[otw_shortcode_info_box border_type=”bordered” border_color_class=”otw-black-border” border_style=”bordered” shadow=”shadow-down-right” rounded_corners=”rounded-10″]This sermon is part of the Expository Preaching Collective on the Book of Nehemiah. Follow the link below to know more about What Expository preaching is and Why is it important to us. (Click here)[/otw_shortcode_info_box]
A crucial challenge every Christian goes through in their everyday walk with Jesus is defeating Sin and allowing God to reign in our lives. And the best possible way to overcome this challenge is to feed our heart and soul with the word of God.
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- They set their hearts on seeking God’s Law as a community.
- They gave God’s word the highest prominence in their lives.
- They put effort in understanding God’s heart and his purposes
Before we look into today’s passage let me ask how many of us went back home and seriously thought about it and made adjustments to our daily routine to accommodate more of God’s word? You can answer that question in your heart.
If your answer is ‘Yes’, well and good.
But if your answer is ‘No’ then I want to urge you as a brother in the Lord to seriously consider doing so because it is only the Word of God that will help us defeat Sin and allow God to reign in our lives.
Real change will come only when we feed your heart mind and soul with God’s word.
In Psalms 119:11 David writes “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”
V9 – “How can those who are young keep their way pure? By living according to your word”
V130 – “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple”
V165 – “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble”
With that thought in mind let’s turn to today’s passage i.e Nehemiah 8:9-12
What we see in this passage is basically the after effects of what happened to the people when they heard the Law of God.
Now that we are convinced that we should be giving God’s word the highest prominence, I believe this passage from Nehemiah 8:9-12 will help us discern whether the Word of God is really impacting our lives the way it should.
V9 says “All the people wept as they heard the words of the Law”
They wept, out of a deep sense of guilt leading them to REPENTANCE.
When they heard the Law they realized how much grievance they caused to God because of their rebelliousness. They realized how sinful they had become in the sight of God and yet God persuaded them with Love and brought them back again into His presence.
Just like these people whenever we approach and read God’s word we should allow His word to convict us and lead us into genuine Repentance.
We should see our sinfulness and God’s graciousness displayed through Christ, leading us into Godly sorrow.
2 Cor 7:10 says “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret”
Now, What Repentance really is?
– Does repentance mean simply saying sorry and getting away with it for a moment?
– Does it mean just confessing our sins for the sake of it just because the preacher said so? – or-
– Does it mean turning away for sins momentarily to escape consequences?
Charles Spurgeon said “Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, and a resolution to forsake it. It is in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character which makes the man love what once he hated, and hate what once he loved”
John Piper said “Repenting means experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience”
Did you know — To Repent is a command in the Bible?
Rev 3:19 says “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and Repent”
A famous 17th century Pastor Thomas Watson wrote a ‘treatise’ on repentance with 6 ingredients to show what genuine repentance looks like.
Ingredient 1 – Sight of Sin
The first ingredient Watson calls as the ‘Sight of Sin’, and what he means is that first and foremost we ought to see our Sins when we read the scriptures.
It’s easy to read the book of Exodus and say how terrible those guys were, even after God’s graciousness they kept offending him. Or to read a verse and think of someone else to whom you think it applies. But it is often hard to see our own attitudes and sinfulness.
When we read the Word of God we ought to see our sinful heart in comparison to a Holy God. To see how wretched we are in our attitude and thoughts that we do not deserve any good thing from Him. That even our righteousness is like filthy rags in the sight of God.
Rom 3:10 says “None is righteous, no, not one”
Even to those people who think they had a good week where they stayed away from sin and walked in obedience in every way – your hearts are still wretched in comparison to God’s Holiness.
And therefore, there can never be a moment when we read His word and are never convicted our sins.
When Nehemiah heard the news of the broken walls he saw his sins and the sins of his fore fathers.
Ingredient 2 – Sorrow over Sin
This ingredient is the element of lament for our sins as we see its effects on ourselves, on others, and on God.
Just like Nehemiah, he wept and mourned for days in the presence of God.
And that is the exact emotion the people of Israel went through when the Law of God was read.
In Psalms 51:17 Davis writes “The sacrifices of God are … a broken and contrite heart”
When we read the scriptures see our sins we approach God with a broken heart and not with Arrogance. We have to mourn before God for ourselves, our families, our relatives, our friends…. for the people we love the most.
Ingredient 3 – Confession of Sin
Watson says “Sorrow is such a vehement passion that it must vent. It vents itself at the eyes by weeping and at the tongue by confession”
Confession means taking ownership for our actions, the grief that we’ve caused to God by sinning against Him and rebelling against his word.
We confess our Sins not just to God but also to one another.
James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”
Ingredient 4 – Shame of Sin
Apart from confessing our sins we also have to feel ashamed of it. Ezra in Ezra 9:6 cries out to God saying “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our hearts, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens”
Remember Jesus paid a costly price to save us from Sin and slavery, and we should feel ashamed take advantage of His goodness.
Ingredient 5 – Hatred of Sin
“Christ is never loved till sin is loathed”
Genuine repentance reflects something of God’s wrath. God’s anger burns at Sin.
It is not just a historical anger but an eternal one. And therefore when we get angry at our sin, we reflect God’s nature, His Holiness and Purity to those around us.
“We have to hate what we once loved”
Ingredient 6 – Turning from Sin
Repentance means little if it does not result in reformation.
In Ezekiel 14:6 God says “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God; Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations”
Acts 3:19 – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”
How do we know whether our turning away is genuine?
If our turning away is genuine then we will never return back to it again. And if we end up going back again then we have still not hated it enough.
Proverbs 26:11 says “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly”
Repentance is a key part of a Christian life. It never feels good – and if it feels good, then you’re doing it wrong.
Genuine Repentance invites God’s forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”
He only forgives us but also credits us with Christ’s righteousness. And that’s exactly the Gospel.
When we were still sinners Christ died for us – and that by repenting of our sins and believing in Jesus we are saved from eternal death and are called RIGHTEOUS.
Psalms 32:11 says “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart”
The rest of the text in Nehemiah 8:10-12 we see how the people rejoiced and celebrated when they understood what was shared.
- A joy that is contagious
- A joy that is genuine
- A joy that calls for a celebration