“Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”
John Owen (1616–1683)
Worship & Contradiction
Israel is in turmoil over the hardship and slavery that they have brought upon themselves. “You, Lord, have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly” (Neh. 9:33). Because of their oppression, they make a covenant with God with their leaders’ names sealed on the document. God’s people are continuing to reestablish homes, lands, and social roles in the midst of their burdens.
What astounds me about these closing chapters is that Israel has this big blow out celebration in dedication to the wall of Jerusalem, so much so that their singing and joy could be heard from far away (12:43), and it is not long at all before Nehemiah discovers all this blatant sin occurring in the leadership of Israel and the temple! God’s people are doing everything from trade on the Sabbath, to fraternizing with those who serve other gods, and even marrying foreign women, things clearly against the covenant that they JUST made.
Wage War Because You Are Free
I cannot help but think of Paul’s principle for when he does good and when he sins.
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” Romans 7:21-23
We, like Israel, are people who truly do delight in God’s law because we are His children.
We trust Him, love Him, and want to please Him. And in the same breath, we acknowledge there is much sin still dwelling in us that needs to be killed. The powerful reality for us as Christians is this:
We put sin in our lives to death because our Lord Jesus has already defeated sin and death.
We fight for faith because Jesus keeps that faith.
We strive for holiness because Jesus is our holiness.
We are slaves to righteousness because we are free.
Thanks and praise be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
(1 Cor. 15:57)