IS GOD SERIOUS ABOUT SIN? Some people think that God winks at sin or that sin doesn’t really apply to them or that God doesn’t mean what He says about sin and the results of sin. Others seem to think that their sinful actions will go unnoticed and after all they are not hurting anyone. Joshua 7:1 reveals such a man named Achan, who coveted certain items during the battle for Jericho, took them, and hid them in his tent so others would not know that he had violated God’s express instructions concerning these things. But sin does have results and sin often affects others even though they do not actually participate in the sin. Such was the case of Achan’s sin and the others in the nation of Israel.

After Jericho the next city on Joshua’s schedule for battle was a little city called Ai. Since it was small only a small battle force was assembled to go and defeat it but they were routed by the people of the city and thirty-six Israelite soldiers were killed and the remainder ran for their lives (Joshua 7:1-5). Joshua and the people were discouraged and came before the Lord and were complaining about these things (Joshua 7:6-9). But God in essence told them to shut up, stand up, and deal with sin in the camp (Joshua 7:10-15) and do so in a dramatic manner that would not only bring righteous judgment and punishment but also be a lesson the nation should remember. And to Joshua’s credit he did what God told him to do and the sinful Achan was discovered and dealt with; and it was a severe and deadly judgment not only on Achan but on his entire family (Joshua 7:16-26). We might cry out, “That is so unfair of God,” but we would be wrong.

As Barnes notes in his commentary, “The “trespass” was the act of one man, yet is imputed to all Israel, who also share in the penalty of it (Joshua 7:5). This is not to be explained as though all the people participated in the covetousness which led to Achan’s sin (Joshua 7:21). The nation as a nation was in covenant with God, and is treated by Him not merely as a number of individuals living together for their own purposes under common institutions, but as a divinely-constituted organic whole. Hence, the sin of Achan defiled the other members of the community as well as himself, and robbed the people collectively of holiness before God and acceptableness with Him. Israel had in the person of Achan broken the covenant (Joshua 7:11); God therefore would no more drive out the Canaanites before them.”

In this Church Age we live in, sin has consequences for us as well. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We each will be held to account for our own sins before God. But let us remember that our sin usually hurts other people as well and certainly breaks our fellowship with God though a true relationship with God is secure (John 10:27-29). If we as Christians find ourselves acting like Achan let us remember, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).

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