Sermons

Summary: Mature Christians rest not on their laurels but rest assured that serving the Lord faithfully and unequivocally all the days of their lives will be rewarded with God's verbal stamp of approval, "Well done!"

WHAT THE LORD PROMISES, HE DELIVERS, NOTWITHSTANDING ENEMIES WITHIN

As a hummer and whistler, I find myself humming and whistling tunes that pop into my head almost any time of day almost anywhere. Not unusual for other folks to notice this about me – even at times when I am unaware of it.

Reflecting upon last week’s study having to do with enemies from without – those who establish themselves as enemies of the LORD God - and looking ahead to this week’s study having to do with enemies yet again, except this time the focus is on what you might call enemies within - those who identify themselves as being for the LORD but disobey His commands - I found myself humming the tune “I Ain’t Gonna Study War no more”. . .

Please recall that our LORD felt keenly about the harsh reality that every now and then enemies surface within the ranks of the Christian Community: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters” (Luke 11:23).

There is no way that a professing believer, who says he loves the LORD, really loves Him - if he deliberately and premeditatedly engages in practices that are unmistakably contrary to God’s Will and, for Christians, contradictory to directives given to His followers by Jesus.

Joshua was convinced by a messenger sent from God that the battle he was about to engage in was of the Lord and that the time had come for God’ people to trust God and go all the way with Him to victory. By faith, Joshua led his army, and they went “straight in, took the city, and devoted it to the Lord” who had already given them the victory. Victories over enemies of God are GIFTS of God . . . !

However, as always when God gives victory, there are those who take the credit, and seek to discredit the One who gave the victory! In the case of Jericho, at least one of them - probably more - apparently thought, “Yes, I remember God telling us not to take anything out of the city because it all belongs to Him; but I’ll just take a few treasures to reward myself for what I did.”

Big mistake! Not because God needed material treasures but, since this was only the beginning of the Conquest of Canaan, it was necessary for God’s people to have their level of trust tested in order to determine whether or not further disciplinary measures were called for. And guess what? They were! Get this:

A self-appointed “committee of one”, a Hebrew named Achan stole sacred treasure (forbidden fruit) and concealed it, but God told Joshua: “Israel has sinned, and they have transgressed my covenant . . .” (v. 1)

Do you see the negative effect an individual’s transgression can have on the whole community? With all the emphasis we place on individualism – I myself being one of those who do so – of necessity we are confronted from time to time with a stark reality: We the people of God are a community which often becomes complacent about the seriousness of sin. And we are most vulnerable in moments of success! Thus, the harshness with which God dealt with Achan – Joshua 7: 13-15 . . . 19-21 . . .

Just as the battle against the enemy from without was of God, so was the battle against the enemy within. God treated the situation as if everybody had sinned – so, accountability transfers to the community as a whole. In the “family systems approach” which we employ at The Rock counseling center we say, “If one member of the family has a problem, the whole family has a problem.”

Nowhere in our society is this lesson learned to its maximum degree than in the military. An entire company associated with the Third Army was assembled on the drill field during my tenure of duty just to identify one recruit who had gotten himself in trouble with headquarters. He was singled out, embarrassed and, right then and there, sentenced to his punishment! Every soldier took notice!

Achan was identified as the culprit, indicted as an individual but, representative of many! “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Folks, direct defiance of God is tantamount to blasphemous conduct which always ends disastrously for anyone and everyone who knowingly consorts with God’s arch enemy Satan to do harm to God’s purpose . . . plan . . . people!

One man’s blatant disrespect, disregard and dismissive attitude toward the LORD God had (has, and always will have) dire consequences not only for the one but also for all who consort with the one and thereby consort with the enemy of God. What we have in a situation like this is a “consortium of covetousness” which, in defiance of God’s command, “Sees . . . covets . . . takes . . . reaps.”

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