Are You Neglecting The Temple Of The Holy Spirit?
39 The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept. “We will not neglect the house of our God.”
Nehemiah had a great concern for Israel. The Jews had been exiled from their land, Jerusalem, some seventy years earlier. Exiled means they were forced out of their land and in their case it was by an evil ruler, a descendant of an enemy of God. Some Jews, however, had gone back to Jerusalem several years earlier and found Jerusalem had been completely destroyed. Zerubhabar led the first group of Jewish exiles to return and begin the rebuilding phases of the temple. Ezra led the second group, and Nehemiah proceeded him. Nehemiah heard a report from his brethren about Jerusalem’s distress: that its walls are broken and its gates are on fire. With the walls down, the Jews who lived there had no protection from opposing people, wild animals nor thieves. Plus they experienced shame because a city with broken walls meant a defeated people. Instead of shrugging it off, Nehemiah weeps for his people and cries out to God for mercy. It was laid upon his heart to do something. He wasn’t a priest nor a prophet. He was a layman who served the Persian king in a secular position. God utilized Nehemiah and his position as he had experience in the king’s court which equipped him for the political and physical reconstruction necessary for the remnant to survive who went back to their homeland. Before approaching the king he worked for, king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah prayed asking God to hear him concerning the children of Israel, he confessed that they and their descendants had sinned against God, reminded God of his promise to return them to their homeland if the people turn back to Him and follow His commandments, and then asked for favor in the sight of king Artaxerxes. God heard Nehemiah’s prayer and received the king’s favor, and went to Jerusalem with the king’s letters giving him safe passage and resources from the king’s forest.
Nehemiah and the people worked hard to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Though they came into opposition in rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah, with God’s help, handled it and encouraged the people to continue working. Once the walls were built the people supplied the temple to which Nehemiah said “We will not neglect the house of our God”.
Now that you have a background of what was happening and the reason Nehemiah went back to his homeland to help his people, I want to hone in on what Nehemiah had said: “We will not neglect the house of our God”. He is speaking physically, but this can also apply spiritually. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
In this scripture, Paul is talking about sexual immorality and not abusing our bodies. Yet, it covers far more than sexual immorality. If the Holy Spirit dwells within us once we come to salvation and accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, then that means our body is where the Lord lives and we must take care of our body, our temple. Just as Nehemiah and the people took great care to supply the temple in Jerusalem with the necessities it needed and took great care to keep it holy, we must do the same with our body because it is where the Holy Spirit dwells. This means we must be careful what we feed ourselves spiritually…what our eyes consume and this can come in the form of pornography, what you view on the internet, certain movies, magazines, tv shows, etc. It means we must be careful who and what we listen to such as certain music that promotes sex, drugs, violence, etc (same with movies), people who promote negative behavior or want us to do things we know are wrong. It means being responsible for our thoughts and actions and taking great care to make sure we do not continue on with a pattern of damaging thoughts which can poison our minds. It means we stop utilizing things to occupy our thoughts and soothe our pain, frustration and worries temporarily and face the problem head on with God. Lastly, it means taking care of our bodies physically, eating healthier, getting exercise, turning away from things that we are addicted to which are harmful to us. Sometimes this can mean we must remove certain people and places out of our lives that are a bad influence on us. Anything that we are unable to stop doing and have no control over is considered an addiction because it enslaves us and we must turn away from it as we are told to do in the Bible. We must defeat the flesh. Romans 8:5-9 states the following:
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
So if we are stuck in a pattern of unhealthiness, how do we overcome it and get on the right path. We can submit to God as James tells us in chapter 4:7:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We can also take some pointers from Nehemiah. When Nehemiah prayed before going to Jerusalem, he said something that we need to be aware of, referencing what God had told Moses for the people. He not only mentioned the consequences God had given if the people were unfaithful and turned away from Him, but he also mentioned the promise if the people turned back to God and followed his ways. We can find this in Nehemiah 1:8-9:
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
We first must acknowledge and confess our sins to the Lord. If we know we come from a family who also turned away from God (our descendants) then we can confess it and ask for forgiveness. He then asked for God’s help in completing the task and recited the promises that God made if the people turned back to Him. We can do this as well.
We can learn a lot from the book of Nehemiah. It teaches us not to give up but to have faith that God will help us when we have a heart for Him and others. It shows us the power of God in not only protecting us from outside opposition, but in helping us to complete a mission even if we start out with nothing. He will provide along the way, we just have to take the first step. It shows us how to pray when we need to rebuild our lives.
I want to point out one other thing. Even the most seasoned Christian and the longest recovered person can fall into distraction and busyness and put God on the back burner. They can become lax and be tempted down another path. Sometimes we aren’t even aware it’s happening until we find ourselves in a place where our spiritual walls are down and we are struggling simply because we allowed other things to become more important than our time with God. When we don’t pray and read the Word and we don’t make time for God, our spiritual walls begin to crumble which allows the enemy to come in and steal, kill and destroy us. Just as Nehemiah and the people physically worked hard to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem to keep it safe, we to must build up our spiritual walls through prayer, reading the Bible and having a close relationship with God. In the beginning, we will encounter opposition from other people or spiritually from the enemy who will try to get us to stop, but we must stand firm as Nehemiah and the people did. We must be alert to temptations or tactics, pray and continue rebuilding our spiritual walls with one hand working while the other hand is holding our weapon which is the Word of God, ready to battle at all times.
Are you supplying your body, God’s temple, with the right things or are you supplying it junk and things that can destroy it? Are you giving reverence to the temple of the Holy Spirit by supplying it with the Word of God, worship, good food, etc or are you helping the enemy to destroy it with the things you are feeding it physically, spiritually and emotionally. Take some time and think about what you have been allowing into the temple of the Holy Spirit, then pray for God to help you to clean it up and make better choices. God will be faithful in keeping His promises when we turn back to Him.