You’ve got your Bibles open to Joshua chapter 7. The last time we were together, we were in Joshua chapter 6. You remember the theme of chapter 6, and that message is spiritual victory. Spiritual victories are fought and won by faith. As much as that was the climactic moment of God’s people experiencing spiritual victory, as soon as we get into chapter 7, we flip the coin, and the theme of chapter 7 is spiritual defeat.
Here’s the theme:
Certain defeat awaits the people who tolerate hidden sin.
If chapter 6 was a high point, a mountain top, we get into Joshua chapter 7, and we are right back in the valley. We’re going to learn five things about hidden sin this morning.
How many of you have watched that television show CSI? And then, there’s CSI: Miami and CSI: “every other country.” What we’re about to get into chapter 7 is CSI: Jericho. What does CSI stand for? Crime Scene Investigation. What we find in chapter 7 is a crime scene, and we have to find out “whodunit.” Let’s find out.
Let’s begin reading in Joshua 7:1. “But the people of Israel broke faith…” Everybody underline those two words in verse 1, “broke faith.” “…In regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.” We find out very quickly “whodunit.” That’s kind of the opening scene of this episode of CSI: Jericho. Now we’ve gotta figure out, “How did that happen?” and “Why did that happen?”
Here’s the first thing we’re going to learn about hidden sin:
- Hidden sin angers God. (v. 1-5)
Is that hard for you to grasp? Notice here in verse 1, “The anger of the Lord burned against Israel.” Why is that? Well, Israel had violated the covenant that God had pulled them into.
If you’ll let your eyes go back to chapter 6, verse 18, we read this was the command as God’s people entered this territory, the Promised Land. God told them: “But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it.”
God would not allow the people to plunder the possessions of Jericho. Everything was to be burned—everything was to be completely annihilated except for the treasure that was to go into the treasury of the Lord. And yet, there was a man that got his greedy little fingers on some of the stuff. He’s the man identified as…what was his name? Achan. By the end of the story he was achin’! Things did not go well. He brought trouble upon himself and he brought trouble upon the people of God, and his sin angered God.
Do you have room in your theology for a God who gets angry? Do you? You say, “Oh, that’s the Old Testament God! I like to believe in the New Testament God; He’s all about love and grace and mercy and forgiveness.” Listen. There’s only one God, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Sin angers God.
You say, “Well, I can’t really reconcile that, because how could a loving God be angry?” Uh, do we have any parents in the room? Where are the parents? How many of you have at least one child that you love? Okay? A couple of them are questionable and harder to love—I get that, but you have one, right, that you love. You would give your life for this child.
But let me ask you: does that child ever do something stupid that angers you? And yet, when you are angry at this child, do you stop loving the child? No. It’s your love that lays the foundation for your anger, because what you’re angry at is that they are forfeiting the best for their lives. You’re angry at the scars and the damage and the pain that they’re inviting into their life because you love them so much.
Have you seen Micah’s kids? They’re the cutest kids: Reese, Callie and Blaze. Do you know, I do not get angry when Micah’s kids do something stupid. I mean, I like Reese, Callie and Blaze. We had them over at the house last night after the service. I especially like Blaze—I’m really fond of Blaze. I like ‘em all, but I don’t get angry when they do something stupid. Why? They’re not my kids, right? That’s Micah’s responsibility. And Micah loves them far more than I ever could. Now when Zac does something stupid, I get angry, okay? Because I want him to have the best. And, if you’re a parent, you can understand how God can love and experience anger at the same time.
Mark it down: Hidden sin angers God. It’s a real emotion of a real God. Some of us have trouble understanding this because, when you and I get angry, we are almost always in sin, right? The Bible tells us that there is a way to experience anger without sinning. Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “Be angry [but] do not sin…” So, it’s possible, but how often do you sin when you get angry? It’s almost all the time, right?
The Bible tells us over in James 1:20, “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” But when we think about the anger of God, realize this: The anger of God always produces the righteousness of God, because God is perfect in all of His ways. He has absolute moral perfection. Everything He does is right. When we do something stupid, it produces an anger in God.
Listen, without the anger of God – love, grace and forgiveness have absolutely no meaning. Until you understand that, “Because of sin, I have made myself an object of God’s anger.” Until you grasp the weight of that concept, you have no need for a God who mercifully forgives. Without the anger of God, the cross of Jesus Christ has no point. If you want to see a picture of the anger of God toward sin, think about what happened on that cross. That was a picture of the anger of God being poured out on Jesus Christ because of the anger God has toward every sin.
Now, by the way, this message is for sinners here this morning. So, if you’re not a sinner, you are dismissed. All the perfect people can leave the service, because this is a message for people who have sinned. Do you believe there is any sin in here? Absolutely. There is some hidden sin in here. Our desire is that, by the end of the service, hidden sin would be confessed and forsaken and repented of, so that you don’t have to suffer the consequences of the anger of God.
Look at Joshua 7:2. Let’s find out what happened here. “Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai…” Ai is not an acronym for “artificial intelligence,” it was actually a name of a city. “…Which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and [Joshua] said to them, ‘Go up and spy out the land.’ And the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, ‘Do not have all the people go up, but [just] let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.’”
Do you know what the scouting report was on Ai? “They’re a sixteen seed, we’re a one seed. We don’t even have to start our starting five. Just put the backups out there. We don’t have to sweat, we don’t have to labor—I mean, for crying out loud, we just conquered Jericho!” Do you know what they were? They were overconfident, and they underestimated the power of the enemy. And when you do that, you set yourself up for a spiritual defeat. You talk about a bracket-buster? Look at verses 4 and 5: “So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they [all] fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.”
Do you understand that there is no temptation that you can resist when you are proud, self-righteous and think that you can’t fall into sin? When you are overconfident and underestimate the power of the enemy, that is when you are most prone to fall and suffer a great spiritual defeat. That’s what happened here to the people of Israel.
The smallest temptation is impossible for me to resist without a desperate dependency upon the grace and the power of God. 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 12, says: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” It’s when you are proud that you are in the most danger of being defeated by the enemy.
Here’s the second thing we need to learn about hidden sin:
- Hidden sin cannot be hidden from God. (v. 6-15)
Look here at Joshua 7:6: “Then Joshua tore his clothes…” That was a sign of humility. You see this over and over in the Old Testament. When people were in sin and people were suffering spiritual defeat—the kings, the leaders, they would tear their clothes. It was a sign of what was going on inside of their own heart.
They didn’t want to have any pretense of wearing fine, royal clothes on the outside. They wanted the outside to represent what was going on, in the inside. Their hearts were broken, their faith had been torn, and they ripped their clothes on the outside to symbolize what was going on in the inside. So, Joshua tore his clothes “…and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads.” Again, another sign of humility.
Now, if you’ve been tracking with us through the book of Joshua, that ought to sound familiar to you. Do you remember, back at the end of Joshua chapter 5, when Joshua came and met the Commander of the Armies of the Lord, and do you remember what Joshua did when he realized who the Commander of the Armies of the Lord was? What did he do? He fell on his face and worshipped.
So Joshua is like, “Okay, what do we do? We’ve been defeated. I need to go before the Lord and fall on my face and seek Him!” Notice what happens in verse 7: “And Joshua said, ‘Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!’” Do you know what he was saying? “We never should have got in this battle to begin with!” And he’s asking God, “Why have we suffered this spiritual defeat?”
That’s a good question to ask when you’re defeated by hidden sin. “God, why do I keep falling? What is going on?” If you’re facing some resistance in your life right now, if there’s turmoil and chaos going on in your life right now, it would be good for you to go to God and ask, “God, is the opposition and the chaos in my life caused by some hidden sin in my life?” That’s a good prayer to pray.
Scripture goes on. Look down here at verse 10: “The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?” Interesting, isn’t it? The Lord says to Joshua, “This is not a time for you to be praying! This is a time for you to be leading! This is a time for you to get involved go on a search for the reason why you have been defeated!” That’s exactly what Joshua does.
God tells him, in Joshua 7:11, “Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings.” Israel has sinned.
We need to define that. What is sin? Have you heard of it? It’s a concept in the Bible. Sin. It’s still a thing. Whatever happened to sin? What is sin? Sin, at it’s very core, is not something that I do. Now, those are sins—there are real sins. For this message I even thought about, “How do we get the concept? How do we expose sin in here?”
And I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll just give you a list of a hundred sins and you could go through and check off the ones that you are hiding.” I thought about that. But, do you understand that sin, at its core, is simply unbelief? It’s a failure to believe God.
The reason we know that is because of those two words I had you underline there in verse 1. How does this whole episode start? It starts, notice in verse 1, with a broken faith. Do you have a broken faith? You just simply don’t believe that what God has said is wrong, is wrong for you.
You think, “All those rules and all that judgment and stuff, that’s all back in the past. We live in a contemporary society, and I’m sure God would understand. After all, I kind of feel like I was just born to sin. And it’s kind of good, because God loves to forgive sin, and I love sin, so I have this great relationship with God, because I sin and He loves, and it’s just this great love relationship.” If that’s your attitude toward sin, you do not understand sin.
Sin starts when I don’t believe what God has said is true. Sin is a broken faith with God. When we come into relationship with Christ, for those of us who are Christians, we’ve bowed before His Lordship and we’ve said, “I am living my life—no turning back—I’ve decided to follow Jesus.” When you do that, you enter into boundaries for your life. Christ is Lord, He gets to set the rules, and it doesn’t matter how many shots you make outside of the boundary. It doesn’t count. We’re to live our lives inside the boundary.
Sin is transgressing, it says here in verse 11 – the covenant of the Lord. That’s what sin is: You’re playing life outside of the boundaries; and when you do, it’s not going to go well for you—and it’s not going to go well for the people you love. Look here in verse 15: “’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.’” Sin is an outrageous thing to God.
Sin no longer is an outrageous thing to you and I. We justify it, we rationalize it, we excuse it, we blame others for our sin—rather than understanding that when I sin, I have a done an outrageous thing. The word “outrageous” there comes from the word that can be translated “stupid.” Sin is stupid. Aren’t you glad you came to church? Just write that down and remind yourself, the next time you’re tempted to sin: “This is stupid! This is the dumbest thing that I could do—to walk outside the boundary that God has given me. Sin is trespassing in territory that God doesn’t want me to be walking in.”
And, understand this: sin is declaring war on God. It is setting myself up as an enemy of God and saying, “God, I will set my own rules; I will live as I please. Get out of my life!” And it is not until we understand that what may be covered on earth is exposed in heaven. Hidden sin cannot be hidden by God.
Look down here at Joshua 7:12. God wants to deal with the sin. He says, “Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more…” Do you understand that when you sin, you forfeit the presence of God?
The next time you’re tempted to sin, understand that God says, “I will be with you no more.” It doesn’t mean that we lose our relationship with Christ; it means we lose the sense of His presence, the sense of His goodness, the sense of His power. Do you want to go through life without the presence of God? “Unless you destroy the devoted things from among you,” it says it verse 12.
Then in verse 13, God gives Joshua an assignment: “Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.’”
Look at verse 14: “In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. And the tribe that the Lord takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households. And the household that the Lord takes shall come near man by man.” Do you understand what God was doing?
God says, “I want you to get everybody in their appropriate tribes.” So, if there were two million people…we don’t know exactly how many people there were. Let’s say a tribe was like one-hundred-thousand people. Then He says, “I want you to section off the hundred-thousand people, not by tribes, but by clans.” So maybe that was like a hundred people. Then God says, “by households,” so maybe that’s down to like ten people.
Now, if you are Achan, and you notice that Joshua is starting to put people into smaller and smaller groups, to try and figure out who is the one person who has brought trouble on Israel, at what point do you stand up and say, “It’s me! It’s me. Just stop. Eventually you’re going to whittle it down and you’re going to find me”? But Achan doesn’t do that. He continues to hide, and he continues to hide and God continues to expose, and God continues to expose, to bring it out. God wants to cut out the cancer of sin among those people.
I told you a couple of weeks ago that I had this little procedure done on my foot. Let me tell you what I had. It’s kind of gross. I may lose credibility here. But, how many of you have ever had a plantar wart? Lift your hand. Confess your plantar wart in church. Get that thing exposed in church, right?
It had been there for about a year, so I went to the doctor. It had been there for like a year and it was growing bigger and bigger and bigger. The doctor told me that when a plantar wart grows, it not only grows out, but it grows in. Ewww! He described what was happening. He said, “Trent, you have to understand, a wart is a virus.” I said, “Nuh-uh!” “Yeah, it’s a virus, and you’ve got to get all of it out.”
I said, “Can’t you just kind of freeze it off?” He said, “No, it won’t work. Trent, you have to get every cell that has that virus in it, or it will simply grow back.” And so, even though it was, like, a pencil point on my foot, he took out a quarter-size chunk of meat out of the bottom of my foot. It’s still a little tender, and when I’m feeling especially lazy and don’t want to do anything around the house, I tell Andrea, “It’s kind of hurting today.”
But, do you understand that sin is a virus that spreads, unless you get every single cell out. That’s what God is committed to do in your life, in your family and in this church. Why are we so serious about exposing sin? Because God’s glory is at stake among His people in the church. What you think is hidden, God sees in heaven.
This is expressed in Psalm 139:11 and 12. Here’s a guy who is thinking, “Maybe I can cover my sin.” He says, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night…” But God says, “Even the darkness is not dark to me; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with me.” Understand that hidden sin cannot be hidden from God.
And then the third thing. . .
- Hidden sin won’t remain hidden. (v. 16-21)
Look here at verse 16: “So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken.” Skip down to verse 19: “Then Joshua said to Achan…” after they had whittled it down by tribe, by clan, by household, by man, he finally walks up to Achan and, eyeball to eyeball, confronts him about his sin. Joshua says, “’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.’”
Interesting, isn’t it? If you’re going to confront somebody over sin. Have you ever had this conversation with somebody that you love, maybe a child, maybe someone in your small group? It’s a hard conversation isn’t it? It takes an incredible amount of love to have that hard conversation. You have to love someone enough to confront them over their sin.
But I doubt that your conversation started with this: “Give glory to the Lord God!” Is that the way you start that conversation? So, why did Joshua say that? It’s because Joshua understood that giving glory to God—and hiding sin—are mutually exclusive activities. You can’t do both at the same time. We sing the song, “Show me Your glory! Show me Your glory!” You want to see God’s glory? Confess your sin!
I remember, as we used to travel around in Life Action—to a lot of different churches—we would deal with sin; a lot of times we would even have to deal with sin among a church staff, a pastoral staff. I remember, we were in this one church in Alabama, and this pastor—he loved to talk about the glory of God, and he loved to talk about the miraculous things, and he loved to talk about signs and wonders that were going on. And yet, when you talked to him, you never really felt like you were getting anything tangible, or anything real, that God was doing in his life.
It was about ten days into those meetings that he finally came in and confessed, in humility, that he’d been too busy in his ministry; he’d forsaken his ministry to his wife; he was way too caught up in his own personal activities and his personal performance, and he had become so proud. He confessed that, and I just remember, the glory of God descended in that conversation. I looked at him and I said, “You know what? That is the greatest sign of the glory of God that we’ve seen! A man humbly confessing his sin, and crying out to God in need of grace and a new start—to do the thing that God has told him to do.” Giving glory to God—and hiding sin—are mutually exclusive.
If you want to see the glory of God in your life, expose the hidden sin in your life. If we want to see the glory of God in this church, hidden sin has to be exposed and rooted out and cut out from among us. Do you know what the greatest tragedy is, when you hide sin? It’s not the damage you cause to your own life. The greatest tragedy is, when you’re hiding sin, God does not receive the glory from your life that He created it to generate.
God created you for one purpose. It’s to give glory to Him, and when you’re hiding sin, you’re forfeiting the glory that is rightfully due to God. So, Joshua looks at Achan and says, “Give glory to God! Praise God! And do not hide your sin.”
Joshua goes on. Look at Joshua 7:20, “And Achan [finally] answered Joshua [and he says], ‘Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did. . .’” Now, Achan’s going to get really specific here. Notice what he did. He said, “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.’” So, he sees this beautiful garment and—you just have to imagine what Achan was thinking. “I could make that look so good!” So, he sees it, and he has to think in himself, “I neeeed that garment!”
Don’t look at me like you’re pious. If you’ve ever been to the mall, you’ve thought the same thing. “I need this,” right? So, what was going through his mind? What was he thinking? Now, I don’t know what he was thinking, really, because—I mean—how are you going to wear that, and people not know, “That did not come from the mall in Israel!” Right? “That came from the mall in Jericho!” I don’t know where he thinks he’s going to wear this thing. And then, he sees silver and gold and he thinks, “Why, I need that!” Do you understand that sin is: trying to satisfy a God-given desire in a God-forbidden way?
What was the desire in Achan’s heart, in wearing the garment? Significance. “If I wear that, people will think highly of me! I’m going to look good, and I’ll feel valued!” You and I have that same need. Now, listen, is the desire to feel significant and valued, sinful? Yes or no? No. The desire to feel significant—God’s built that into us. We want to feel like we’re built to do something great. The problem is, is that when you try to get your desire for significance met in a God-forbidden way, that’s sin; and that’s what happened to Achan.
And then, he grabbed some gold and silver. What do you when you grab gold and silver—what desire are you trying to meet? The desire for security, right? It’s when we look to things that are created, rather than the Creator for our security, that we sin. We think, “If I could just have some gold, if I could just have some silver, if I could just get my retirement account, if I could just kind of have this house and this car and all these different things, financially, work out, then I would feel more secure.” It’s a lie! And it so often leads us into sin. That’s exactly what happened to Achan! His desires for security and significance led him into sin.
Notice the progression of sin. He outlines it in verse 21. “How did that happen?” Do you see what he says? “I saw. . .I coveted them. . .and [I] took. . .and [I hid].” That’s the progression of sin, right? We see it, we covet, we take it and we hide it. And there are so many of us right now who have done the same thing. And right now you’re hiding sin, and the desire that God has for you this morning is to get it out and confess it. You may need to confess it to God, you may need to confess it to your spouse, you may need to gather your children around and say, “I have not been the man that God wants me to be.” You may need to go to your small group when you meet next time, and say, “I’m Achan! And here’s what has taken place in my life: I’ve seen it, I coveted it, I took it, I’ve hidden it. And I now want to confess it.”
You may read this verse and think, “Achan confessed his sin; he’s so specific about what happened.” What we don’t see is the same level of humility and repentance that we saw earlier from Joshua. Where is the falling on his face, where is the ripping of his clothes, where are the ashes on his head to indicate, “Not only did I do it, but I hate that I did it! I’m so ashamed that I did it! I never want to do it again”? We don’t see any of that.
Do you understand that confession without repentance is just an announcement? And the last thing we need in church is more announcements! Have you announced your sin, or have you turned from your sin and repented of sin? Hidden sin won’t remain hidden. It’s coming out.
As we were in Belize this week, there were probably about a hundred pastors that we got to minister to. Over the course of—really—sixteen-hour days, we were just trying to meet as many pastors as we could. You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. So, we spent a lot of time, and we really poured our lives into these people and really grew to love these people.
Andrea was with us and, while I was doing a session kind of down in the main auditorium of this church we were meeting in, I was actually leading a session on the importance of the home in the life of a pastor. . .and how you have to make sure that you don’t put your ministry before your marriage. . .because it’s so easy to believe that, “If I take care of my ministry, God will take care of my marriage.” I was like, “Guys, that is a lie! You have to take care of your marriage and trust God to take care of your ministry, because if you lose your marriage, you’ll lose your ministry!” That’s what I was pouring into these pastors.
At the very same moment, Andrea was upstairs in the church, and she had about twenty-five of these pastors’ wives, and she was pouring into them. After her session, one of these ladies went to Andrea and said, “Can I talk to you?” She said, “Sure.” The lady said, “I’d like you to come back to my house.” So Andrea was going back to her house to sit and visit with her. This lady said, “I’m a little afraid to talk to you, because it’s about my husband.” And she went on to tell Andrea that her husband, pastor, was actually living with another woman, committing adultery. And everybody in the church knew it, and all the pastors knew about it.
Andrea grabbed a couple of other pastors and sat, herself with this wife and that pastor, along with two of our Harvest pastors, and for hours pleaded with this man—and this couple—to repent of sin and put God back in the priority position in their life. Unfortunately, sadly, this pastor welled up with pride, put up walls, shut down, and chose to hide sin. Hidden sin won’t remain hidden; God is going to bring it out. He loves His church way too much to let it continue.
And then this:
- Hidden sin will bring certain pain. (v. 22-26)
We see that in Achan’s life. Look at Joshua 7:22 and 23. “So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. And 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 who? “…before the Lord.” The Lord was there! The place to bring your hidden sin is into the presence of the Lord.
[Verse 24:] “And 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 his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor.” The word “Achor” means “trouble.” And this was a valley—a low point—of trouble.
[Verse 25:] “And Joshua said, ‘Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.’ And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.” If Achan had had any foresight, to believe that the price tag of his sin was that he was going to lose everything—and that sin was going to bring certain pain—not only to him, but to his wife and to his children—and that everything that had anything to do with him would be lost, do you think he would have valued that garment? Do you think he would have wanted to pay that kind of price tag for his sin? No, and so that’s the way it works. The devil wants to blind you to the price tag of sin. He wants to whisper in your ear and say, “This won’t cost you anything! This won’t hurt you! This won’t hurt anybody!” And that’s what he does—he deceives us into thinking we can tolerate this in our lives, and we don’t understand the pain that sin will bring into our lives!
So, Joshua and the people say, “We’re not going to let this virus spread. We’re going to deal with it right here and right now, because we don’t want to trouble the rest of the people.”
I heard this week a report that Shamu is sick. Have you ever gone to SeaWorld? They call it Shamu. This is actually Tilicum. Recently, our family watched this very troubling documentary called Blackfish, about Tilicum. He’s a thirty-five-year-old whale that’s been at SeaWorld for many years. And, of course, you’ve seen the tricks—how the trainers get in the water with him, and all the different things—and we all applaud.
But the reality is this: Tilicum is a killer whale, and in fact, he’s actually killed three trainers in his lifetime. Now, I don’t how you feel about this, but I’m thinking if you get in the water with an animal that has “killer” for his first name, you probably get what you deserve, right? I mean, sad reality here, but do you understand this? There has never been a report, of any kind, of a killer whale harming a human being as long as he is in the wild. The problem happens when you try to contain them or train them or play with them.
And the same thing is true with sin. If you try to manage your sin, if you try to contain your sin, if you try to train it to do tricks when you want it to behave, and you play with it? That’s what gets you in trouble. You cannot manage sin. Hidden sin will bring certain pain. Proverbs 28:13 says…You like promises in God’s Word? Here’s one for you! “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” What do I do immediately after I sin? You have two options: you can either conceal it, which will ensure certain pain in the future, or you can confess it and obtain mercy. Two options, every time I sin.
The pain of Achan’s sin took the form of physical pain. People circled around Achan and they all grabbed stones, and they began to hurl them at Achan. Pretty soon bruises appeared on his body. Pretty soon blood started to flow, and pretty soon he was dead and buried by sin. Now, if you’re here this morning and you’re contemplating becoming a Christian, and you’re thinking, “That’s what church people do. They circle around you and they pick up stones, and they hurl them at you when you confess sin…”
Let me tell you a little story in the New Testament. There was a lady who was committing adultery. She was caught. Her sin was exposed, and they dragged her out in the street, and they threw her at the feet of Jesus. Those self-righteous, religious leaders said, “Jesus, the Law says she should be stoned. What do you say?” What did Jesus say? Do you remember? “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” And they all dropped the rocks and left. And then Jesus leaned down to this woman and said this, “Who is there to condemn you?” And she said, “No one.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more.”
Here’s the last thing we need to learn about hidden sin:
- Hidden sin doesn’t have to bury (v. 26; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
The whole chapter of Joshua 7 starts out with this statement: “And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.” Then, look at verse 26. The last verse in chapter 7 says this: “And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger.”
Have you found yourself in the story yet? You and I are modern-day Achans. The reason I know that is because we’ve already dismissed all the perfect people. The only people left are people like Achan, who have sinned. We’ve broken faith. We’ve transgressed. We have tried to satisfy God-given desires in a God-forbidden way—and here we are.
Do you understand that the Lord’s anger burns against us? Our only hope of making it out of alive is for something to motivate God to turn His anger away from us. Do you understand what happened two-thousand years ago? We celebrate it this week. One day, God sent His son and hung Him on a cross. For six hours, God hurled stones of judgment and anger and wrath at His own Son. And He threw strikes. And there were bruises that appeared on Jesus’ body, and there was blood that flowed. Until, finally, Jesus was dead and buried, by your sin. And they put one final stone in front of His tomb. And for three days, Jesus was crushed by the weight of your sin and my sin. But three days later the stone was rolled away, and Jesus was victorious over sin and death. And spiritual defeat was crushed by the weight of a victory that Jesus won over my sin.
Only those who will confess and believe that Jesus paid the price tag for the sin that I committed…only those that trust in the Savior’s love and victory that He won, at Easter, over sin…only those who believe have any hope that God’s anger will be turned on the Day of Judgment. Where does God find you this morning? Does He find you hiding sin?
Do you know the reason we hide sin? It’s because we don’t think there’s any remedy for it. We don’t think that God’s gracious enough and good enough and forgiving enough to forgive a modern-day Achan like me. Do you have a broken faith? The remedy is to repent and believe and to trust that Jesus Christ, on that cross, took every stone that should have been hurled at me. . .it’s the only remedy for sin.
Is there any hidden sin in here? Now’s the time to confess it and deal with it. Some of you need to go to God right now, in your heart of hearts, and quit justifying and quit rationalizing and quit moralizing and blaming somebody else for your sin. You need to repent; fall on your face and repent of sin. But don’t leave it there.
Some of you need to go a spouse, you need to go to a child, you need to go to a parent; some of you need to get on the phone or go to an employer’s office this week, and confess that you have wronged that person. Some of you may need to come to a pastor and confess, “I have been hiding sin for years. And I’m tired of it. And today I repent.” What is God asking you to do?