Finish Strong

Part 4: The Battle of Ai

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Sin is a big deal to God. We tend to think something is little and it really doesn’t matter much. We look around and think, “Well, everyone is doing it, so it must be okay.” But, as God’s people, we are called to be different. God hates sin because He knows how it destroys people’s lives and it sent His Son to the cross. Be honest today - is there an area of sin in your life that you are tolerating? Are there devoted things that you are stealing from God? Confess today and find the forgiveness and grace of God. Pursue Jesus Christ and live your life for His glory.


Finish Strong: The Battle of Ai

The Downward Spiral of Sin

Sin has a downward spiral. It typically starts with one seemingly “small” lie, act of disobedience, or harsh comment. We must recognize that there is a progression with sin. We may be tempted to sin, but it’s when we give in and continue to sin that the Enemy is gaining a foothold in our lives. And, no matter how hard we try, our sin will be found out.

We all have different sin struggles; however, many of these struggles are rooted in pride. We may think we can “get away with it.” We may say to ourselves that it’s “not that big of a deal.” Or we move forward with a decision thinking that “we can do it on our own.” It’s in the midst of these prideful thoughts and actions that the downward spiral of sin is progressing and worsening. 

Sin has enormous consequences. Though tragedy and hardship do not only occur as a result of sin, many times when we do sin, tragedy, defeat, and challenges are consequences of that sin. When we step out of God’s plan for our lives and instead choose to live for ourselves or the world, we are making the choice to sin instead of making the choice to follow Jesus and His plan for us.  

What the Bible Says about the Downward Spiral of Sin in Joshua 7-8

In Joshua 7-8, Joshua, too, fell into the downward spiral of sin. He had just experienced victory, thanks to God’s protection and leading, at the Battle of Jericho. The next stop was the city of Ai. Rather than choosing to pray to God and ask for His leading once again, Joshua chose to go ahead with him and his army leading the way. He was not faithful in prayer, and he acted sinfully in pride, thinking that he and his army could defeat their enemies on their own. As a result, the Israelites and Joshua experienced their first major defeat. They lost at the Battle of Ai, and God’s anger burned against them (Joshua 7:26). 

1 Peter 5:8-9a says, Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith… The Enemy is constantly looking for ways to defeat us and lead us to sin and its consequences. Like this verse says, the way to resist temptation is to stand firm in our faith. This faith comes from the knowledge that God’s plan is greater and that he is looking out for us; His way is greater than any selfish, sinful choice and direction that we could take for our lives.

Like Joshua, we will make mistakes and sin against God. We, too, will face defeat. But, as we read at the end of Joshua 7, the people confessed their sins at the Valley of Achor, and God forgave them (Joshua 7:26). They turned from their sins and repented, and this led to true and total redemption. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) It starts with confession, which will, consequently, result in God’s forgiveness and our sanctification. Even in our sin, God is working all things for our good and His glory.

How do you respond to defeat?

Sin is a big deal, and that’s why there are difficult, sometimes even severe, consequences for it. We cannot and should not ever take sin lightly. As God’s children, we are called to turn from our wickedness and sin and to live lives that bring glory and honor to Him. 

When we do sin, as we all will for the rest of our lives, our response is what matters most. Rather than continuing in the downward spiral of sin, we must make a choice to stop and turn to Jesus. We can confess and repent, and this will lead to our redemption. Defeat will come in our lives, and it will be very challenging at times. However, God takes even our worst moments of disobedience and defeat and turns it to triumph. He uses our weaknesses to show His power. He can use us even in our worst moments.

Out of our sin, God brings us hope. Out of our worst struggles, God brings victory.

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