Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yes, Sin Is A Problem

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
My jaw about hit the table as I read Joshua 7 the other morning.
At this point in Biblical history, the Lord has led the Israelites to sack the city of Jericho. They did so successfully. But the Lord God had one stipulation for His people:

 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. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” (Joshua 6:18-19)

Doesn't sound so difficult, does it?

Think again. Chapter 7 begins with this unfortunate truth: 

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel (Joshua 7:1).

I'll admit: my first thought after reading this was, "Good going, Achan. Really? What it that hard to obey God's one command regarding the city He gave into your hands? Yikes."

The Lord then confronts Joshua with Achan's sin, how he has brought destruction upon the Israelites through His hoarding. God relays that they cannot stand before their enemies unless the "devoted things" are dispelled from among them. He narrows down the culprit by sifting through tribes, clans, households, and then by individuals. 

Achan is busted. 

Here comes the part of the account that dropped my jaw to the table:

 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor.  And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.  And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. (Joshua 7:24-26)

To be frank, this result did not sit comfortably with me at first. Was Achan's sin against the Lord really deserving of his stoning to death? Doesn't that seem so harsh, and God so angry? Only when the Lord's wrath was appeased did He turn from "his burning anger". 

What do we do with this truth?

I think what we realize is that sin is a problem. A huge problem. A life-altering, eternity-impacting problem. God hates sin, and He simply cannot be near it nor associate with it because He is perfect light and righteousness. In contrast to His purity, sin is black as night. 

Stick with me here.

In this account, the burning anger of the Lord had to be appeased, and the punishment for disobedience was death. Sin was, and is, serious. It deserves nothing less than the wrath of God and separation from Him forever. Because God is so marvelous in His glory, so pure in His perfection, it makes sense that this would be the natural result of sin. Sin divides and destroys, and God's light is all the more magnified when sin is present.

So there is God's just reality. But--

Praise be to Him that another reality exists: the grace of God through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ!

Yes, sin is a problem. Our jaws drop to the table when we read of God's burning anger and justice. What this reveals to us, though, is the enormity--the almost incomprehensible exchange--of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for these very sins.

Christ took them all upon His own shoulders. We once deserved death and separation from God. We were children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). But on the cross, Christ redeemed us by His blood, making possible the forgiveness of our sins by exchanging for them His perfect, pure, untainted righteousness. 

All of Christ's purity, all of His perfection, all of His righteousness, is now our new identity. 

That Christ willingly did that for our sake should make us weep with thanksgiving! He has spared us from wrath, and not only that, He has made possible a glorious future for us in eternity. What more could a child of God desire?

Yes, sin is a problem. But all praise to God's glorious grace, we have a final solution in Christ, once for all.

Righteous Loving Father, Where sin increased, Your grace abounded all the more! Thank You for Your steadfast character, for You are just and good. Thank you for redeeming us by Christ's blood, forgiving our sins. Help us to hate our sin, as You do, so we can walk in holiness. We choose to walk in the freedom of Your glorious grace today and all days.


Read Ephesians 2:1-7. What is a person's identity like apart from Christ? What did God do out of love for us? In the comments below, complete the statement, "I am __________ in Christ!"

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