God does not overlook sin

Joshua 7

Jerry A Collins




*               How serious does God about sin?

*               How should we deal with sin in our lives?

*               How far do the consequences of our sin go?


Woodrow Wilsons (28th president) father was a minister in the South. He joined a group of men caught up in what could be seen as a heated discussion. One of these men lost his temper and cursed loudly. Only then did he observe minister Wilson in the group. He apologized profusely and said Sir, I had forgotten that you were present. Please pardon me. Dr. Wilson replied, It is not to me that you owe an apology, but to God. (From the Quiet Hour, Sept-Nov 1997, pg 54). It is also true that the distance between a great victory and a great defeat is only one step! Often it is a short one at that. One moment a great victory at Jericho and the next a major defeat at Ai. And it was the result of sin that had been committed against God. This chapter teaches us that God takes sin seriously and so must we.


The word But sets the contrast between 6:27 a high point and the very next moment a low point. The thrill of victory then the agony of defeat.

(1) They acted unfaithfully. This, by the way, is the history of Israel. The sin was a spiritual issue between God and Israel. We sin against God. By definition, sin is anything contrary to the character of God. Right and wrong are not our own inventions, they come from God. So sin is being unfaithful to God.

(2) Sons of Israel are accountable. Twice God says it is the sons of Israel who acted unfaithful and were accountable to God. The sin if anyone affects all those around them. The consequences of sin are rarely restricted to the one doing the sinning. Achan, we are told, took things banned from Jericho. So the anger of God burns against all of Israel. Sin in the camp stopped Gods favor upon them.

(3) Sin does not escape God. God is omniscient. Sin never escapes His watchful eye. We can fool others but God sees what we try to hide from them. And this only hinders Gods will and creates trouble for ourselves and others.

(4) Attention to Gods holiness. Sin is not small matter with God because it is rebellion and is against the holy nature of God. God is completely set apart from anything evil and so His people must be too. Since sin is something we do against God, God must do something about it.


Sin has many consequences and none of then is ever good. We see this here in the consequences of sin in the life of Gods people.

Spies are sent 2-3. Unaware of what Achan did, Joshua sends spies to Ai. They said it would be easy to capture, so they just send 3000 men to battle.

Israel is defeated 4-5. But the men of Ai defeated the army of Israel and 36 of them were killed. This defeat is the only defeat recorded in Joshua and the only report of Israelites killed in battle. The result was the hearts of the people melted and became as water. This defeat demoralized Israel. Interesting, because this seemed to have created misgivings and a lack of confidence in the camp (v 7). Should we have crossed the Jordan?

Confusion leads to prayer 6-9 Joshua tore his clothes in mourning before the ark. The elders also did so. Joshua was learning something about God. If we do not learn and grow in our understanding about God and ourselves in every situation, we will eventually become discouraged and drift away from God and our calling. No matter how much we give our lives to good things and worthwhile efforts, unless we see our value enhanced in those efforts, we will eventually drift away from discouragement or disillusionment. So his confusion leads him to pray, complaining to God, because he does not understand his defeat. It is biblical to express confusion and frustration in prayer. Sin in my life, or some unwise practice which I am unaware of, may be hindering me from doing Gods work. If I do not know what it is I should ask God to show me thru His word. Israel is help responsible for the sin they are unaware of. Sin is sin and requires the judgment of God whether we are aware of it or not. Joshua was required to take action about the sin he was unaware of. God then made Joshua aware of the sin.


In this section God mentions four things about this sin:

(1) Israel has sinned 11. Here is the basic nature of their failure. This is probably referring to the coveting which Achan admitted he did in vs 21. So sin is the problem. (2) They have transgressed Gods covenant, namely, Achan took what was banned. This points to the specific issue. (3) They have stolen things under the ban. They were guilty of a violation and therefore could not stand before their enemies. (4) Being deceivers 11. Most sin is accompanied by some sort of lying or cover-up. The point is that it is sin that keeps the church, just as it did Israel, from standing before the world. It is not a lack of strategy, it is a lack of holiness 12. The reason is that sin grieves and quenches the HS. Sin must always be paid for. But sin is never overlooked.

Consecrate yourselves 13 We should pay attention to our sin so that we are sensitive to it and deal with it. Here Joshua is preparing the people to deal with the problem by calling attention to the cause of their defeat.

Catch the sinner 14-15 God told Joshua how to catch the sinner. Come by tribes, family, and person. The point of this is to expose and then purge this sin from their midst but taking this one and burning him and all his possessions with fire. God takes sin very seriously.


There is no such thing as sin without consequences. Sin is never free (Col 3:25;Jas 5:19-20).

Achan was forced to confess 16-19 Here is the process of discovery and exposure. Sin always follows this path. You cannot sin and get away with it. Achan offered no repentance until forced to confess. It was not until his household was singled out that Joshua said to him Give glory to God and tell what you have done. Achan confessed coveting & stealing 20-21 This confession did nothing to erase the consequences of his sin. To erase the consequences would violate the justice of God. Confession will reestablish our fellowship with God but it will not take away the consequences we have to live with because of it. It will stop further ones. Admission is not the same as repentance. You must call your sin the same thing God calls it and then decide to turn away from it. Achan held accountable 22-26 Reminds me of Annanias and Sapphira, another occasion when God was beginning something new to reiterate the seriousness of sin in His people. The stolen things were found, Achan stoned, everything burned. God is just and expected His Word to be kept literally. We are out brothers keeper with respect to the laws of Christ and holding them accountable (1 Cor 5; Gal 6:1; Jas 5).

(1) If we focus on experience or circumstances, instead of Gods Word we will be confused about the work of God. Josh concluded by looking at circumstances that they should have stayed on east side of Jordansomething very different from what God was doing. Josh did not understand the work of God until he received the Word of God. So never interpret your circumstances to determine the will of Godonly His Word can do that. Else our circumstances may lead us in opposite direction from God.

(2) Best way to stay in Gods favor is to tell the truth, tell it soon and tell it yourselfdont wait to be confronted of it by others.

(3) Reasons for suffering may include a. your sin b. your stupidity c. you obeyed God. Every time we have problems our first response is usually to say it is because of our sin because we have so much of it. Sins appeal is to be your own person, do your own thing, assert your own independence from God. But God calls for dependence upon him.