The Mocker Outside the Wall

The Mocker Outside the Wall

Nehemiah 4:1-15 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble-- burned as they are?" Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building-- if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!"

Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.

But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall." Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work." Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us."

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.

What can we learn from this historical event? First, like Nehemiah, we have an enemy, who mocks us and attacks us at our weakest points. Secondly, like the wall around Jerusalem, our spiritual wall has been damaged by sin. It needs rebuilding.

By examining the Word of God, we can discover the weak and damaged places in our spiritual wall. We notice the sin (the rubble) in our lives which provides no defense against the enemy’s attacks. Once we see these things, we can ask our Father for grace to repent and to fortify us against the attacks from the evil one. Keeping our spiritual wall in good repair is a continual life-long process of obedience to God’s Word.

Sometimes we get discouraged as we continue to find rubble in our lives. We discover that anger resurfaces, that lust demands satisfaction again, depression reoccurs, and we are tempted to give up. If we fail to get God’s grace during times of discouragement, Satan will overcome us through the weak places in our spiritual wall.

It is important to realize that the enemy never leaves. Even after we are born again of the Spirit and Satan is no longer lord of our lives, he remains outside our spiritual wall, looking for a weak area, an exposed place, where we are not paying attention. He mocks our attempts to keep him out. He tells us we will never succeed, we will always fall short of the glory of God, and so we might as well listen to him and stop rebuilding the wall.

The more we seek God, the more we deny ourselves, the more we try to obey, the louder our enemy gets, and the more temptation he sends our way. The enemy mocks us for being weak. He tells us it is no use trying. We will never change. God is not with us. We will never rebuild the wall, nor will it withstand his assaults. But, he is lying to us and we must remember that as long as he is outside our spiritual wall, we are not his captive.

Furthermore, we do not rely on our ability to build a spiritual wall.

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

God is our protector and the architect of our wall of protection. We are redeemed laborers under His direction. As we obey the instructions of God’s Spirit, our spiritual wall is progressively built and fortified.

Therefore, we need to distinguish between good building material, produced by God’s Truth, and rubble, which is sin produced from the deceptive lies of the enemy. Good building material will stand the stress put upon it; rubble must be discarded because it will crumble under the same strain.

Sometimes there are places in our lives with so much rubble, it seems hopeless that any wall can be built. However, no one is too messed up for God. He will rebuild our lives from the mess we have made if we give Him control. He will show us what needs to be discarded and what is still useful, what needs to be torn down, and what to keep.

First, He will show us the holes in our wall and our hypocrisy. We must acknowledge our “holes” are the result of sin. They are not defensible. Those are places in our lives that must be repaired with good building material—the Truth and obedience to the Truth.

Hypocrisy is a place in the wall that has been built with rubble from the deceptive lies of the enemy. It looks good on the outside, so it goes easily undiscovered as a weak place. Hypocrisy gives mental assent to God’s Word. Since we say we believe it, we think that part of our lives is in good shape. However, hypocrisy compromises God’s Word. This sin will eventually cause our spiritual life to crumble. Therefore, hypocrisy needs to be knocked out of our wall through confession and repentance, and replaced with obedience.

Proverbs 28:13-14 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

Secondly, we need to recognize the difference between conviction and condemnation. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, with a calling to a higher plane. Condemnation comes from the enemy, declaring we are failures, and will never be any better.

Condemnation                                                    Conviction

Comes from Satan                                              Comes from God

Is vague, general                                                 Is specific, concrete

Leads to hopelessness, no way out                     Gives hope, practical steps to solution

Comes with destructive insults                           Comes with affirmations of love

Should be rejected                                               Should be embraced

The Truth is: 1Thessalonians 1:4-5 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.

If you sense conviction, know that you are loved by God. He has come to you, offering grace to repent, and healing and restoration, if you will yield to Him.

Romans 8:1-5 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

The battle is in the mind. Our minds must be renewed to the Truth and old mental habits discarded. Do you set your mind on what the enemy tempts you with, or do you set your mind on the Spirit, on Jesus, on His Word, and throw off the temptation to sin?

Temptation is not the same thing as disobedience. The enemy is the tempter. He introduces sinful thoughts and doubt in God’s goodness and Truth. Then he condemns us for being tempted. He mocks us and calls us fakes. God, on the other hand, does not tempt any man. Instead of mocking when we are tempted, God says, “Come unto me.”

James 1:13-15 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Thirdly, we need to know the difference between repentance and rebellion. Repentance is a change of direction in our lives, where we follow Jesus instead of our fleshly desires. Rebellion is where we remain our own god, doing what we please, excusing our actions, and justifying our decisions. Rebellion allows for “small” infractions and does not like to be told it is wrong. When we walk in rebellion, we are following Satan, not Jesus.

1 John 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Rebellion and repentance are two different life-styles that determine the kind of spiritual wall we build and who we will become. God is after children who resemble Jesus. That is the continual transforming work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us see our holes, brings conviction, and gives us grace to repent. He gradually changes us, and our spiritual wall progressively becomes stronger by His grace. In this way, we gain protection, victory, and freedom from the enemy.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Lastly, we need to acknowledge whether we are accepting God’s discipline or despising the Lord’s correction. Are you thankful for His discipline and correction, or do you grumble and complain? When a trial comes, do you think that God doesn’t love you?

Hebrews 12:5-11 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

God uses His Word to discipline us, to expose our holes, our weak points, the places where Satan has access to our lives, the areas where we are ignorant and act in unbelief, so that, we can confess our sin and He can show us mercy. This is a loving act. God loves us in our sinful condition, but He loves us too much to leave us in that condition. He wants to change every one of us into the image of Jesus and bring us into His blessings, instead of experiencing curses. He wants to make us an example of His unconditional love, so that others will be drawn to Jesus Christ.

This is what scares Satan! Satan is afraid we will become powerful in the Spirit and effective in leading others to Christ. This is why he continues to attack, tempt, mock, and discourage us. He doesn’t want that wall built. He wants access to our life. He doesn’t want us to have an effective witness. He wants us defeated and ashamed. He doesn’t want us full of the Holy Spirit, acting like Jesus, lifting up Jesus, and drawing others to Christ. He wants us to follow him.

Nehemiah realized the opposition to rebuilding the wall would intensify. The mocking would turn into a physical attack. So he armed some men and posted guards. He fortified the weakest points in the wall.

We must also expect intensified opposition as we rebuild our spiritual wall. We will be attacked. Don’t be caught off-guard. Expect it and don’t be afraid. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome”. And be filled with His Spirit. Fight for your family by encouraging them and strengthening them with the Word. Fight with your brothers and sisters in Christ by rejoicing always, praying continuously, and being thankful in all circumstances. The Word of God is our sword with which to fight the mocking lies of the enemy. Obeying the Word and being filled with the Holy Spirit is how we gain victory.

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

All of us are under the same attack, hearing the same lies of the mocker on the outside of our spiritual wall. Don’t listen to his discouragement, temptations, and threats. Continue to rebuild the wall by praying, reading God’s Word, and obeying it. Stay filled with the Holy Spirit and rebuke Satan’s attacks in the Name of Jesus. The Lord will give us victory if we do not faint and give up.

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

We will sing a song of invitation soon. If you are under attack and need prayer, come forward and let us pray for you and stand with you. As long as you are in the battle against Satan, you have not been taken captive by him, regardless of his mocking lies.

If you are a captive of the enemy, you can be set free by making Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. Come forward in repentance, and confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Begin following Jesus by submitting to baptism so you can receive a new life in His Spirit. Then the grace of God will help you rebuild your spiritual wall against Satan as you walk by the Spirit and obey God’s Word.