Cleaning House

And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff to Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither (there) brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat (grain) offering and the frankincense.

Nehemiah 13:7-9

It is true that you can never ran too far from sin, as the moment you do not run, it will catch you. The problem with us is that we flirt sin until we justify it and succumb to its hold like a magnet and a piece of steel. The best way to not have two magnets pull together is to keep them far apart, so that one is not drawn to the other. I think of the times I have fallen into sin because I drew too close or kept remnants around instead of getting rid of it completely. Some keep a cigarette or an emergency bottle of alcohol “just in case”, as they are not willing to completely rid themselves of their pet sin. They toy with it and before they know it, they are opening that bottle or sucking down on the last cigarette. Removing sin from your life is a stand you take with God, agreeing with Him on everything. It is a surrendering of your own will and complete submission to His. It is living out the song, “Have Thine Own Way Lord”.

I remember coming back from camp after I had made decisions to live for God, and our youth group had a trip planned to a lake that was not too far away. We got into the church vans and and headed out. I was not too interested about the lake, but I figured I would get involved to be supportive of our youth group and leaders. There was a girl I was interested in, but like in many other cases, she was not interested in me, but in my best friend. She told me it was because I had dated her friend, but I knew better and realized she was just not interested. She was a big flirt and would ask me to sit with her because she was interested in me liking her, even though she had no interest in me. I thought it was weird but I was privy to her game, and I tried to keep my distance. Eventually, I quit sitting by her even though she would save me a seat from time to time.

On our way to the lake, I was placed in a van with all girls including this girl, who I tried to avoid at all costs. I sat in the very back by myself and I tried to mind my own business. The lake was about an hour away, and I looked out the window as we made our way to the lake. It did not take long for this girl to come over to the back seat, and she put on a full time blitz as she laughed at everything I said and gently hit me as she flirted away. I know this sounds odd, but I felt quite uncomfortable and wanted nothing to do with this. I told her I was not interested and that I knew she was not interested in me either. She did not deny this, but she tried to playfully skirt around it and flirt away. I am not sure what her game was, but I did not feel right hanging around and I moved to a different seat. She got upset with me and told me she would not talk to me again, and I shrugged my shoulders and accepted her offer. I do not really remember talking to her much after that, and she eventually left me alone and quit saving me a seat. I was not a glutton for punishment, and I soon realized she was not concerned in the least of my best interests.

Sin comes along in a similar way as it flirts with us, and we sometimes forget the sting of unpleasant consequences and the turmoil it brings. We forget these things and let our guard down, and sin soon takes occupancy in our lives. Sanballat and Tobiah were antagonists to the building of the wall in Jerusalem when Nehemiah began to build. They did everything they could to stop the building of the wall, and even mocked and laughed at Nehemiah as they kept at it day after day. They made threatenings of government powers and even physical harm to the children of Israel, but you find in this chapter that Tobiah used a room in God’s house to store his things. There was empty room in the temple because the people had not given the tithe as they had been commanded, so they thought to garner some income by renting a room to this enemy of God. I am not sure why they thought this was a good idea, but the one who sought their demise was now using the temple where they worshipped God. Sin takes occupancy in our lives quick if we do not fill it with the things of God.

What have you kept around that you need to get rid of? What are you holding onto that you need to clean house and get rid of, like Nehemiah did when he cast out Tobiah and all his stuff? It is a good idea for us to cast those sinful burdens to the curb and walk away from them for good. Will you surrender all? Will you clean house in your life? May we examine our lives and look for the things we have allowed that ought not be there. Be careful when sin comes flirting around, and waste no time in getting away from it. James 4:7 gives us this promise, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 

Stay in the Fight!

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