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Getting Tripped Up By the Flesh

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Getting Tripped Up By the Flesh

Joshua 7:1-7:26 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)

Sermon Series: Joshua

The two greatest enemies to living a victorious life in Jesus Christ are the world and the flesh. While the world presents itself as an impenetrable walled city, the flesh appears much more subtly: as just a few small baubles, a little temptation here and there that surely can’t hurt anything.

Our problem as Christians is that we get our game face on to face the world and see the walls come tumbling down by the strength of God, but then miss the subtle and devious enemy that awaits us when we are alone. We see great victories over big enemies only to fall flat on our faces over the little distractions and temptations of the flesh.

That’s what happened to Israel, which made some key mistakes right after the Jericho victory in the area of arrogance, independence, and giving into the flesh. It turned a resounding victory into utter defeat. The mighty Israelites were in danger of becoming a laughing stock among the Canaanites.

Our enemy may taunt us as well by accusing us of our own weaknesses. The question is, will we learn from those mistakes, heed the warning signs of the flesh or simply let the enemy run roughshod over us.

Verses 1 - 9

Israel became instantly arrogant and thought they had won the war and that they were invincible on their own.

When they were easily defeated they looked to God as if it was his fault, instead of asking what they might have done wrong.

They also immediately panicked and wanted to back track, thinking that one defeat mean total defeat so they should shrink back across the Jordan.

The truth is, we are often our own worst enemy.

The real enemy uses our weakness to get us to back off from moving forward in personal sanctification and ministry.

I’ve always thought it interesting that Joshua just assumed that the way God defeated Jericho was now the de facto way of victory in all situations. He never asked God what to do next. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that since God worked through us that He will do things our way from now on. We need constant and total dependence on Him at all times!

I notice something else too-to Joshua’s credit he said "And what will you do for your great name?" In all of this Joshua wasn’t feeling sorry for himself like the Israelites had done in the wilderness. He was concerned for the glory of God. That’s a great starting place.

Verses 10 - 12

We should always look for the obvious. God says "why are you whining and complaining like my name is going to be at stake here? The problem isn’t with me, it’s with you!"

The enemy will tempt us in victory to give in to the flesh. Sometimes it is the "balance of the good to the bad." We think that since we are doing lots of good for God we should get something out of it that we know full well is not what God wants. But we think the good we are doing will outweigh the bad.

We also make the mistake of thinking that God won’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to righteousness.

It doesn’t matter how small the next town is. If you subjugate your walk with God it will affect your ability to minister and you will experience defeat.

Notice too that one man’s sin leads to the defeat of a whole nation.

Achan’s sin is the same as Eve’s: I saw, I coveted, I broke God’s commandment to get.

When we cling to the things of the world the enemy gets an advantage over us.

Verses 13 - 18

There was once again a need for consecration. Setting aside normal things and focusing on what God is doing is important in stepping out for God but also for examining ourselves for sin.

Achan had pretended that he obeyed God but had really lied and stolen from Him. He was a "make believer."

We don’t know exactly how they bore down on Achan. It says they used "lots." We think that means it all happened by chance, but for them it would have been up to the Lord, and He slowly and methodically chose Achan. What must have he been thinking at each choice? I wonder if he had come forth at once would the results have been different?

Probably not - neither is it profitable for us to speculate on those that refuse to follow God’s will and accept His Son Jesus as their Savior. We need to preach the Word, it is up to God to know who gets saved. Achan does not.

Verses 19 - 21

Achan said: "I have sinned." That doesn’t mean he is sorry. Saul said the same thing (1 Samuel 15:24), so did Judas (Matthew 27:4) but they did not repent and seek God’s mercy through repentance.

How many times do the shiny things of the world: treasure, fame, physical beauty, and pleasure derail the person who seeks victory in the Lord? "I saw, I wanted, I took." How shiny did they look when he realized what he had done?

Verses 22 - 26

The only way to deal with the flesh is to put it to death. You cannot bargain with the flesh, you cannot serve God and Mammon. Either God is first or He isn’t at all.

Joshua put up a memorial to the failure of the flesh as a warning. This is now the third memorial of stones Joshua erected. The first showed God’s miracle, the second, His provision in finishing the task, now this third to the weakness and judgment of the flesh. We should heed the warning.


The key to victory in this chapter is to put to death the deeds of the flesh.

Romans 8:12-13 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. ESV

The wonderful thing is that we don’t have to serve the flesh.

Look back at the beginning of Romans 8. Jesus died to kill our flesh and so in Him we can chose not to give in to the desires of the flesh but instead to give in to the desires of the Lord. You have the power; you just need to exercise it.

Some tips:

1. Temptation often follows victory (eg: Jesus after His baptism)
2. As you step out for God, watch out for things that will trip you up

3. If you find yourself hiding what you do from others or from God maybe that should be a sign that something is wrong.
4. Confess early and often
5. Let God burn up the flesh, don’t try to bargain with it

Maybe you are one who has given in to the flesh. You find yourself no longer effective for God but laid low by a seemingly small thing. The enemy is telling you that you don’t deserve to serve God so don’t even bother trying. If that’s you then you need to realize that Jesus died to kill your flesh. It is never too late to burn it up and let Him cleanse you. He work is far too important to let something like the flesh get in the way.

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