April 9, 2023
“Achan replied to Joshua, ‘It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon...”
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“Achan replied to Joshua, ‘It is true. I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.’” Joshua 7:20-21 (HCSB)
Achin’s confession provides precise insight into the pattern of sin. There are predictable steps that people always take leading up to the “sin act.”
Achin responds to Joshua: 1) I saw, 2) I coveted, 3) I took, and 4) I hid.
We have all willfully disobeyed the Lord. Be honest; we have all done it. It always begins with a look. Seeing is not a sin. It’s just an awareness that something exists. For instance, there is nothing wrong with recognizing someone is attractive. There’s obviously nothing wrong with being attractive. (That is, as long as you’re not knowingly exploiting your attractiveness in such a way as to tempt someone.) But we get into moral hot water when we linger on what we see.
Lingering too long on an object of desire can lead to coveting. Coveting is a form of idolatry where you ascribe power & control to something that should otherwise have a benign effect on you. Eventually, you simply can’t live without the object of your desire, regardless of what God says about the matter. You become obsessed.
Obsession is a heart condition; it is sin. Unchecked covetous obsession leads to some form of “acting out.” That action of sinning has observable consequences.
The primary consequence of sin is to the offender. That consequence is called “guilt.” When people feel guilty, they cover their sin instead of confessing. If they would confess, the Lord would forgive them, and the community could bring them into accountability and restoration. Sadly, since it was pride that turned the sinner away from righteousness, it is typically pride that keeps them from confession and restoration.
Once sin is hidden, there is only one step left: Revelation. That is God’s part. God exposes the sinner. His revelation of sin is not the same as man’s confession. Confession is good for the soul, but the un-willful revelation of sin leads to some manner of stricter judgment and remorse.
In closing, there is a concept taught in today’s passage that seems to be lost in our society. It is the concept that one person’s sin affects the entire community. There is no personal secret sin that only affects you. Just as your personal devotion to God plays an important role in the overall health of a Godly community, your personal sin is damaging to that community.
“…resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (HCSB) (Matthew 4:1-11)
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©Steve Wiggins 2021