Cornerstone Community Church

Sin in the City

Intro:  Star Trek: the Borg sought to assimilate everything: church vs. world in the City.

Big Idea:  Only Jesus can stop the spread of sin in the City.

Context:  Nehemiah served as Jerusalem’s governor for 12 years.  He rebuilt the wall, repopulated the city and witnessed a great revival.  He returns to find some of his work undone.

I. God works good out of evil (vs. 1-3).

-         Chronology is difficult “that day… before this.”- makes a theological pt. (pattern).

-         Ammonites: refused to allow Israel to pass thru on the way to the Promised Land.

-         Mobites: hired Balaam to curse Israel on the way to the Promised Land.

-         Turn, overturn.”  God turns cursing into blessing (Gen. 12; Gen. 50; Acts 2).

-         What enemies design for evil, God does for good because Christ bore the curse for us.

-         Trust Him to work, even in dire situations, to bring about good.

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  Genesis 50 (NIV)

Transition: Unless we keep God’s power to overturn sin & the curse in mind, we’ll despair.

II. Sin works to destroy the City (vs. 4-6, 10).

-         Israel broke all the promises they made, neglecting the house of God- assimilation!

-         1st, by allowing Tobiah, an Ammonite, to have a room in the temple.

-         Tobiah hired a prophet to curse Neh. (6:12).  Close relationship (in-laws?) to Eliashib.

-         Nehemiah returned to Susa, and Tobiah moved in- literally (household goods, vs. 8).

-         2nd, people stopped their giving.  The Levites provided for themselves.  Ill. David/Publix

-         1st, Sin is seductive.  It lies to us, appealing to our weaknesses and longings.

-         It promises pleasure and fulfillment, neglecting its penalty, to seduce you.  Ill. Teen years

-         2nd, Sin is stubborn.  It persistently seeks to undermine any and all obedience.

-         Our sinful nature constantly speaks up, pleading to be satisfied.  Ill. “resistance is futile”

-         3rd, Sin sabotages individuals & communities.  Strongly opposes godliness- spreads. 

-         Sin seeks to enslave us; one sin makes it easier for us to sin in other ways.  Ill. fountain

-         Sin spreads in churches & communities, keeping them from honoring God.

13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3 (NIV)

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  1 Peter 2 (NIV)





Transition: Sin remains in each Christian, threatening the church & the City.

III. God remembers those who love the City (vs. 7-9, 11-14).

-         Nehemiah kicked Tobiah out of the temple & purified it.  Didn’t negotiate! 

-         Jesus cleared out the temple (Jn 2), removing the money changers.

-         Jesus entered the heavenly temple by his blood to purify us (Heb. 9:11).

-         Nehemiah rebuked the officials and restored the offerings for the Levites.

-         Nehemiah acted out of ‘hesed’; covenant love & faithfulness.  God remembers.

-         Jesus works in all who believe to produce covenant love & faithfulness. Ill. Picard

-         1st, love the city & put sin to death.  Rely on the Spirit, & say “no” to sin.  Ill. snake

-         2nd, love the city & obey.  Rely on the Spirit, & grow to think & act like Jesus.

-         Lies => truth; selfishness=> love; greed => generosity; bitterness => graciousness

-         Jesus worked thru one man to address the sin in the City.  Love => rebuke

13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,  14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  Romans 8 (NIV)

14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  Romans 13 (NIV)

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”  John Owen

“There is one grace you cannot counterfeit … the grace of perseverance.”  Gardiner Spring



Conclusion: Sin, like the borg, is a powerful enemy- seeking to assimilate the church to the world.  Our sinful nature appeals to our desire for pleasure, to fit in, threatening God’s plan for the City.  But Jesus is more powerful, overturning the curse by bearing it for us, working in us to produce right living, and having us stand against the sin in the City out of love for the City.

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