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Men of Victory

MEN OF VICTORY
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: Joshua 6:17-19; 7:1

Josh 6:17-19
17 Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it.  Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.  18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD."

Josh 7:1
But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel.

INTRODUCTION

           Hallelujah!  Welcome to the Men of Victory Conference.  This isn't the men of money conference, or the men of influence conference, or the men of golf conference, or the men of college football conference.  This is the Men of Victory Conference.  We aren't called to get by, squeak by, sneak by, or just hold our own, but as the sons of God we are called to be men of victory, we are called to be more than conquerors. 

           We need to remember that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  We need to reclaim our rights and our responsibilities as men of God.  We need to be priests, protectors, providers, and powerful men of victory.  Our family needs us to be victorious men.  Our church, our community, and our country need us to be men of victory, because if we are not men of victory, then we will be defeated, deflated, and desperate.  And as the man go, so goes the home, so goes the family, so goes the country.  If the men fail, if we don't stand up to the attack of the enemy, if we won't be the spiritual leaders of the home, if we aren't the men we've been called to be, then everybody suffers, and those we love the most suffer the most.

          I think one of the clearest examples of how one man's failure affects those around him, is found in our text.  Tonight I want to walk with you through this story and draw parallels between Achan and modern man.  There is a powerful warning for us all in this Old Testament story.

I        ENTERING INTO THE PROMISE

          This story begins with Joshua leading Israel across the Jordan River and into the Land of Promise.  The generation that Joshua was now leading was a generation that grew up in the wilderness because of the failure of their parents to trust God.  For forty years this generation had walked in one big circle.  With the exception of Joshua and Caleb and possibly their wives, the oldest among them were 19-years-old when this wilderness walk began, and many of them were born in the wilderness.  Their parents were afraid of the inhabitants on the other side of the Jordan and as a result, their parents refused to cross over into their promise.  So God sent them into the wilderness until a new generation was ready to take the reins of leadership and enter into the Promised Land.

          Moses had passed and now Joshua was God's man for leading Israel.  Like Moses, Joshua was a great man of faith who had been ready to possess the promise the first time.  This time Joshua was leading a new generation that was ready to obey God.  This generation overcame their fears, entered into their inheritance, and pressed on to possess their promise.  This generation didn't stop on the shores of the Jordan River and cast a wishful eye into Canaan's fair land.  This generation said, "We are going to claim our blessings and possess our possessions."

          Let me pause right here and say that fear has been the failure of far too many men.  We are afraid of failure, so we don't try.  We are afraid of looking bad, or afraid of what other people will think, so we compromise, we patronize, and we compartmentalize, but we will never realize our victories until we are ready to cross over into our promise.

          So with the priests and the Ark of the Covenant leading the way, Israel crossed over the Jordon River and began to walk on their promise.  They came out of the wilderness and entered into their blessings, but this was just the beginning.  This was just round one.  Now that they had crossed over into their promise they were going to have to fight some battles before they would claim the full measure of all that God had promised them.  There were cities and towns and inhabitants who were on their promise, and God said that if they wanted to possess their possessions, then they were going to have to trust Him, obey Him, and worship Him.

          If you've given your heart to the Lord, that's good.  You've stepped over into a new life, but once you get there, you'd better strap on your armor because the enemy is going to try to steal your victory, going to try to kill your joy, and try to destroy your life and your home.  This isn't a cakewalk.  This isn't a tiptoe through the tulips.  This is war and you will never win a war hiding in the trenches.  You've got to keep on the firing line.  It's time to man up and press toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Once you've been born again you've entered into a new land, a land of promise, a land of blessing and not of curses, a land of power, and praise, and worship, but to grow into those promises and blessings, you're going to have to march forward and move into the next level in your walk with God.

          Once Israel entered into the land, they had to conquer some enemies.  The first foe they faced was the walled city of Jericho.  It was an imposing city with seemingly impenetrable walls.  The only way Israel was going to defeat this city was with the help of the Lord.  That's the way it is.  God allows us to face things that we will never defeat without Him.  We need to learn to turn to God because God wants us to depend on Him.  God wants us to look to Him as the author and the finisher of our faith.

          As men we tend to want to do it ourselves.  Right?  We don't want to read the instructions because we can do it ourselves.  We don't want to stop and ask for directions.  I don't even like it when my Garmin tells which way to go.  That's the way we men are.  As little boys we snatch our toys away from our parents and say defiantly, "I can do it!"  But the truth is that we can't do it by ourselves.  We can't live a victorious life without God.  We can't overcome temptations, we can't overcome our character flaws, and we can't defeat lust and sin by ourselves.  We need God, and the only way the strongholds of the enemy are going to come down is when we look to God, when we lean upon those everlasting arms, when we cry out to Jesus from the miry clay and He pulls us out.

          Joshua inquired of the Lord concerning the battle plan against Jericho and the Lord gave Joshua specific instruction for winning the victory.  The Lord told Joshua to send out all the men of war along with seven priests with seven horns.  For six days they were to march around Jericho once without making a sound.  On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times.  The first six times they were to march in silence, but on the seventh trip around they were to shout with a great shout and to blow the seven trumpets.  All they had to do was obey God and God was going to bring down the walls.

          If we have strongholds still standing in our lives, strongholds of pornography, or lust, or gambling or mismanagement of money, or selfishness . . . if we have strongholds it's because we have not listened to the Lord and we have not obeyed Him.  God will give you the plan for victory, but unless you will listen and obey, unless you will do all that the Lord commands you, then you will never be a man of victory.  Instead, you stumble from one defeat to another, one failure after another, and never know your victory.

II       ABSTAIN FROM THE ACCURSED THINGS

          God was going to bring down the walls of Jericho, but the men of war were going to have to go in and completely destroy the inhabitants of the city once the walls fell.  The only people they were to leave alive was to be Rahab and all who were with her in her house.  This was because earlier she hid the spies in her home and helped them escape unharmed from the city.  The only other instructions that the Lord gave them, are in verses 18 and 19.  God said:

18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD."

           So the men were not to take anything for themselves as spoils of the war.  Everything of value was to be consecrated to the Lord and put into His treasury.  Here's the thing, when we take what belongs to God and fail to render unto the Lord that which is His, it becomes accursed.  God can't bless what we won't give Him, but when we surrender everything to God, when it is consecrated unto the Lord, He can bless it.

           Like the little lad with the fishes and loaves, when we give it all to Jesus He can take it, break it, and make more with it than we can.  He can multiply it and send us home with more than we came to Him with.  It may be our business, or our money, or our talent, or our family, but until we give it to Him we will never see the blessings or the victories that we could and should see if only we would trust God with all that we have.  And when we do this, when we dedicate it to God, and give God the best, not only are we blessed, but those around us are blessed as well.  On the other hand, when we take that which is the Lord's it becomes accursed and everyone around us feels the sting of our failure.  Look at chapter 7, verse 1

            But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel.

 

          Notice the collective nature of the sin.  One man did this, but the text says, "The children of Israel committed a trespass."  In our Western rugged individualist culture we often fail to realize that our failures don't just affect us.  Our failures can hurt our family, our church, and community.  There is a snowball effect to sin.

          Who was this man who committed this trespass?  It was Achan, a man whose name lives in infamy for his act of disobedience.  Notice that his lineage is listed.  Not only does Achan's name become synonymous with moral failure, but the failure is attached to the name of his father Carmi, his grandfather Zabdi, his great-grandfather Zerah, and even his tribe Judah.  [Illustrate with Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton.]

          We represent more than ourselves.  For every white man who speaks racist things, all white men are tagged with the sin of that one man.  For every black man who has a child out of wedlock, all black men are charged with being irresponsible.  For every Hispanic man who commits a crime, all Hispanic men are labeled as criminals.  The effects of our sins have far reaching implications.  We think it's just about us, but our failures paint our past, our ancestors, our forefathers, our race, nationality, and religion with our individual failure.  That's why we must become men of victory.

III     THE AFTER AFFECTS OF FAILURE

          What Achan thought was just an innocent little act of disobedience, an act which he thought none would ever discover; that little act of rebellion and sin resulted in a curse upon the nation and punishment for him and his family.  He probably thought that he had gotten away with it.  Apparently no one saw him take these things . . . no one except God. 

           Don't ever fool yourself into thinking you got away with something just because no one saw you.  A little look at pornography on the internet, a little fraudulent use of business money, a little lie, a little theft, a little something that no one saw, but God saw it and the Bible tells us that that which is done in secret will be shouted from the housetops.

          Achan had the stolen stuff hidden under his tent and he thought he'd gotten away with it.  He buried it beneath his tent, but like the telltale heart in the story by Edgar Allen Poe, that which that should have been dedicated and consecrated to the Lord was now like a seed that Achan had planted and it was about to begin bearing the fruit of curses and judgment upon Israel and upon Achan's family.

           Look in chapter 7 at what happens to Israel as a result of Achan's sin.  Joshua led Israel up to the small town of Ai.  Israel spied out the country and they weren't impressed.  They figured they could handle this little town with about three thousand men, but notice that no one bothered to seek the Lord's will on this thing.  If they had of inquired of the Lord before they went to battle, the Lord would have told them that there was sin in the camp that needed to be dealt with before Israel was going to enjoy another victory.

          Without seeking the Lord's will or asking for the Lord's help, about three thousand men went up against Ai.  But instead of a victory, Israel suffered a defeat.  They ended up running from the men of Ai and about 36 Israelites were killed.

          That's the way sin works.  What we could have easily won the victory over before our secret sin, now defeats us.  One failure continues to lead to another until we come back to God and confess our sin.  That's why repentance is a necessity for a victorious life. 

           After their defeat, the hearts of the people of Israel melted like wax and became like water.  Their confidence was gone and for the first time fear became a word in their vocabulary.  At this point Joshua does what he should have done earlier; he cries out to the Lord and seeks His face.  Notice that Joshua blames God for his failure.  That's the way we do sometimes isn't it?  We fail, but it was someone else's fault.  We were unfaithful because our wife didn't pay attention to us.  We took what didn't belong to us because life hasn't been fair to us.  We have those habits in our life because we need to deal with the stress on the job.  But crying because we got caught isn't the same thing as confessing and repenting, and coming to God after our failure but refusing to take the blame isn't going to fix anything.  We have to man up and confess that it was our fault, our failure, or our fear.

          Joshua opens his prayer by saying:

8 God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all - to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!  O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? 9 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?"

          One setback and Joshua is even second guessing the decision to enter into their Promised Land.  The devil will do that to you.  You try to step out and do something for God and then the first time you hit a snag the devil says, "See there, you should never have agreed to teach that class.  You should never have agreed to get involved in that ministry."  But notice that God doesn't have much patience with this kind of defeated, deflated, deflecting prayer.  Look at verse 10 and following:

10 So the LORD said to Joshua: "Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them.  For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. 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.  13 Get up, sanctify the people, and say, 'Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel: "There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you."

          God doesn't mince words here, does He?  Notice again the collective nature of the sin of one man.  What we do, the words we speak, the lives we live, the testimony we give, all of this affects more than ourselves.  The effects are far-reaching and can have devastating consequences on those around us.

          God could have simply told Joshua who it was that committed the sin, but God wanted all the tribes standing there.  God wanted all the tribes to witness the impact of sin and disobedience upon then entire nation.  Look at verses 14 and 15:

14 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. 15 Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.'"

          One by one, through the process of elimination, first tribe by tribe, then clan by clan, then family by family, until the humiliated father brought forth his family man by man until at last Achan, the son of Carmi, the grandson of Zabdi was the last man standing.

          Look at verse 19:

19 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."

         At this point the die was cast and judgment was inevitable.  Achan confessed.  He 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. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.

          Achan sinned.  He took that which was to be consecrated to the Lord and in his hands these things became the accursed things.  There is a powerful warning for men here.  When we take the Lord's Day and do everything but worship God, that day of rest, which God intended to be a blessing for humanity, that day becomes accursed.  When we take the tithe and offering that is the Lord's and spend it selfishly on our own lusts, then our money becomes accursed.  When we take sex, which was designed by God to be a beautiful thing between a man and his wife and God' plan for procreation, and engage in activities or view things which are outside of the bounds of marriage, then sex becomes the accursed thing in our life.

          Look at verse 22.  After Achan confessed Joshua sent messengers who went to the tent of Achan and there they found silver under the tent.  Then Joshua and all of Israel with Him, Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, Achan's sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, were brought to the Valley of Achor.  And Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

          One man's sin, one man's failure, and many innocent people were affected.  His whole family suffered his fate.  His children suffered because of his sin.  His possessions were destroyed because of his failure.  That's why we need to be men of victory.  That's why we need to bring down strongholds in our lives and sanctify ourselves, and return to the Lord.  Because until we lay aside that secret sin, will never win this race.

CONCLUSION

          Men, there has never been a real revival without real repentance, and there will never be real victory until we learn to live a life of radical obedience to the Lord.  Until we are willing to come to that place of ultimate surrender to the will and the word of the Lord, we will continue see our blessings become our curses, our increase will decrease, our homes will be in disarray, our children will be wounded, and our lives will be ruined.

          In Joshua's day, after Achan confessed, they stoned him and his family to purge the nation of Achan's sin.  In this dispensation of grace we are told that if we will confess, Jesus will forgive us and will in no wise cast us out.  The effects of what our sins have set in motion may continue to impact us as the dominoes effect plays out, but we can begin to turn things around tonight at these altars.  We can begin to lay aside sins.  We can begin to lay down attitudes and habits and to rededicate ourselves to become faithful men, holy men, to become men of victory.

          Are you ready for that?  Are you ready to turn things around in your life?  Are you ready to begin to walk in blessings rather than judgment, to begin to walk in increase rather than decrease, and to begin to see the power of God released in your life and in the life of your family?  Are you ready for victory rather than defeat?  Are you ready to see a turnaround in your family, your finances, and your faith?  If you're ready to get it, then God is ready and willing to restore you, to revive you, and to empower you to walk in victory.