The Snare of Sin and the Seriousness of God: The Story of Achan

Join Us Today As We Explore The Question, "Why Does God Hate Sin?".

Eric Estes
Sep 24, 2023    44m
Join us today as we explore the question, "Why does God hate sin?". Sin captures our hearts and breaks our faith, so God is serious about sin because He is serious about our hearts. We need to recognize the seriousness of our sin, learn to recognize the pattern of sin, and then learn to repent of our sin. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Eric Estes: [00:00:00] All right. How many of you all have started a home improvement project recently and said it's no big deal? All right. Anybody? I don't know about you, but in our house, every home improvement project ends up, it's always a big deal, right? I remember several years ago we had, it really wasn't our home, we had bought a rental house. And so we were going to kind of get it ready and rent it out to other people. And so I was almost done with that part of it, and I had just a little bit left. And Kathy, my wife, had a meeting at our house that night. So I said, no problem, no big deal. Right? Let me grab the kids and I'll take the kids and we're going to go over to the rental house and we're going to finish it up. So I took all seven of our kids over there. You kind of know where this is going, right? They were probably 5 to 14, around that age. And so I was doing great, I had the little one’s kind of doing clean up and the older ones were doing other things. And I had my son, who was 14, Drew, I asked him, can you replace the sink faucet on this particular sink in the bathroom? Right, it's no big deal. I gave him some instructions, it wasn't just that, I was kind of leading him along. But I was in the kitchen, and all of a sudden, I heard dad, dad, dad. And I was like, so I ran to the bathroom, and sure enough, as he was securing it to the pipe on the wall, the valve, he torqued it too hard and the whole valve came off and water was shooting everywhere. So it's starting to flood the place, we're panicked, we're trying to figure out how to get that water from there into the bathtub. And so I ran out in the front yard, it house we just bought, so we don't know where the turn thing is. To make it worse, it was a duplex, so there was a bunch of those turn-off things everywhere. And I'm turning off the neighbor's water, and I can't figure out how to turn off the water. Eventually, we found the water, got it turned off, and the house is just covered in water.

Eric Estes: [00:01:48] So I called Kathy. Hey, could you, we're down to one car at the time, could you get a ride up here and could you bring, like, every towel we own? So she comes in, and she describes the scene as if you've ever seen the movie Mr. Popper's Penguins when the penguins are sliding across his apartment because there's snow and stuff in there, the kids were having a blast. Actually, they were sliding across the floor, they were soaking wet, they were rolling around on the water, then they'd ring out their shirts in the bathtub to dry them off. But once again, just like most home improvement projects, it started off as no big deal, but it's always a big deal.

Eric Estes: [00:02:25] And I tell that story because today, the topic that we're going to be dealing with is it's a pretty serious topic. And so I want to start off with something a little lighter, but it's also the topic that we're talking about, we often think of it as, is it really that big of a deal? And what we're going to see is that it's always a big deal. Today we're going to be in Joshua 7, it's the story of Achan, and Achan's sin. So today we're going to be talking about sin. And as we deal with this, as we kind of talk about this particular topic, it's a hard topic. And this is what happens, though, when we go chapter by chapter through Scripture. This is why we do this, because it takes us to places that might be a little uncomfortable for us, right? And so today, that's where we are. And we're going to be wrestling through that. And so today we're going to be dealing with sin because that's where we are in scripture. By the way, I think it's interesting that Ross just happened to plan his vacation this week, but that's all right. But what we need to remember is that all of God's word is for our good. And so today, as we deal with this topic, even though we hear the story and we go, what in the world is this? It's for our good.

Eric Estes: [00:03:40] So what I want to do is I want to just kind of tell you, I want to kind of zoom out and just tell you, big picture, what happened with Achan in chapter 7. And then we'll zoom in and look at some more specific pieces to that story. So what happened? So let's just kind of back up a little bit, we're in the book of Joshua. If we go back before that, we remember that God's people were in Egypt, they were enslaved. And when they were enslaved there, God raised up Moses to rescue them out of their slavery and he took them to the Promised Land. But because they were afraid to go in, they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years. And then after that generation passed, the new generation, it was time for them to go into the promised land. So Moses hands off leadership to Joshua, and that begins the book of Joshua as they go into the Promised Land.

Eric Estes: [00:04:30] So for the last several weeks, we've been talking about the preparations for going into the Promised Land. And then last week, so a few weeks ago, they went into the Promised Land. And then last week we learned about the Battle of Jericho, the first military victory as they conquered this land, right? Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of the Battle of Jericho, all I can remember, all I can think about is the Veggie Tales version. Do you all remember that when they're marching around the city, and the Jerictites are throwing slushies down at them? Right. That's not how it really happened. What happened was they attacked, but they didn't use any conventional strategy. You'll never see the strategy they used in any military textbook. Right? Because it was crazy, but they did what God told them to do because God had a specific plan. He wanted to show his might, that this wasn't something that they were going to do, that they could only do it with him. So miraculously, he brought the walls down and they took over the city. And they're feeling pretty good about themselves now, the Israelites, right, they're like, wow, we can't mess with God on our side. This is going to be easy, they're going to fall, and the rest of these cities are going to fall like dominoes. They were feeling pretty good, they had the momentum, and here they go.

Eric Estes: [00:05:41] So that brings us to chapter 7, right? We go, oh, this is going to be easy, a piece of cake until we get to chapter 7. And what happens is they're going to go to the next city, right, it's the city of Ai. Some people pronounce it Ai, some people pronounce it Ai. When you're dealing with ancient languages, we're not really sure, but it's not artificial intelligence, okay? It's the city of Ai. And it's about 12 miles away from Jericho so they're headed there. And from archeological digs, there are two sites they think it might be. They know that it's about half the size of Jericho. So I think we've got the map from last week. So if you remember, they crossed over right there around Gilgo, and then they went to Jericho. And then if you look just due west, is Ai okay? That's where we think it is today. So that's where they're headed.

Eric Estes: [00:06:30] And the city of Ai, I think we have a picture of what it might have looked like based on the archeological digs, whoa, that's kind of hard to see. So but it looks like, so that's the city, it was kind of a fortified city. So Joshua sends out a few spies over there to kind of spy it out. And here's what they come back and say, they come back and say, piece of cake, we got this. There's no reason to send a whole army over there, send about 2 or 3000 people and we'll take care of this, no problem, so that's what they did. So, picking up in verse 4 of Joshua 7, it says, "So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5and 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." They went to Ai, and they got their tails kicked. Right? They got their teeth kicked in, and they fled from there. And they're distraught, it says their hearts melted like water.

Eric Estes: [00:07:35] Just picture that that that metaphor. Have you ever been in a place where you just feel like your heart was melted? All hope is just drained out of you. That's the picture here, and that's a really significant phrase that we have here because it's used two other times in the book of Joshua. It's used in Joshua 2 and in Joshua 5, but every other time it's the people of the land, their hearts are melting because the Israelites are coming, and they're scared to death. Now it's the Israelites whose heart is melting, the tables have turned.

Eric Estes: [00:08:08] And so Joshua is upset, he's really upset, and he prays this prayer to the Lord, verse 6, "Then 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. 7And 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!" What if we just stayed back? And then in verse 9, he says, "For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?” He's scared, and legitimately so, because now they're kind of the prime target in this land and all the other people in the land who were scared of them now smell blood in the water. Like, okay, these guys can be beat. And if they all came at them at the same time, then they would be toast. And Joshua is struggling with okay, either that means God's not with us anymore or God's not powerful enough to do this. Either way, we're in big trouble here.

Eric Estes: [00:09:19] So he prays this to God, and he even says God, if they wipe us out, we're your representative. What does that say about you? And then God answers him in verse 10, "The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?" I love that, quit complaining, get up. Verse 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." He tells them they've sinned, and then he tells them what to do. Here's how to identify the person that sinned. So they do this, they do exactly as God says, and Joshua identifies the person, a guy named Achan.

Eric Estes: [00:10:03] And he brings Achan before him, and here's what Achan says, he confesses to it all. He says, in verse 20, "And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21when 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.” See, he knew it was wrong. He knew the penalty for this. He knew how it would affect all the people of Israel, but he couldn't resist, he did it anyway, and then he hid it because he knew it was wrong. So Joshua does what he knows he has to do, he takes Achan to the Valley of Achor. He takes all the stuff that he took, he takes all of his stuff, he even takes his whole family, and he executes them. And then after all that was done, after the sin was undone, God's anger turns away from them.

Eric Estes: [00:11:10] Whoa, that's pretty brutal, right? That's pretty intense for this morning. What do we do with a story like that? How does that apply to our lives? What can we learn from this story of Achan? It raises a lot of questions for us as well. This is why we do what we do and go through books of the Bible and tackle these hard things like this. And so we're going to talk today about sin, and about the sin of Achan, and how the pattern of sin plays out in our lives. And here's what we're going to see as we go through this, sin is always a big deal. And we're going to see that sin, that God is serious about sin because he's serious about our hearts. God is serious about sin because he's serious about our hearts.

Eric Estes: [00:11:59] And we're going to look at this, and what I want us to do for the rest of our time is just look at three things. I want us to see in here the seriousness of sin, we're going to see the pattern of sin, and then we're going to see the solution to sin. Okay, So let's jump into verse 1, as we look at the seriousness of sin. So verse 1 says, "But the people of Israel 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." Now, we might be tempted to look at this and go, gosh, why is this such a big deal? There's some strong language there, that they broke faith, and that the anger of the Lord burned against them. In verse 5 it says, "This outrageous thing that they did." Why is it such a big deal?

Eric Estes: [00:12:52] Well, in order to understand that, first of all, we're going to see that that sin, all sin, is serious. But what is the purpose behind this particular event that happened? Well, first of all, let's understand what the devoted things are. These things that are devoted, are devoted for destruction, or in some cases, they're devoted for something else. God told them, don't take these things, it was usually the treasures of the people they are conquering. So the silver, the gold, the idols, those kind of things. He said don't take them for yourselves, what I want you to do is to take them and either destroy them in some cases or in some cases put them in the treasury so that they can be used for the building up of the tabernacle, as well as the maintaining of the priesthood and all that kind of stuff, basically giving them to the church. Okay.

Eric Estes: [00:13:39] And so what we see, and we kind of see this if we go back to Joshua 6, where we were last week, Ross mentioned this in verse 18, he says, "But you keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction." This was right before they were going to go into Jericho and take it. So he gave them this warning and right immediately, Achan already disobeys him. And he says, "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." It's kind of awkwardly worded, but it's basically saying if if you take the devoted thing, the things devoted for destruction, then you will be devoted for destruction. Okay? Now, why, why is this such a big deal? Why does God lay things out this way? Especially, I mean, this is not commonplace for this era if you know anything about ancient warfare. The soldiers, when they took over a place, there was expectation that they would keep what they took. That's how many of the soldiers got paid, right, to the victor go the spoils. You've heard that phrase before. That was common, and how soldiers got paid. So you could picture Achan going, hey, how am I going to feed my family? Here we go. Right? But God laid it out differently, he wanted them to do it differently than everybody else does it. Why is that? What's at stake here?

Eric Estes: [00:14:58] Well, God's conquest, the people's conquest of the Promised Land was different than any other conquest that ever happened. Normally, nations will go and conquer another nation because of either materialism or imperialism or maybe both. Right? They wanted to expand their territory, or they wanted to get more stuff. But God said, no, that's not how we're going to do it. His plan was not about materialism, it was not about imperialism. His plan, the reason he was taking the Promised Land was to establish his people. And secondarily, Ross mentioned this last week, is to purge the land of the evil that was in it. There was incredible evil happening among the Canaanites, and God warned them and warned them and warned them, and he's using the Israelites now to judge the Canaanites. So God's got a different plan, and he goes about it a different way. So what's at stake here by them taking the stuff? It's God's honor, it's the legitimacy of the conquest that they're on. It's also the identity of the people, they're to be different, they're to be set apart. They're to live differently, and they're even to conquer differently, that's why this was a capital offense. That's why this was a big deal, there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes that happened there.

Eric Estes: [00:16:27] There's another reason why this was a big deal. In Deuteronomy 7, verse 25, so if you guys were part of the Deuteronomy study this past summer, you might remember this theme running through it. But 7:25, Moses, this is before they went to the Promised Land, Moses is telling them just some things before they go to the Promised Land. So when you take over these people, the carved images of their gods, you will burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it. That word ensnared; I think is really helpful. Because if you look at the entire history of Israel, you see this pattern happening over and over again. They would take they would conquer a people, and then they would either marry the wives, and or take the stuff, the idols, the gold, and everything else, and in either case, they would be drawn away from the Lord. The wives would convince them to follow their gods, the gold and everything would draw them towards other idols, other gods away from the one true God. They would become ensnared by it, and it would draw them away from God. The pattern happens over and over again.

Eric Estes: [00:17:38] As a matter of fact, this is what brought about the destruction and downfall of Israel. God knows this, and so he's warning them against it, but Achan was ensnared by it. That word ensnared is a word of a trap, there was an attractive bait, and he took the bait and became ensnared by it. And before we be too hard on Achan, keep in mind that this happens to us, too. There are lots of things in our world that ensnare us. Right? It's just a little click here to go down this path. Or lots of things that ensnare us and take us down a path into sin. Sometimes those are good things that then ensnare us, though, and put us in a place where we're not able to really do what God's called us to do, to live boldly because we're so used to the comfort, to the lifestyle, to all those things, they ensnare us and trap us. He was ensnared by it. And God, remember is serious about sin because he's serious about our hearts. He doesn't want our hearts to be ensnared.

Eric Estes: [00:18:50] There's language that's used here in verse 1, it says that they have broken faith. And I think that phrase is really, the ESV translates it that way, and I think it's a really good way to picture sin for us today, broken faith. The word sin in the Hebrew literally means the missing of the mark. But when we sin, it is a broken faith. If you think about what sin is, it's God saying, hey, this is what's best for you, I want you to do it this way because it's best for you. And it's us saying, yeah, but I think this is better. We're saying, God, I don't trust you, I'm going to do it my way. And when we do that, there's a broken trust, there's a broken faith that happens there. It's highly relational.

Eric Estes: [00:19:37] If you think about the in Romans 14, Paul writes, "For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." Where sin is, it's a broken faith. If you look at Adam and Eve, the very first sin, that's what happened. God said, you can do anything you want, but don't eat of this fruit. And they said, but we want to do things our way, we don't trust you that that is good. And so faith was broken, and the relationship was severed. Sin is not just a list of do's and don'ts, it is highly relational. And so when we sin against God, there's a broken relationship that happens there. It's very relational.

Eric Estes: [00:20:18] If we keep going in the story and we go to verse 12, we see this play out in the separation that happens. Where because it's so relational, when that faith is broken, there is a separation that happens. In verse 12, we see this. And by the way, verse 12 is kind of the central hub of this whole chapter 7, there's parallelism all the way through from beginning to end, and it kind of culminates in the very middle of it. Verse 12, and this is what it 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, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you." I'll be with you no more; separation happens there because of the sin. The relationship is broken, and trust is broken in this.

Eric Estes: [00:20:46] Now, oftentimes we think that about sin, is it really that big a deal? It's just a little sin, right? Or it's not really hurting anybody else. Let me kind of just give you an illustration to kind of help us see why that's really not the case. Let me paint a picture for you. Let's say three weeks ago when it was 150 degrees, actually, that was yesterday, wasn't it? 150 degrees outside, you're outside mowing the lawn and you're hot and you're thirsty and someone who loves you very much takes a glass of cold lemonade and puts it on the back patio for you. So you finish mowing, and you walk up to that glass and you pick it up and this is what you see. Would you drink it? Come on, some of you would. Why not? It's just a little poop, right, there's a lot of lemonade in there, it's just a little poop. Because when there's a little poop in there, the whole thing becomes impure. Okay, we look at sin the same way, it's just a little sin, I'm mostly pretty good. But when there's even a little sin, it makes us entirely impure.

Eric Estes: [00:22:31] Now, put that into the bigger picture and what we know about God because we always want to come back to who is God, who is God's character, and who is his nature. God is completely holy, there is no sin in him, he is perfectly pure. So if we are impure and he is pure, what happens if you put those together? If you mix together impurity and something that's impure and something that's pure, they both become impure, right, and that would change who God is. So we can't change God, so there is friction that happens here, and that's why God hates sin so much because it draws us away from him. It draws us from light and life to death and darkness. He hates sin, sin is everything that's the opposite of God, so he despises it. And that's why we see language like we see in verse 1, where it says the anger of the Lord burned against them.

Eric Estes: [00:23:33] We get really uncomfortable when we hear that word, the anger of the Lord, right? Because what we think of is human anger that's emotionally driven, that's capricious, or volatile, right? But that's not what we're talking about here, the anger of the Lord is his settled disposition toward sin. He hates it, and he'll do whatever it takes to rid us of sin so that we can be made right with him, so that we can be drawn to him, not away from him. Achan's sin drew him away from him. And we know that God is serious about sin because he's serious about our hearts. Sin is like a cancer that lives within us, and we don't treat cancer with vitamins, it requires something drastic, it requires radical surgery. And so that's what has to happen, is radical surgery to get rid of the sin that's in us.

Eric Estes: [00:24:34] Now, before we leave this topic of the seriousness of sin, there are a few questions that really kind of come up as we're reading this, and we're not going to be able to address all of them today. But here's what I want to do, I want to challenge you in your life groups, with a couple of questions to wrestle through. Okay? The first one is this, if Achan sinned, how come all of Israel was kind of responsible for it, right? They all suffered some of the consequences for it, and his family, as well, suffered the consequences. Why is that? The second question, because we were kind of wrestling through this. Someone said, well, Achan confessed, he came clean. How come he wasn't forgiven for that? How come he still had to suffer the consequences? Good questions to wrestle through. A couple of thoughts that might go into those discussions that might help you. First of all, don't forget where we are in scripture, that we are in the Old Covenant, right? We are today part of the New Covenant, the covenant of grace in Jesus. This was under the Old Covenant Law, and God had specific things laid out in the law for a particular purpose, specific laws, and specific ways, and specific consequences, and oftentimes those consequences are more immediate, and the reason was because he wanted to protect and keep his people pure. He was putting them in a land to become a beacon of light for all the other nations around them, and he needed to keep them pure and holy under the Old Covenant, which, by the way, was a lot more communal in nature as far as how that worked.

Eric Estes: [00:26:04] The second thing to think about, as far as the consequences go, even though we might be forgiven of our sins, especially in the New Covenant with Jesus, we still oftentimes will face the consequences of those sins. So I might find forgiveness, and the ultimate consequence of being separated from God is taken care of, but there are still earthly consequences to my sins. If I killed someone tomorrow and I repented, and I asked for forgiveness, and I went to God, and I trusted in Jesus that he paid the penalty of that, I would be forgiven from him, but I would still face the consequences on earth.

Eric Estes: [00:26:46] And then the last thing I want you to kind of leave you with on that, and this really is a general principle that we see that is helpful as we understand the nature of sin is this, that we tend to think sin is just about me. Sin is never just about me, there's always collateral damage, and it often affects most the ones that we love the most, that's the nature of sin. So hopefully those things will help you and stir that conversation in your life group. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to kind of wrestle through that anymore, and as you guys’ wrestle through that, I look forward to hearing kind of some of those conversations and how that happens.

Eric Estes: [00:27:27] So we've seen the seriousness of sin, and we've seen that God is serious about sin because he's serious about our hearts. The next thing we're going to look at is the pattern of sin here. Because if sin is the enemy, if it's taking us away from God, how do we fight it? And the way we fight it is we know we need to know our enemy. And there is a pattern of sin that happens throughout Scripture, and it's really clear here in the story of Achan.

Eric Estes: [00:27:52] So starting in verses 20 and 21, we see that Achan answered Joshua. He says, And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21when 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.” Do you see the pattern there? Saw, coveted, and took; it goes eyes, heart, hands. We often think that we just think about the sin itself, the action, but that sin starts deeper in the heart, and that even starts with what we let through our eyes. Jesus talked a lot about sin, and about what that is. And the sin of the Pharisees, it wasn't just about what they did with their hands, it was about their hearts. Right?

Eric Estes: [00:28:00] We see this pattern all throughout Scripture. Look at Genesis 3, verse 6, Adam and Eve, the very first sin. Here's the pattern, "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired, (same word as covet there) to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate." There's a pattern that happens as we look at this. The first part is that we see. And that word see, doesn't mean to just look at it, it means to gaze at it, to dwell on it, to linger on it, right? We can't help what we see, but we can help what we linger on. I think it was Billy Graham who said when he's talking about looking at an attractive person, that it's not the first look that's lust, it's the second and the third and the fourth and the fifth. Right? When we see what happens, we start to shift our gaze off of God onto that thing, and we start to think and dwell on that thing. So it starts with our eyes and then moves to the heart. That idea of seeing it, that's what happened with Achan. He saw it, he gazed at it, he lingered at it, and it ensnared his heart. And that's how the pattern started to go downhill.

Eric Estes: [00:30:13] Y'all, in this area, there's so many things, good things, that we see, there are beautiful people, there are incredibly cool things out there. There's great wealth, there's great jobs, all these are okay. And these are good things, but they can easily ensnare us. And if we find ourselves gazing at those things, they will eventually ensnare us and take us down a path of coveting and sin. We have to keep our eyes focused.

Eric Estes: [00:30:42] The next part is that it moves to your heart, that coveting, where we start to desire it and think about it. And James 1:14 says, "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires." We start to think about what it would be like if I had this. It starts to build discontent with my current situation, with what God has already given me, and we start to transfer now our affection to it. We start to love it, right? We start to give it weight. I think that word is a keyword here because Achan really knew exactly how much those things weighed, right, he was giving weight to that, and the word weight is the same word in the Hebrew as glory. When we give God glory, we give him weight. And so when we love these things, we give them weight in there.

Eric Estes: [00:31:33] So we see, we covet, and then we take, and that's when it moves to action. James continues this thought in verse 15, he says, "Then desire (which is coveting) when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." So we can see that that pattern that plays out here. And that's why it's hard for us to say, well, I'm just going to stop sinning, right? That's not usually what happens because it's much deeper than that. If we're going to stop the sin, we have to stop it with what we put in our heads, and our eyes, what we linger on, and our hearts. We have to shift our affection.

Eric Estes: [00:32:12] How do we shift our affection? It's by what we feed into our hearts, right? We are surrounded by the beautiful, shiny things in the world all day, every day, it's easy for our affections to drift. That's why we have to keep coming back to God's Word. We come back here every Sunday, we go to life groups, we do these things to focus our eyes back on what is even more beautiful than those shiny things around us, and that's Jesus. The only way to shift our affection from something beautiful is to put something more beautiful next to it, and we've got to spend more and more time focusing on the beauty of Jesus. So that's the pattern.

Eric Estes: [00:32:59] Now, how does that play out? In real life, how does that play out? I think we can kind of see how this plays out for a lot of our sins, right? Whether it's lust, then we can kind of see how it starts with our eyes, moves to our heart, and moves to our actions, right? Whether it's greed, whether it is coveting, those types of things kind of naturally, you see how that fits. What about some other things? Let me tell you where I am, just personally, whereas I've wrestled through this and asked God to reveal that sin in me. I have found myself, probably more so than in a long time, struggling with anger, and my family has borne the brunt of a lot of that. And I'm struggling with that, and I'm wrestling with where does that come from? What does it look like? So as I put it through there, well, this grid doesn't fit, does it? It's not like I'm seeing something with my eyes and then it affects my heart. How does that play out? Or does it? When I'm angry, anger is a reaction out of fear, I'm fearful that something is being taken away from me. And so I need to look deeper beyond the anger, what is it? Is it security? Is it comfort? Is it influence? Is it respect? What are those things that I've made an idol, and that's where I've set my eyes on, that's where I have set my heart. And then when someone tries to take it away, I lash out in anger. Sin is serious, and if we don't understand how it works, we can fall prey and be ensnared by it pretty easily. God takes sin very seriously because he takes our hearts seriously. So what's the solution?

Eric Estes: [00:34:50] The last thing we want to look at is the solution to sin. When sin enters into our lives, there are really two parts to this answer, right? There is, what are we to do to fight sin? And then there's the ultimate answer, what is God to do?

Eric Estes: [00:35:04] Okay, let's start with that first one. What does Joshua do with the sin? And I think we can get a pattern out of this too, what Joshua does is we see that he sees it, then he reveals it, and then he repents of it. He sees, he reveals, he repents. Here was part of the problem, Joshua didn't know the sin existed, Achan had hidden it. And so the first thing he has to do is see it, and God brings it to his attention in verse 10, "Joshua, he says, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11Israel has sinned." So we have to see the sin first. And oftentimes, because Satan is a deceiver, he's a liar, he leads us down these paths sometimes that we don't even realize we're sinning. That's why it's so important that we keep our eyes on God, that as we read God's Word, as we spend our time in scripture, it's not just about information, but we're reading it with our hearts open to say, how does my lifeline up with what you have, God? Where am I falling short? And that's hard, guys, it's hard to be open to that because that means I have to change, and change is hard. But if we want to grow to be more and more like God, if we want to purge that sin from our lives more and more if we want to see God more clearly and live in the joy He has for us, then we've got to line our lives up and we have to see the sin. It's why we spend time in God's word.

Eric Estes: [00:36:36] Hebrews 4, verse 12 tells us, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." This is why we spend time in God's Word. This is why we do community together in life groups, right? It's to be able to call out that sin in each other and say, hey, I think you're talking to your wife pretty harshly here. Is everything okay? This is why we do things, like we'll talk about at the end of service, the men's retreat to to get away, to be able to spend time in God's word and with other men, to be able to help each other, to say, hey, where is the sin in my life? How do I root it out? We have to see it first.

Eric Estes: [00:37:22] Then Joshua reveals it, right? Notice what Achan did with that treasure, he hid it, and oftentimes, that's what we do with our sin. Especially those sins that we don't want anybody to know about, right, those secret sins, pornography, adultery, addiction, we hide him. And when we hide them, they fester, they don't go away, they fester, and they grow. And the only way to deal with those sins is to just like Joshua, to drag them into the light. We confess, you have to confess to the world, but confess to someone, though. Get help, bring it into the light, and all of a sudden, those sins have a lot less power when they're brought into the light. We see it, reveal it, and then we repent of it. Joshua turned, he did what was hard, what he had to do to be able to make it right, and that's what repentance means.

Eric Estes: [00:38:23] Repentance, Jesus talked about it a lot, it means I'm facing one direction and I turn and go the other. And that's what we're to do with our sin, it's not enough to just feel bad about it. Joshua felt bad, right? He was lamenting what happened, but he was more concerned about the consequences of it, he didn't even know what had happened, and then he turned and repented of the sin. That's what we're to do with the sin that's in our lives. But we know that that's not enough, right? Because we can fight this all day long, but there's still this broken relationship, we've broken trust with God, and we're separated from him. What do we do with that?

Eric Estes: [00:39:02] And that's where we're going to end. If we look at verse 26, we see what God does with it. Verse 26, the very last verse here says, "And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor." I want you to remember that name, The Valley of Achor, that's where the execution happened, and they built this pile of stones there. And it was a memorial, it was a remembrance for anybody to remember that God takes sin seriously. We saw another memorial a few chapters ago after they crossed the Jordan, they stacked stones up as a memorial, as a remembrance for God's salvation. This one is a remembrance of God's holiness.

Eric Estes: [00:39:51] So what does that have to do with anything? Well, fast forward a few hundred years, and there's a prophet that comes along named Hosea. And Hosea is an interesting guy, his prophecy is kind of twofold. He's telling about his wife, who was unfaithful to him with multiple men. And at the same time, he's comparing that to Israel, who was unfaithful to God with multiple other gods and idols and everything else, and so there's a parallel path. And this is the part in Hosea, Hosea 2, where God is calling back, he's redeeming Israel from her affairs and saying, I forgive you, bring you back. And so here in Hosea 2, verse 15, pay attention to the words, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope." The Valley of Achor, he's using the story of Achan, and he says it's a door of hope. How in the world is Achan's sin a door of hope? How is our sin a door of hope? You see, it's only by seeing our sin that we see our need for a savior.

Eric Estes: [00:41:16] And this is what God did, he couldn't just look past the sin and he wouldn't just let us go. So he took what was most precious to him, his son, and sent him to live a perfect life, no sin whatsoever. What we could never do. perfectly pure. And then to die on a Roman cross so that he could take our place for the sin that we've committed. There's a transfer that happens when we trust in Jesus, and what he did, that he takes our sin and gives us his right standing, his purity. So remember the picture of God, perfectly pure, us impure, now in Jesus we become white as snow, and we can be reunited. That relationship is reestablished, and the faith that was broken is being renewed. And that's what happens in Jesus, that's what we find in the work of Jesus. Achan was executed for his sins, and it saved Israel. Jesus was executed for our sins, and it saves all of us. God is serious about sin because he's serious about our hearts. So much so, so serious, that he was willing to give it all.

Eric Estes: [00:42:51] Let's pray. Lord, you are incredibly good to us. Lord, as we contemplate our own sin, Lord, I pray that you would help us to see it. Even though that's not what we want to see, Lord, I pray that you would give us eyes to see it, that you would give us hearts to reveal it, and then that we would repent of that sin. And Lord, as we turn, I pray that you would keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Because it's only in Jesus that we can find forgiveness for that sin, that we can find light and life, and that we can be re-established. And, Lord, I pray that even right now, as we contemplate this, Lord, that you would dig deep into our hearts, that your word would open up our hearts, and that you would reveal the sin in there. And that today, right now, I pray that everyone here would see that sin that they have and that we would turn from it and would ask your forgiveness. And we would be able to move forward in freedom in that because of what Jesus did. I want to leave just a minute for you to pray on that, to examine your own heart, to root out that sin that's besetting you and I move forward in freedom today.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051