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THE TRAGEDY OF ONE LITTLE SIN

This blog is based on the outline of a sermon preached by Jimmy Chrisman at Liberty Avenue Baptist Church, Berea, KY, on June 8, 1980; and edited on December 13, 2020 for this blog by J. David Chrisman (with the intent of retaining his original style and structure).


And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done…”(Joshua 7:20)


Man has never fully understood sin. The natural man loves sin. He excuses it and calls it by pleasant names. The spiritual man sometimes allows sin to come into his life as well. If sin gets a hold on him and this is discovered by others, he will explain, “I never thought it would come to this.”


Man has never understood God’s attitude toward sin. Too often we listen to the world instead of listening to God. Too often we look to the world and get the world’s attitude instead of getting God’s attitude. We will never understand God’s attitude toward sin unless we read the Bible and pray – and unless we are taught by the indwelling Holy Spirit.


Man has never understood the power of one little sin. In Joshua, we have the story of Joshua crossing into the Promised Land and beginning his conquest of the territory promised him by God.


Joshua sent men up against the city of Ai. Because the place was small, they sent only a small unit of about 3,000 men. The men of Ai rose up against that unit and slew 36 of the Israelites and chased them out of their territory.


As a result of this, Joshua tore his clothes, fell down on the ground, and lay on his face before the Ark of the Covenant until the evening. He and the elders of Israel put dust on their heads and Joshua cried out to the Lord (Joshua 7:7-9).


After this prayer from the heart of God’s leader, we find the Lord speaking to His servant, “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?” (Joshua 7:10). Then God added a few words about the sin that had been done among them. The command had been given that they were to take nothing from the conquered city of Jericho; but this command had been disobeyed. God told Joshua to find the culprit and to settle the matter so they could again be blessed of Him.


Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before him. Out of the tribe of Judah, a man named Achan emerged. Joshua confronted him with the sin he had committed and he confessed. He had taken from Jericho a beautiful Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels. Achan confessed that he had hidden these things in his tent. Messenger were sent and they brought forth the stolen articles exactly as Achan had described them.


As a result of this sin on the part of Achan, Joshua brought him to the Valley of Achor and there they stoned him, his family, and his animals to death; burned them and all that Achan owned (including the spoils he had taken from Jericho); and burned it all by fire – raising over them a heap of stones. Achan committed one little sin; but this one little sin brought death and destruction to him and his family – as well as death and grief to the lives of others in Israel.


We are all sinners, but the universality of sin does not lessen the power of it to the individual life. The imperfection of our lives is well-understood. We are weak, finite, and faulty. Sin is common and the emphasis of this message is that sin is a danger to anyone.


Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and a host of others would testify to this fact from their own experience. One sin – one little sin – can prove a great tragedy. What Achan did was wrong, but not as bad as many sins of the sins we commit today. And yet, Achan sinned… and Achan died.


Let us note four important truths about “One Little Sin”…


VICTORY IS FLEETING UNTIL SIN IS CONFESSED AND FORSAKEN


The story of Israel is before us. Achan sinned. The army unit from Israel was defeated and death came to 36 men. Shame came upon a great leader, Joshua, and the entire camp of Israel was in disarray because of the sin of one individual.


One sin can disturb the peace in your heart – many of us today can testify of this.


One sin can destroy the living influence of a Christian – weakening the strength of a life lived for God and placing a dark shadow upon the influence of that child of God.


One sin can defeat the spoken testimony of the Christian.


We all want to be victorious, but we cannot when sin is allowed to reside in our lives. Victory is fleeting until sin is confessed and forsaken.


FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD IS BROKEN UNTIL SIN IS CONFESSED AND FORSAKEN


Relationship is unchanging. When we are born again into the family of God, we cannot be “unborn.” However, our fellowship with the Father can and is broken by sin.


How beautiful it is to have fellowship with God! How wonderful it is when a man is walking in harmony with the Heavenly Father. Genesis 5:24 has been pointed to so many times – “Enoch walked with God and he was not; for God took him.” To walk together, we must be agreed. The Bible asks, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). We need fellowship with God; but that fellowship is broken by sin.


We must recognize the things that break our fellowship. We must put our finger upon the sin that has brought us to powerlessness and grief. The danger of this day is that we will agree to everything instead of standing firm with strong convictions.


PRAYER IS POWERLESS UNTIL SIN IS CONFESSED AND FORSAKEN


Let’s go back to Joshua 7. Joshua poured his heart out to God; but God said, “Get up! There’s no use praying until you straighten this matter out. Get up and sanctify yourself and the Israelites. Make ready for the future. Get rid of the sin in your midst and then come back to Me.”


Prayer is powerless until we deal with our sin. David wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18). Sin will defeat prayer. Sin – just one little sin – will keep you from praying effectively.


When we are right with God, we can pray for ourselves and we can be assured of God’s answers to the prayers we offer.


When we are right with God, we can pray for others. Others need the blessings of God and we can pray for them.


Psalm 139:23-24 teaches us, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my anxieties24 And see if there is any wicked way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting.


Confess your sin. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). Correct your life. Make restitution. Get rid of sin and be restored at once to the place of powerful praying.


WITNESSING POWER IS GONE UNTIL SIN IS CONFESSED AND FORSAKEN


There are three thoughts with regard to sin which have been pressed upon my heart.


First, there is friendliness toward sin in today’s society. This is evident in advertising, entertainment, and by the increasing acceptance of what was once known as immoral. The world strives to increase sin and to build a friendliness toward it. The world packages and sells sin in way that seems attractive – even right morally – but God’s Word is the absolute standard for morality and by that Word, the whole world will one day be judged. There will be a payday someday.


Second, there is indifference – even seeming acceptance – of sin today on the part of many “good people.” Too many excuse sin or simply try to look the other way. Too many carelessly pass it by. We need an awakening once more. Sin is sin. Sin is against God. Sin against humanity.


Sin brings penalty:


“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23)


“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)


Lastly, there is ignorance today of the consequences of sin. Sin pays wages and those wages are measured out in death. Sin leaves its mark upon the individual. Every sin-seed produces a harvest. God warns us of the awful results of sin in Galatians 6:7-8: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.


People go on sinning, but they fail to see the consequences of sin.


Charles A. Jeffries wrote:

Sin is deceitful. It promises pleasure, it gives pain; it offers life, and gives death. It opens out as bright as the morning, it closes as dark as night.

It is a beast of prey. Under a velvet paw it conceals a claw with which it wounds and lacerates those who would stroke it.

In every sin there is the seed of another sin. It is self-propagating. It roots itself in the soul of the sinner until it has used up every bit of good soil in the soul. It corrupts his nature, perverts his tastes, weakens his will, and sears his conscience. And with each evil deed, inclinations towards evil become stronger and stronger, until “he cannot cease from sin,” and the sinner is “consumed by his own lusts.”

Sin is a very promising employer – and a terrible paymaster.


There is no such thing as “one little sin” – for every sin, no matter how small, pays tragic wages. Confess and forsake your little sins today so your fellowship with your Heavenly Father will be as strong as it should be and so your life for Christ may be victorious.



© 1980 by Jimmy Chrisman

© 2020 by J. David Chrisman

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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