Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Disobedience in God's Eyes

In the book of Joshua, verse 1:9, God strengthens Joshua with an incredible promise.  He charges Joshua to "be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  When I read that verse, it gives me an overwhelming sense of power and hope because I know where my God is, there is victory!  If you are familiar with the story of Joshua, then you know that Joshua was Moses's right hand man, his helper, his "aide" as he is described in verse 1 of the first chapter of Joshua.  When Moses dies and can no longer lead the Isralites across the Jordan River, God expects Joshua to step up and fill Moses's shoes.  Joshua could not see it at the time, but God had been preparing him to lead His people to "cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites" (1:2).  As soon as Moses dies, God calls Joshua in his place to carry out the promises God had given the Israelites.  God reminds Joshua of the promises He made to Moses and reminds Joshua to "be strong and courageous." He then gives Joshua his first set of instructions.  Joshua's immediate response is obedience.  He doesn't think, he doesn't hesitate; he only obeys.  He does not run to consult his friends, co-workers, bosses, or anyone else for advice on whether or not he should obey God.  He knows his God--he knows His voice, His leading, and His character.  Because of that, his only response is to obey.

Joshua obeys and God leads him step by step across the Jordan and into Jericho.  God seems to only give Joshua instructions for each next step of the journey.  Joshua is aware of the big picture in the sense that he knows God's promises for the Israelites, but he does not know how God will execute everything to arrive at that destination.  He just trusts and obeys each individual step.  Then, one day Joshua sends spies into Ai to check out the land.  His spies advise him to only send a few troops to overtake the land.  Joshua follows their advice, and the people of Ai chase down the Israelites and defeat them.  When Joshua discovers that his men have been beat, he tears off his clothes and falls face down on the ground, crying out to God, questioning how God could lead them to this land and then allow them to be defeated.  God provides a simple and direct answer to Joshua, "Israel has sinned" (v. 7:11).  God tells Joshua that they will not be able to stand up against any enemy until the sin has been destroyed.

Joshua learns that one man from the tribe of Judah, Achan, had stolen items that were devoted to God.  When Joshua discovers Achan to be the guilty party, Achan is killed because of his sin.  God is serious about our sin.  He has big plans for us, victorious plans, but we cannot reach those plans on our own--we must trust Him.  If we try to go our own way, we will fail.  We are not victorious on our own.  God is our victory and if sin is present in our lives, we cannot defeat our enemies.  We have to confess our sin, expose it to the light, repent, and continue to chase after God.

In the scenario of Joshua chapter 7, Achan dies because of his sin.  We cannot stand in the presence of a holy God with sin present in our lives.  We must repent of it.  If we have sin in our life, something else will die.  The only choices we have are to kill the sin or allow death to enter another area of our lives.  If there is sin in my life, then death may come in the form of a relationship, losing a career or job, money, possessions, or something else.  We cannot allow sin to have any room in us if we want to be victorious in Jesus.

Confessing our sins to God may be difficult because we don't like to fail.  I know I hate admitting defeat to Satan.  I hate to admit that he had me for a while.  But even the feeling of admitting defeat pales in comparison to the cleansing that comes through Jesus once I confess my sin to Him and allow Him to wash me clean.  In Psalm 51:10, the psalmist cries out to God, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."  I don't know how many times a day, week, or month I need to pray that prayer, but I pray it as many as necessary because, for me, I would rather live in victory with my Savior than to succumb to Satan's vices and live in fear or agony.  1 John 1:9 tells us that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  That's all it takes--confession and repentence, then we're walking pretty again.  Just a pause in my day to tell my Creator, Who already knows, that I have sinned and ask Him to cleanse me and continue to purge sin out of my life.  James also encourages us to "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (5:16).  That was the hardest for me to grasp--confessing my sins to my husband so he can pray for me.  What??  Satan used to tell me If your husband knows the sin in your life, he will not want you any more.  He won't want to be married to you.  That is a lie straight from the author of lies.  God's Word is true.  My husband is actually happy when I confess my sins to him, and vice versa, because we love to pray for one another.  My sin doesn't cause any feelings to change in him toward me because he confesses his sin to me, too.  He has sin, we all do, so he understands, not condemns.  That's how Jesus is.  He is our high priest Who "is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness" (Hebrews 5:2).  Jesus was fully man when He walked the earth, so He was faced with temptation.  He knows every feeling and every temptation we experience because He experienced it, too, but "was without sin" (Heb. 4:15).  I can approach Him any time with my sin because He knows, cares, and wants to cleanse me from it so that I can live in victory!

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