Conversations with several friends lately confirm the urgency of spiritual warfare. It’s raging, whether we’re engaging or not. Nightmares involving real attacks from demons. Good kids confronting bad choices. Children who once desired nothing but Jesus deciding He’s no longer important. Moms whose hearts break for the hardened hearts of their young ones. Rapid fire media attacks from every direction, tearing down family values and lifting up perversion. War has been waged. We must fight or fall, knowing we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Continuing from Monday, let’s look at a few more truths Nehemiah demonstrates as he attempts an impossible task in the face of insurmountable opposition. Here is another brief excerpt from my upcoming book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His. The Lord brings Nehemiah’s enemies’ plot to nothing, and the Jews fix their focus on the task at hand, arming themselves as they rebuild. I love how God’s word is alive and active, full of ancient stories with modern application, such as this:
TRUTH: We, too, must equip ourselves with the armor of God as we hold our weapons in one hand and rebuild the wall of holiness around our hearts and lives with the other hand. And we must not allow the devil to divert our attention from the work the Lord has before us. We must not bite the devil’s bait of distraction no matter how persistent he and his cronies may be.
In Nehemiah chapter six, their enemies continue unrelentingly in their attempts to defeat Nehemiah’s efforts. First, they attempt to trick him into a face-to-face meeting that will take him away from his work. Their request appears harmless, and I’m sure to the undiscerning eye it appears to be a good thing; one that no reasonable person would deny. But Nehemiah knows their true purpose and is not derailed. He declines each of the four invitations they send, explaining in verse three, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Nehemiah knows his purpose. He knows what he is supposed to be doing, and he does not allow his attention to be diverted. He does not pursue a good thing that is not a God thing.
TRUTH: We must have the same determination as we study God’s word and do what it says. When the enemy tries to get us off track, we can refute him with the confidence of our conviction. When the devil tries to distract us, we have to know that it’s going to appear to be a good thing, and he’s not going to give up when his first and subsequent attempts are unsuccessful.
When Nehemiah doesn’t fall for Sanballat’s repeated attempts to lure him for a meeting, Sanballat threatens to tell the king a lie that will put Nehemiah’s very life at stake. Unmoved, Nehemiah responds, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart” (Neh. 6:8). Nehemiah knows they are trying to stir fear in the hearts of the workers to weaken them and halt work on the wall. Rather than succumb to fear and doubt, Nehemiah prays in verse nine, “Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.”
TRUTH: When we recognize the devil’s attempt to intimidate us and plant doubts in our minds, we can turn to the Lord for strength to resist the devil.
Facing another failed attempt to derail work on the wall, Sanballat and Tobiah hire a secret informer to trick Nehemiah into entering the temple against God’s ordinances in order to protect his life from his enemies. But because Nehemiah “perceived that God had not sent him at all” (verse 12), and because he knows God’s laws governing the temple, he remains invincible in the face of his enemies.
TRUTH: As we walk in the Spirit, the Spirit will give us the same discernment and determination to follow the ordinances of scripture, thereby making us impenetrable to our enemies.
Lord, secure blinders on our eyes and swords in our hands as we engage in the battle of our lives. The enemy is organized, intentional, and ruthless. Let us be equally deliberate, proactive, and tireless. By Your Spirit, give us discernment, determination, and diligence. Hedge us behind and before, and lay Your hand upon us (Ps. 139:5).
What battle are you fighting today? Are you waging war in the flesh or in the Spirit? What truth speaks loudest to you? Are you sidetracked by good things that aren’t God things? Are there ways the devil is intimidating you or planting doubts? How can you apply the truths of Nehemiah to your current circumstances? Engage!
The fight is worth it as we become more wholly His!