He knew what he was doing was wrong. God had clearly told him not to. But he saw it. His eyes lingered over it, and he began to crave it. Finally, he went against his better judgment and took it. He knew the potential consequences — that it could destroy his family and community. He hid it, convinced that no one would ever know.
Yet one fateful day, his secret was exposed. All the gory details were out in the open. And he and his family suffered the consequences.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But I’m not talking about Josh Duggar and his Ashley Madison account. I’m talking about a man named Achan.
His account in Joshua 7 is one of the most haunting passages of Scripture. Here’s the summary: After the victory in Jericho, the Israelites were on cloud nine. But before the battle, priests had warned them not to take anything from the city:
“But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” (Joshua 6:18-19)
Achan ignored the warning. He saw a “beautiful cloak from Shinar” (think ancient Armani suit) and some silver and gold. He coveted these things. He took them. Finally, he hid them (Joshua 7:21).
And the consequences were brutal for everyone. The Israelite community suffered; thirty-six people died when they lost a battle against an inferior opponent (Joshua 7:4-5). And Achan and his family suffered; God publically exposed him, and they were stoned to death (Joshua 7:25-26).
When you compare Achan and Josh Duggar, the particularities of their sins differ. But core heart issues are remarkably similar.
Now much ink has been spilled talking about Josh Duggar. I don’t want to add to the noise. I fervently pray that God restores and reconciles his family.
But this and similar stories should cause us to look in the mirror. Because the problem of secret sin has plagued the human race ever since Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the garden.
And the same ingredients that brought Achan and Josh Duggar down exist in each of our souls. (Tweet this) We all have something that we are tempted to covet, take, and hide. Josh Duggar’s was sex. Achan’s was wealth and luxury. Adam and Eve’s was a fruit. Maybe yours is something different.
But God knows all. He sees the deepest, darkest parts of our souls. And He will expose them, either now or later:
“For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)
Secret sin is real. It ignites God’s wrath. It wounds those dearest to us. It brings God’s judgment. And it will be exposed.
We all have a little Ashley Madison inside of us — and that frightens me to my core. Does it frighten you?
May God use these tragedies to awaken us to the depths of our sin — and the beauty of the gospel.