Summary: This passage teaches how great the consequences of temptation really are and the necessity of resisting it.
Scripture: Joshua 7:126, especially verse 12b
The Trap of Temptation
Introduction: Do you realize that a single sin can potentially ruin your success, your family, a lifetime friendship, or a reputation? Temptations are all around us, waiting to destroy us if we give in (Gen. 4:7). Our passage today teaches how great the consequences of temptation really are, and the necessity of resisting it.
1. Temptation (v. 1). Consider the circumstances of Israel: God promised Abraham he would make him a great nation (Gen. 12:2, 3), but a nation must possess land. The Israelites had been roaming in the desert for 40 years because of sin. Finally, Joshua replaced Moses and the new generation arose to conquer their promised land! God was fulfilling His promise, bringing Israel to a great land to become a great nation. However, Achan wanted just a little more (Josh. 7:1). With all these blessings, how could he want more? With all that God has given us, how can we? Temptation causes us to take our focus off of God, His amazing plan, and abundant provision to satisfy our own temporary lust.
A. The Test: God’s Command. Israel was given a command. When they overtook Jericho, they were to leave certain spoils for the Lord (Josh. 6:1719). Achan disobeyed; he stole a sacred robe, some silver, and some gold (vv. 20, 21). This reminds us of Adam and Eve, who were given abundance with one command: to resist one tree, yet they fell. The Spirit convicts us of sin and gives us strength to resist temptation
(1 Cor. 10:13), yet we often overlook God’s commands to satisfy ourselves.
B. The Trap: Our Desires. James explains, "Let no one say when he is tempted, `I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed" (James 1:13, 14). Achan followed this same pattern, "I saw ... I coveted ... and took ... And there they are, hidden." We must take responsibility, recognizing that our desires caused us to sin. We must never hide like Achan or Adam and Eve. If we fall into the trap of our own lusts, we must not divert responsibility or hide our failure.
2. The Consequence. James continues in His explanation of temptation, "Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:15; c.f. Rom. 6:12 NKJV).
A. Shared (vv. 25). One man sinned, yet an entire nation suffered. Israel lost 36 men in battle and, more importantly, they lost the Lord’s favor.
B. Specific (vv. 1426). The Lord not only punished the nation, but also condemned Achan. The Israelites stoned Achan with his entire family and burned their bodies. This suggests the ultimate punishment for sin; eternal separation from God in hell. The harsh reality of hell is a natural result of sin.
3. Reconciliation. How do we reconcile if we have been tempted? Achan hid his sin, but God calls us to deal with it.
A. Realization (vv. 25; 612). Before we can deal with sin, we must realize its presence. Only after Israel lost lives and favor with God did Joshua turn to the Lord for reconciliation. It always costs us to sin. Whether we lose our testimony, our families, our ministry, or our favor with God, our loss is meant to bring us to realize our sin.
B. Riddance. The Lord told Joshua, "I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction" (v. 12b). When the Israelites found the guilty person, they stoned and killed him. They destroyed all his possessions and killed his family to ensure complete riddance of his evil legacy (vv. 2226).
C. Repentance. Israel saw the pain and death sin brings. Their riddance of sin marked their personal repentance and dedication to resist temptation. We see and feel the painful effects of sin every day: social injustice, adultery, disease, hatred, etc. Yet, do these things cause us to turn away from sin?
My challenge for you today is to go home and rid yourself of any temptations. Refuse gossiping or getting drunk; throw away the magazines and videos. Whatever it may be, destroy whatever is devoted to destruction. If you have sinned, turn to Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price of death for us, and commit to resist temptation through His Spirit.