Signs of Backsliding

14 January 2018 PM – Nehemiah 13:1-31 – EzNe17 – Scott Childs

Introduction: The Bible story about Samson is an interesting story with a sad ending. Samson was God’s judge for Israel, yet he had gotten terribly backslidden and away from God. He befriended God’s enemies (Philistines), neglected God’s work (judging), disobeyed God’s commands (polluted his Nazarite vow) and ignored God’s warnings (fell in love with a heathen woman). Where did all this lead him? He lost his power with God. He lost his eyes. He became a slave. And eventually he lost his life.

Backsliding is when we gradually get away from God. The longer we backslide, the farther we drift. Unless corrected, backsliding will always lead to God’s discipline.

Transition: The 13th chapter of Nehemiah identifies four signs of backsliding which we must deal with if they appear in our lives or we will fall into the same trap that Israel did.

The 1st sign of Israel’s backsliding was …

1.        Befriending God’s Enemies (v.1-9)

a.         The people began to compromise
1)         The high priest, Eliashib, supported by other nobles befriended Tobiah (v.4-5). Tobiah was a relative (6:17-19). Yet, Tobiah was one who had opposed God’s work (6:1)
2)         Then, Eliashib compromised God’s Word and converted the temple store room into a guest room for Tobiah.
a)         This room had been a storeroom for tithes of food that people gave for the priests, Levites and singers.
b)         Now it was converted into a motel for an unbeliever.
3)         The people KNEW what was right. God’s Word is our standard. Know the Book so you can know what is right.
4)         Compromise is a real danger to Christians. The dictionary defines it as a middle way between two extremes. Compromise is drifting from God’s white area ™ into a grey area ˜ that is closer to the Satan’s black area˜.
a)         Compromise is a three-step process.
b)         Toleration ➔ cooperation ➔ capitulation
(1)      Toleration is allowing what I know is wrong.
(2)      Cooperation is working some with the wrong.
(3)      Capitulation is joining heartily in the wrong.
5)         God’s solution is separation! Separation is for your protection!
6)         Repeatedly, God warns us against bad associations. (Proverbs 4:14) “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.” (Proverbs 13:20) “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Proverbs 24:1) “Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.”
O  Beware! The devil wants you to compromise in the areas of doctrine and music. Satan is more likely to use an unsaved friend or an erring Christian to lead you into doctrinal or musical compromise than to use a cult or God-hater. You know the God-hater is wrong, but you may not see the danger of an erring Christian. The devil is subtle.

b.         Nehemiah corrected the compromise
1)         He was greatly grieved and threw out the stuff belonging to Tobiah (v.8).
2)         He ordered the room to be cleansed and restored to use (v.9)
The 2nd sign of Israel’s backsliding was …

2.        Neglecting God’s Work (v.10-14)

a.         Compromise led to neglect (v.10-11)
1)         Once Tobiah moved in è God’s work stopped è sin multiplied.
2)         People stopped giving (discouraged, distracted).
3)         Levites and singers had to farm to survive.
b.         We correct neglect by doing right again (v.13)
1)         Nehemiah challenged the people to do right.
2)         Levites and singers were called back
3)         Tithes recommenced
4)         Faithful distributors were appointed.
O  When we neglect Gods’ work (reading, prayer, attendance, tithe, witness, etc) the solution is to repent and do right.

The 3rd sign of Israel’s backsliding was …

3.        Disobeying God’s Commands (v.15-22)

a.         In Nehemiah’s absence the people stopped honouring the Sabbath.
1)         God had commanded the Jews to rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-10) “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”
2)         They disobeyed by farming, by transporting goods, and by selling (v.15).
3)         As a leader, Nehemiah stepped up and stopped the Gentile merchants (v.15-16).
4)         He then rebuked the Jews for their sin (v.17-18)
5)         He threatened the merchants who persisted (v.19-21)
O  Disobeying any of God’s commands will lead to backsliding. (James 4:17) “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

b.         Question! Should we set aside a day of rest?
1)         As Gentiles, we are not under the O.T. Law.
a)         (Romans 14:5) “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
b)         (Colossians 2:16-17) “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: [17] Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
2)         However, after creation God planned a day of rest.
a)         Out of respect and love for God, I believe we ought to set aside Sunday, the Lord’s Day, for rest and worship.
b)         A day of rest is good for our bodies and souls.
c)         I challenge you to search the Scriptures and pray about this for your own family.
The 4th sign of Israel’s backsliding was …

4.        Ignoring God’s Warnings (v.23-31)

a.         Some had married unbelievers again (v.23-24).
1)         Ezra had dealt with this sin some years prior (Ezra 10).
2)         God clearly forbids and warns against mixed marriages.
a)         (2 Corinthians 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
b)         (1 Corinthians 7:39) “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”
3)         The temptation greatly increases when we become too friendly with unbelievers. Separation is vital!
b.         Nehemiah strongly rebuked them (v.25).
1)         He made them promise to stop this activity (v.25).
2)         He reminded them of Solomon’s failure (v.26).
3)         Evidently, Joiada rebelled against Nehemiah’s instruction and Nehemiah chased him away (v.27). He had the king’s authority behind him.
O  If you are still single, you too need to solemnly promise God that you will not marry anyone who is not a godly Christian.

Conclusion: Backsliding is dangerous. It takes place gradually. We ought to ask ourselves a few questions to see if any signs of backsliding are creeping in. 1) Am I good friends with an erring Christian or an unbeliever who is luring me to compromise? 2) Am I tolerating things I used to shun? 3) Am I cooperating with things I know God says are wrong? 4) Have I begun to neglect my Christian duties (reading, prayer, tithing, witnessing)? 5) Am I obeying God in every area that I know about? 6) Am I heeding God’s warnings, particularly those about separation?

If there are signs of backsliding in your life, don’t ignore them, deal with them and do right. If you ARE backslidden the blessing is you don’t have to stay that way!

Song: Nothing Between – 321