The Little Foxes Named Unconfessed Sin and Spiritual Pride
3,000 men in battle garments ready for battle approach a small city not well fortified. These are battle hardened soldiers fresh off the victory over the once thought impenetrable city of Jericho. These 3,000 men have also seen many miracles of God performed in their midsts. Having wandered in the desert for 40 years due to the lack of faith of their parents and grandparents they now, under the leadership of Joshua, are entering into the Promised Land to take hold of the promises of God to them. The city they are approaching is named Ai and it is just a mere fraction of the size of Jericho and so it had been determined in the report of the spies that had returned from Ai that due to the size and insignificance of Ai compared to Jericho “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”(Joshua 7:3). So instead of sending the whole army of God’s people Joshua sent 3,000.
Verses 4-5 of chapter 7 in the book of Joshua tells us what happened next, “So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated, The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.”
We find ourselves in very dangerous waters when we take certain strongholds of the enemy too lightly. Often times it is not the major things that defeat us in our walk with the Lord but the little things that we deem are too insignificant for us to bother God with and we attempt to fight those battles in our own strength and our own wisdom. When we fail to understand that we need to rely upon God’s power and His wisdom for everything we do then the little things of life trip us up and defeat us causing our “courage to melt away”. At the heart of the defeat of the Israelites by the men of Ai were really two things; the first was unconfessed sin by a man named Achan and his family who were accomplices in his disobedience. The second was the pride and overconfidence of the army of Israel to think they could defeat Ai without devoting the full resources God had provided them with to accomplish the task. Both of these things, unconfessed sin and spiritual pride are detrimental to our Christian life.
You see Achan thought to himself after Jericho was defeated, what was 1 robe, 200 silver coins and a bar of gold that weighed one pound compared to all the plunder that was being brought into the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 6:19)? But as a result of Achan’s sin 36 men lost their life and in turn he and his family who helped cover up his sin were destroyed as well. We are well served to not look at any sin or any disobedience to God as of little concern. As God’s word tells us in the Song of Songs “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love” (Song of Songs 2:15). The lesson is, of course, that little, seemingly insignificant things can cause grossly disproportionate damage. We must guard ourselves against little foxes that do great harm to a Christian’s life.
There have been 40+ racers that have died at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but you will not find any mention of them anywhere inside the Racing Museum located inside the 2.5 mile oval track. In fact no one has ever been pronounced dead on site they always wait to do so at the hospital or to pronounce the death as having taken place “enroute” to the hospital. The Speedway operation itself encourages this approach. As soon as the track closes the day of an accident, a crew heads out to paint over the spot where the car hit the wall to cover up the evidence of the crash.
When we live our lives in this manner like Achan did where we try to cover up our crashes instead of taking them to God when we try to “paint over” the sins of our lives and bury it deep down we are only bringing pain to ourselves, our family and those around us. God’s word tells us in 1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
Joshua and the men of Israel felt they did not need to devote their full time and energy to destroying the stronghold of Ai because they could handle it. They feel victim to the Bill Hillmann mind frame of overconfidence and pride. You see Bill Hillmann almost lost his life on July 9, 2014 at the running of the bulls event in Pamplona, Spain. Bill tripped while running in the week long event and was gored by one of the 1500 lb bulls. Mr. Hillmann barely escaped with his life that day because the horn of the bull missed his femoral artery by a mere centimeter. The goring of an individual participating in this event is not all that unusual but this event should have been a job that Bill Hillman nailed. You see Bill Hillmann co-wrote the 2014 e-book “How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona”. In his book Mr. Hillmann offered tips on everything from the best footwear to which parts of the course are better for beginners.
Like running with the Bulls of Pamplona, there are many hazards one might encounter running the race of the Christian life. The greatest dangers, however, are not the raging tests and trials of life bearing down on you like the stampeding Bulls. The greatest danger is the prideful attitude that says, “I’ve got this. I’m a pro at this Christian walk thing. In fact, I wrote the book.” Don’t let unconfessed sin and spiritual pride trip you up. Rely upon the full resources of God at your disposal to wage war against the enemy and to run a victorious race.
If you think you are standing tall, be carful not to fall. – 1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT