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Hidden Sin is a Killer

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Hidden Sin is a Killer

Introduction

I love reading and studying the Old Testament.  I think that I learned to love the O.T. from the preaching of my former pastor, Charles Scheide.  Pastor Scheide used to preach often from the O.T. and when he did, he made it clear that the things that the nation of Israel went through were recorded for our benefit; to be an example to us of how to live a life that is not only pleasing to God but also a life that is happy, prosperous and fulfilling.

Pastor Scheide used to say “when you read the Old Testament and come across the word “Israel”, substitute your name for “Israel”.  So, for example, I might read “Israel has sinned…”   and substitute “Brent has sinned…”  Or, “God’s anger burned against Israel” and substitute “God’s anger burned against Brent”.  You get the idea.

It’s quite an eye-opener when you personalize the scripture in this way.  You see that the victories and defeats that Israel faced are very much the same as what you and I face everyday in our Christian lives but on a different scale.

Now you do have to be careful with this personalization as not every covenant, promise or prophecy in the O.T. is applicable to the Church.  Some things are meant specifically for Israel and Israel alone.  But, in general, you can use this little technique to gain some insight into yourself and your own spiritual issues.

Israel, like you and me, had a tendency to run to God when things were bad but as soon as things were good again, they forgot about Him and chased after other gods.  Just like us, Israel struggled with sin.  They fell into sin time and time again.  Sometimes their sinfulness resulted in disastrous consequences.  The passage we’re looking at today deals with just that situation.  There was hidden sin within Israel’s camp and hidden sin is a killer.

Background story-Summarize

The Exodus

Wandering in wilderness

Victory at Jericho

God’s stipulation regarding Jericho’s booty

 

    6:17The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.”

So God gave Israel very specific instructions regarding the devoted things.  They were His and His alone.  All of Jericho’s spoils were to go into the LORD’s treasury.

Joshua 7:1-26

1But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’S anger burned against Israel.

2Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

3When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.” 4So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

6Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7And Joshua said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

10The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

13“Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.

14“‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man. 15He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel!’”

16Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. 17The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. 18Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

19Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

20Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.

24Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.”

Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

      Israel Defeated at Ai

A. The Problem: Hidden Sin (Achan’s Sin)

1But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’S anger burned against Israel.

So we find out here that Achan violated God’s instructions regarding the devoted things.  He took some of the spoil and hid it for himself.  Why would Achan do such a thing?  Because…

1.   Hidden sin looks attractive

20     So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did:

21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”

Sin always comes in a pretty package.  Achan was taken in by a beautiful robe and the sparkle of silver and gold.  He was blinded so badly that he was willing to put all of Israel, his family and his life at risk.   

 

Introduce clip…summarize “A Simple Plan” movie

 

When three men (brothers Hank & Jacob & mutual friend Lou) find a body and a bundle of cash in a downed plane, they plot to hide the loot and split it later. It's a simple plan …no one would get hurt.  Or so they thought…

 

>>Clip 1<<  Start: 13:17  End: 14:31

Seems like a simple plan.  We’ll come back to these guys in a little bit to see how things worked out.

 

2.   Hidden sin seems harmless

 

No one gets hurt.  Right?  You’ve heard it many times just like in the movie.  But someone always gets hurt by hidden sin because HIDDEN SIN IS A KILLER.

 

ILLUSTRATION- In 1982, "ABC Evening News" reported on an unusual work of modern art--a chair affixed to a shotgun. It was to be viewed by sitting in the chair and looking directly into the gun barrel. The gun was loaded and set on a timer to fire at an undetermined moment within the next hundred years. The amazing thing was that people waited in lines to sit and stare into the shell's path! They all knew the gun could go off at point-blank range at any moment, but they were gambling that the fatal blast wouldn't happen during their minute in the chair. Yes, it was foolhardy, yet many people who wouldn't dream of sitting in that chair live a lifetime gambling that they can get away with sin. Foolishly they ignore the risk until the inevitable self-destruction.

Wake Up Calls, Ron Hutchcraft, Moody, 1990, p.60.

No one will know.  No one will get hurt.  Wrong.  You’re just kidding yourself if you think you will get away with it.

 

Numbers 32:23

23“But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

 

3.   Hidden sin brings sure defeat

a.   Israel routed by tiny Ai – Joshua 7

2     Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

     3     They returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.”

     4     So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but  they fled from the men of Ai.

     5     The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

b.   You and I routed by sin

 

You and I cannot accomplish anything for the LORD if we have hidden sin in our lives.  Why?  Because HIDDEN SIN IS A KILLER.

 

11     “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.

     12     “Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.

4.   Hidden sin brings certain death

a.   Achan put to death

 

25     Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

     26     They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called  the valley of Achor to this day.

b.   Achan’s entire family put to death

24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor.

Why such a harsh punishment for this sin?  Why did God demand that the Israelites take Achan, his family, etc. out and stone them to death?  Because hidden sin is a killer that must be dealt with.  If not, even more people would have died.

Let’s check in on the fellas and see how their plan is working out so far.

>>Clip 2<<  Start: 1:47:16 (Bleep 1:49:08)  End: 1:49:34

Sin only brings death.  Something always dies as a result of hidden sin.

c.   You and I die spiritually – Ezekiel 18:20

20The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

The love that you had for God and for His Word will die.  You will stop praying.  You will stop reading the Bible. 

d.   You and I die relationally

The love that God put in your heart for your spouse in bringing you together will wither and die over time if there is hidden sin between you.  The love that you have for your Christian family will die.  You will stop going to church.

e.   You and I die physically

 

Of course, as a result of the curse, you and I will all eventually die.

B. The Remedy

For believers:

1. Surrender

 

Stop. You have to stop committing the sin.  Give it up.  Make a 180 degree turn toward God and away from the sin.  Surrender your life to God and His gracious mercy.

 

2. Confess

Confess to God and to those you’ve deceived.  Make it right.  Accept the consequences.

1 John 1:9

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

3. Accountability

 

Tell your spouse.  Ask for forgiveness.  Join a Small Group.  Attend regularly.  Be transparent.  Men’s groups/Women’s groups.  Be accountable to someone.

For non-believers:

1. Surrender

Stop fighting against God.  Accept His salvation. Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins.  Surrender your life to Him now and accept His free gift.

 

2. Confess

Romans 10:9

9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

3. Accountability

 

Welcome to the family.  Now make sure that you stay plugged in.

Conclusion:

In a group of this size, the odds are pretty good that someone here is involved in something they shouldn’t be messing around with.  With Internet pornography, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, illicit sexual relationships all out there and on the rise; you may be caught up in something that has gotten to be more than you can control.

Stop.  Just give it up.

You can’t win if you keep it hidden.  Eventually your sin will find you out and someone or something will die.

Surrender your life to Christ and His Lordship.  Confess your sin to God and to those you love.  Accept their forgiveness.  If you need help, go get it.  Don’t wait.   Become accountable to someone.  Your spouse, a friend, someone you trust.  Join an accountability group.

If you’ve never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, there’s no time like the present.  Surrender your life to Him.  He died on the cross for your sins and mine.  Accept His forgiveness.  When you do, you’ll begin a new life.  You get a second chance to do it right.  We all need second chances.  We all have sinned.  We all have fallen short of God’s standards. 

Hidden sin is a killer.  Get rid of it before it’s too late.

>>Closing prayer<<

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