A lack of willingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society as a whole on a downward spiral of sin. But sadly, it’s not a lack of truth, rather a suppressing of the truth, not that most people don’t know the truth, but because they just don’t want to hear it.
Nehemiah 12 & 13
Well, here we are finishing up the book of Nehemiah. Do you realize we have finished well over half of the Old Testament, 16 books in total and a good portion of Psalms and Proverbs? We’ve finished the four gospels and the book of Acts, the historical books of the New Testament.
Now we are starting the Epistles of Paul in the New Testament, beginning with the book of Romans and tomorrow we’ll start the book of Esther in the Old Testament. It’s exciting to see the progress we’re making.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Well, on to the word …
Nehemiah 12 & 13:
Business as usual
Wow, how about that Nehemiah! He didn’t fool around when it came to confronting sin among his leadership. I can see him going into that storehouse in the temple and throwing out Tobiah’s household goods!
Can you imagine? It would have been like allowing a Buddhist to come set up housekeeping in one of the rooms in your church!—worse yet, a Buddhist whose goal was to bring down the work of God!
Nehemiah had returned to Babylon for a period of time and, after he left, many of the leaders went back to business as usual. They were conducting commerce on the Sabbath, some of them had married pagan women, and their children hadn’t been taught the language of Judah, so they couldn’t even understand what was being taught or read in the temple. One of the High Priest’s grandsons had even married Sanballat’s daughter!
“So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, ‘You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves.’”
Today people get offended if you just tell them the truth about how they’re living. How about you? Are you teachable when confronted with truth in some area of your life?
Verses 33-34, “Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.”
Even when we fall so far short of God’s best and he allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions, He doesn’t utterly forsake us! Wow! What an awesome God we serve!
Wisdom & humility
Verse 3 talks about the wise man and how wisdom can keep us from so much unnecessary trouble. As the old saying goes, “Fools rush in …,” in this case, where wise men fear to tread. Verse 4 talks about the humble man, he is the one who ends up with riches, honor and life as God intended. What a combination for us to seek after—wisdom and humility!
As we start the book of Romans, it might be helpful to consider a couple of things. Romans is primarily a book of doctrine, but don’t be put off by that. It doesn’t mean it’s a dry book with no relevance to our lives, quite the contrary! This epistle (letter) contains some of the most important truths for us to understand in our Christian lives. In his Study Bible, John MacArthur says:
“The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God: the glorious truth that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.”
That is the foundation of our faith. If you are a newcomer to reading through the Bible, you might find it confusing that at the end of Acts, Paul is in Rome and here in Romans he is expressing his desire to go to Rome. It’s important to remember that the books of the Bible are not always arranged in chronological order.
In the New Testament the first four books are the Gospels, the four accounts of Christ’s life and ministry. Acts is the historical overview of the first three decades of the Church, ending its account in about 60-62 A.D.
The remainder of the New Testament, except for the book of Revelation is a series of letters written by various church leaders to churches and individuals meant to be circulated to others within the church. They’re not in chronological order, but are grouped by author. Romans through Philemon, and possibly Hebrews, were written by the Apostle Paul. Romans was written about 56 A.D. before his imprisonment and journey to Rome.
The joy of Christian fellowship
So here we are in chapter one and there’s so much in this chapter. I love verses 11-12 expressing his desire to visit Rome:
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
What a picture of the joy of Christian fellowship.
Then verses 16-17:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Are you tempted to be ashamed of the gospel? In the workplace? Or with your unsaved family? Are you afraid to share the truth because someone might make fun of you or think you’re simple-minded? Even after being beaten, stoned, ridiculed, and all the rest, Paul was “not ashamed of the Gospel”!
Then beginning in verse 18, we have what can be called “the downward spiral of sin.” You’ll see this in individual lives and in nations and societies, as well. It starts with “suppressing the truth.” It’s not that most people don’t know the truth, they just don’t want to hear it. Sound familiar? Verses 21-22 say:
“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools …”
Our schools, colleges and universities, as well as other arenas, are full of people who think they are so wise, with all their science and knowledge, but God says they’re fools!
The downward spiral and its consequences is not the declaration of a moody God who is just taking out His annoyance on people. This is the result of a purposeful rejection of the truth by the people involved.
Even creation itself shouts that there is a God! How scientists can study the intricacies of the human body and the wonders of the earth and deny the existence of God is beyond me. It takes more “faith” to believe a lie than to believe the truth! But they are putting their faith in the wrong things. You have to wonder what the Day of Judgment will be like for some of them, when their utter foolishness has been totally exposed and “every knee bows” to the God of the universe—too late for them to accept Him personally.
Because of their sin and rejection three times it says, God “gave them over” or “gave them up” (vv. 24, 26, & 28). You can see how lives and societies spiral downward. The more they turn away from God, the more they turn toward sexual immorality and other sins, eventually reaching the point where it’s commonplace. At the bottom of the spiral we see these verses:
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Debased minds, sexual immorality, maliciousness, murder, hatred toward God, pride, disobedient children … doesn’t that describe our world today?
And at the very bottom we see this phrase “but also approve of those who practice them.” That is what so many in the gay movement want, not just to have the freedom to do as they please, but they demand universal approval. And if you disagree they want to be able to attack you and call you “intolerant.”
Thinking back to Nehemiah, can you imagine if he showed up in our nation today? We can’t stop standing for the truth either. I’m not advocating that we be unloving. In fact, 2 Timothy 2 says:
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
But we must continue to pray for those who are caught in a web of sin and speak the truth in love at every opportunity (Eph. 4.15).
Have a blessed day!
|NKJV MacArthur Study Bible, Revised Edition, Hardcover By Thomas NelsonUnleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time!Featuring the word-for-word accuracy of the New King James Version, The MacArthur Study Bible is perfect for serious study. Dr. John MacArthur has compiled more than 20,000 study notes, and numerous charts, maps, outlines, and articles to create The MacArthur Study Bible. No other study Bible does such a thorough job of explaining the historical context, unfolding the meaning of the text, and placing it within a theological framework. It has now been updated with an abridged topical index and an exhaustive NKJV concordance.Teeming with beneficial Bible helps, The MacArthur Study Bible is among the elite of Bible study tools. Over 35 years of Bible study are packed into one volume. The extensive verse-by-verse study notes provide a one-stop way to do your Bible study. Just a few of its numerous features are:
|Romans, John MacArthur Study Guides By Thomas Nelson* Study God’s Word with one of America’s most beloved and trusted Bible teachers! Highlighting Paul’s themes of grace, truth, and redemption, MacArthur’s revised guide illuminates important doctrines of the faith. Twelve lessons, a new “Keys to the Text” section, and plenty of journaling space make this study ideal for individuals or small groups. 128 pages, softcover from Nelson.|
I sometimes LINKUP with these blogs: Mondays Making Your Home Sing Mondays The Beauty in His Grip What Joy is Mine/Monday Musings A Proverbs 31 Wife Tuesdays Rich Faith Rising Unite Linky Cornerstone Confessions Titus 2 Tuesday Teaching What is Good Time Warp Wife Solo Deo Gloria Sisterhood Wednesdays A Wise Woman Builds Her Home Juana Mikels My Daily Walk in His Grace Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesdays Judith Whole Hearted Home Where Joy Is Thursdays Serving Joyfully/Thriving Thursdays 3-D Lessons for Life/Thought Provoking Thursdays Jenni Mullinix/Thrive at Home Thursdays Becoming a Godly Wife Children Are a Blessing/Growing in Grace Linkup The Deliberate Mom/Shine Blog Hop I Choose Joy Fridays Christian Mommy Blogger Fellowship Fridays Essential Thing Devotions Women of Worship Blessing Counters Womanhood with Purpose Heart Filled Fridays Missional Women Faith Filled Fridays Saturdays Still Saturday The Weekend Brew
This post may contains affiliate links, but I only recommend books and resources that I believe are theologically sound and beneficial to the reader. Thank you for supporting this blog and ministry by supporting my links!