Hidden Sin and an Uncovered Grace

by | May 19, 2024 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Joshua 7

Joshua 7 tells us about the hidden sin of Achan and the devastation it brought upon God’s people. What we learn through this chapter is that God is just and fair and will not tolerate sin in the world. While God may be more patient than we can understand, His judgement is clear concerning sin and unrighteousness. This passage also exposes that everyone of us have hidden sin in our lives, and we desperately need God’s saving help.



So I decided just now to skip over Joshua 7 um and go on to Joshua 8 every that was a joke I’m not doing that um that went over poorly no but I want to after uh hearing it out loud uh cuz tonight in Joshua 7 we’re dealing with uh a really big topic uh and that topic is hidden sin it’s hidden sin specifically we find it revealed in obviously this passage of the Hidden sin of aen after the the battle in Jericho how God deals with the the hidden sin in Joshua 7 and if you were paying any attention at all to the reading and you didn’t zone out uh he deals with it quite harshly right especially for our 21st century Western ears I think that was a it’s hard to hear uh and immediately we went to kind of backpedal and try to figure out some way of explaining all this away and surely this was just symbolic in some sort of way or just a metaphor it couldn’t have been something that that God would really do we want to do that but we can’t but even harder than that is the implication that this has on each of us every one of us here today but before I think we can jump into this we need to establish a a basic gospel understanding when we begin to look at aen and Joshua 7 uh that and I hope we can agree to this uh that Jesus is the only perfect person can we agree to this yes right uh so when it comes to us as whether it’s parents or whether it’s as a friend to someone else or whether it’s some someone’s children or a neighbor or a coworker or a brother or

sister Jesus is the only one who is without sin therefore Jesus is the only perfect sinless parent Jesus is the only perfect sinless friend Jesus is the only perfect sinless neighbor he’s the only perfect sinless coworker he’s the standard Jesus is the standard standard by which we judge ourselves because he’s the very image of God and God’s righteousness and so we therefore can agree that the rest of us are sinners right and we fall we fall short of of who Jesus is and God and all of his goodness and righteousness and I guess if you disagree with me you can not stop listening um you know because I don’t know that the rest is going to make that much uh sense to you but because Joshua seven uh and its connection to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is absolutely dependent that we understand this that we’re all Sinners Romans 3:23 uh we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God it’s what Paul told us uh it was an archery term that Paul chose meaning to miss the mark uh to miss the bullseye uh and he’s saying Jesus is the bullseye and none of us can hit it none of us can come close we miss it none of us can we’re none of us are perfect all of us miss that Bullseye so no matter how much we think that we are model parents no matter how much we think that we’re the most obedient children and well- behaved or the the best most loyal friend a person could ever ask for or the most thoughtful neighbor or maybe the most supportive coworker anyone could possibly ask for we not we’re not that’s not what God’s word reveals because only Jesus possibly could be he’s the only one who can hit the bullseye and our failure to be perfect is not because of external factors in our lives I know that’s the Temptation right all of us want to say you know I would have been a better parent at that moment if my kid hadn’t done this right it happen I mean I do this all the time uh I would not have lost my temper had they not done so and so it’s their fault no it’s not that is not the issue uh that is not the issue but uh the Temptation in US is to certainly uh uh is to to blame other people or other factors for why uh we do but the truth is it’s our own Hearts as much as we we may try to hide it or as much as we may try to fight it our hearts are by Nature

self-centered and self-oriented which means that that our our motives even our best motives are always out of whack they’re not truly always for the other person there’s always something self-centered even within it about how it makes us feel about ourselves or or maybe what we think other people are going to view us as if we do this good thing for this person uh you know or if if even if it makes us feel like we are the model parent because I did all this well guess what now you’re prideful so you missed the

Mark I think we have to establish this as the Baseline because the Temptation I think is when we look at Joshua 7 and ain’s hidden sin is to think well you know well he was just a selfish wretch he was a selfish wretch and and I’m so glad that I’m not like aen right that’s the temptation but the truth is every one of us is just like aen every one of us we all have hidden sin it’s either sin that we uh that we know about and that we’re hiding from everyone else around us and maybe we’re really good at it or maybe it’s a a sin that uh that we don’t even know maybe it’s just so deep or or we’ve been doing it for so long we don’t even notice maybe it’s that kind of of hidden sin within us and our great fear and our great reluctance is to admit that this is actually true about us especially when when we learn the fate of aen right but to receive this truth and to accept it and to in turn cry out to God for Mercy means that we find at the bottom of it all the gospel of grace itself that through the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ Alone we’ve been saved so if you dare to take your an honest look into your own heart and and you’re hungry for some good news this evening join me as we we take a a deeper dive into to Joshua 7 because this is heavy and it’s uh but at the same time I think it points us in a beautiful way to Jesus and the cross of our Salvation so Joshua 7 for those who weren’t with us uh last week I encourage you to go back and listen to Joshua 6 so you can understand the the full context of what’s going on here but God has just delivered the city of Jericho into his people’s hands um with all of its Kings and its might warriors uh and they and all of it has been delivered into the hands of his people after seven days of the Glorious Anglican procession as I talked about last week uh around Jericho the Lord brought those walls down the Lord brought the walls down and he delivered Jericho into their hands but there was one command that God had given and that was the command that we talked about last week that was called the ban and Jo God gave it through Joseph to uh his people and this the ban is is it’s the devoted things and so in Joshua 6:17 I I will read it again for us because it is important as we’re looking at Joshua 7 that we understand what’s going on he said and the city and all that is within it this is before they conquered the city this was the instruction that that God gave to his people through Joshua and the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for Destruction only Rahab The Prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live because she hid The Messengers whom we sent but you keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for Destruction and bring trouble upon it so to understand that remember going back a couple of weeks even this was God’s judgment against the incredibly prevailing sin of Jericho this wasn’t just a snap judgment by God uh this is the grotesque grotesque perversion of God’s word and all the things that God has declared to be good uh we talked about this a number of weeks ago uh this was also a spiritual battle by the way the worst of which the perversion of God’s word uh was that we know in that area was the the sacrifice of children was was happening uh some of the cultic uh practices were a perversion of the first fruits offering that God had asked his people to give them of the Harvest uh and these uh cultic uh you know uh Idols would demand uh these false gods would demand that they sacrifice their firstborn child so that they would be uh successful and they would have a uh fertile family and that they would be there would be many blessings by doing this and that was so detest able to God that he was rendering judgment upon him that was just one of the the massive ones but we also have talked about this was a bigger spiritual battle that was happening here that the these are against the spiritual forces of darkness in the Heavenly Realms because what they were really worshiping wasn’t just some False Image that didn’t have any significance at all to it what they’re worshiping are actually Fallen Angels demons those who are opposed to the will of God and God is rendering judgment because they are bowing down and worshiping uh the these false gods who were perverting God’s word on purpose to lead God’s people astray God is rendering his judgment and but God had been patient with them we talked last week about it was 700 years since he had first mentioned Abram this is the land I’m going to give you uh of the inhabitants of the amorites and the Canaanites but their sin has not yet reached the the place where it’s so bad that I’m going to have to to use you to render judgment against them it was 700 years later that God finally got around and decided it’s too much it’s got to be dealt with

now because I think I believe because God was longing and wanting and hoping that they would come to a place of repentance at least that’s what 2 Peter 3:9 tells us it says this the Lord is is not slow to fulfill his promisees some count slowness but is patient towards you not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance God was willing to wait 700 years for a change of heart that didn’t come and so what this tells us is that God is incredibly serious about Sin and its destructiveness to the goodness of his creation and what he intends for us he’s serious about it and so this is what we learned in 71 but the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things for aen the son of Ki Son Of Z zdi and Son of Zarah of the tribe of Judah took some of the devoted things and the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel so achen did what God had warned not to do that I just read a minute ago uh a can undermined God’s plan his purpose his judgment by keeping some of those things that have been devoted to the Lord for Destruction he decided that it would be better that he devoted them to himself and so he took some of those things for himself and we’re going to come back to why uh because that gets revealed later but notice that in the verse it said this but the people God said were told the people of Israel broke faith it was the people of Israel who broke Faith this doesn’t seem right does it no it was aen who broke Faith with God but that’s not what God says he said it’s the people of Israel who broke Faith so God is holding the people as faithless or guilty for the sin of one man do you ever have a teacher who did that maybe you are a teacher does that um or maybe a coach who did that one person messes up the whole team man my football coach you know one you know that ball hit the ground ever the whole offense was running not just the people who did it uh I hated it I hated it so much it never really seemed fair right but there was there was something about it that was try the coach’s idea was I’m teaching you all that you’re part of this thing together and that when one person fails it affects all of you God’s teaching them this has a greater infection into the whole body sin does that sin so god holds all of the people guilty for the sin of one man aen which then flows into uh verse two Joshua then sent men from Jericho to AI which is near bethaven east of bethl and said to them go up and spy out the land and the men went up and spied out Ai and they returned to Joshua and said to him do not have all the people go up but let let about two or 3,000 men go up and attack AI do not make the whole people go up there for they are few so about 3,000 men went up from the people we’ll come back to that in just a moment so now that Jericho’s been defeated it’s on to the next city right on to the next uh fulfillment of the conquest that God’s called them to and so Joshua chooses AI is the next strategic spot now for you military folks this is for for good good reason so they uh they’ve already conquered Jericho but Jericho uh exists in the lowlands it’s in uh it’s in the valley and so Joshua knew I got to get us out of here uh we can’t just sit here now this whole the walls were gone right there’s no more they can’t just take over the defenses we need a strategic Place we’ve got to go to The High Ground we got to get The High Ground we got to get to a place where the Chariots where the time was the most uh the most uh destructive War force that was out there we got to get out of it we got to get away from it get to the highlands where they can’t reach and so that’s exactly where they went that’s where AI was it was in a strategic place in the High Country uh and it was also part of along a very important trading route that kind of would lead its way into more important areas uh and this is the place the area at least where later Saul when he becomes king of Israel where he’s going to establish his capital in that same area so Joshua sends out the spies to do some Recon work this sounds a little bit familiar for those who who’ve been listening to the series uh there’s two other times that spies have been sent ahead to go check out the area uh in numbers 13 Moses sent the spies out uh and then got a report back that one didn’t go so well uh we’ll talk about that in a minute and then in Joshua 2 they sent again Joshua sent spies out to to check out Jericho and they came back with a much better report uh but this report and this little spy episode it’s got disaster written all over it it’s got disaster written all over the report that’s given uh follow is given in a recommendation it makes no mention whatsoever of any Divine Purpose only human observation and evaluation is made to try to predict a likelihood of victory

the spies were concerned about the weary Israelites which is strange right since it was God who brought the walls down but they’re worried that that they’re going to exhaust the the Israelites too much but the whole operation from what we just read about it lacked any faith whatsoever all of the mighty works of God had done at Jericho it didn’t build their faith

it only actually grew their pride and their

self-reliance in other words they got cocky they got cocky they began to see themselves as Invincible uh number in numbers 13 that I mentioned earlier Moses sent the spies out into the promised land then right do you remember what their report was their report is don’t go in there there’s Giants in there you couldn’t possibly overcome them even though God had already promised this is the land that I’m giving you so there they were being told it can’t be done and so they were faithless but now it’s the opposite here in Joshua 7 it’s gone completely the other direction it it now the lack of faith is that the uh the opposing arm is too small they’re too small we can do this on our own in other words we don’t need God for this we got the Army we’re well trained we’ve just brought down Jericho this this place doesn’t stand a chance and the result disaster they were defeated and they run away for their lives and worst of all in verse five and their the hearts of the people melted and became like water remember this is what was happening to all the people in the land when they were seeing God do these Mighty works in the Israelites and as they saw this 2 and a half million people crossing the Jordan and coming into their land and God Bringing Down the Walls which where we’ve been being told that the people have seen Rahab reported our hearts are melting away because of what the Lord is doing among you well now the opposite has happened what this tells us is Success didn’t Grant or didn’t generate more faith or trust in God that’s kind of counter to the way we think doesn’t it God just give me success and I will trust you all the more

but actually the opposite happened the success that God had helped that had brought about uh and what he was calling them to it actually generated pride and

self-reliance I know I I experienced this too in my own life I don’t I don’t know about you and it comes with you know specifically I can think about it when it comes to preaching uh because obviously preaching takes up a lot of energy and worry and and and anxiety and and study and a lot of the the things I think about during the week uh and and the things that I have to rely on the Lord for but a Sunday where I preached and I was like that was a really good

sermon the next week I’m like I got this now it’s the weeks where I’m like that was terrible people did not get anything that you were saying you know you didn’t put things together you didn’t connect any of the dots it was really bad uh those are the weeks I go back that that week I am on my knees because I realize I can’t do it do you do you experience that in your own life when things are successful at leads to to just a pride and

self-reliance our hearts are desperately sick and we need help verses 6 to9 Joshua laments and he actually out on this defeat and he actually argues with God and he calls on God to act specifically in verse nine he says what are you going to do for Your Great Name basically what he’s saying is that your glory god is at stake here your glory is being questioned these other people and all their gods are are having it over you right now because we were defeated what are you going to do God For Your Glory it’s not a bad argument actually for Joshua a make well in verses 10 to 26 God answers Joshua and he shows them what he’s going to do for the glory of his great name and so let’s begin looking ver 10 we’re told this the Lord said to Joshua get up why have you fallen on your face Israel has sinned they may have they they have transgressed my Covenant that I commanded them they taken some of the devoted things they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies


devoted unless you destroy the devoted things from among you again God says the people of transgression transgressed my Covenant meaning they they’ve broken the agreement God was punishing the whole for the sin of the one he was teaching them this lesson we might not like it but who are we to question God and what he purposes for his own glory and then verses 13 through 14 uh we’re told about the the instructions for the systematic search for the devoted things that are among them by tribe by tribe Clan by Clan household by household and then man to man what we get is the whole social structure of the people of Israel here the whole social structure is to be gone through and then in verse 15 and he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire he and all that he has because he has transgressed the Covenant of the Lord and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel this seems a little harsh doesn’t it it gets worse uh first of all the fate of the one who took the devoted things that were set apart for Destruction God’s saying they’re going to meet the same fate the the same fate and number two God was telling his people you’re no different than the people of Jericho why should he then uh why should he then treat them any differently that wouldn’t really be fair would it why should he treat them differently God isn’t playing favorites what is good for the goose is good for the gander in other words what what made Israel special was the Covenant relationship that they had with God that God had made with them that God had made with Abram by Grace by Grace he chose

Abram and Abram followed by faith we’re told so when they sin and when they when they break the Covenant they’re they’re no different and should be treated shouldn’t be treated with any kind of favoritism at all it’s an example right here of a fair and just God

verses 16 and 18 the search commenced and in the end aen was identified and this is what we’re told in verses 19 to 21 then Joshua said to aan my son give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him and tell me now what you have done do not hide it from me and aan answered Joshua truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel Isel and this is what I did when I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from shanar and 20 shekele 200 shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels then I coveted them and took them and see they are hidden in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath did you hear what Joshua said my son give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give him praise and tell me now what you have done do not hide it from me here we see something really important about sin because what sin is and not only missing The Mark with God and what he has called us to uh but sin is to take the glory that is due to God alone and it’s trying to take it for ourselves you know this word Glory it means to have weight weightiness which means to have value and so God’s glory means he is of infinite value he is of the most value what he says goes it’s G and what this is telling us is giving glory to ourselves over God is what sin is seeking our own glory in this world but then confession is Joshua invites aen to confess that act of of owning up to what we’ve done to those things we’ve left undone you know that thing I botched really bad at the beginning of the service it’s a part of worship confession is a part of worship it’s how uh it’s how we give GL glory to God it’s part of how we give glory to God it’s why confession is such an important part of our worship and in the Anglican tradition it’s the way we give God the glory

back now listen to how Ain describes his sin when I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from shanar and a two the 200 shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels then I coveted them and took them Adam’s confession immediately takes us all the way back to the very first sin takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden itself in Genesis 36 so when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise she took of its fruit and ate and she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate Eve saw that it was good and she delighted and saw that it was to be desired and she ate achen saw that it was beautiful coveted it and took

it they both desired what they had no right from God to possess they took God’s glory for themselves and they did what God had commanded them not to do and the consequences were dire they were dire for Adam and Eve weren’t they and consequently for all of us a the spiritual relationship with God broken the physical death for the consequence of sin coming into the world for aen it was again broken relationship with God he broke the Covenant relationship and the death that would become would come because of his transgression and the punishment it’s tough for us to take just as as he wiped out the inhabitants of Jericho the whole families all of their possessions that was hard to take but it was it was a righteous Judgment of God for that perversion of his word but in the same way Ain and his whole

family and all of their possessions destroyed but now contrast that with Rahab that we’re given that contrasting picture the who looked to God for her salvation by protecting God’s Messengers her and her whole family were

saved the temptation to try to is to try to defend God here right like CS Lewis wrote The God in the dock uh to try to get God put God on the the stand here and and have God defend himself on why he would make these decisions and uh do things the way he he has as if we have the right to put God on the dock and to make him defend himself uh what it does tell us here at the very least is that God is serious about Sin and its Devastation that it brings into our lives so serious that God chose to enter into our sin to save us that’s how serious God is about

Sin whereas all of God people were punished for the sin of one man Ain God sent his one and only son Jesus Christ to be punished to suffer death on the cross for the guilt of all of us Jesus on the cross bore the full weight of our sins so that when we put our faith in him we are granted forgiveness of our sins we’re clothed in the righteousness of Christ himself and he’s given us the gift of confession not some superstitious act which we’re trying to kind cover all our bases that’s not why we confess our sins in church in case I did just didn’t think of everything because we never think of everything right that’s not what it’s about it’s the opportunity confession it’s the opportunity to give God glory and praise by honestly recognizing that Jesus right ly died because of our continued rebellion and wickedness or self-centeredness okay let’s say that sounds a little nicer confession is God’s invitation to us to Humble ourselves and to quietly ask the Holy Spirit to stir up our conscience to give us eyes that we may see those hidden sins within

us that we may have the eyes to see therefore repent and find the freedom that’s been offered us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ God has given us confession as a gift and as John uh 1 John 1:9 tells us if any of us say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us but if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all of our unrighteousness

this gift of confession it gives us freedom it gives us freedom to do something that we would never have the strength to do or the courage to do and you know what that is to ask those around us how we might be hurting them our sin is incredibly relational and it’s affecting the people around us in our lives even that hidden stuff that we don’t recognize for us as parents we may think that we’re the perfect parents right but there are no perfect parents and so the truth is either we’re too distant or we’re overbearing we’re one or the other we’re we’re either absent from them or you detach from them because we just can’t deal or we just hover over them all the time and try to dictate all the time what’s going on in their lives either one is missing the mark that’s just one example

but the truth is if we stop and we ask if we if we could have the boldness and the freedom and the courage to ask other people see it other people can recognize how we’re hurting

them and because of the gift of confession and the promise that we confess our sins Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us we’re free to ask we’re free to ask other people because Jesus has paid the full price for our sin in him we’ve been cleansed from all unrighteousness we’re free to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the sins that we cannot see ourselves today as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower us and his people for the mission of the Gospel in our in our reading from The Gospel reading Jesus calls him the helper the spirit of Truth and in John 16 a little bit after that reading in verses 8 to 11 Jesus said when he comes the helper he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment the holy we’re free to invite the Holy Spirit to come and convince us to show us to open our eyes to see where are those places that are not yet captured by the gospel of grace because it matters Prince of follow the Holy Spirit as he’s leading us and molding us into the people of humility that the gospel demands that we be the only faithless Act

is to try to deceive ourselves to try to deny the work of the Holy Spirit In Our Lives concerning our own sin and to think you know I’ve got

this as the people of Israel did as God is preparing us as a people for the promised land that he’s called us to this new building but more than that to be a people who will truly bless the Nations to bless our community with the hope of the Gospel he’s calling us to be a confessional people a people of humility who accept our sinfulness who repent and walk in the newness of life through the Forgiveness of sins through our Lord Jesus Christ amen amen



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