Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Joshua and the people of Israel faced great tragedy in the Valley of Achor. It’s a picture of our own struggles and failures. But Nancy Leigh DeMoss says we don’t have to stay in that place of failure.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Jesus is the only one who can turn our Valley of Achor into a door of hope. He’s the One who, at Calvary, went into the Valley of Achor and took our trouble upon Himself. He took the consequences for our sins. He died in our place so that, for us, the Valley of Achor could be transformed into a door of hope.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, October 8, 2014.

If you’ve missed any of the programs earlier this week, I hope you’ll catch up at ReviveOurHearts.com. It’s been an honest look at the consequences of sin. We’ve examined the greed of Achan and the results of his sin for the Children of Israel. Nancy picks up that story in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 10): Rising from Defeat." 

Nancy: We ended the last session on a pretty heavy note, a pretty sober, somber note. We’re going to pick up on that same note today. There’s no light way to talk about sin. There’s no light way to talk about the story of Achan. We see in this story that God is a holy God and that God takes sin seriously, that there’s no such thing as a trivial sin, and that we need to take sin seriously.

We see that all sin has consequences. As I have been meditating on this chapter, I’m reminded, and I want to remind you, that God knew all along what Achan had done. God knew it long before Joshua did. God knew it all along. There is nothing hidden. And God knows what you have done. He knows what you’re hiding under your tent. There’s nothing hidden from Him, and everything that we try to hide will be exposed sooner or later.

I think of that verse in Luke 12:2 that says, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” Nothing. You think about that sexual activity, that little affair, that little brush with immorality; that money that’s been stolen; that thing you’re keeping from your husband. Luke says everything that’s been covered up will be revealed. Everything that has been hidden will be made known.

“Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:2–3).

We can hide it now—not from God, but from others—but ultimately it’s all coming out into the light. God knows the hidden things of our hearts, not only what we’ve done, not only what we’ve taken, not only actions but also the motives and the thoughts of our hearts, the words we’ve said to just one other person when we didn’t think anybody else was listening.

I was meditating this past week on 1 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 5. It’s in a different context than what we’ve talking about, but I think it makes a similar point. Paul says, “Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness.”

That word “bring to light,” it’s the word in Greek photizo It’s the word from which we get our word photograph. God will photograph. It’s like in the old cameras; remember the Polaroid cameras—maybe some of you still have one—where you take the picture and it comes out. It all looks dark but gradually the picture that’s there gets exposed.

That’s what God is going to do with all the hidden things in our lives. He’s going to bring to light the things that are now hidden in darkness. He will disclose the purposes of the heart. That means He will disclose the secret, hidden things in our hearts, the motives, the thoughts. God will bring it all to light.

So that’s why Joshua said to Achan, “Give glory to the God of Israel and make confession to him. Tell me what you have done. Do not hide it” (Josh. 7:19). Come out into the light while you have opportunity to repent.

Achan wouldn’t do it until he had no other option, until he was caught, and then it was too late. God is determined to purge out everything in our lives that is not holy and everything in His Body corporately that is not holy.

Verse 24 of Joshua 7 says,

Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, "Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today” (vv. 24–25).

Remember, thirty-six men of the Israelites had lost their lives at Ai. Those men might not have even known Achan. They may have been from a totally different tribe. But their lives were affected. The whole nation was affected. And so Joshua said, "You have brought trouble on us and now the Lord is bringing trouble on you."

And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger (vv. 25–26).

That’s a tragic story. You think Achan even envisioned for a moment how this would all end up? In the flesh of that battle just seeing those things, coveting them, taking them, and hiding them in his tent. Do you think he ever dreamed it would end up this way?

How many women do I get emails from day after day whose lives are in shambles, trouble in them, trouble in their household, because of someone’s sin—their own or someone else’s—that has just wrought havoc in their lives.

They thought, When I was tempted, when I was drawn to that man at work, when I got into that email exchange, when I got on to that website, I never dreamed it would end up here. That's what sin does.

So James 1:14–15 says,

Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

“The soul that sins, it will die.” “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23). That is the end result of sin, apart from salvation that Jesus Christ brings.

It's interesting to me that Achan's life is such a contrast to Rahab. Rahab was a woman who was surrounded by all unbelievers. She was the only one who believed, and her life was spared. Achan was surrounded by God's people. He broke faith with God, and he lost his life. Who was better off? Rahab the prostitute was the one who experienced God's mercy because she put her faith in God's word.

As Joshua deals with this issue, we see him dealing decisively with the sin. There’s no excusing it, no brushing it under the carpet. I can imagine him thinking—I can imagine us thinking in a similar situation, You know, that’s none of my business. That’s between him and God. He needs to deal with that, and going on and thinking the nation could go on.

But Joshua had learned the hard way the nation can’t go on. God had said, "I will not be with you and you will not be able to stand against your enemies until you deal with the sin in the camp."

What we learn from this story is that everybody’s sin is everybody’s business. That goes counter to the way that we think in our culture today. We think, “It’s my business. It’s my lifestyle. It’s my choice. It’s private. That’s my right.” We have this very highly individualized form of Christianity today.

But what we see in the Scripture is that we are part of a body. I want you to see that in a New Testament passage that brings this out. Let me ask you to turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 5. This is kind of a New Testament version and light shed on a concept that we’re first introduced to in the Old Testament.

First Corinthians chapter 5, beginning in verse 1, the apostle Paul says,

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you. [This is in the church. This is among believers, professing believers.] And of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

So here we have a man who’s a church member. He’s a professing believer and, he’s having an incestuous relationship with his step-mother. Paul says, “Even by pagan standards, this is scandalous.”

Verse 2, And how are you reacting to this, the fact that this is going on in the church? “You are arrogant. Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”

Paul is saying there is a two-fold response that’s appropriate under this circumstance. Number one, you should be mourning. You should be grieving. Yes, you don’t know the guy; he sits across the aisle from you, or he goes to a different church than you. But you ought to be mourning and grieving the fact that you even know about this happening. The fact that there is sin in the church should grieve and break our hearts, even if it’s not our sin. It is our sin collectively.

And then he says, number two, you should be removing this unrepentant man from the fellowship of the church. Verses 3–5:

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

I’m not going to take time to exegete that whole passage and all that some of those phrases mean; it’s a tough passage. But what it clear is that action is required, and it’s severe action. “You’ve got to deal with this,” Paul says, “and you’ve got to deal with it publicly, and you’ve got to deal with it thoroughly.”

You have to deal with it for the sake of the unrepentant sinner because the goal is that he will be brought to repentance. The goal is his restoration, his salvation, that he will not be damned in his sin. So for his sake you’ve got to deal with it. But you’ve also got to deal with it for the sake of the rest of the Body.

Verse 6 Paul says, “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” The whole Body is affected by this. A little bit of cancer can destroy the whole body. The influence of sin in the Body, it permeates, it defiles the whole Body.

So when somebody in my church or yours sins or in the Body of Christ or some national public pastor or figure sins, we are affected by that as a Body. It’s a cancerous effect, and it needs to be dealt with in a corporate sense.

So he says in verses 7 and 8 of 1 Corinthians 5,

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival [a reference to the Lord’s Supper] not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Leaven in the Scripture—and again we won’t go into a lot of detail here—but it’s a picture of the influence of sin. The leaven permeates the whole lump of dough. He says, “You’ve got to get the leaven out of the dough. You’ve got to get the sin out of the Body. You’ve got to get rid of it or the whole lump is going to be affected.” Verse 9:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.

Paul is saying, “I’m not telling you to disassociate yourself from sinners out there in the world who don’t claim to be Christians because then you couldn’t live in this world.” You have to brush shoulders with them. You go to work with them. You’re trying to bring them to faith in Christ. We don’t condone or endorse what they do, but we love them and we try everything we can to draw them to Christ and to have relationships with them so that we can bring them to Christ.

But Paul is saying it’s a very different thing when someone claims to be a believer and persists in a pattern of unrepentant sin. Then you have got to cut yourself off from that person. You’ve got to cut that person off from the Body.

We’re to have contact with lost people so that we can be light to them. But Paul says in verse 11,

I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

What’s the difference there? This is a person who calls himself a brother. It’s a person who claims to be a believer. And Paul says, “You are not to continue to have fellowship with unrepentant sinners who profess to be believers.”

This doesn’t mean that every time somebody sins you say, “Okay, I can’t eat with you anymore.” We’re talking here about a consistent pattern of sin that has been confronted. There are other passages biblically that tell us how that is to be done. It’s been confronted; we’ve been through the process and the person still persists in the pattern and refuses to repent.

Then Paul says you can’t just keep on having parties together and acting like there’s nothing wrong. You can’t just say, “We’ll go on with business as usual. That’s his business; this is mine. I’m not doing that sin. I wouldn’t think of doing that sin. But if he’s going to do that . . .”

We can’t live that way. Paul says that leaven is leavening the whole lump. It’s having an impact on the whole Body. Verses 12–13:

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.

Isn’t that what they did with Achan and his family? They were put to death. The New Testament doesn’t give us the instruction that we are to put to death unrepentant believers. It does say that we are to put them out of the fellowship of believers.

There are not many churches that practice this today, and the few that do, it’s a tough, tough thing. You’ve got to be afraid of lawsuits. You’ve got to be afraid of people in the church saying, “Oh, but he’s such a good person. He’s such a nice guy.”

We want to make excuses, and we want to make allowances for sin. It’s our bent. God says you can’t do it. The whole Body will be defiled. The whole Body will be contaminated. This is the temple of God. That’s what we are. God says, "For that person’s sake and for the sake of the Body you’ve got to deal with it."

Let me encourage you if your church does have the courage to take steps to deal with unrepentant sinners, you need to support them in that. You need to thank God for those who take sin seriously and realize that that church discipline is supposed to be a deterrent to the rest of us against sinning and put in us the fear of the Lord.

Achan’s whole family is put to death. The Old Testament tells us that children are not held accountable for the sins of the father. So apparently his children had been accomplices with him in his sin.

Verses 24 and 25: “They brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why did you bring trouble on us?’”

That’s what the word achor means. It’s a play on words here. They call this the Valley of Achor.

And Joshua said, "Why did you bring [achor on us] trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble [achor] on you today." And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day (vv. 24–26).

Don’t you think that that memorial was a permanent reminder of the consequences of disobedience, an example for future generations? We find when we come to Joshua 22:20 that the priest says to the eastern tribes, “Did not Achan the son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity.” He reminds the next generation of Achan.

Achan has become a byword. We say, “Is there an Achan? Is there sin in the camp?” God wants us to remember with this story the consequences of sin.

Then verse 26: "The LORD turned from his burning anger.” Why? Because the sin had been dealt with; it had been put away. “Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor [the valley of trouble].”

There's another interesting play on words here between Achan and Achor. The word Achan, some scholars think mean "troubler." In effect, Joshua is saying, "Achan, you have become a troubler, and that's why you are going to the Valley of Achor. You have brought trouble on yourself; you have brought trouble on the nation. Achan, you are the troubler, and you will lose your life at the Valley of Achor, or Trouble."

This is a really sober story of judgment. But I want to make another comment and that is to say, this is also a story of hope. You say, “Boy, I haven’t heard much hope in this story yet.”

Let me take you to another place in the Scripture where the Valley of Achor is referred to. It’s in the book of Hosea chapter 2. Some of you are familiar with the story of Hosea. You remember that he had a wife named Gomer who was adulterous; she pursued other lovers.

God used this story to become a symbol to the Children of Israel about the spiritual adultery they were committing against the Lord. In Hosea 2, beginning in verse 6, we see a description of the chastening hand of God that is going to come on this adulterous wife, this woman who has sinned. There’s a whole list of consequences.

Verse 6: “I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.” She’s going to become disoriented.

Verses 9 and 10: “Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season.” I’m going to take away from her the basic necessitates of life. I’m going to deprive her so that she will be brought to a place of repentance.

“I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.”

Verse 11: “I will put an end to all her mirth.”

Verse 12: “I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees.”

Verse 13: “And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them [these idols]. She adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD.”

Here’s a woman who is in the Valley of Achor. God is taking her to the valley of trouble, to the valley of chastening, for the purpose of wooing her back to repentance. God is bringing pressure to bear in her life. That’s the point of church discipline, by the way, to bring pressure to bear in the life of the sinner so they will be brought to their senses, so they will be restored to obedience, to repentance and faith.

So in all these verses I just read, you have the chastening hand of God.

But then verse 14, enter the amazing grace and mercy of God.

Behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor [the valley of trouble—look at that next phrase] a door of hope.

"I've chastened her. I've disciplined her. I've hedged up her door with thorns. I've brought pressure to bear in her life. I've brought church discipline to bear in her life." But what's the point? "I want to restore her, so I will bring her heart to repentance. I will give her back her vineyards, the Valley of Achor will become a door of hope." A door of hope! “There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt” (v. 15 NIV).

What’s the point there? God can use our troubles, which are the consequence of our sins, the deserved consequences of our sins. God can use those troubles to turn and transform our hearts.

By the way, when you see someone you love going through trouble that is the consequences of their sins, don’t try to rescue them from the cross. God is trying to turn and transform their hearts. It may be a son or daughter in prison. It may be a husband or a loved one or a friend experiencing dire consequences. Let God bring the pressure to bear so that the Valley of Achor can become for them the door of hope.

Jesus is the only one who can turn our Valley of Achor into a door of hope. He’s the One who at Calvary went into the Valley of Achor and took our trouble upon Himself. He took the consequences for our sins. He died in our place so that, for us, the Valley of Achor could be transformed into a door of hope.

Anybody want to say, “Thank you, Jesus”? Amen.

Hallelujah! What a Savior. And O Lord, when we hear this sobering and somber story, the story of judgment, the story of death as the wages of sin, our hearts say, "Thank you that the Valley of Achor can become a door of hope." Lord, may we not miss the lessons of the Valley of Achor. May the trouble turn and transform or hearts and bring us to a place of repentance; that our hearts which are broken and chastened may once again sing for joy.

Thank you for Jesus who took that Achor, that trouble for us. By His wounds we are healed. Thank You that the Valley of Achor has become for us a door of hope through Christ our Lord. In His name we pray, amen.

Leslie: Sin isn’t a popular topic, but when you address it honestly, you can find true hope. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has given us a balanced look at the devastating effects of sin, the need for repentance, and the joy of forgiveness. That message is part of the series, "Lessons From the Life of Joshua Part 10: Rising from Defeat."  

There’s a lot of excitement among the Revive Our Hearts team. Guess what’s happening in Indianapolis tomorrow? Women are headed to Indy from around the country and from various countries outside the U.S. They’ll convene tomorrow afternoon for True Woman '14: Finding Freedom, Fullness and Fruitfulness in Christ.

If you can’t make it to the conference in Indy, you can still be part of True Woman. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to watch the conference online. Get all the details on the free LIVE stream at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow we’ll take an honest look at the power of words. Both for evil and for good. Find out what happens when you bless those who curse you. Please be back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

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