1. Application

Impact of Hidden Sin on the Church Community

Joshua 7:1–26 (ESV)

1 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.

Holiness is what God expects from those who belong to him (see Leviticus 19:2; Hebrews 12:14). One of the areas in which we are to pursue holiness is fighting against hidden sin. Joshua 7:1–26 helps us in this battle by showing us the corporate effect of our sins.

Consider the example of Achan. He was unwilling to wait and trust the Lord to provide for him. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, he saw something he wanted and he took it. Despite the clear instructions that he heard from Joshua about the silver and gold and other items from Jericho, he deliberately disobeyed God’s command. Perhaps he thought to himself that his sin wasn’t that serious because it was private and hidden. But the result of his sin was the death of thirty-six Israelites in battle and the destruction of him and his family.

When we think about our private sins, we probably have a tendency to make the same mistake as Achan. We know that our private sins are not ideal but since they don’t really seem to affect anyone else, we don’t think they’re such a big deal either. So whether we’re watching pornography on the internet, or getting drunk at home, or continually having arguments as a husband and wife, we think that as long as things stay hidden, our sins have no consequences.

But the discipline of Israel show us that in some mysterious way, our private sin hurts the body of Christ. The way I behave when no one can see me affects my brothers and sisters. On the surface that might seem hard to believe but just consider what happens when we cherish and hold on to secret sin. If the Holy Spirit does not convict us and bring us to repentance, we can become distant and reserved, reluctant to worship God, reluctant to talk about our devotional life, and unwilling to ask about the well being of others. We won’t be concerned about the holiness of others if we cherish secret sins. This kind of attitude will have a direct impact on our fellowship as believers. It will hurt the body of Christ.