The Lies We Believe
Some years ago there was a popular program on television called “Columbo.” Lt. Columbo was a detective with disheveled hair, who always wore a raincoat regardless of what the weather was in Southern California, and drove a beat up 1959 Peugeot. Columbo was as unorthodox as they come, but he always solved crimes that people were certain they could get away with.
Our Bible story this week is something like that. In Joshua 7, a man named Achan commits a crime, a crime he was sure he could get away with. What crime did Achan commit? We’re introduced to in Joshua 6. Before God brought the walls of Jericho down, He gave clear instructions regarding the valuables in Jericho. Everything in the city belonged to God. Everything but the gold, silver, bronze, and iron were to go into the treasury of the Lord. Everything else was to be destroyed. Whoever would disobey this order would bring trouble on the camp (Joshua 6:18). And someone did—Achan.
Achan helped himself to some of the gold and silver as well as some of the fancy duds (a slang word for clothing). All of these things were devoted to the Lord. The gold and silver were supposed to go into the treasury of the Lord, and the clothing was devoted to destruction. But Achan disregarded this command. As a result, he brought destruction on himself, his family, and 36 soldiers and their families. Why would Achan blatantly disobey a clear order from God? It was because of the lies he told himself and believed.
Lie #1—My sin only affects me. Achan surely thought that his decision to take this gold would affect only him. I think Achan probably believes in his heart of hearts that his disobedience was not going to affect him either. But the ripple effects of your sin touches everyone.
Lie #2—I can hide my sin from God and others. Why do we think that God doesn't see what we do when we sin? Or is it, rather, that we know that He sees, and we don't really care?
Lie #3—Achan believes what happens in Jericho stays in Jericho. It never does. 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 (Joshua 7:25). The “them” here, in case you aren’t familiar with the whole story, is his entire family.
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Maybe the judgment of God sounds harsh because the story of Achan is such an accurate picture of what we rightfully deserve. But the story of Achan also reminds us that the same God who punished Achan sent His Son to deal with our sin problem through His death. And that act, as harsh as it was, is the greatest demonstration of mercy the world has ever known.