We often speak of Satan and his penchant for influencing our lives through lies. He wants to change the way we think and live to take our focus OFF Jesus.
Jesus even warns us in John 8 where these lies come from:
“[Satan] …speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies … 45 I tell the truth.” John 8:44-45
To introduce the lies of Satan that we will look at today, I want to relate a personal experience I had playing football early in my life. It was the second game of the season. I played offensive tackle and defensive end.
About mid-way through the first half, I somehow hurt myself … I could hardly move my left arm. So, I came off the field, and ask the line coach, “What do I do?” He said, “Stretch out your arm the best you can. This won’t hurt a bit”
Then, he proceeded to move my dislocated shoulder back into place. Let me tell you … it hurt mightily. I shouted out, “I thought you said this wasn’t going to hurt?” He said, “It didn’t hurt me a bit.” And he just smiled that coaches smile.
Well, just like my shoulder problem, I believe there is a tendency in our society today to believe that sin does not hurt anybody else, and it is not going to hurt you, but the fact is … that’s a BIG lie.
And Satan loves this lie. He tells us that sin will bring real happiness and joy to our lives … and because we so want to believe that this is true, we often buy into that lie.
Do you remember when Jesus says you must “love EVERYONE as you have loved yourself”? Well, the key word in that teaching is perhaps the word EVERYONE. Jesus NEVER taught that if someone is different than you, or if you do not like someone, then you do not have to love them. In fact, He says just the opposite.
Remember also when Jesus said, “I have come to save everyone”? the key word again is EVERYONE … even someone who is different than you are.
But Satan can be very enticing. Out of all the lies he tells, perhaps the following are the most enticing…
Satan says, “You will experience a great amount of pleasure” …
• When you buy into sexual sin, or
• When you buy into financial sin, or
• When you buy into gossip.
Satan says you will feel good when you talk back to people badly, treat someone badly, hurt someone, or when you bring someone down. Perhaps the best encouragement Satan gives is the encouragement to GOSSIP about others, which encompasses so much sin.
Satan convinces us that we can do these things, while we rationalize that nobody ever gets hurt by them … at least not hurt very much, or we rationalize that they DESERVED to be hurt so it is okay to hurt them.
Maybe the worst is the feeling that something is not fair. What says that life should be fair? Is that a teaching of God? Of course not. God says be content with your state in life and to trust in Him for your every need.
Not all people will earn the same annual salary, live in the same houses, or drive the same cars. Life is not fair. Life is meant to be lived in accordance with God’s will for your individual life. He places us in different stations in life, and then expects us to remain truthful and faithful to Him and His word.
I can tell what I do find in scripture is the teaching that we are to be content in our situations, whatever that is, and never compare yourself to others.
God says, depend on me, and I will give you what you need. And what you need may be different than what you see around you. There is no place for jealously or envy. God says be content!
But God also tells us a shocking truth in Ezekiel 18…
“The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Ezekiel 18:4
This is not a fun truth, but it is reality.
Sin always has consequences! And they are not pleasant. Today, I want to take a look at the story of a man named Achan to see how sin can lead to SEVERE consequences.
Achan was one of the Israelites who came into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
In fact, Achan was one of the Israelites who walked around Jericho for 7 days, and then witnessed God destroy the city.
But God not only brought them a victory over the city, but He also gave them a command on how to conduct themselves for the rest of the battle in Joshua 6…
“…keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction … otherwise you will make … Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into His treasury.”
When God conquers Jericho, everything and everyone in it is to be devoted to God. This is for two reasons:
• To protect them from sinning or getting caught up in sinful behavior, and
• To teach them righteousness by instructing them to not keep anything for themselves.
As victors, they could pick up things to make themselves wealthy, but God wants them to trust in Him … not their own wealth. So, God forbids them from taking anything.
Achan, however, has a hard time with this command as shown in Joshua 7…
“But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan … took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel.” Joshua 7:1
So Achan takes some of the things that were supposed to go to the treasury as listed in Joshua 7…
“… a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver (5 pounds) and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels (1 ¼ pounds) …” Joshua 7:21
Notice that Achan isn’t concerned about people … he is clearly interested only in material things. Think for a moment about the contrast between Achan’s behavior and Abraham’s behavior when he was dealing with Sodom and Gomorrah.
You remember that Abraham wanted something out of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah before God destroyed them as well, but Abraham wanted to save people … not gain wealth.
Achan however wanted just things. He was clearly focused on the sin of greed! And I believe Achan’s sin has three big consequences that I want to walk through with you today … because the consequences for Achan’s sins are also the consequences for our sins today.
These consequences will fly in the face of the BIG lie that says … “Sin isn’t going to hurt a bit.”
First is the recognition that …
Sin has communal or community consequences.
Sin will eventually always impact the people around us. Look at Joshua 7 after the spies Joshua sent out return. This is what they say…
“”Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.” 4 So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai.” Joshua 7:3-4
What is going on here? Achan sinned by disobeying God’s command to NOT TAKE anything from the spoils of Jericho, which resulted in all of Israel suffering … they all paid the price for Achan’s rebellion, when they were defeated at Ai.
Maybe you are thinking about now that this doesn’t seem fair? There is that question again. All of Israel’s army gets routed, and some lose their lives, simply because of Achan’s sinful behavior.
God is always teaching us that our sin has consequences … not only for us but for our community. For example…
• Your sexual immorality obviously has consequences for your marriage, but not just for your spouse. It affects family and friends as well.
• Your drugs or drinking has consequences not just for you, but again for your family and friends … for community.
• And your lying has consequences for your coworkers, family, and friends. Lies do not just impact the person lying, but all who are affected by the lie.
Sin doesn’t play by established rules of behavior and morality because, by its nature, sin breaks the rules. And the Israelites learned this the hard way with Achan.
Achan obviously did not stop to think and realize that his sin would have EXTRAORDINARY consequences for him and for Israel. His sin had consequences on the community around us.
Sin has generational consequences.
Achan was one of the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. He got into the Promised Land only because he was a second generation of those who left Egypt. He was a youngster when they started out, 40 years earlier.
God told Israel that the consequence of their sin in the wilderness, their rebellion, their grumbling, their lack of trust in Him … was going to be death in the wilderness. In Numbers 14, God said this…
“In this desert your bodies will fall – every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against Me.” Numbers 14:29
So, you see, it was a big deal just for Achan to make it into the promised land. However, Achan obviously did NOT learn some important lessons about sin and death from the first generation of Israelites. Instead, he only learned how to sin or how to disobey God.
This is another great example of children watching their parents and elders and learning from them … in this case, learning how to sin.
So far, we have learned that sin affects our entire community, and has generational consequences since it can affect families for generations to come.
Sin has personal consequences.
Let’s get back to the story of Achan in Joshua, where Joshua asks Achan…
“Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him.” Joshua 7:25
Achan literally dies because of his sin. Although you may not die right now because of your sin, like Achan, you will eventually die. The last time I checked, our mortality rate was still 100%. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this truth in Romans 6…
“…the wages of sin is death …” Romans 6:23
So, while all of us die because of the sin we inherited and the sin we commit daily, there is another powerful truth at work here …
Sin can bring death to us in the midst of our living.
You see, death can come in many different ways and forms.
• Infidelity may cause the death of a marriage and the death of families and friends
• Dishonesty may cause the death of a career and the death of family and friends
• Perhaps harshness with kids, or others around you, may cause the death of relationships.
Sin is serious stuff. It not only brings death to our bodies, but it may bring death to our families as well. We must conclude that it brings death to the things that matter most in our lives.
But sin doesn’t just hurt … it hurts a LOT.
But listen to this, for all the death that sin can bring, Paul did not stop at the word death in Romans 6. He goes on to say this…
“… the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
In other words, our God through Jesus Christ DOES NOT give us what we deserve, but He shows us Grace.
What we deserve is to be abandoned by Him.
What we deserve is to be punished by Him.
What we deserve is His judgment, condemnation and destruction.
But what He GIVES us is His Son. And through His Son, He gives us forgiveness, hope and salvation. Instead of eternal death, He gives us eternal life.
Praise be to God that while our sin has all the consequences that we just talked about, the big lie in this world … “that sin doesn’t hurt a bit” is exactly that, it IS a BIG lie.
The truth of our God is forever Grace … and forever forgiveness. And that is true for all the people in our lives. And all God’s people day AMEN!