Joshua 6:18 “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.” & 7:1-5 “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 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. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.”
The command to abstain from the spoils of Jericho having been secretly violated, a curse is brought upon the Israelites, who are defeated in an attack on Ai (Joshua 7:1-5). Joshua, alarmed at the defeat, turns to the Lord for answers as to why it had happened. The Lord informs him of the cause of the disaster at Ai. This leads to the discovery of the perpetrator, his confession and then his punishment.
Achan was evidently the only offender in this matter among all the thousands of Israel—a wonderful instance of religious discipline and obedience. Yet the whole nation became implicated in the consequences of his transgression, a principal we can get from this is we do not sin in a vacuum, our sin does not only affect us; it affects those around us as well.
The fall of Jericho had been followed up by the temporary fall of Israel as the result of the sin of Achan. There are still Achan desires lurking within the hearts of men today; desires for forbidden and accursed things and sins. Desires that need to be combated and defeated through the power of Christ in the life of a believer. Sin always leads to failure, to lost fellowship with Christ and lost testimony for Him. We are going to examine the seven stages of secret sin and look at what the end result of secret sin is in the life of a believer.
DESIRE – “I saw… then I coveted them…” Joshua 7:21. The first stage in secret sin is desire. Achan first had a desire; he first coveted what he eventually took. Achan’s sin lay not in seeing the things that he eventually took, perhaps he could not help but to see them; but his sin lies in the coveting of them once he saw them. We all may see something sinful for an instant. We should turn our heads and avert our gaze after that. The sin lies in when we keep looking at the sinful thing and then begin to covet after it. (Luke 11:34 – The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.)
The pleasures of sin will be attractive to us. Christians have a great need to watch and guard their hearts from the attraction of sin. Certain circumstances and certain sins we may give into can lead to disastrous results in our life. We need to learn and to practice to bring every thought in our life into the captivity of Christ and His Spirit. (II Corinthians 10:5 – Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;)
DISOBEDIENCE – “He took of the accursed thing…” Joshua 7:21. God had warned the Israelites in Joshua 6:18 to not take of the accursed thing. Achan knew of the warning, Achan sinned willingly, not ignorantly. The fact that Achan hid what he took proves he was conscious of the sin he was doing. He knew it was sin, he knew it was wrong and he did his best to hide it from everyone. (John 3:19 – And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.)
Do you have something in your life that you do your best to hide from everyone? Do you not want anyone to find out about it? Do you hide it from your loved ones? If you are hiding the sin it means you are abundantly aware of the wrongness and sinfulness of your actions.
Do you try to keep up the appearance of godliness to those around you while keeping the secret sin in your life? This is the epitome of hypocrisy. You are putting up a show of being one thing while actually being another thing all together. You need to confess the original sin along with the sin of hypocrisy and turn to God and start living for Him like you should. (Matthew 15:7-8 – Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.) – Where is your heart? Is it right with God? Or is it just pretending to be?
The Bible tells us not to love the world. It was a love of the world and the things it could offer that led Achan into his sin. Are there elements of the world that you love? If there are, confess that to God and seek His help to rid that affection for worldly things out of your life and instead seek those things of God instead. (I John 2:15-17 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.)
DEFEAT – “they fled before the men of Ai …” Joshua 7:4. Sin will always lead to defeat. You cannot live a victorious life for Christ while carrying around the burden of a secret sin in your life. There may be a temporary satisfaction or a temporary victory associated with sin, but in the end sin will always lead to defeat. You cannot have true victory in your life while harboring sin in your life. Sin brings defeat, sin brings heartache, sin brings guilt, secret sin brings paranoia, and secret sin will lead to depression in the life of a believer. There is no long term good, satisfaction or upside to having a secret sin in your life. (Hebrews 11:24-26 – By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.)
DEPRESSION – “the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” Joshua 7:5c. Secret sin in the life of a believer will lead to depression and defeat. Secret sin does not benefit you at all, it only leads to paranoia and living in perpetual concern of being found out which leads to depression and the absence of true joy in your life. Secret sin will lead to unexpected defeats in our life. Secret sin will lead to depression where it feels like everything is crumbling down around us and there is no hope and no way to get victory.
God’s hand of blessing will be removed from the life of those living in secret sin. For awhile it may go unnoticed but eventually you will cease to see God’s hand of blessing in your life. Eventually your secret sin will lead to your depression and living in a defeated and hopeless state of mind, but if you repent of that sin the Lord will begin the healing process in your life. (Psalm 32:3-5 – When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
To get a solution to depression you have to first acknowledge its cause. In the case of secret sin, you have to acknowledge it to God and confess it to Him. Then remember all the promises of God and how He has said He can help you in whatever situation you find yourself in, whether it is your own doing or not. He will always be there for you. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5b – for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)
DEBILITATION – “could not stand before their enemies…” Joshua 7:12. Secret sin leads to weakness, it leads to lack of motivation, it leads to an uncaring attitude, and it leads to a defeatist attitude. Secret sin, as it worms its way into your soul, debilitates you and leaves you unable to defend yourself from further attacks of the devil and causes you to be easily defeated in other areas of your life. One secret sin in your life is the gateway to countless other sins creeping into your life.
Harboring sin in your life breaks your fellowship with God, because the Bible teaches us that God cannot look upon sin. If we have unconfessed sin in our life our prayers go unheard, our communication line with Christ is broken.
Without a good prayer life our hearts too will melt under pressure when situations get difficult, our spirits will weaken under the stresses of life, our strength will wane, our ability to handle new attacks from the devil will be non-existent because our source of strength is the Lord, and when we have cut off that source by our secret sin we will not be able to renew our strength for what lies ahead. We won’t be able to stand before our enemy. We need the Lord and His strength in our life to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Psalm 28:7-8 – The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.)
DETECTION – “and Achan… was taken” Joshua 7:18. Be sure your sin will find you out, no matter how skillful you think you are at hiding it, it will eventually find you out. Amongst the thousands upon thousands of Israelites at this time, Achan’s sin was discovered. Achan’s sin was found out because nothing is hidden from God. His sin was exposed to all the eyes of the whole nation. It was no longer secret, now humiliation and the most dreadful shame fell upon Achan, this shame must have also fell upon his family too. Every hidden thing will eventually be brought to light. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Joshua 7:16-18 “So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.” – It was strange that Achan being conscious of his own guilt, when he saw the lot come nearer and nearer to him, did not either make an attempt to escape or try to get grace by making a confession of the sin before the lot fell upon him.
This lack of confession shows the hardened heart that Achan had as a result of unconfessed secret sin. Keeping secret sin in your life and not confessing it and seeking forgiveness will lead you to have a hard heart to God and the things of God. Once a heart is hardened it can be a very difficult thing to get reversed.
You can imagine the moment Achan was singled out as the trespasser to all the nation of Israel. He had been found out; the secret sin was secret no more. Can you imagine the panic that must have went through him, the horror that must have instantly hit him? If only he had not coveted after that sin, if only he had not deceptively hid that sin, if only he had come clean about that sin and confessed it on his own and not had waited until he was found out, what a difference in his life it would have been.
DESTRUCTION – “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 7:25. There is no way to escape the consequences of your sins. If you are God’s children He will chastise you as you sin. Yes, Christ paid the eternal penalty of your sins on the cross, but there is still earthly chastisement from Him for sins you commit. The Bible teaches us that if fathers love their children they will chastise them and rebuke them when it is needed. So too does our heavenly father love us, so He too will bring chastisement into our life as a result of our sin. (Hebrews 12:6-7 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?)
Not just Achan suffered the consequences of his sin. (Joshua 7:24 – 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. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day. )
Can you imagine the guilt of Achan knowing his sin was responsible for the premature death of his own children?
Achan did not intend anyone to get hurt from his sin. He did not intend for the thirty-six Israelites to die when they first tried to take Ai. He did not intend for his own family and children to die as a result of his sin. When we sin we do not intend for others to get hurt by our sin. We do not think our sin will affect anyone else but us, but that thought is not true. Your sin hurts more than just you. Your sin hurts and affects those that love you. Your sin hurts your family, your church and can even have an effect on your future children.
You need to keep the consequences of sin not just to you personally, but the consequences of your sin to others in the forefront of your mind. You do not ever want to experience the guilt and utter horror that Achan felt knowing he was responsible for the death of his children and knowing that his own children knew they were dying because of something Daddy had done. God forbid anything like this ever be true of anyone of us.
What will be your end? Will it be one of faith and obedience? Or will it be one of disobedience and destruction? Your future, your family’s future can be on the line all because of your secret sin. If you have a secret sin, run from it and run to the Lord and repent of it and seek His immediate forgiveness and grace only He can provide. Seek His comfort, seek His guidance and seek His wisdom in overcoming and conquering the desires in your life that may be leading you to commit your secret sin.
Secret sin in the life of a believer is destructive. (Joshua 7:26 – And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.) Secret sin can destroy your reputation and your testimony. Look at what we know about Achan, he may have been a great man up to, and except for his secret sin, but do we know him for any of that other good stuff he may have done? No! We know him for the secret sin he committed. We know Achan for the shameful sin he perpetrated, for all the death and destruction that resulted from that sin.
Guard your life, guard your decision making. Make sure you are living for God in all areas. Cleanse yourself of any known sin in your life. Carefully examine your heart and your mind, seek to find out all the sin and rid yourself of it, repent of it and turn to God. If you have a secret sin or sins in your life, confess them right now, seek forgiveness right now, seek grace while it is available, and don’t wait to be found out like Achan did. That brings destruction; seek forgiveness and receive grace from God.
The heap of stones left in the valley of Achor would be a reminder that God expects His people to obey His Word. God expects His people to live by His teachings and truths. God did not put that heap of stones in the valley of Achor just for the Israelites; it was put there for us too; to remind us that there really is no such thing as a secret sin. To remind us that God knows everything we do. We cannot hide anything from God. To remind us we need to do all we can to live our life right and good for the Lord. Harboring a pet sin, harboring a secret sin in our life does not pay in the long run and can cause much anguish and pain not just to the person committing the sin but to their family and friends as well.
Do you have a secret sin in your life? Do you have a pet sin that is unconfessed? Do you have a sin that so easily besets you? You need to get that right with God. Don’t wait to be found out. Do the right thing, don’t be an Achan and seek to hide it until you are caught, but voluntarily confess that sin and seek grace and forgiveness, and move on in your life, living it to the fullest for the Lord! (Hebrews 12:1 – Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,)