Ai was a little town with a big message! The Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. Now there’s Ai, a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.
Watch where you park your carriage
In chapter 7 the Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. But something happened between there and the town of Ai. Ai was a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.
So often we think the sins we commit are no big deal. We sooth our guilty consciences by going through the motions of asking forgiveness from God, but with no real repentance. Repentance is a change of thinking that leads to a change of behavior.
Confession doesn’t just mean that we “admit” we did something, it means that we agree with God about our sin. We have come to understand that it is an offense against a Holy God and that it grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4.30). We need to learn to hate our own sin.
We also think our sins only affect us, but God pictures for us in this story about Achan, the fact that our sin also affects those closest to us. His whole family died and the society as a whole suffered. Remember 36 men died in the battle.
Is there something about which you need to “agree with God,” something you need to see, not just as “your problem” but as sin? Take it to God, humbly ask for His help and make a plan to change your thinking and behavior in the future. Without a plan, little will happen.
Start with a plan to change your thinking by renewing your mind. Make time to study and meditate on what God’s Word has to say about that area of your life. Take Him at His Word, believe He’s right and you’re wrong if your thinking is not in line with His Word (Is. 55.8-9; Rom. 12.1-2; Eph. 4.23).
Then make an action plan. How are you going to respond to that temptation in the future? When the thoughts come, what verse of Scripture will be your “sword of the Spirit”? What do you need to do to “make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13.14)? “Burn your bridges” where sin is concerned. Don’t hang on to things you shouldn’t. Don’t keep mementos and reminders.
If you are tempted by an inappropriate relationship, don’t deceive yourself by thinking you can “just be friends.” Stop having any contact with that person! Don’t keep that phone number—just in case! Make yourself accountable to someone.
If you said you’re going to stop running up your credit cards. Stop hanging out at the mall! If you find yourself struggling with drunkenness, don’t go places where people are expected to drink. If you struggle with internet issues, move the computer to a public place in the house.
One of the old Puritans said it this way, “Don’t park your carriage outside the occasion of your sin.”
Paul told Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart,” (2 Tim. 2.22).