When I was younger, I remember reading about the history of the Israelites. It seemed as though they would sin, get their lives right, be overthrown again with temptation, discontent, complaining, and sin once again. Younger me used to shake my head, and perhaps say, “What are you thinking? God, the Creator of all things is on your side! Why are you choosing any other way?” The sad reality is that I have come to the realization that I am a part of that crowd. I am that grumbling Israelite. I am that Christian who steps off the path and gets my foot stuck in the net of the enemy.
How many times in your Christian life do you feel as though you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of falling down, being picked back up, only to fall once more? I know this feeling all too well, and to be completely transparent, I have been overcome with the guilt of it all for months now. I have treated my Christian walk as if God is keeping score of the times I slip in a day, after repenting, and it has become exhausting how stuck in the past I allowed myself to become. Precious readers, time and time again the Bible reassures is that we are forgiven, set free, and now have a new way of life. Galatians 5:1 states, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
In Nehemiah, God’s people were also trapped in this never-ending cycle. At the end of Ezra (the book before Nehemiah), the people were on a spiritual high and they turned back to God of Israel. By Nehemiah, however, the enemy entered. The people were once again overthrown, this time the wall of Jerusalem laid in ruins. Nehemiah saw the condition and brokenness of the city and was distraught and full of remorse (Be sure that sin will send you into this state). Nehemiah 1:8-9 states, “Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’” Sin scatters. Sin isolates. Sin keeps you as far away from the Father and the church as possible. I am guilty of allowing my struggles to get me far away from fellow believers because I believed the lie of the enemy that it’s better that way. Dear readers, if you have the desire to live a life of purpose, it is necessary for us to turn to Him, keep His commands, DO them, and He will draw us together again.
Now, Nehemiah, under the divine hand of God, entered with a special request before the King. He wanted to rebuild the temple and unite the people of Israel once again. Nehemiah was not only granted his request, but he was also given the protection of officers of the armies to go with him. How amazing it is to be at the center of God’s will–safe and secure. The problem, however, was that the enemy was enraged by this and sought to undermine Nehemiah. I love how Nehemiah 2 ends with verse 21, “Then I replied to them, “The God of Heaven will make us prosper, and we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”
Get this: The enemy has NO RIGHT OR CLAIM ON YOU. When Satan and his army comes and fills your mind with guilt or speaks mockingly, “Remember when you did that?” Cling to the promises of God who has washed you clean. He has removed those confessed sins as far as the east is from the west. God is calling you to a life of freedom, dear friend. If you are like me, and you have felt completely trapped in guilt of the past, causing you to fall all the more, there is an important message. Jesus reassures us that we are set free to live a fearless life. We are no longer walking aimlessly in the dark, instead we are free to walk in light and love. May we, like Paul states in Philippians 3:14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”
Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”