may not be able to help seeing something on your computer or on a billboard. You didn’t go after it, but it came there on your screen. That happened to me when I was researching for this series. A picture came up on my computer screen. I saw it. I wish I hadn't. There’s no sin in that coming across my eye gate.

The sin is if I ponder, if I stay, if I linger, if I get intrigued, if I’m curious, if I go looking for more, if I covet the thing that I’m seeing. That’s what he said: I coveted.” He had an intense desire for that which was forbidden.

Then he said, I took it.” Rather than resisting and submitting to God, he acted on his sinful desire.

Then, I hid it.”

It’s the exact same progression Eve went through in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6–8,

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise [coveted, desire], she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. . . . And the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

I saw. I coveted. I took. I hid.

Are you anywhere on that progression right now? If you don’t stop and deal with it wherever you are, chances are you’ll move on to the next step.

Well, “Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath” (v. 22).

Is there something hidden in your tent, something you’re having to cover, something that doesn’t belong to you?

Maybe it’s not bars of gold and silver and Babylonian garments. Maybe it’s items you’ve taken from work that don’t belong to you. You say, “With all the company does, they don’t miss it; they just expect that people will take stuff like that.”

Maybe it’s your tithe. It belongs to the Lord, and you’re spending God’s money. Malachi says, “If you’re going to rob somebody, don’t rob God!” (That’s my paraphrase, by the way, of that passage Malachi 3:6–12.)

Maybe what you’re hiding in your tent is inappropriate emails or text messages or letters. You’re playing with fire, and you’re hiding it in your tent.

Is there anything on the hard drive of your computer that, if it were to be exposed, you’d be ashamed, humiliated, embarrassed?

What are you hiding? Is there anything in your tent?

Maybe it’s another woman’s husband. You saw, you coveted, you took, and now you’re hiding. You say, “Oh, it hasn’t gone that far.” Don’t play with fire. You’ll get burned.

What are you hiding in your tent?

They took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord (v. 23).

I think that phrase is a sobering reminder that all sin—whatever we’ve been hiding—sooner or later will be laid out before the Lord. Listen, He sees it when it’s buried. He knows it all along, but it will be laid out.

Can you imagine Achan standing there with this stuff that people knew had been under the ban? They go and dig in his tent and bring this stuff to the surface and lay it out there for the Lord and everybody else to see. It will be exposed.

Achan had a chance to stop the progression when he first saw the items, but he let the seeing turn to coveting. He let the desiring turn to taking, and he let the taking turn to hiding.

If God finds you anywhere in that progression, let me just plead with you and appeal to you to come into the light, to agree with God, to confess it. Don’t wait until it gets exposed. Don’t wait until you get caught. Don’t wait until it’s too late to deal with it. Come into the light.

Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes it will have mercy.”

Confess it; forsake it, and you will have mercy.

Leslie: Repentance leads to freedom. That reminder from Nancy Leigh DeMoss is crucial for each of us to remember.

It’s all too easy to grow accustomed to sin, so I need to be called to repentance over and over. One Revive Our Hearts listener agrees. She writes,

I would like to say a huge thank you for this program. I begin with it every weekday. Not being a morning person, I’m actually anxious to get out of bed to find out how the Lord is going to speak to me through this program. I feel as though you have become a dear friend through this ministry.

Listening day after day is having a big effect on this listener. She told us how the Lord was convicting her about some sin in her life.

When you support Revive Our Hearts, it means you’re part of discipling women like her. When you support Revive Our Hearts this month, we’ll say thanks by sending you the 2015 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. The theme is “Peace in the Storm” with encouraging quotes from Nancy, along with friends like: Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Kassian, and Priscilla Shirer. Artist Timothy Botts took these quotes and interpreted them in his artwork and unique calligraphy. Each month, you’ll enjoy the artistry of this calendar and be encouraged no matter what storms may come.

Ask for the “Peace in the Storm” calendar when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

One person’s sinful choice can have a big effect on an entire nation. We’ll find out why tomorrow when we’re back for another Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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