READ: Joshua 7-9
THINK: "Come on, a little bit won't hurt you!" You may get by with that reasoning when it comes to eating just a little junk food, or staying out in the sun just a little longer, but trying to excuse just a little sin is lethal. When it comes to sin, size or amount is not the issue. Any defiance of God, any shortfall from His standards carries the same penalty. The Bible makes it clear that sin brings death (cf. Romans 5:12; 6:23). It's like a toxic poison to our system. While the effects may not be immediate or apparent, deliberately hiding or holding on to sin will bring destruction- to individuals, families, communities and nations. Because of this-and because it's so contrary to His perfect character-God takes sin seriously, and He will ultimately remove it one way or another. Either He will judge and destroy those who hold on to sin, or He will forgive and restore those who admit and forsake sin to follow Him.
RESPOND: In what way did the Israelites defy God during the conquest of Jericho? (See 7:1-26 note.) How did Achan's sin affect his family-and the entire nation? What example does this set for churches today? What effect can an individual's sin have on a group or congregation? (See 7:26 note, subpoints 1-4.) How did Israel show arrogance in its assessment of Ai (7:3)? How can sin rob them of spiritual victories? (See 7:12 note.) How much did Achan take from Jericho (7:20-21)? Why is God so concerned about a "little" sin, and how can a little be as destructive as a lot? What happened after Israel removed the sin from their community? Who determined the strategy for Israel's second attack on Ai (8:1ff)? Why is it vital to hear from God and follow His strategies for success? What was significant about the building of the altar and reading of God's law as it related to Israel's success? (See 8:30 note.) Why were the Israelites so easily tricked by the Gibeonites (9:14), and what foolish decision did they make as a result (9:15)? (See 9:14 note.) How did this affect and hinder Israel down the road (9:18-20)? What does this situation reveal about trusting people and your own impressions without looking to God for guidance? (See 9:14 note.)
PRAY: Pray for wisdom to recognize deceptive behavior and to make decisions based on prayer and God's Word.
ACT: Confess and repent of any sin you've been "hiding" or holding on to. Then take the proper action to rid your life of anything related to this issue or anything that could pull you back into the same sin.
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