Most of the church looks at Jesus through world-colored glasses. The effect is the same as looking through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. Jesus is miniaturized so that He neatly fits into our comfort zones. Lord Jesus, have mercy and break our world-colored glasses so we see you as you are — the miracle-working, supernatural Son of the one true God! Amen.
Even one individual’s sin affects the whole camp. Therefore, the whole camp can’t stand against Satan.
[SW079] 02/10/2013 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2013
“Sin in the Camp”
I’ve been soaking in Joshua this week.
Through it, Jesus has something He wants me to say to His church.
the Father asked me to speak of the consequences to individual Christians when they heartily approve of sin.
But as with all sin, the consequences go beyond the individual.
LEARNING THROUGH JOSHUA’S EXPERIENCE
Joshua began the journey into the promised land with a great word from the Lord:
Joshua 1:3 “ Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.”
We pick up the trip at Ai.
The English translation of “Ai” is sin.
The Lord of Hosts (Joshua 4:14) had just given Joshua and Israel victory at Jericho, a very large city with a purportedly impenetrable wall.
Joshua 6:20 So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.
The Lord, through Joshua, commanded the people
to take nothing “under the ban” from the city:
Joshua 6:18 “But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it.”
The Hebrew for “under the ban” is 2764 cherem,
which means shut in,
things which should be utterly destroyed.
things over which the Lord has cast a net.
After the Lord’s great victory at Jericho,
Israel continued on to Ai.
The account of the battle at 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.
After such a great victory over impenetrable Jericho,
why did a lesser foe defeat Israel?
In the beginning, the Lord told Joshua this:
Joshua 1:7 “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.”
Joshua had instructed the people not to sin —
do not covet and take what is under the ban.
Obedience equaled success (still does!).
No success at Ai meant something was wrong between Israel and her God.
Sin was in the camp,
and Israel was in trouble.
There was great fear among Israel’s enemies after the victory at Jericho.
But if Israel couldn’t defeat tiny Ai,
no one would fear Israel anymore.
So Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothes
and put dust on their heads (signs of mourning and humility)
and fell on their faces before the ark, the presence of the Lord,
just as Moses had done:
Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.
But the Lord responded in what seems at first to be a strange way:
Joshua 7:10 So the LORD said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face?”
But was is not strange at all,
because the Lord intended for Joshua to judge the sin in the camp:
Joshua 7:11 “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.”
No sin is hidden from God’s eyes.
God didn’t use a person’s name.
He said, “Israel has sinned.”
We will soon see that just one person’s sin
affected the whole camp!
Joshua 7:12 “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.”
Do you see?
Israel disobeyed the command NOT to take anything from Jericho.
Now she couldn’t stand against the enemy because of sin in the camp.
God would not be with her any more
unless she found and destroyed what was taken from Jericho.
But how would Joshua do that?
The Lord would reveal who it was through the drawing of lots.
(NOTE: God is in charge . . . this is not gambling or chance, but simply one of many methods God used in the Old Testament to guide Israel.)
Joshua 7:14 ‘In the morning then you shall come near by your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes by lot shall come near by families, and the family which the LORD takes shall come near by households, and the household which the LORD takes shall come near man by man.
Joshua 7:15 ‘ It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel.’”
What had been taken? Who had taken it?
The writer of Joshua reveals it in 7:1,
but it isn’t revealed to Joshua until 7:19 —
Joshua 7:1 But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel.
Joshua 7:19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”
Joshua 7:20 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.”
Achan took what was pleasing to his eyes.
God wouldn’t mind.
Who would it hurt?
About thirty-six men died because Achan sinned (Joshua 7:5)!
But after Achan’s sin was judged:
Joshua 8:1 Now the LORD said to Joshua, “ Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.”
AND NOW, THE APPLICATION TO THE CHURCH
The Lord gave Ai (sin) into Israel’s hand.
The Lord will give sin and Satan into your hand, O Church,
if you deal with the sin in the camp!
Most of the church (at least in America) has been defeated by Ai (sin).
Many in the church perish because of sin.
The church has no power over sin,
even teaching that God can’t remove it from you,
so she lives in continual defeat,
sinning just as the world around her sins.
But if Israel couldn’t defeat Ai,
no one would fear her anymore, including Satan.
Do you see?
Satan doesn’t fear a sinning church.
And the church becomes his playground.
So much of the Church works from our own strength and courage,
rather than God’s.
When a Chinese missionary from the underground church in China
came to America
he was shown all its churches of thousands.
At the end of his trip, he was asked,
“What impressed you the most?”
He replied, “How much you are able to do without God!”
Many ministries in America boast that they are rich and in need of nothing.
Jesus Christ replies:
Revelation 3:17 ‘Because you say, “ I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
19 ‘ Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
Be purified. Be zealous. Repent.
Those Jesus loves, he reproves and disciplines.
the church has something hidden under the ground in her tent.
It is sin.
It may be her coveting of gold and silver,
it may her coveting something beautiful to the eyes,
loving the things of this world —
That is selfishness, self-centeredness,
it is self-serving.
Loving the things of this world? Listen to the Spirit-inspire Apostle John:
1John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
The church began with great victories in the Book of Acts.
Sin was quickly judged (Acts 5:1ff, Ananias and Sapphira).
But now, many Christians love the world and the church winks at sin.
Is the situation hopeless?
Will Satan, her great Enemy,
continue to defeat her and make a laughingstock of her?
The Lord says, O Church —
Joshua 7:13 “Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, “ There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.”
Set yourselves apart.
Gather in an assembly.
Find and remove the sin that keeps you from standing against Satan.
Until you do, O Church, you will not have victory against Satan.
Isaiah 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the LORD.
Touch nothing unclean!
Go out of the midst of sin!
You may say, “That’s Old Testament.”
O scoffer, listen to what Paul says to the Corinthians,
who had sin in their camp!
2Corinthians 6:17 “ Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you . . .”
Just as the church at Corinth was troubled,
just as Israel was troubled at Ai,
so you are troubled, O Church!
What you have coveted
what you have hidden in the ground under your tent
is not hidden from God.
And it causes you to lose battles with Satan
and with sin!
A lesser foe has defeated you.
Sin is in the camp.
The anger of the Lord burns against you.
You have not judged the sin that’s in the camp (1Corinthians 5)
And so, even one individual’s sin affects the whole camp.
Therefore, the whole camp can’t stand against Satan.
Once Achan’s sin was judged, fire was used to purify the camp.
What fire do we have today,
rather than the literal fire applied to Achan
and his family and all he owned?
The fire of the Holy Spirit!
Our Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus has come!
Jesus Christ has come to apply fire to sin
and all of its tentacles!
The things in your midst,
even in the midst of your own heart, O Christian,
the things under the ban,
must be destroyed.
God does not want any to perish,
but all to come to repentance (see 2Peter 3:9).
Christ’s blood was shed for forgiveness AND purification!
He died for our sin,
He rose to give us resurrection life (born from above),
He ascended to heaven to provide the Purifier,
the Holy Spirit!
You have a Deliverer!
Do you not believe He can do it?
The Lord says that’s the problem.
It’s easier to claim you can’t be purified,
so you can go on doing the sin you love.
But your sin destroys you and many others.
SEEK OUT THE SIN IN THE CAMP!
ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT TO APPLY HIS PURIFYING FIRE!
Listen to the promise of God, if you will obey Jesus Christ today:
–God will go before you,
and God will be your rear guard (Isaiah 52:12).
–God will be your Father,
and you shall be sons and daughters to Him. (2Corinthians 6:18).
–The Lord will give Satan into your hand.
Joshua 1:3 “ Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.”
2Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.