Turning Defeat into Victory - Pastor Steve Damron
Turn in your Bibles to Joshua. We're going to be looking at Joshua seven and eight. A couple years ago we looked at the book of Joshua and studied it for a little while so we know some of the background. It was a few years before that this passage really sprung out to me and I think in dealing with folks over the years it makes you go to scripture and look at it and ask going to for guidance. Sometimes if you listen to him he'll do that!
I was reading a book a few years ago and it told of a man who was a preacher. He was telling a funny story, saying that he would watch his boys work in his yard and notice that his wheelbarrow was having issues. The wheelbarrow kept tipping over - over and over the tire kept going flat. After a week of watching his boys struggle with the wheelbarrow and all the different things that were going on with it, he finally bought a new one which had two wheels and it worked really great. While he was thinking what to do with this old wheelbarrow he cleaned it, spray-painted it, pumped up the tire, and put it out at the end of his driveway. We do the same thing and it's amazing how fast something goes! He hung a sign on it which said "free." Well, unbeknownst to him, his neighbor got it. His neighbor, as the man tells the the story, came by at 3 a.m. and spied it - shiny red, glistening, tire full. Once he wheeled it across the street to his yard delighted with his new free toy, the man that gave it away said that later that day he happened to be driving by his neighbor who got his free new wheelbarrow and he was pushing the wheelbarrow across the yard full of sticks the tire was flat. The wheelbarrow tipped over, and the sticks fell out. His window was down and he said all of a sudden he pushed the window up because the man who normally was calm, quiet and reserved was stomping on the wheelbarrow and "these" words were coming out! He didn't want the man to know that he saw him doing that Ordinarily he said, the neighbor was a saintly man. Months down the road he said the man didn't realize what in the world that did to him - he said it was like a falling domino effect because he didn't pick up the sticks. He rolled over one of those sticks and he broke his mower. While he was shopping for a new one the dandelions moved in and took over and he ended up having to spray his entire yard. The man he said was going to offer help but by then his neighbor wasn't speaking to him anymore because he gave him the demon wheelbarrow. All of this because he found something free, and as the man applied it, sometimes we take things into our lives and they exact a price we can scarcely imagine. We confuse convenience sometimes for blessing and blessing for convenience.
The story of Jericho and Achan brings to mind something that seems so-you know it's free, it's sitting there and now we understand it's a little bit different because this wasn't something that was forbidden. I know the wheelbarrow wasn't forbidden-we know that in Achan's place, the accursed things were forbidden but in some sense those things are sitting there and it's is so simple to just grab them. Nobody knows. One man wrote it this way: "The sting of sin is sharper than it's pleasure." The uneasiness which followed on Achan's transgression far outweighed any pleasure he could have derived from it. The possession of his treasure was itself a trouble. He had to hide it in his tent lest anyone else should discover it. Next he brought death upon 36 of his innocent fellow countrymen and that's where we come to Joshua chapter 7. Then he brought the keenest distress and humiliation upon Joshua and the whole congregation. "The sting which follows on our first deliberate disobedience of God's commands is always far keener than the pleasure that disobedience gave us." One man wrote that and I think it's appropriate. I want to look at this passage as we come to it in just a moment.
I would ask you then (as I mentioned this morning) now as we bow together in prayer, we come to the Word of God. The Word of God is powerful. It's God's words and as we come to God let's ask him that we would humbly obey what he says. Heavenly Father, I pray that as we look at God's Word this evening you would humble us before you, We would bow to a superior and Lord as the scripture is powerful it's all powerful from a God that knows our heart. Lord as always I ask for you to do that which I can't and then to speak to our hearts. Lord we ask for the Spirit to do his work in our midst. We ask and claim your power Lord, we'll thank you for what you do, in Jesus name, Amen.
In Joshua chapter 7 we're going to read a few verses starting in verse 1. It says, "But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth–aven, on the east side of Beth–el, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water."
Then we come down to verse 6 which says, "And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face" Then I want you to turn to Joshua chapter 8 and you'll understand where I'm heading with this. Joshua chapter 8 "And the LORD said unto Joshua," so this is after they got defeated, we see that we come to that place in Joshua chapter 7 and verse 6 that Joshua gets on his face and now we're at Joshua chapter 8 and verse 1 "And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:"
I think many times we dwell on the passage but we forget that chapter eight is there and so what I want us to think about is how to turn defeat into victory. How do you turn defeat into victory? A lot of times we're dwelling just with our sin. We're down and we're downcast, we're in despair-it's depression-it's all kinds of things that come in, but we forget that chapter eight's there and chapter eight continues the thought. The idea is not that you just wallow in pity and you wallow in your sin and you're just supposed to stay there. Even I would even say this as far as authority-and sometimes even as a as a dad I have to be careful of that. Why? Because it is not supposed to be that you wallow in defeat. Victory is the idea that you get up and you're out and conquering again and that is the passage and yet in this it gives us instruction and how that when we're in sin how do we deal with that and then turn it around. That's why I love Joshua because yes he messes up sometimes-you see that later in Joshua chapter 9, 10 you see sometimes that Joshua makes the mistakes but all of a sudden he deals with-he learned how to deal with sin in his life. He turned around and started slashing the enemy and we should be able to do that we're not perfect.
Nobody sitting here can stand before you and say that "I have not sinned." We're sinners, but what does happen is some of you dwell in your defeat over and over and over when God says "Hey I can give you victory!" and remember it's God that can give you victory.
Deal with the defeat
First of all let's deal with the defeat. Let's turn to Joshua chapter 7 and verse 6. Here are a couple of things. We know that the sin happened. It's Achan. We understand that, but it's the children of Israel that now are are reaping from this. There's 36 men that are dead and here is Joshua. So what do we do? First of all "And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face." What's the first thing you should do in dealing what's your defeat? Begin humbly before God. Some of you are still you're not overcoming your sin -you know why? Because you're arrogant, you're haughty. That means that you haven't been with God. That's what I can tell you, because when you're with God there's just something that makes you say "God, I'm sorry" because God just comes down, and it makes you bow before him. A hardness just goes away when you've been in the presence of God. Remember Moses? That's the idea with Moses when he's begging and he's begging and he's saying, "God I want to see you." It doesn't seem like afterwards he's okay. "I saw his face"-I don't see that attitude. It seems like there's a humility there's an overabundance of humility and that's when as a church it should be that when we step into His presence there should be a humbleness.
Many times when I'm when I'm reading a passage I'm thinking of my literal children (which are not that little anymore). I want to remind you coming humbly before God-who is this? Let's go back to chapter 7 and verse 1. Who is it? "But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan," You know I'm the authority and you a young person. But actually the sinner was Achan-it was an adult. I'm asking all of us to put the other person that you're thinking of out of your head and zero in on YOU! That's what we've got to do. We all can think of somebody else that you know, but Achan is in you and you're not willing to bow before God. You're not willing to humble yourself. Did Joshua take it? Did Joshua take the accursed thing? Joshua is on his face-Joshua was on his face many times.
There's way too much self in Christianity. There's self image and self-recognition, self-love, self-importance, self-reliance and self-will, and self needs to be set aside and God must be bowed before. As you spend time with God you will know what you are, and you know what you deserve. Sometimes I don't understand why God uses men. I have met animals that are better servants to their masters. There are creatures of this world that seem to give God more glory than the average human. Go out in the springtime and the birds even sing praise to the Lord, but some of us can barely move our lips and praise when we sing. Keep humbly before God and you'll keep the proper perspective of sin in your life.
So the first thing is begin humbly before God, then notice in verse 6 he comes on his face. Then we go down to verse 10 "And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant." God then tells him what to do. The first thing in dealing with defeat is to begin humbly before God, but then identify the problem.
Identify the problem
Secondly, Identify the problem. If you're honest before God he will tell you what the problem is. I've gone before God sometimes with other things in mind and God sure as a way of saying no, no, no! If you come before God humbly he will show you what the problem is, but many of us don't want to identify that problem. That's why you're still living in defeat. There are some of you that you have the same sin over over and over and over-why? Because it's been identified, kind of, but you walk away and you don't give God enough time to identify it. He can identify the problem.
Look at it-what are some of the problems here? We see pride, we see assumption, we see prayerlessness, we see no patience, we can all look at the story of Ai and we can see that man looks at those problems. In the same way, God can lay it out for you as he has for me sometimes, you can say "hey what about this, why are you doing that?" God's not vague. I don't serve a a vague, nebulous God that's out there. That's why we have this book, it can be very specific and it can deal with us specifically, so why not let Him do that? These are some of the problems, and when you come face to face with defeat in your life with sin, the majority of time guess what? It is our fault. It's not somebody else's fault, it's our fault. Look at your life-if it is sin, identify it, don't keep going.
Then notice what it says. Joshua is here and you notice in verse 7: "And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan...O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?" Notice what God does. What does it sound like? Joshua sounds like he's almost whining and its external doesn't it? He's talking about the Canaanites, he's talking about these guys over there, they're going to say this, and they're going to say that it's all external. Notice what God does. He says forget the external, and he turns it internal. Get thee up, you have sinned.
What you'll find is when you deal with God and you are saying...and this is a problem with us as Christians, that's why I believe God led even this morning in the message about the Samaritan, because sitting here, we get the attitude of the Levite and the Priest and we are so arrogant and we know the letter of the law, and look at those people, and we're so busy, and we walk by on the other side. We're pharisaical we're the Levites and a half-breed Samaritan shows us up, and what we have to understand, is when you are saying "them, them, those people, them, them, them," I can tell you right now that I don't see that in Scripture. When it's always everybody else, then you are wrong. I believe that's biblical, and I challenge you then to know your scriptur, understand the scripture, and you say "no that's not so," then show me in Scripture. What I find is that when sin is there, you always start saying "those guys, those guys." Where do I see it? King Saul. King Saul said "it's the people, the people made me do it." All through scripture you can see that sin makes you turn to others and say, "they made me do it," excusing it away externally. God wants you to turn it internally.
Dealing with defeat: begin humbly before God, identify the problem, then thirdly, notice in verse 16: "So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: And he brought the family of Judah;..." we go all the way through verse 20: "And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:" and he explains it. Look at verse 22-Joshua sends messengers. In verse 23 "And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD." and look at verse 24. "And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor." Then what did they do? "And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones."
Change your behavior
What I look at is, if I'm going to deal with defeat, I'm going to come humbly before God, I'm going to identify the problem, and then I'm going to change my behavior. And you're going to see that you're going to deal with it, I'm not going to beat around the bush, I'm not going to say "you know I said I'm sorry, but you know what I..." And you're still going the same way. There's going to be a difference in your life if you are going to start heading towards victory, and that means you're going to turn and look at it. You're going to be humbled, but then you're going change your behavior. That's what we see with Joshua. Don't make an appearance or a show of repentance, burn the sin out. Don't be afraid of what others may say, or what others may think of you now, deal with the sin. Pile a heap on the sin-that's what they did, they piled a heap on it. They raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. Now I haven't been there in the valley of Achor, but I'm sure that we could find a heap, because "unto this day" means "unto this day." And the heap of stones is so that you can go and apply it to ourselves and personally then, I should be able to go and say "you know what, that was a time that the devil had me down, but God dealt with it, He helped me identify it, and I burned it, and I put a heap of stones there, because I want to be able to walk by it and say that was me before, but praise the Lord, I'm going to have victory." We don't stop there, but until we deal with the defeats, we cannot then seize victory. You must do it in God's order.
Seize the victory
In this passage we see God's order: deal with the defeat. So we humbly are before God, we're identifying the problem, we're changing our behavior, and then guess what I can do? I can seize the victory. So how do I do that? How do I seize the victory? Look at chapter 8 verse 1-2: "And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it."
So what do we first do? Now I want to seize the victory. The Bible says boldly attack. Once I come through that sin, then go attack. That's what we see Joshua doing. he goes on the offensive. And what's the difference here? He's got God with him. God now is talking to him, and man, he was able to correct some of the mistakes because before we know that they were presumptuous, they were prideful, they didn't have patience. There was a lot of things that we could list out here with Joshua. He made some mistakes but he's not going to dwell there in the defeat of Ai. He's going to say, "man I'm going to take care of it but now let me see the victory." Boldly attack the enemy! In verse 2 what is it saying? It's going to be different. You're going to beat them like you beat Jericho, except ol' Achan. Oh Achan, if you'd have just been patient, you knew God was going to take care of you. You had to sneak around and do it some other way.
Sometimes I think of morals. Here in the Bible, we know that a husband and wife are brought together and some people talk about morality. Then they'll get squeamish because a husband and wife have sex together. We have tried to properly teach that this was meant to be. God meant it as something very special-between one man and one woman for this life forever. But what does the devil do? "Oh hey, sneak over here sneak over there and this is special"-no it's not! It's just like Achan here. Achan, don't you understand that God already had spoil for you, and probably more than you could even imagine. You wouldn't have had to hide it under your tent and yet that's what the devil does to us. He comes and he cons you. He cons you into cheating God's way. And that could be in morality. He cons you into cheating God's way. This happens even in education, or maybe even in God's path he [the devil] says, "Hey, take a shortcut," and what happens when you take a shortcut? You're in defeat. You cheat God's Way and there's men around you...Think of that.
Here's Joshua having to deal with all the ramifications of Achan's sin. 36 men that more than likely meant 36 wives, and he has to go to them and say "I'm sorry ma'am, your husband is dead." I thought it was but few. We don't need a lot. Oh they're so small. Can you imagine Joshua? He's the captain, he's the leader, and he has to sit there and say, "I'm sorry I I don't understand," because maybe at that point he didn't know yet. That's what happens to us. We get conned by the devil. Yet if you do it properly and deal with the defeat what can you do? You can boldly attack the enemy, and then you can take the spoils. Achan could have had the spoils of Ai, would not have had to hide them in his tents. What good is silver that you can't spend? What good is a Babylonish garment that you can't wear? But he could have had the spoils of Ai if he would have waited on God.
This is what you and I sometimes have a problem with. This could even be in the area of covetousness. You're not content with what God has given you, and you go out and you start looking. You say, "well that member was able to buy this" well rejoice with them! Can't you be happy? Rejoice with them and say, "well God is blessing them," instead, oh how that covetousness and greed gets into our heart, and we want to cheat God's way, and all of a sudden, "oh, the Lord provided, look, I have a credit card that's saying 'unlimited!" And so what do you do? In your covetousness you go out and you don't wait on God. You're there in the defeat of Ai when if you were to just have waited, God would say, "you know what?" "I've got spoils for you over here." The spoil is there but it's in God's timing.
So we attack the enemy, we take the spoils, and then I love this. Look at chapter 8, verse 18: "And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand." Then look down at verse 22: "And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape." Look at verse 24: "And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed," then verse 26: "For Joshua drew not his hand back."
How do I turn defeat into victory? I deal with that defeat. I think this is something that we have to do and look at in our hearts sometimes. All of us sin, some of you just live in it, and you wallow in that sin, and you're letting the devil take that. Some of it is our mind. You're worried about what everybody else thinks instead of what God thinks. If God's forgiving you get up and go, It doesn't matter what somebody thinks. It will show. There might be a little bit of awkwardness sometimes because you feel a little shame. Some of it is going to scripture and understanding that shame is part of the consequences of sin. There is some shame there. Otherwise, we would do whatever we wanted. That's why in the Bible they call it the whores forehead. Now now we don't know much about it but the reason they call it the whore's forehead is because there was some shame involved in being a harlot or a prostitute. There should be that but our society keeps on taking that away. All the scientists are researching, all the doctors and psychologists are studying. The transgender crowd is 19 times more apt to commit suicide. Why do you think? because of shame. That's homosexuality and sodomy. The rate of suicide is off the charts, and guess what else has a high rate of suicide? Rebellious teenagers. They're sitting there and they're studying it, and they've got to have scientific studies to show that's what the Bible says. Their shame and sin makes you feel bad-yeah it does, guilt!
So how can I take care of it? Deal with it God's Way, and then God can remove it because do you think there was a little bit of guilt? Even with Joshua, I think so. He didn't commit Achan's sin but was he the commander? Yes, and that's why he is on his face saying, "God what am I supposed to do?" Then he starts looking around and saying, "the Canaanites are going to say this and they're going to be doing that." God says, "wait a minute, you have sinned, deal with it." Identify the problem, change your behavior and then guess what can happen? Then you can turn around and seize the victory. And what is the victory? Go boldly against the enemy. Start attacking again, and it's not in your strength. That's what some of us forget. That's Romans six and seven and eight. That passage seems to indicate to you that sin is there, but chapter eight is in the book of Romans to help you understand that God gives you the victory. it's through his Spirit. Some of you are fighting all in your flesh and you're so miserable.
All through Joshua chapter eight you know what you'll find? Look at chapter eight verse 1: "And the LORD said unto Joshua," then you see in verse 18: "And the LORD said unto Joshua," and then at the end in verse 30 that Joshua built an altar unto the Lord. It seems like between Joshua and the Lord there's a relationship. And that's what will give you victory. It's not you on your own saying "I can do this," no you can't. I can't either. Once you get to God and you understand to get past Ai as far as the defeat, but attack the enemy. Take the spoils and then the passage here in verse 26 says draw not back. Keep going! I love the story of this battle because there's strategy. There's thought. There's a plan, and Joshua rallies the troops and he tells them go and conquer.
I remember telling this story many years ago and I think that you'll understand. I've used it before. There's a young man and he wanted more than anything to take a cruise. This was at least fifty years ago. He didn't have much money but eventually he saved enough money to buy a ticket. As he packed, he knew that all his money went into the ticket. So he thought, "I'm not going to have much money for food," so he packed the bread and cheese for his meals. He enjoyed the cruise. He walked around and he watched people eating in the dining room and banquet halls. As he saw them eating in those dining halls, his joy diminished. After two weeks his bread and cheese started molding and so he tossed them aside and he began starving. He didn't have any food. He walked around and people noticed how thin this young man was becoming. A gentleman approached and asked the young man if there was something wrong with him. Embarrassed, the young man explained that he didn't have enough money to buy food. The gentleman took the young man by the shoulders and explained to him that all the food was paid for in the price of the ticket. He'd been missing out. His joy was looking at the people eating at the fine dining and he's getting all bitter when he was supposed to be there.
I tell that because sometimes that's what we do with our sin. We're sitting there and we're thinking, "how can they have victory?" It's because they're following God's pattern and God's plan. It's not some specialized thing that only only I have. You can have it too. It's right here. It's in this book. When you develop a relationship with the Lord, even when something bad happens, and I've sat with a number of you. We've had some bad things happen in some of your homes. Sometimes in a church, Sometimes individually, sometimes you brought it on yourself. But when we turn to God and we look to God to find his way, guess what happens? All of a sudden it seems like they're back on top, the sword is drawn, and they're chasing the enemy.
That's what God wants. It's not some secret, it's God's Word. So why so are you going to keep living in defeat. You know why? Because you want to have your pity party. And you can join Achan. There's going to be a heap, fire, and his life is done. But it's not just his life, and that's what you have to understand. In the story of Achan there were others affected. You're going to affect others in that defeat, or you can turn around. Joshua felt some of that. Joshua had a pity party, but he had a pity party prostrate in front of God, and God was able to take his pity party and change it up a little bit. Sometimes you know what I'm the same, I'm going to come and I'm going to whine to God, but God, when you have a humble spirit and you're prostrate before God, God has a way of getting your attention and turning it around. He helps you identify, changing the behavior and then all of a sudden you're back out with your sword drawn and you're slicing and dicing the enemy. That's what God wants you to do. He wants you to experience victory. your job here on this earth is not to live in defeat. He didn't leave us here so that we can just be despondent all our life, saying, "Lord, I'm just looking forward to heaven because I'm so depressed." You probably depressed heaven. I don't think that's possible but you probably will do it.
God wants us to have victory. I remember watching Ray Meyer interviews way back in the day. He used to coach DePaul University when I think they played basketball and won some. This is what's amazing, they had 42 consecutive winning seasons. One season he had a 29 game winning streak, when they lost a game. Reporters were anxious to get into the locker room to interview Ray Meyer. They wanted to see how the loss was going to affect him and the team, but he was all smiles. He said, "this is great for our team." "For the last 10 or 12
days we've been thinking about the winning streak and we've been trying not to lose every game, so now that we've lost, we can concentrate on winning again."
There is some truth in it. Some of you you, "I think I'm going to lose"...yup, there you are again. You lost. Let's concentrate on winning, so let's get in Scripture and say, "okay God, how can you help me win?" "How can you help me have success?" What you will find is that God may have a different plan than what you have. Then follow it. He is pretty good at victory. I know the devil doesn't think so, but I'm sorry, the tomb is still empty, and I understand that the devil probably is not really discouraged. He looks pretty successful. But the last I checked he is not in heaven. Christ is, and He's seated on the right hand of the Father. He is successful and that's our Savior, then go to him and let him give you a victorious battle plan.