Nehemiah 6:10-14 - Don't Be Intimidated Into Sin

Steve Viars September 14, 1996 Nehemiah 6:10-14

9/15/96
Nehemiah #16
Saved as "Nehem16.doc" on Viars' hard drive and Nehemiah SS disk

- This morning we're going to be digging deeper into Nehemiah chapter 6.
- We've been studying this passage for the principles it contains about how to overcome opposition.

- Remember, we've been saying that the chapter breaks down into a neat three-fold division:

1) Verses 1-4 -- Opposition by intrigue
       - The invitation to meet in the plain of Ono.

2) Verses 5-9 -- Opposition by innuendo
- The open letter accusing Nehemiah of treason.

3) verses 10-14 -- Opposition by intimidation


- One of the lessons that flows out of the way this chapter unfolds is that often temptation comes on the heels of a great victory.
- Nehemiah has successfully overcome the events listed in chapters 4 and 5...and he has successfully overcome the opposition recorded in these first two sections of Nehemiah chapter 6.

- Warren Wiersbe wrote:

"Many a careless Christian has won the war then afterward lost the victory. Satan is always looking for an opportune time to attack victors and turn them into victims [those who are not prepared for the next battle or temptation].  We need to heed the counsel of that saintly Scottish minister Andrew Bonar who said, `Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle."

- in our verses today, we're going to see Nehemiah facing yet another form of opposition, and learn several lessons that can help us effectively serve the Lord.


- READ Nehemiah 6:10

- There are several observations we need to make about the verse:

1) This man is one of the Jews. He is supposed to be "on Nehemiah's side".

2) This matter of his being "confined at home" is rather mysterious.

- There are different explanations given for this:

a. He was ill or crippled.
- The problem with this is, How was he going to get to temple if he was unable to leave his house?
b. He had taken some sort of vow not to leave his home.


c. He wanted Nehemiah to come to his house to give the people the impression that Nehemiah was "running scared" by stopping his work on the wall to come meet with this fellow.

- Whatever the exact reason, the later verses reveal that it was all part of the ruse.
- Perhaps he was trying to add to the mystery of the thing -- "I'm your friend and I'm trying to protect you---this message is so secretive that I only want to tell you in the safety of my house."

3) The idea of meeting in the temple was really suggesting that they enter the Holy of Holies.
- we'll talk later about how this was forbidden by OT law.
- It came down to a matter of situation ethics---Is it OK to violate the Scriptures in order to do what seems to be the safest course of action?

- we'll say more about this later.

4) Our English translations lose some of effect of what was actually happening.

- These words were uttered as an oracle, or prophecy.
- In Old Testament times, there were prophets, some of whom were given messages from God.
- Of course there were also many false prophets, and the OT has examples of both.

- This man may have been viewed as a prophet before this event...but regardless, he was setting himself up as a prophet here.

- Also, some Bible scholars believe that the best translation of his words are:

"They are coming to kill you, they are coming to kill you tonight." 
(Jerusalem Bible)

- If that’s the case, it just adds to suspense of the whole ordeal.

- But we can say for sure that this man was posing as a prophet, and as someone who was on Nehemiah's side, warning him of a pending plot to take his life.

- now let's keep reading;
- READ verses 11-14

- in our remaining time, let's look for three principles we can learn to avoid being tricked by the enemy.

I. Recognize the Subtlety of Temptation

A. Subtle in its setting

- this matter of Shemaiah being "confined to his house" is something we need to note.
- It almost makes you want to break out into a chorus of "Be careful little feet where you go."

- This man was setting the "trap of deception" in part by where he wanted Nehemiah to go.
- It was very subtle --- and could have appeared to be a lot of things that it wasn't.
- this man is my friend
- this man is concerned about me
- this man wants what's best for me
- this man is proposing a course of action I should follow

- so it was subtle even in its setting.

- there are a lot of places that believers just ought not to go.
- you probably been in situations where you've thought --- I'm not sure I should be here.
- I hope you and I are growing at realizing how subtle temptation can be, and how avoiding questionable places helps us avoid such temptations.

B. Subtle in its appearance.

- We know because of verse 12 that this man had actually been hired by Sanballet and Tobiah.
- This guy, though he was a Jew, had sold out to the enemy.

- Yet, if we didn't have that information, and were just going on what Shemaiah has said....the situation would have APPEARED entirely different.

- he appeared to be a prophet
- he appeared to be concerned
- he appeared to be a brother
- he appeared to offer counsel from God

- but what this WAS, and what it APPEARED to be, was 180 degrees apart.

INPUT - What kind of temptation might appear to be one thing, when in fact it is something far different?

C. Subtle in its suggestion

- "Let's flee to the temple."

- that sounds so pious, and spiritual.
- we'll see later that this suggestion was entirely unbiblical.
- but on the surface, it sounded so good.

- so the key idea under this first point is the matter of subtlety.

- let me ask you to turn over to a NT passage that also speaks of this matter:
- II Cor. 11:14

- READ and develop


- INPUT - Implications of this first point we're studying?

 

- INPUT - How do you teach your children about the subtleties of temptation?

 

II. Achieve the Balance Between Godly Confidence and Godly Humility


- The answer that Nehemiah gave to this man illustrates a very interesting balance that is essential in overcoming subtle temptation.

A. Appropriate confidence

- The first half of the response illustrates the confidence -- "Should a man like me flee?"
- We have to interpret what Nehemiah means by this by the context.
- With someone else. this could sound proud---but there's no evidence of that in the other words Nehemiah has spoken.

- its better to understand these words as saying:

1) Why should a man like me who has been so blessed of God up to this point flee as if God can't protect me now?

2) Why should a man like me who has had so much joy by obeying the Word up till now disobey the word in order to find supposed protection from an adversary?

3) Why should a man like me who has been called to lead the people through this project stop now and fail to do what God wants me to do?

- so we're not talking about sinful pride---we're talking about having the right kind of confidence that comes as a result of evaluating oneself through the lens of Scripture.

- though it doesn't seem as prevalent today, the world for many years was enamored with the idea of self-love, self-esteem, and self-image.
- people who tried to think biblically about that subject tried to counter that teaching by saying that its not a matter of loving yourself (Scripture never commands that), nor is it a mater of hating yourself---its a matter of thinking about yourself biblically.    (Rom. 12:3)
- When you think about it, the Bible does give us a number of different ways that God wants us to view ourselves...(often through metaphors)

- INPUT - Things God tells us about who we are in Christ that form the grid through which we ought to view ourselves?


- Many of these truths help us as we face temptation. 
- Understanding who we are in Christ makes it easier to stand up and live for Him.
- so we're not talking about arrogance, or pride---but we are talking about an appropriate level of confidence  (Biblical boldness)

- if time, could compare Genesis 39:8 ff, Luke 13:31-33, Acts 21:10-14.


B. Appropriate humility

- on the other hand, this same statement shows a high degree of humility that also helped Nehemiah avoid sin.
- "and could one such as I go into the temple to save his life?"

- Nehemiah was important, but he wasn't that important.
- Only the high priest was to go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year.

- Nehemiah hadn't gotten "so big for his britches" that he thought he could run roughshod over the commands of God.

- INPUT - What does this tell us about Nehemiah and the kind of man he was?
- didn't let the success of the wall go to his head.
- cf. Warren Wiersbe - Many of God's servants get in trouble when they start believing their own press clippings.

- cf. I Peter 5:6-11


III. Know God's Word So You Can Discern His Will

- What makes this passage come alive was the realization that this man was encouraging Nehemiah to do something that was forbidden in the OT.

- cf. Boice - p. 109

- cf. people who want to talk about "how to know God's will" who are not in the habit of daily searching the Scriptures and applying it to life.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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