The Importance of Daily Self-Examination: After tasting a resounding victory over Jericho under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites were confident to continue their conquest over Canaan. The next target was a small city of Ai (Gen 12:8; 13:3) that was located in the hill country. Accordingly, spies went up the mountain pass to view this city and they returned brimming with confidence. "Do not let all the people go up but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few. So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai" (Josh 7:3, 4). In reality, the population of Ai amounted to twelve thousand men and women (Josh 8:25), but to the spies this city may have appeared small in comparison to Jericho and this may have been the reason for their confidence. However, the Israelites tasted defeat for the first time in their Canaan conquest!
The first mistake was that the Israelites had grossly underestimated the enemy’s strength. Our Lord Jesus describes a scenario of the dire need to count the cost before we initiate war against another country: “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace” (Luke 14:28-32). How could the Israelites expect to defeat twelve thousand people with just three thousand soldiers?
The second and bigger mistake that the Israelites committed was the lack of self-examination. They did not check with God to see if He was with them in battle! Actually Israel had sinned and transgressed God’s covenant through Achan (Josh 7:1, 11). So, God had left them because there was sin in the camp. The sin of Achan and its results teach the great truth of the oneness of the people of God. "Israel hath sinned" (Josh 7:11). We are one body in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:1-7; 12:12-14: 26), and the church is adversely affected by the sin, neglect, or un-spirituality of ONE believer.
So as individual believers, we have a responsibility to examine ourselves daily. We are constantly engaged in a spiritual battle with the enemy (Satan) having put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). If there is sin in our lives, there are serious dents and gaps in the armor and the enemy will wound us severely. Let us join with Job and ask God: "How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin" (Job 13:23). Let us join with the Psalmist and plead to God: "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults" (Psalms 19:12). "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart" (Psalms 26:2). "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalms 139:23-24).