Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. — Proverbs 4:23 ESV
The Israelites had won their first battle. They had conquered the impenetrable Jericho. Their God had given them the victory and all they had done was give a mighty shout. The next town on the agenda was tiny in comparison, it should have been easy to defeat them even with a fraction of their army.
But the men of Ai defeated the army of Israel. The Israelites had to flee and thirty-six men were killed. What was the difference?
When the children of Israel were given instructions on how to conquer Jericho, two things were made clear:
- Everyone, except Rahab and her family, were to be killed (Joshua 6:17).
- Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were sacred to the LORD and must be brought into His treasury (Joshua 6:19).
They kept the first instruction but one man failed to keep the second. Joshua 7 zeros in on Achan. After the Israelites defeat at Ai, Joshua and the elders were confused. What had gone wrong? As far as they knew they had done everything the Lord had asked them to do, so why had He abandoned them?
The story of Achan is one I’ve always found interesting. One man’s sin had a profound impact on not only his family but his entire nation. When Achan sinned, he involved his whole family in the cover-up. Think about it.
The entire family lived in a single tent, someone must have seen him take the things inside. Someone must have seen him dig into the earth and bury the things inside, yet no one said anything. No one said, “Hey, Achan, what you’re doing isn’t right.”
Instead, this family went about their business as if nothing had changed, as if they hadn’t blatantly disobeyed the word of God.
Achan’s story also teaches us the absolute corrupting power of sin. When the Israelites consecrated themselves and assembled before the Lord, Achan and his family stood there watching the events play out.
I’ve always wondered why he didn’t confess before Joshua called him out and put him on the spot. Had he been hoping that the Spirit of God wouldn’t have revealed the truth about who had taken the accursed things?
Would he have been willing to have another person pay the penalty for his actions? If God had treated him and his family by having the lot fall on another family, would the Achans have stood silently by and watched as another family paid the penalty for their crimes?
Achan’s story is a reminder that we need to guard our hearts. Look at what Achan said when he finally admitted what he had done,
Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them.(Joshua 7:21 NLT, emphasis added)
I saw. I wanted. I took.
If you think about it, sin often follows the same pattern on your life. Something grabs your attention. You lust after it, and if you don’t guard your heart, temptation becomes sin.
My friend, protecting our hearts and minds from the enemy is an important part of living a successful Christian life. We protect ourselves from sin when we give ourselves ways to resist temptation.
- Read your Bible.
- Memorize Scripture.
- Listen to spiritual hymns and songs.
- Surround yourself with godly counselors.
- Separate yourself from people who are not pursuing God.
Guarding against temptation is a job each of us are called to do, but God has not left us alone. He has given us the power to fight against the evil one. Tap into God’s strength today.
Father, I’m thankful you have not left me alone to fight the enemy. Help me to resist the temptation so that I may not sin against You.
Hide me behind the shadow of Your wings and help me to build up my spiritual muscles so that I’m able to resist the enemy. Give me an obedient heart for I ask it in Jesus’s name, Amen.
Other actions you can take: