Cornerstone Community Church

Sin in the City Part 2

Intro: Gardiner Spring quote.  Quick recap about assimilation & overturning the curse.

Big Idea:  Jesus works thru His people to overturn the curse of sin.

Context: Nehemiah returns from a Susa to discover all the spiritual progress made in Jerusalem undone.  They have become like the nations- again.

I. Sin offers substitutes for God (v. 15-16, 23-24).

-         Sin, or assimilation to the culture, destroys our distinctiveness & effectiveness (mission).

-         Substitutes for God, idols, ultimately lead to the destruction of the church & city.

-         The Sabbath was a sign between God & Israel- revealing God mattered most to Israel.

-         They “desecrated” it, treating it like just another day: harvest, shipping, buying, selling.

-         Marriage was designed to fulfill the Creation Mandate- godly offspring (Mal. 2:15).

-         Inter-faith marriages were forbidden.  Introduce false gods to Israel- desecrate Temple.

-         Political & business connections mattered more.  Literally sleeping w/enemy (v.23)!

-         They substituted prosperity/success for God as the source of hope, joy & their treasure.

16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.  17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’”  Exodus 31 (NIV)

Transition:  Perseverance of the saints does not rule out falling into sin.  It’s about what’s next.

II. Jesus restores the church’s purity thru ordinary Christians (v. 17-22, 25-28).

-         God is long-suffering, patient- sent prophets & Nehemiah to bring repentance.

-         People changed by God’s grace become agents of grace.  Jesus works thru them.

-         Out of love, we plead for them to repent.  We are not casting stones.

-         1st, say there is something wrong.  It isn’t just that they didn’t do what he wanted.

-         Warned” (v. 15, 21)- bear witness to something.  I saw you do something wrong.

-         Rebuked” (v. 17, 25)- legal term used for lawsuits.  Did he charge them formally?

-         2nd, say what sin really is.

-         Wicked”- evil: violating God’s standard, not his preference or agenda.  Ill. Worship wars

-         Unfaithful”- act treacherously, violate the relationship: spiritual adultery (1st commdt).

-         3rd, say where sin really leads.  It lead their forefathers into exile- God brought judgment!

-         God brings judgment on families & churches that persist in wickedness & unfaithfulness.

-         Seeking Christ, the reality, will create a distinctiveness & effectiveness for mission.

-         Epochal adjustment: see chart.  Don’t establish man-made rules.  Ill. Blue Laws

17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  1 Peter 5 (NIV)


Love God

Love of Self


Simplicity + generosity ($1,500/yr)

Status symbols + luxuries ($200/yr)


Boundaries + balance  Ill. Whites

Excess to fulfill my agenda


Kingdom building + character

Focus on beauty or economic advantage

Church Leadership

Biblical (gospel) principles

Business models (control)

Transition: Jesus works thru Christians to restore wayward Christians and churches.

III. Jesus remembers all we do in the church for the City (v. 22, 29-30).

-         When God remembers it means he’s about to act.

-         God remembers if we defile ourselves, our families & churches w/out repentance.

-         God remembers if we keep silent while others do that.  But if we lovingly tell the truth?

-         Nehemiah needed mercy & grace.  1st, felt like a failure- can’t control others’ actions.

-         2nd, he was a sinner too- over-reaction (pulling hair, hitting people).  Ill. Bockover

-         Jesus remembers us with compassion & mercy.  We are not better than others.

-         Jesus remembers us with grace.  No room for the self-righteous or comparing ourselves.

-         He shows mercy & grace to those who try to speak up out of love for Him.

10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.   Hebrews 6 (NIV)





Conclusion:  Perseverance is not about simply avoiding sin, but how you respond when you discover you’ve sinned.  True Christians admit it and alter their course.  God mercifully sends sensitive people to warn us.  And sometimes he works thru us to warn others.  See His patient love and painful grace.  Thru this He restores Christians (and churches) to His purposes for the City- the Great Commission.

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