Posts Tagged ‘sin blind spots’

Joshua 9:1-27

The Gibeonites Deceive Israel

How often does Satan try to deceive us? Every day. He wants us to be gotten off track and create a stumbling block in our testimony. He is the great deceiver. He will attack us in whatever our weak point is and create a wedge in our relationship with God. Sometimes these deceptions are subtle and when we least expect them. Sure, the blatant things are easy enough to avoid as a Christ follower. We know that murder is wrong and we simply avoid getting that angry. We know that prostitution is wrong so we avoid participating in that. We know the big things that are wrong and we avoid those things like the plague. It the subtle nuances of Satan that often bring us down. We listen that this might be OK because…well…you know…it’s not so wrong.


If we have a problem with pride, Satan will deceive us there. Often you see Satan attack mature Christians in this way. You don’t need to do what the leadership at church says because…well…you know…we know better than the preacher. We don’t have to tithe because we have served the Lord so well over the years!  We don’t have to do a book study because that stuff is for less mature Christians. We don’t have to attend this mandatory class because, hey, we have been believers for a long time so we don’t need it. We already know this stuff. I don’t need to study the Bible, I have read through it from front to back more times that I want to count. I don’t need advice from other Christians about my behavior. They are less mature than me.


If you have a problem with the love of sexual attraction and arousal, that is where Satan will try to deceive you. Looking at pornography is OK because you are not actually, physically cheating on your spouse. Nobody will know. It’s ok for you because you are such a good Christian in other areas. It is OK to be alone with that girl or guy you find attractive because you have the spiritual willpower to withstand the urges of the body. It’s OK to talk to that girl in the bikini at the pool or at the beach just so you can get a closer look at her body. It’s OK to flirt with that guy whose married. It’s all just innocent fun and it’s not crossing the line into adultery. Satan will tell you that it’s OK to still if you still got it going on…after being married for as long as you have. It’s OK to test the waters every now and then just to make sure you are still verile as a man or attractive as a woman.


If you have a problem with jealousy, that is where Satan will deceive you. He will make you think that you are not good enough. He will make you think that you loved ones are deceiving you when they really aren’t. He will make you want what others have. He will make you not appreciate what you have and make you want this fantasy life that you have made up in your mind. He will make you make stupid mistakes because of jealousies that you will have to pay for the rest of your life. He will make you want a lifestyle that you cannot afford because of jealousies. How many of us have been deceived by Satan’s siren call in this area? Just because I make $50k a year less than Guy X, you can still have his lifestyle, says Satan. Get those credits cards and max ‘em out. Get that mortgage you can’t afford and the cars that you can’t afford. It’s all OK. Why fully pay for anything when can keep trading up your debt (trading smaller debts for bigger ones)? How many of us are stuck in this deception from Satan?


Each and every one of us has a sin weak spot and that is where Satan will deceive us. This one time is OK is Satan’s most famous deceptive lie. No one will know. He will make you think that you can withstand your sin weak spot by helping you rationalize why this time will be different and because you are more mature now than the last time you made that mistake. Why does Satan do this?


He wants us to have a blockage in our relationship with God. He wants to keep us from fulfilling our full potential with what God has planned for us. He wants us to get off-track. He wants there to be a blemish on our witness that discredits us with non-believers. He wants us to sink into a mire of sin so that we are no longer effective in spreading the gospel. He wants to create division within God’s church so that it will start finding within. When the church is fighting within itself, we are no longer effective in taking back this earth from Satan.


How do we avoid the subtle deceptions of Satan? We must constantly seek God in prayer. We must seek God in His Word. We must seek God through the counsel of other more wise Christians. These were the things that I thought of this morning as I read through the deception of Israel in Joshua 9. Why do we keep making the same mistakes again and again? Joshua did not consult God AGAIN and now Israel is going to have this awkward alliance with the Gibeonites for generations to come. Let’s read about it now:


9 Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)— 2 they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.


3 However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded[a] with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”


7 The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?”


8 “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.


But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”


9 They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. 11 And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.”’ 12 This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”


14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. 15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.


16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. 17 So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 18 But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.


The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, 19 but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. 20 This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” 21 They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.


22 Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 23 You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”


24 They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. 25 We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”


26 So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. 27 That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.


In this passage, we see that, as the news spread about their victory, the Israelites experienced opposition in two forms. There was the direct opposition of the kings in the area that began to unite against them. There was also the indirect kind of the Gibeonites who resorted to deception. We can expect similar opposition as we obey God’s commands. To guard against these pressures, we must rely on God and communicate daily with Him through prayer. He will give us strength to endure direct and indirect pressures and wisdom to see through deception.


When the leaders sampled these men’s provisions, they that their provisions appeared old and worn out from a long journey. However, they could not see that they were being deceived. After the promise had been made, the truth came out that they had been deceived. God had specifically instructed Israel to make no treaties with the inhabitants of the Promised Land (See Exodus 23:32, 34:12; Numbers 33:55; Deuteronomy 7:2, 20:17-18). As a strategist, Joshua knew enough to seek God’s will in prayer before leading his troops into battle, but the peace treaty seemed innocent enough. They thought they could make the decision without consulting God. By failing to seek God’s guidance and rushing ahead with their own plans, they had to deal now with an awkward alliance and angry people who were second-guessing their decision. Once again, Israel’s leaders had forgotten to go to God. How often do we do the same? A new situation arises and we forget to seek God’s guidance and wisdom. The leaders of Israel made a mistake. Since they made a treaty and an oath to protect the Gibeonites, they would have to keep their word. The oath was not nullified by the Gibeonites’ trickery. God has commanded that oaths be kept (Leviticus 5:4; 27:2, 28).


What is your weak spot? Where is it that you think you do not need wise counsel? Where is that you think “you got this”? Where is that you think you have got it all under control and do not need discernment from God? Where is that we do not go to God in prayer? What is that pet sin of yours and mine that we are blind to and think we got this under control so we do not seek God in that area of life?


We must seek God in every area of our lives … especially those areas that we think we got it all covered. We must seek God in every area of our lives … especially in those areas that our blind spots. We must seek God daily. We must have a robust prayer life where we would not consider making any decision large or small without seeking God’s guidance and grace. We must be in God’s Word constantly so that we can be convicted by His Word. We must seek wise counsel of other more mature Christians. We must come under the leadership and preaching of the pastor that God has placed us under. We must be aware of how Satan will try to deceive in our weak spots. We must be ever vigilant against his subtle attacks and how those attacks will try to twist Scripture and twist the very nature of God.


Be aware of the subtle deceptions of Satan. When we are aware that he will try to deceive us through subtle means more often than the big bright lights kind of ways then we are on the start to recognizing our need for the daily guidance of the Lord through His Word, through prayer, through preaching, through leadership of others, through accountability and so on.


Amen and Amen.

Joshua 3:1-17 (Part 1 of 4)

The Israelites Cross the Jordan

One of the famous lines from the movie, Steel Magnolias, was during the scene where M’Lynne and her diabetic daughter, Shelby, are discussing her previously unannounced pregnancy. M’Lynne is so angry at her daughter for getting pregnant because of the fact that pregnancy and child birth could likely kill Shelby. Because of their mother-daughter relationship where mom had always found some kind of fault in everything Shelby did, this discussion became a monumental watershed moment in their relationship. Once of the classic lines of the move and of this particular scene in it was where Shelby says,


Mama, I don’t know why you have to make everything so difficult. I look at having a baby as the opportunity of a lifetime. Sure there may be risk involved, but that’s true for anybody. But you get through it and life goes on. And when it’s all said and done there will be a little piece of immortality with Jackson’s good looks and my sense of style, I hope. Please, please I need your support. I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.


Last week, one of the things that came out of our staff development meeting was the idea of what are the unconfessed sins of us collectively and individually as a church that is holding back God from expressing his full glory through our local church. God has a specific mission for each of the churches that God allows to be created. Each one has its purpose and mission in God’s redemptive plan. Each church is supposed to fulfill its mission in the spectrum of missions that God has for each in His grand plan for redeeming the world through His Son. There is a mission for each church. There is no church that is still in existence that does not still have its unique mission from God. The question is that have we settled for mediocrity because of collective unconfessed sins. Have we settled for a lifetime of nothing special rather than God’s design for us for our “wonderful”? Have we settled because we do not want things to change from the mediocrity that we are wallowing in?


Our senior pastor challenged us as leaders to examine ourselves for the things in our lives that are holding back God’s glory from being fully expressed through our church. What is it that is holding back the 30 minutes of wonderful in exchange for the lifetime of nothing special in our church. Is it us? Is it me? We must examine ourselves for unconfessed sin. Do we have pride that is preventing us from working together or from submitting to leadership? Are any of us so convinced that we have the corner on the market of this “being a Christian” thing that we no longer need instruction from our leaders? Do any of us have trouble submitting to leadership because we think we know better than they? Do we have a sin in our lives that would destroy our church if it came out under the pressure cooker of moving our church to the next level? Do any of us want to be carbon copies of other leaders? Do we simply try to do what’s been proven elsewhere rather than listening to what God says is the specific thing that He wants from our church that is unique, untested and never done before? Do any of us not trust God enough to find our own voice, to find that unique mission of our church? Do we have sins in our closet that prevent God’s glory from being fully expressed through our church? Remember the sin of Achan that caused the Israelites to lose the Battle of Ai that we will see when we get to Joshua 7. We must confess our sins and repent of them so that God can express His full glory through us. What is holding you back from experiencing the glory of God? What is it that you have exchanged God’s glory for a lifetime of nothing special?


That was the thing that I noticed here this morning in the first of four blogs on Joshua 3. That thing being how the people sought to purify themselves before battle and how that was similar to the guts of our staff development meeting this past week. What is it about us collectively and individually that is holding us back from the victory that God has set in front of us? We must examine ourselves and then repent of our sins and then commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes, whatever sacrifices that are needed, whatever risks need to be taken so that God’s glory is shown through in that specific mission that he has for our church. Let’s read this chapter of Joshua together now:


3 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.”


5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”


6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.


7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”


9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”


14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.


In this passage, we see that, before entering the Promised Land, the Israelites were to perform a purification ceremony. God often required such acts such as before offering a sacrifice or before witnessing a great miracle of God. His Law showed the Israelites could become unclean in many ways – eating certain foods, giving birth, dealing with disease, touching a dead body. God used these various outward signs of uncleanness to illustrate a person’s uncleanness that comes as a result of sin. The purification ceremony pictured the importance of approaching God with a pure heart, a focused heart, having confessed our sins, and concentrating on giving God His glory and our total attention.


Are you willing to take the time to seek to purify yourself before God? I am not talking about some ritual but a soul searching? Like those videos you see of football players going through their pregame locker room processes of putting on their uniforms before a big game. You see them thinking and visualizing and praying about the battle in which they are about to partake. They are laser focused on their part of the game plan. They are in deep thought and often don’t even talk to each other. Each thinking on the big game ahead and their part in it.


May we have that same laser focus when it comes to playing our role at church? God has a mission for our church. God has a victory for our church in His grand redemptive plan for the Lyman-Duncan-Wellford area, SC. We have a specific mission. God has a game plan for us. However, we must be focused in on God’s mission. In order to be laser focused on his mission, we must examine our weaknesses and sins that can be exploited by the enemy in the heat of battle. What are the sins that I am protecting that can be exploited by Satan that will prevent or hinder the full glory of God from being expressed through our local church. What sin am I not confessing before the Lord? What sin are you not confessing before the Lord? We need to purify ourselves. We need to identify our sins that we think are not sins such as pride and arrogance. We need to identify the lusts of our lives that we are protecting and hiding and confess them before the Lord so that He will not withdraw His glory from our house of the Lord. Or are you willing to settle for mediocrity. Are you happier with things the way they are? Are you willing to settle for a lifetime of nothing special so that you or I can keep our sins that we want to keep? What is it that is making us into a lifetime of nothing special. Don’t you want God’s glory to be fully shown through you and I and the church we call home?


Let us examine ourselves. Let us confess our sins. Let us live for God and not a life where we are protecting our pet sins. Let us live the “wonderful” that God has for you and for me and for our church. Let us not settle for a lifetime of nothing special just so that we can exist. Let us be willing to sacrifice it all for the Lord by being fully purified, fully confessing, people that are willing to do whatever God directs us to do to be in that wonderful place (aligned with God’s will) rather than a lifetime of mediocrity of not fully seeing what happens when God has a people that are sold out for Him. Thirty minutes of wonderful vs. a lifetime of nothing special?


Amen and Amen.