How many decisions do you make without considering the cost and benefits? Probably not very many. We often make decisions about healthcare after considering the cost and the possible gain. You choose your vacation based on what it costs and how it will fulfill your desires. So sometimes you may choose not to vacation at all.
I know as our family has a teenager planning to go to college, we are asking, “How much does it cost? What is the benefit of this school over that one?” And how those questions are ultimately answered will play a huge part in the decision that is made.
We all make these kinds of assessments and choices everyday. Do we go out to a restaurant for dinner or do we eat at home? Do we buy a house or rent? Do I continue in this job or look for another one?
We are constantly asking – What is this choice going to cost me? And what do I stand to gain or lose?
Jesus affirmed this approach in making spiritual and life decisions. He said that as a person considers whether or not to follow Him, they should count the cost. What will it cost you? What will you lose? And what will you gain?
This our 4th week in our series covering the Old Testament record of Joshua. Be Strong and Courageous. We’ve talked about leadership for two weeks, and last week we examined how to bring down those walls standing between you and the life of blessing that God has planned for you.
Remember last week, God miraculously brought down those thick, high, double walls of the fortified city of Jericho. And His people went in and took the city.
Now understand, God gave His people very clear instructions as to what they were to do with the treasures of Jericho. Let’s look at God’s command as written in Joshua chapter 6.
“The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. 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
God’s further instructions were that everything in the city that wasn’t a precious metal was to be burned. No one was to take anything for his own. Pretty clear.
But when we get to chapter 7, we discover that, just like what happens so many times, God’s instructions were not fully followed:
“But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, 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.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.
3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.”
4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 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. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.
7 And Joshua said, “Alas, 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! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 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?”
10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 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.
12 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 7:1-12
Okay, so it’s obvious that Achan made a very bad choice. Obviously he didn’t count the cost. That’s always the way it is with sin, when you choose against what God has planned for you.
Now understand, normally the spoils of war were considered a soldier’s pay, their reward for victory. So why wasn’t that the case this time? It’s because the soldiers didn’t win the victory – God did! Remember last week, we said that God told the priests when the people marched around the city, that they were to blow ram’s horns. Silver horns were used for battle, but ram’s horns were sounded to celebrate.
So when God told the people to give all the valuable of Jericho to Him, He was reminding them again that He had won the battle. But Achan couldn’t bear not to take what he thought he deserved.
Isn’t it often that way when we choose to go against God’s revealed Word?
God won’t mind if I have an affair, because my spouse and I aren’t getting along. And I deserve to be happy.
God won’t really care if I lose my temper and say something I shouldn’t. He made me this way and He knows I need to blow off some steam.
God understands if I don’t honor Him in my giving. He wants me to take care of my family and make sure they’re happy.
Here’s what Achan said when God revealed that he had disobeyed:
“When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.” – Joshua 7:21
That’s the exact same pattern that Adam and Eve followed in the Garden of Eden.
I saw. I coveted (desired). I took.
Think about how crazy sinful desire will make you. Where was Achan going to wear that beautiful robe? He couldn’t put it on and show it off to all his neighbors. In fact, the Scriptures say that he took these things and dug a hole and buried them underneath his tent.
Achan thought he’d be losing out if he followed God’s Word and will. And he didn’t think of the negative repercussions that would come if he disobeyed.
But we can think about that this morning. I want to consider a simple question that is answered in this Biblical account.
Here’s the Question: What Is Sin Going to Cost You?
What can we learn from this text to answer that question?
What Is Sin Going to Cost You?
When you choose sin, you forfeit future blessing.
“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves.” – Joshua 8:1-2
This is so tragic. Achan knew like everyone else that God had promised to lead them into their new homeland, a land of great resources and opportunity. Every family was to get its own share of land, build its own house, every man would live in safety and have his own grape vines and fig trees.
But Achan didn’t get to enjoy any of those things. We read there in chapter 8, that the very next city that was taken, God allowed the people to keep the treasures they gained for themselves.
You see, God is not stingy with His blessings. When we’re dealing with the temptation or the habit of sin, we have to keep reminding ourselves of what God says in His Word:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived of the things that God has planned for those who love Him.” – I Corinthians 2:9
“Since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like the Lord, who works for those who wait for Him!” – Isaiah 64:4
The reality is, your obedience or disobedience to God’s Word and His Spirit comes down to faith. Do you believe God or do you not? If you believe God, and you have become His child through faith in Jesus, why would you want to forfeit any good thing in this life that God has planned for you? Why would you want what you can get for yourself instead of what God could provide?
Sin always means you are giving up, giving away, going without some of the blessing that God has planned for you.
Let’s go on:
What Is Sin Going to Cost You?
When you choose sin, you damage the people you care about.
“Israel has sinned. They have violated My covenant which I commanded them to keep . . . I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” – the word of God to the Israelites in Joshua 7:11, 12
We live in an age where people believe that they can be so individualistic. “What I do is my business. What you do is your business. Let’s just all mind our own business.”
What difference does it make?
Achan’s sin made a difference for 36 men who lost their lives when the Israelites attacked Ai. This is incredible – when God gave Jericho into His people’s hands, not one Israelite was killed. But when we step outside of God’s plan, others are affected in the worst ways.
Achan even brought his family in on his sin. They knew he took the devoted items from Jericho. Maybe they even helped him dig the hole under his tent. You don’t think he could have done that without them knowing. So he led them to be complicit. And their lives were lost, too.
You know Achan didn’t think about that. He didn’t consider that he was leading his children to their destruction. They still had a choice, but his sin led to hurt and loss in their lives, too.
Look at this verse with me from Ecclesiastes:
“One sinner destroys much good.” – Ecclesiastes 9:18
We’ve all see that tragedy play out. A husband’s or wife’s sin destroys a family. Parents who set a bad example see their children repeat the mistakes and reap the heartache. When you have people in a church who won’t follow God in the way they relate to each other, everyone gets hurt and the Gospel mission is compromised. When a boss or pastor or a president doesn’t lead and serve by Godly principles, everyone suffers.
This is part of the price you pay when you sin and don’t obey God’s Word – the people you care about are damaged. Your family suffers. Your friends suffer. Your church suffers.
Count the cost, Jesus says.
Watch this with me:
Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail “He chose poorly.”
He chose poorly. Let’s look at #3:
What Is Sin Going to Cost You?
When you choose sin, you travel toward pain and death.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 14:12; 16:25
Achan and his family lost their lives for their sin. Now we may think that’s harsh. But God says, “the wages of sin is death.”
We all have sinned and gone the way of our own choice rather than being obedient to God. And God takes that seriously.
Because when I sin, and when I continue to sin, I am saying to God, “You are not my God. You are not good. You are not wise. You are not loving. I’m better off being in charge of myself.”
That leads to death. That leads to being separated from God and His goodness forever.
But sin is not the end of the story. Thank God, it’s not the final word.
What Is Sin Going to Cost You?
When you chose sin, God had already made provision for your redemption.
“I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” – Hosea 2:15
“The Valley of Achor will be a resting place for My people who seek Me.” – Isaiah 65:10
God has not planned for sin to have the last word in your life. Through these prophets God has said, in this valley where there was disobedience and death, I am going to do a new thing.
When the day of the Lord arrives, and God puts an end to all evil and sin forever, God is going to make a new heaven and a new earth.
And those who have believed on Jesus as Savior and accepted Him as Lord are going to live in His kingdom. And some will live in that same area, a new valley, and there they will find rest and see all their hopes realized.
That’s what God has planned for you. Everything this world thinks you are giving up in following and obeying Jesus, you will gain so much more.
Sin would cost you everything.
But the price has already been paid by Jesus on the cross.
Will you trust Him?
And will you count the cost and follow Him fully in every way?
REVOLUTION CHURCH / 17270 INTERSTATE 30 NORTH, SUITE 2 / BENTON, ARKANSAS 72019 / 501-778-9977