“Then I confronted the nobles of Judah and said to them, ‘What is this evil thing that you are doing? Profaning the Sabbath day. Did not your fathers act in this way? And did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Now you are bringing more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.'”
This is a humbling chapter, Nehemiah 13, because after all the joy and worship and restoration, the Book of Ezra, the temple rebuilt, the Book of Nehemiah, the wall is rebuilt. Singing celebration, worshiping around God’s word. Awesome scenes. God’s people restored after the exile and yet Nehemiah 13, the last chapter ends with descriptions of how the people of God were already turning aside from the commands of God.
In and of yourself you will drift toward sinfulness. You need the Spirit of God and the help of God to move toward holiness.
This is just one example of many here in Nehemiah 13. They were profaning the Sabbath and Nehemiah goes to them and says, “Isn’t this what our fathers did? That led to disaster on us in this city? And now just as soon as the city’s rebuilt, we’re doing the same thing.” That’s pretty humbling, isn’t it? Apparently we don’t drift toward holiness. We drift towards sinfulness. Which means we must be vigilant if we are going to be holy. If you and I are going to grow more and more into the image of Christ, it’s not going to happen because we drift into that reality. Because it just kinda flows automatically. No, that’s not in any way the Christian life as described in the New Testament. The Christian life is a battle, it’s a struggle, it’s a war against our sinful nature that drifts towards disobedience to God and his word.
I just want to ask you today, are you being vigilant? Are you being vigilant in the battle for holiness? Realize in and of yourself you will drift toward sinfulness. You need the spirit of God and the help of God to move toward holiness. So God, we pray for your help in this. God, we know, we know our hearts are prone to wander. We sing it in that song, prone to wander, Lord, we feel it prone to leave the God we love. Even after we sin against you, we ask for your forgiveness, we see our sin, we see the consequences of our sin. We receive forgiveness of our sin, we’re still prone to go back to that sin. God help us. Help us we pray. We need your help. Please make us holy. Make me holy, make us holy, and help us to be diligent in the pursuit of holiness. A grace driven effort. We pray knowing we can’t win this battle in the flesh. We need your spirit, we need your grace to help us.
God, we know that doesn’t mean we just sit idly by, that your grace empowers us to work and to work hard, to hide your word in our heart, to walk in step with your spirit. To think thoughts that bring glory to you, to desire that which brings honor to your name, to speak in ways that glorify you and honor others, to love and serve others, to not seek our own selfish gain, to live according to your word and your ways for the accomplishment of your purposes. God, please, please make us holy. Make us holy. Oh God, we long for the day when we will be with you, free from sin. So help us to work with vigilance by your grace for holiness more and more and more until that day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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