Do you remember the judgment that fell upon the children of Israel because Achan took of the accursed thing? God had instructed Israel not to take of anything from Jericho for personal use. The gold, silver, brass, etc. were to be deposited into the treasury of the LORD (6:19). Achan took some for himself. The consequence was felt by the nation as they were defeated in their attack against Ai. The anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel on account of the sin of Achan in the accursed thing (7:1).
God spoke to Joshua and the nation as if they all were accountable. Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled (deceived) also, and they have put it even among their own stuff…neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you (7:11,12). The sin of one affected the whole. The whole was held accountable.
It is very difficult for our individualistic mindset in the Western world to process how the sin of one can be in any way linked to anyone beyond that one. But God obviously sees the link. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive is a basic theological truth revealed by God. But I don’t see that to be the truth to be gleaned from the account of Achan.
At every level of life there are relationships which are affected by our actions. No person is an island unto himself. Whether speaking of family, society, workplace, nation or church, the sin of one affects the whole in some way, small or great. Achan’s sin, called Israel’s sin, is given to us in part to remind us how significant our individual choices are before God in relation to others. Sin committed and tolerated in one life will affect more than just that life. God is calling our attention to the significance of the sin of the individual in relation to the whole.
Paul recognized this as he spoke of the church as a body. Each member affects the whole. He compared the sin tolerated by the Corinthian church in one member to a little leaven leavening the whole lump (1Cor 5:6). The church is affected by and is responsible to deal with sin in the camp.
Shouldn’t this thought produce personal carefulness and lives of obedience? To make decisions in life as an autonomous, unaffiliated human being is to miss a bigger picture that is important before God. Your actions are not just about you. In relation to the church, sin in your life (secret immorality, idolatry, unbelief, etc.) could be a reason for God’s judgment or withholding blessing. The church must not tolerate it if known. You need to confess it and repent. May each of us take seriously the impact that our individual lives and choices has upon the church. Don’t be an Achan!