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Joshua 7: Unbroken Victory and Christian Living

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, The Key to Unbroken Victory.

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, The Key to Unbroken Victory.

In the Old Testament, Israel had come into the Promised Land to conquer it, and won a mighty victory over Jericho. But then an insignificant little city called Ai sends God’s people running like whipped puppies. Why?

The Sin of Achan

Imagine: it is midnight over the rubble of Jericho. The camp of Israel is pitched outside the city.

But one man, Achan, stealthily makes his way from his tent, over the fallen wall of Jericho. He finds a bag with two hundred shekels of silver, a wedge of pure gold, and a beautiful garment from Babylon.

He makes his way back to his tent, rolls back his sleeping mat, and buries the bundle. Then he lies down. He thinks, “Nobody has seen me.”

He was almost right. But there was one who had seen the whole thing: Almighty God.

What was Achan’s sin? After all, to the victor go the spoils.

Right. It was God’s victory, and to God were to go the spoils. (Read Joshua 6:18-19.) Achan had taken what belonged to God, and brought to himself—and Israel—a curse.

Victories Can Be Followed by Defeats

Joshua 7:4
So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai.

Great victories can be, and often are followed by great defeats. What causes defeat? Sinfulness.

Israel’s Sin: Carelessness

How was Israel’s carelessness shown?


When they went out to conquer Ai, the people of Israel said, “We’ve done it before. Don’t send the whole army, Joshua; just send a handful.” (See Joshua 7:3.)


Maybe you are spiritually coasting. “I did this yesterday, so I can do it today.” The child of pride is presumption. Israel presumed that God was with them. They never stopped to check.


They did not pray. After they got in trouble, Joshua prayed. “So the LORD said to Joshua: ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?’” (Joshua 7:10) That is, why are you praying now?

Achan’s Sin: Covetousness

This will cause you to fall: when you are not satisfied with the lot God has given you.

There is nothing wrong with having gold or silver or a Babylonian garment—except when it belongs to Almighty God.

Joshua 7:20-21a
Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.

What Is Covetousness?

Covetousness is an unlawful desire that grows in an unsatisfied heart. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

How We Fall Into Sinfulness

Listen to Achan’s confession of sin.

“When I saw among the spoils…” (Joshua 7:21a) He saw something he ought not to have been looking at. Many fall into sin simply because of what you put before your eyes—watching ungodliness that you have no business looking at.

“I coveted them…” This was the time when he should have confessed. He should have said, “God, something wrong is growing in my heart.” He did not.

“I took…” He probably never thought, at another time, that he would have done such a thing. Some of you are thinking this now. But look at unlawful things, let it brood in your heart until it becomes covetousness, and in that moment of opportunity, you will take it.

“And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent” (Joshua 7:21b). This is the worst of all: to cover it up.

Are you trying to smooth the dirt over an unconfessed sin today? Achan could not have dug deep enough into the molten core of this earth to hide that sin. Yet, he tried.

Private Sin Is Never Really Private

The curse of God is upon sin. Hidden sin will bring you to ruin—but you will not suffer alone. “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Romans 14:7).

Hidden Sin Dishonors God

Joshua 7:7a,9
And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?...For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?”

If there is hidden sin in your life, you will cause the people of God to stumble, and bring disgrace to God.

Hidden Sin Defeats the Church

The God of Israel responded,

Joshua 7:12
Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.

Do not say, “It’s none of your business what I do.” When your heart is not right with God, you bring defeat to your brothers and sisters. One drop of poison hurts the whole body. (See 1 Corinthians 12:26.)

Hidden Sin Destroys Your Family

Achan had thought, I’m doing this by myself.

Joshua 7:24-25
Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had…So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

Achan hid his sin inside his tent. They became partakers of his crime, and now his children are destroyed because of his lie.

God Will Reveal Every Secret Sin

How was the sin of Achan discovered?

Joshua 7:14,18b
“In the morning therefore you shall be brought according to your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes shall come according to families; and the family which the LORD takes shall come by households; and the household which the LORD takes shall come man by man”….And Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.

Confession of Sin is Inevitable

“Now Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me’” (Joshua 7:19).

Every sin you cover will be uncovered. If God does not get glory in mercy, He will get glory in judgment. (See Romans 14:11.)

That which is done in secret will be shouted from the rooftop. Things that you have done in your bedroom, on business trips, things nobody knows about.

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). If any sin ever goes unpunished, Satan will have won.

God Will Cover Every Confessed Sin

But every sin that you uncover through confession, God will cover.

Proverbs 28:13
He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

The key to victory, to abundant Christian living, is not perfection, but perpetual confession of sin.

List of Scriptures Referenced in This Article

Joshua 7:1-25; 1 John 2:15; Romans 6:23, 14:7,11; 1 Corinthians 12:26; Proverbs 28:13

More Bible Verses About Confession of Sin

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

1 John 1:8-10
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
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