Points to Ponder: Is There Sin in the Camp?
Points to Ponder
Is There Sin in the Camp?
A colleague in ministry called me to request prayer. One of the projects he's working on involves going into a facility run by the state government. His appointment with some skeptical agency heads was in two hours and he wanted to be undergirded with the prayers of people he trusted. We didn't wait two hours; I prayed with him right there over the phone. I asked God to give him a discerning ear so that he could hear what these officials were saying, and also insight and wisdom on his part so he could respond in an appropriate way.
While I was speaking, an idea was conveyed to my spirit. Was it the Holy Spirit answering my request; or was this just my own mind? I told my colleague what had come to me: "Is there sin in the camp?"
I was reminded of the account of Achan after the battle of Jericho (Joshua 7). Achan had stolen some of the spoils, violating the direct command of the Lord. His disobedience affected the whole nation of Israel, resulting in a humiliating loss in the next battle. Thirty-six Israelites were killed (v. 5). Joshua did not understand how they easily defeated the fortified city of Jericho and then faced a crushing defeat at the comparatively smaller city of Ai. He fell on his face before the Lord. Why did God allow this to happen?
"So the Lord said to Joshua: 'Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them...Get up, sanctify the people, and say, "Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel: you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you'" (Joshua 7:10-11a and 13).
There was sin in the camp. God will not bless sin. He will not bless the work of those who go forth in His name while they turn their back on God's Word and ignore the sin that is causing them to bring reproach on His name.
In my prayer time with this brother, I sensed a "static" in the air ever since we'd begun talking about this ministry months ago. It's a good program. It's been done effectively elsewhere and has reached many souls for the Lord. But there is a constant "static in the air", hindrances, roadblocks. He admitted that he too had been noticing this. I said, "I believe there is sin in the camp. I don't know what, who, or how so; but something is not right." He launched into prayer immediately with me on the phone. Rather than debating me or justifying himself or the work he's been doing, he wanted to test this thought before God. If there is something that is an offense to the Lord, he asked God to reveal it. He asked for His mercy, to intercede to prevent any permanent damage. He asked God to reveal it so that it might be confessed and healed. I appreciated his humility. At this point in time, we have not received an answer. But we are watching and listening for it.
When you look at your own projects and plans, your ministry or mission, have you hit some roadblocks you can't explain? Do you ever wonder why, though you pray and you do all the right steps as you've understood them, things aren't working out? The engine doesn't seem to be firing on all eight cylinders. Something isn't quite "right."
Have you ever humbled yourself before the Lord and asked, "Is there sin in the camp?" One thing I've noticed in our culture is that we celebrate God's grace so much that we often fail to remember - or just plain ignore - that He takes sin very seriously. There is much He often overlooks and tolerates from His children; but there does come a time when He says, "Enough. I will not bless sin."
For instance, are the financial problems of a church really about a lack of funds? Financial trouble is often a sign of spiritual trouble. God's money will not multiply among a divided people. Consider it.
Jesus says you can tell a tree by its fruit. What kind of fruit is your work (or your ministry) bearing? Does it resemble the kind of "tree" you are striving to be? If somehow it seems that God is getting in the way - not blessing, but even blocking; could it be He is in your way because you have strayed from His?
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him" (II Chronicles 16:9).
Can God show Himself strong on our behalf if we have compromised that loyalty by allowing something we know He disapproves? We justify ourselves, calling it "tolerance"; or turn a blind eye in the name of love. We will walk on eggs trying to avoid offending people while disregarding how that may be offending God.
Consider this as well: the offense is not always something you are doing. Sometimes it's something you are failing (or refusing) to do. Think about it. Then pray.
"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from my secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless. And I shall be innocent of great transgression" (Psalm 19:12-13).
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com.