“Indeed I have sinned against the LORD…I saw…then I coveted…and took…” Joshua 7:20-21.
I was reading in the book of Proverbs this morning that is it better to face a she bear that has lost her cubs than a fool in his folly, (Proverbs 17:12). Foolish men are dangerous men. They are dangerous to themselves. “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul,” (Proverbs 18:7). And they are dangerous to all those around them.
Do you remember the story of Achan? When the Israelites conquered Jericho they were warned to not take anything from the city. “And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it,”(Joshua 6:18). Yet Achan disobeyed the Lord and took a garment, some silver, and gold. Then he hid it under his tent.
When the children of Israel went to fight their next war, they were overthrown and thirty-six men were killed. Joshua and all the elders fell on their face before the Lord to enquire why God was not with them. God told Joshua to get up. He said there was sin in the camp that he needed to deal with. It is impossible for God to bless when sin abounds.
When confronted, Achan told Joshua that he saw the goods, he coveted them, and he took them. Achan was a fool in his folly. Achan’s sin did not just affect him. His sin caused thirty-six women to lose husbands. His sin caused many children to become fatherless. His sin caused Israel to lose a war. His sin caused God’s name to be blasphemed. But that was not all. Achan’s sin destroyed him and his entire family. “And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan …and his sons, and his daughters,… 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,” (Joshua 7:24-25). Only when the sin in the camp was dealt with was the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger.
God hates sin. God is not mocked. God punishes all sin.
But now, thanks be to God, those that are saved live under grace! But does that mean that God ignores sin today? Does He just overlook it? Will sin go unpunished? Paul said, “God forbid!” (Romans 6:15-16).
The New Testament is filled with chastisement, punishment, and discipline upon children of God. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,”(Hebrews 12:6). In fact, God will only chasten those He loves. Can you imagine a world without discipline?
Let me ask, what kind of child would you have if you always told him to obey, taught him rules, and then NEVER corrected him or punished him when he did wrong? Would you want to spend one day with a child like that?
What would the school system look like if the children there were never given consequences for misbehavior? Would you want your child going there?
What would your workplace look like if those who cheated, lied, and acted lazy were never fired? Would you want to work there?
What kind of society would we live in if there were laws in place yet the police never enforced them? Would you want to live in a society like that?
The answer is an obvious no. We want rotten children spanked. We want mean, bullies at school to be dealt with. We want unethical and dishonest workers to be fired. We want murderers, thieves, and drunk drivers in our society to be locked away and punished.
So let me ask this. What kind of church would we have if the pastor always preached on sin, repentance, and living holy. Yet, no one ever exhorted one another. What if the church disobeyed the Scriptures and never disciplined its members? What if we had the attitude of the first murderer and said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Would you want to be in a church like that?
But, what if sin, repentance, and holy living was preached each week and the members exhorted one another daily (Hebrews 3:13)? What if we carried our brother’s burdens and restored those who were overtaken in a fault (Galatians 6:1-2)? What if we went to those that were sinning and confronted their sin (Matthew 18:15)? What if we truly made a difference in the life of a brother or sister pulling them out of the fire (Jude 1:22-23)? What if the church disciplined those who refused to repent (I Corinthians 5:9, I Corinthians 5:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:14, Matthew 18:17) in a loving effort to win them back?
If this happened God would bless. He would add to a church like this (Acts 5:13-14). The church would be a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but it would be holy and without blemish, (Ephesians 5:27). The church would have a good testimony in the community (Matthew 5:14-16). The membership would be a peculiar people who glorified God (I Peter 2:9). Each person would be striving for the high calling (Philippians 3:12-14). God’s name would be lifted up and the members would be zealous of good works (Titus 2). Who wouldn’t want to be in a church like that?