January 30, 2014

The Old Friend of Sin

Nehemiah 13:1-9

I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room.
—Nehemiah 13:8


A young woman came to our church door, carrying a bag of her clothes. Her face was bruised. Her voice cracked with grief. She wanted out of an abusive relationship. We helped her into a shelter, and she began attending church. Her face healed; her spirit was no longer downcast. Her life seemed to be turning around. Suddenly she disappeared. After several months she showed up again, bruised and bleeding. She had gone back to her old boyfriend. Life was too hard without him, she said, even if he was bad. Old habits are hard to break.

Nehemiah had spent much time helping Israel restore its rela-tionship with God. He endured many sleepless nights protecting the workers. He had rallied throngs of Jews who had wanted to give up. He had tirelessly promoted God’s law.

But it took only one man’s friendship with an old enemy to bring corruption back in. Nehemiah would have none of it. He kicked Tobiah out of his cozy room, cleaned it from top to bottom, and returned the things of God to their rightful place there. Nehemiah’s experiences in the past and his love for God’s people refused to give evil a foothold again.

When old sins resurface in our lives, we can’t allow them back in. We must submit to God, resisting the devil (James 4:7). We have a Savior who doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve but grants us grace and power for a new start of service to him.

Jesus, sin keeps coming back into our lives. Help us to resist, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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