Share This Episode
Running to Win Erwin Lutzer Logo

Let's Calculate The Cost Of Hidden Sin – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 22, 2024 1:00 am

Let's Calculate The Cost Of Hidden Sin – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1078 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

January 22, 2024 1:00 am

Many of us keep our sins a secret, feeling sure we can contain the damage. Yet when Achan stole, the people of Israel suffered as a whole. In this message from Joshua 7, Pastor Lutzer warns against managing our sins rather than confessing and forsaking them. God takes sin seriously.

This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 


Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Many believers attempt to manage their sins rather than confess and forsake them. They keep their sins a secret, feeling sure they can contain the damage. But the story of Joshua and Achan proves otherwise.

Today, some sober conclusions we must understand. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, one thing is for sure, God takes sin very seriously. As a matter of fact, Dave, I don't think you and I understand the seriousness with which God takes sin. We like to think in our minds that God is a sin-friendly God.

Well, he's not. And either sin is going to be upon our shoulders or if we flee to Jesus Christ, we receive what he did on our behalf so that even though we experience temporal consequences to our sin, eternal consequences are borne by him. But hidden sin is very deceptive. I've written a book entitled Conquering the Fear of Failure, Lessons from the Life of Joshua. And of course, as you might guess, one of the chapters is entitled The High Cost of Hidden Sin. We're making this resource available to you to help you in your Christian work. Here's what you can do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. Let us ask God to speak to us personally that our sins would be confessed, forgiven, and forsaken, and that our consciences might be clear. And you can see in David's life he never recovered emotionally.

He never regained his position of authority with his children. The simple fact is that once that sin began to grow, he reaped more than he sowed. It looked so small and innocent, but the consequences eventually were devastating. Now let me give you a third law of sowing and reaping, and this one may be the most important.

Everyone listen up at this point. The law is simply this, you reap in a different season than you sow. You see, sometimes you sow and you say to yourself, well, there are no consequences. You can go and put seed in the ground and you can plant that wild oats as people sometimes speak of it, and you go there the next day and it has not germinated.

It looks as if the soil has been largely untouched, and there is not a single weed or stalk of wild oats that has to be uprooted. And you say, see, there's no problem. Well, there is a problem because you don't reap. You don't reap when you sow. You reap after you sow. And that's why there are so many people today with all kinds of problems. Let's take, for example, the issue of immorality.

I would say that at least 50% of all problems in marriages can be traced back to an immoral background. Now at the time you say, well, it's not going to affect me. We're going to take care of this. And then suddenly you marry the person with whom you are involved thinking that all is going to be sweetness and light, and on your honeymoon you begin to have terrible, terrible vicious arguments of hatred and guilt, and you say, well, where's all this coming from? Almost always it's coming from some seeds that were planted, and you don't reap in the same season that you sow. You reap a little later on. You say, well, what do you have to do about that?

Well, the answer is the weeds need to be pulled out of the ground by the roots because they will continue to grow. They will continue to bring a bitter harvest, and it will go on and on and on until the root has been pulled out through confession, through repentance, through responsibility in terms of accountability. That's how seriously we have to deal with this business that we call sin. Notice the following.

People are interrelated. You can't live. You can't live your life without it somehow affecting me, and I can't live mine without it affecting you. Sins are interrelated. I cannot sin neatly and say I have it compartmentalized. I have it under control.

I will determine where the boundaries are. Now, when you give yourself to sin, you'll discover that eventually that will be out of your control. Sins are related. One sin spawns another. The man in Detroit last week who took a gun and blew his head off and shot himself to death in that casino, he didn't know that when he was there gambling that that's the way this was all going to end when he began with that gambling habit. He thought he had it under control.

I will bring only so much money. I will take care of this, and eventually as he got into debt, it became worse and worse and he took more and more to try to recoup his losses, and at the end of the day in the casino took out a gun and shot himself. Now, that's not what you see when you begin, but sin is interrelated. It leads from one to the other. Judgment, now we're on number three. People are related. Sin is interrelated.

Judgment is also interrelated. Now, let's pick up the story of Achan. Achan, you remember, was the one who had sinned, and God told Joshua to get up from the ground and to find the sin, and in order to do that in Old Testament times, they cast lots to try to find who the culprit was. What you can imagine is the lots were going along the different tribes.

Why didn't Achan just sit at the back and say, stop it, everybody. Yoo-hoo. Yoo-hoo. I'm guilty.

Here I am. Because of shame and because of the love of sin, we will do everything we possibly can to conceal it. We will lie. We will rationalize. We will try as best as we can to hide it so we don't have to deal with it at all, and what we want to do is to hide it under that rug to dig it deep and to put it there and to say, this is something with which I will not deal.

It has to stay there. You know what God does during periods of revival? During periods of revival, the conviction of sin is so persistent and so powerful that people finally say to themselves, I would rather be right with God at any cost, even if my sin needs to be exposed and I need to take care of issues in my life, it is worth it because I am too miserable to live out of fellowship with God. And if the conviction of sin is not that severe, the hiding of sin continues. Well, look at what happened. Joshua said to Achan, my son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give him the praise.

Tell me what you have done. This is after verse 16 goes on to say how they cast lots and then the tribe of Judah eventually was taken and then within Judah's tribe, there was a family that was taken and a clan that was taken. And finally, the lot came into Achan's territory and he had to confess guilt.

And Achan replied, I have, as we read a moment ago, I saw it, I coveted it, I stole it, I hid it. So Joshua sent messengers, verse 22, and they ran to the tent and there it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites spread them out before the Lord. And Joshua gathered together with all Israel and took Achan, the son of Zerah. They took the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons, his daughters, his cattle, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that he had to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, why have you brought this trouble on us?

The Lord will bring trouble on you today. And all Israel stoned him. And after they stoned the rest, they burned them.

Over Achan, they heaped a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of Achor, namely the Valley of trouble ever since we read this with our New Testament sensibilities and we say, isn't this an overreaction? I mean, sure, the guy sinned, but why didn't they just have him repent? In Old Testament times, you know that that the judgment against sin was carried out to mercilessly and so far as possible instantly. Now, we know that in the New Testament, God has not changed his opinion of sins at all.

It's just that he deals with them differently. And there is a final judgment coming when we will see that God is stricter and even more demanding in New Testament times than he ever was in Old Testament times because of a principle. And the principle is this, that the greater the grace, the greater the eventual penalty for refusing it. What was happening in the text? First of all, his family was stoned along with him possibly because they were accomplices. You know, they knew that it was there and yet even though they knew it was there, they went along with it. They didn't go to Joshua and expose it and say look at what Achan has done.

This was probably a family project. Secondly, I want you to notice that Achan apparently was a very wealthy man. He had donkeys and sheep and a lot of things that were stoned there along with him. You know that it is possible to have a lot of money and still be greedy and still steal more. It's not just the poor, you know, who want money. It is the rich who take that greed upon themselves, even money that they don't need and insist that they have it and cut the corners in order to get it. And what God wanted to say to Israel in the strongest possible terms was this, look, when I tell you that the spoils of battle of Jericho, that the silver and gold was to be put in the Lord's treasury and everything else, even those things of value, even the coats and the clothes that the people had is to be burned as a symbol of my judgment, and I mean what I say.

I'm serious. And how else could he prove the seriousness but to have Achan and his family stoned in the valley of Acor, which incidentally Hosea later on talks about the valley of Acor being the door of hope. The valley of trouble for some people is the door of hope.

You know that, don't you? You know that sometimes we want to keep people out of trouble and that's fine, but sometimes it is only trouble. It is the valley of trouble that becomes for them the door of hope apart from the trouble. They'd go on plunging headlong into still more sins and greater judgment.

So I need to ask you today one on one, it's just us, what are you hiding in your tent that smells foul that you have decided to keep there at all costs? What sin of bitterness? What sin of sensuality of immorality? What sin of greed? What sin of lying? What sin of stealing is there in your life? And you have said to yourself, I will not deal with this issue because it is too difficult.

I don't want to touch this. And God says, wait a moment, I can't bless you like I'd like to bless you. I can't give you the joy that I would like to give you until your sin has been put away. That's why David prayed in the Psalm that was read after he committed those terrible sins. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Sin causes the cup of joy to spring a leak. And it's very hard, you know, for you as a Christian to be joyful.

You're like a cup trying desperately to spill over, but it's only half full and it is sin you see that causes that drain. I have a friend in Canada who taught me physics and chemistry when I was in high school. Perhaps to speak more accurately, he tried to teach me physics and chemistry when I was in high school.

A very fine, respected Christian man and after I left Canada, he went on to greater education to get a master's degree in various subjects. And one day he was going to pray for his daughter who was about to be married and he was in the garage and it just seemed as if the Holy Spirit was coming on him and he felt this strong urge to pray. Joshua also, you know, felt a strong urge to pray when this happened. You'll notice it says in verse six, Joshua tore his clothes and fell face down to the ground before the ark of the Lord and he stayed there until evening. Isn't that commendable?

Isn't that commendable? But it says in verse 10, the Lord said to Joshua, stand up, stand up, get off your face. I mentioned that so that you might better understand the story. There he is as a Christian man, Sunday school teacher, highly respected, and he wants to really pray for his daughter and to really pray, not just say God bless them, he wants to intercede. And he gets down on his knees and the Holy Spirit says to him clearly, Henry, don't bother. Don't bother praying. Just like what God says to Joshua, get up, don't bother. This is not the time to pray. Why would the Holy Spirit say to a Christian man, this is not the time to pray? Years before that, while working on a master's degree, he was in a class where the teacher said, we want you to do original research for this class.

I don't want you to use anything else that you have previously done. But, you know, he's in college. I mean, it's hard in the university. And he had done some work in another related area. And being under pressure, he took that term paper that he had used somewhere else, rewrote it briefly, and put his name on it and handed it into this class and got an A. And when he graduated, he walked across the stage to receive a special high honor.

In retrospect, he said to himself, his feet were as if they were led as he walked across the stage and everybody clapped at Henry, who's so bright to get this honor, because he knew in his heart that he had done wrong. But after all, God forgives us, right? I mean, isn't that what the blood of Christ is for? What difference does it make?

So what does he do? He hides it in his tent. Now, of course, the blood of Christ forgives us. But God also asks us to make things right with people that we have wronged if we are still able to. If you've stolen, you take it back.

If you have lied and the consequences are still somehow connected, you straighten that up. That's what God wants us to do, you know, when we get serious with sin. But Henry took this and hid it in his tent for years. And now, finally, he wants to get real serious with God.

I mean, this is not play anymore. And God says, Henry, don't bother. He went back to the university, told them exactly what he had done, also told them that they could do with him whatever they wished, so that at last he could look into the face of God and really, really pray. So I have to ask you, there's been sin in my life I've hidden. I know the story. I know it. I know the story.

I know what it's all about. But I have to ask you today, what are you hiding? What sin is affecting others in addition to yourself? What sin does that one sin spawn? And what kind of judgment might God bring?

What kind of discipline? What kind of consequences until we finally say, like Achan was forced to, God, here am I. Do as seems good in thy sight. Let us pray. Our Father, we are such deceitful creatures. We lie to ourselves. We lie to others. We try to lie to you.

We've got it all worked out. And there it is in the tent. There it is hidden.

There it is cuddled, taken care of, all rationalized, all neat. But when we really want to pray, really, really want to pray, your Holy Spirit says, don't bother. Your Holy Spirit says, don't bother. Father, would you work in our lives today and grant grace to those who struggle with hidden sin, the weeds that have never been pulled out of the ground? Would you grant them, O God, today that you shall pull those weeds out? Grant, O God, such a conviction of sin that they may say, I cannot live, I cannot go on, I can't face Monday until it's taken care of today.

Grant us that, we ask. How many of you say today, Pastor Lutzer, I know that I've got issues in my life that I need to deal with today. Would you raise your hands, please? Father, we pray for those who raised their hands and for those who didn't but should have.

Work in our hearts, we ask in Jesus' name. Amen. I have to tell you, my friend, that when I preached that message at the Moody Church, I remember clearly giving an invitation and many, many people came forward to deal with hidden sin. You know, no matter how well we hide our sin from others, we can't hide it from God.

And I believe that this message has been one that has convicted many, many people, thousands of people as this message has gone forth. Now, what about you? Where are you on a spiritual continuum? What sins are you hiding? You think to yourself you're getting rid of these sins, or if you hide them, no one knows about them. Perhaps you've been able to hide your sins from others.

But the Bible says that all things are naked and open onto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Will you deal with that hidden sin and take the consequences? I'm going to pray for you. I'm going to ask God to work in your heart, even as he worked in the heart of many people when they heard this message. Our Father, we want to thank you today that your Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and grants us the ability to repent. I pray that that might be true in the lives of thousands upon thousands of people listening to this message. Help us, Lord, we pray in Jesus' name.

Amen. Now, I have written a book entitled Conquering the Fear of Failure. Of course, it has a chapter on the high cost of hidden sin.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The title of the book, Conquering the Fear of Failure. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question, Dr. Lutzer, comes to us from Sylvia, and she lives in Georgia. My husband is extremely angry with our teenage granddaughter who has gotten pregnant. He wants to ignore the matter and does not give her any attention. She's a born-again Christian. She's confessed before the church congregation. In my heart, I've forgiven her, and I know God has forgiven her. She knows this as well. How do I get past wanting to convict my husband of his anger and show love and care for our granddaughter at this time?

Well, my friend Sylvia, I hope that your husband gets on his knees and repents of his attitude. Here's a granddaughter who undoubtedly was involved in a sinful relationship. She's willing to acknowledge it. She's confessed it before the church. Your husband should be grateful that this young woman has turned to God. Think of the thousands of others in her predicament that have turned away from God at a moment like this. Second, your husband has to realize that the child that this young woman is bearing may someday be mightily used by God. In fact, sometime I'd like to preach a sermon and include the stories of people that I know about who were conceived out of wedlock whom God has greatly used. I mean, I'm thinking of Erasmus, the great Greek scholar. I'm thinking of Felix Montz, who was a great martyr in the city of Zurich during the time of the Reformation.

Let's remember that God's providence and God's forgiveness is great enough to encompass, yes, to encompass all of the sins and the failures of human beings. Your granddaughter at this moment needs her grandfather's love and acceptance, and I hope that when that baby is born, he or she will receive very special attention and love, because that child is a child created in God's image, and I hope that God will use him or her to his glory. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for that compassionate answer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can go to our website,, and there you can click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time, how to live with the consequences of making a bad decision, as we find Joshua making a bad deal with the Gibeonites. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-22 02:11:51 / 2024-01-22 02:20:40 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime