A very tough standard for our relationships with God.
In the Old Testament, God was exacting when affronted by disobedience to his commands and, especially, by efforts to hide that disobedience from Him.
Pastor Steve Treash used the Book of Joshua, chapters 6 and 7, as his text for the Sunday sermon at Black Rock-Long Ridge Congregational Church (North Stamford, Connecticut). These chapters recount the famous assault and conquest of Jericho, one of the first victories of the Israelites after their entry into the Promised Land.
All went according to God’s word to Joshua, except for one important detail:
[Jericho] and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury. (Joshua 6:17-19)
But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things ; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel. (Joshua 7:1)
Having conquered Jericho, Joshua turned his attention to the town of Ai, expecting an easy victory. Instead,
So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. (Joshua 7:4-5)
And Joshua said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name”
The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. (Joshua 7:7-12)
The lesson for us today is that God cares what unrighteousness we have in our hearts. We may successfully conceal it from our fellows, but God sees and knows. To get right with God, we need Total Truth; we need to stop making excuses, to stop trying to kid ourselves.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Just as the Word of God is sharp and penetrating, our efforts to lie to ourselves and to conceal our iniquities separate us from God and His blessings. Without God’s presence in our lives, we lose life’s battles.
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
Being pure before God means coming to Him, through Jesus Christ, in Total Truth.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched?this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:1-10)