**"and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."(James 1:15)

**"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)

We say that there is pleasure in sin for a season, but that doesn’t sound like fun to me!!!

Story:

Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman told of a distinguished minister, Dr. Howard, from Australia who preached very strongly on the subject of sin. After the service, one of the church officers came to counsel with him in the study. "Dr. Howard," he said, "we don’t want you to talk as openly as you do about man’s guilt and corruption, because if our boys and girls hear you discussing that subject they will more easily become sinners. Call it a "mistake" if you will, but do not speak so plainly about sin."

Dr. Howard then took down a small bottle and showing it to the officer said, "You see that label? It says "strychnine"—and underneath in bold, red letters the word ‘Poison!’ Do you know, man, what you are asking me to do? You are suggesting that I change the label. Suppose I do, and paste over it the words, ‘Essence of Peppermint;’ don’t you see what might happen? Someone would use it, not knowing the danger involved, and would certainly die. So it is, too, with the matter of sin. The milder you make your label, the more dangerous you make your poison!"

Back to our story:

In Joshua chapter seven, Joshua sends out spies to Ai, which was the next city that the Jews were to go in and conquer. Those who returned with the report said that it would not be necessary to send the entire army to the battle at Ai, just two or three thousand men should be sufficient.

Look at verse three again,

"And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few."

And so Joshua is confident and maybe even a little cocky when hearing his spies report,

"after all the Jericho victory seemed so easy, all we had to do was march around the walls of the city and God gave us a great victory. Ai should be easier than Jericho. There aren’t as many people there, Joshua."

And so they went confidently into battle. Only one problem. God wasn’t with them as in Jericho. And so what happened?

The troops of Israel quite literally had to run for their lives. Thirty-six men were lost in this battle. This may not seem like a significant loss in an army of 3,000 men, but the defeat described here is the only defeat recorded in the book of Joshua and the only report of Jews slain in battle.

Joshua tries to ask God why He let this embarrassing loss happen to His people. Look at verses 6-9,

"And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?"

But God doesn’t mention the apparent cockiness of the spies or the lack of prayer prior to entering into battle. What does God have to say to Joshua in His anger? Look at Joshua chapter seven and verse 10,

"And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?"

God says "Get up and stop asking Me why you lost the battle and let Me tell you why!"

Look at Chapter seven and verses 11-13,

"Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you."

I want to give you four devastating effects of sin –

 

1. SIN AFFECTS OTHERS

No one’s sin is ever just his business alone, it always affects others. No matter how secret a sin might be, its effects spill over into the lives of others. Disobedience to God is a contagious disease that has serious effects on the broader community of believers. My sin cannot be isolated from you and your sin cannot be isolated from me. Sin corrupts, and what is done in private has a public effect.

Adam and Eve’s sin affected the entire Human race. Romans 5:19 says,

"For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners."

Because of the sin at Jericho and the defeat at Ai, it was immediately apparent that God was no longer behind the Israelites and they were confused, it created misgivings and a lack of confidence in the Lord. Rather than examine their own lives for the source of the defeat, they began to doubt the Lord and wonder if He had changed His mind or if they had misunderstood His directions.

Joshua prostrated himself before the Lord. After a whole day on his face, Joshua begins to tell the Lord what he felt in his heart. Perhaps he was feeling that he had let the people down, that the people would be blaming him for the defeat, and concerned how this would impact his ability to lead the people.

God told Joshua to "get up", you can’t lead the people with your face in the dirt or while moping about, depressed over the defeat.

God told Joshua (v. 11) that he was holding the whole nation accountable for Achan’s sin. He said "Israel hath sinned!" God called this sin a violation of their covenant with Him, and specified that they were guilty of sacrilege, theft, lying and deceitful hoarding. And because of these sins, the Israelites had been overrun by the soldiers of Ai (v. 12).

It is hard to imagine anything more frightening than hearing (v. 12b) "neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you." Nothing is more crucial than the presence of God among His people. Nothing should distress His people more than the loss of God among them.

Look at the punishment of the guilty party in chapter seven and verse 14,

"In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man."

Here in verse fourteen, Joshua was given instructions as to how the judgment is to be carried out and He promises to point out the man by selecting first his tribe, then his clan, then his family and finally the man himself. This determination was to be made by the casting of lots, a common practice in Old Testament times for the determination of God’s will when no other method was available.

Question? Why did God not just reveal this man’s identity to Joshua? The answer is in that this method would impress on the nation of Israel the seriousness of this sin and it would give the guilty person an opportunity to repent and confess. I believe that had Achan immediately confessed and truly repented of his sin, he and his whole household might have been spared!

Sin Not only Affect Others -

 

2. SIN WILL BE UNCOVERED (vv. 16-21)

In verses sixteen through eighteen the process of discovery is described beginning with all Israel until it was narrowed down by tribes to the tribe of Judah, then by families or clans to the Zerathites, then to the family of Zimri and from that family to Achan.

We should note that though Achan did confess his sin, he did so only when he was found out and forced to. It is quite probable that he would not have confessed had he not been discovered.

There is no such thing as "a secret sin." Trying to hide sin is such a foolish thing.

Illustration – The story of "Bandaids on the Bathroom Mirror."

One night the drunk husband snuck up the stairs quietly. He looked in the bathroom mirror and bandaged the bumps and bruises he’d received in a fight earlier that night. He then proceeded to climb into bed, smiling at the thought that he’d pulled one over on his wife. When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his wife. "You were drunk last night weren’t you!" "No, honey." "Well, if you weren’t, then who put all the band-aids on the bathroom mirror?"

He was so drunk that he attached the band aids to the mirror instead of his face. Trying to hide sin from God is as foolish as band aids on a mirror. Sin never escapes the watchful eye of God.

Numbers 32:23 reminds us, "be sure your sin will find you out."

 

Ecclesiastes 12:14,

"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."

   

 

3. SIN HAS ITS ALLURE (vv. 20-21)

Sin has a attractiveness to it that is very deceptive. Look at what Achan said happened to him in chapter seven verse 21,

"When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it."

When Achan described the things that he took from Jericho he called them "spoils," which may have been an attempt to rationalize what he had done. Wealth plundered from an enemy was usually considered a legitimate reward for participating in a battle. But the wealth of Jericho was not "spoils" or "plunder." In the original instructions given Joshua concerning the capture of Jericho, God stated very specifically that the entire city was "under a ban or a curse" (6:17-19). Everything in the city – except for Rahab and her family and some gold, silver and brass vessels for the temple – must be destroyed and burned with fire. But while his comrades in arms were gathering up gold, silver and bronze to be dedicated to God, Achan was sneaking off with some loot to his tent where he buried it. The fact that Achan hid the plunder shows that he knew that what he was doing was wrong.

The psychological process of sin that Achan described is as old as sin itself. The three crucial steps in Achan’s sin are given in verse twenty-one; he saw, he coveted, and then he took.

Eve took the same tragic steps in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6) as did David in his sin with Bathsheba ( 2 Samuel 11:2-4).

The sin which began in his heart, soon spilled out.

Galatians 6:7 & 8 says,

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."

The three laws of reaping:

We reap what we sow,

We reap more than we sow,

We reap later than we sow.

Never Forget that Sin has an Allure an enticement, but there will be a payday someday.

 

4. SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES (vv. 24-25)

Joshua 7:24 & 25 tell the sad ending of Achan and his entire family,

"And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones."

From the list of possession given in verse twenty-four; cattle, sheep and donkeys, it is a clear indication that Achan was already a wealthy man by the standards of his day. So we also know that Achan’s theft was inspired by greed not by need.

When we examine the consequence to Achan’s family and we are tempted to complain that it is unfair. We would do better to fear.

-Fear because we realize that one man’s sin turned God’s presence away from a whole nation.

-Fear because his whole household was drawn into the judgment.

We have such a tame view of sin that we need to see the contagious power of sin. Our problem is that we don’t think that sin is all that big a deal. We cannot understand God’s anger because sin doesn’t bother us the way it bothers God.

We need to see that,

-Sin affects others.

-Sin will be uncovered.

-Sin has its allure.

-Sin has consequences.

Let’s pray.

If you’re here today and have never trusted Christ as your personal Savior, then you would die and have to pay for your own sins and the Bible says that the "wages of sin is death." You would die and not go to heaven but rather go to Hell forever separated from Him by your sin. The Good news is that the Bible also says that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

By simply putting your faith and trust in Christ for salvation you can be "Born Again" and have eternal life and a home in heaven. In a moment just come out from the pew and come down the aisle and we’ll have someone take the Word of God and show you how you can know for sure your going to heaven someday when you die.

And if you’re here and your saved and are living a lifestyle of sin, then you come and confess your sin to God and receive forgiveness. I John 1:9 says,

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Whatever your need you come as we sing.