You have an enemy.
He studies you. He knows your weaknesses. He knows your strengths. He is on a mission to derail you and deceive you and entrap you in fear. He will tell you enough truth to sound believable, but lies will be intertwined throughout. He hates God and all who follow Him. He seeks to divide and distract. He condemns you and brings up the past.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Nehemiah and the Israelites had some physical enemies, specifically Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. In Nehemiah 6, we read that Nehemiah and his people were super close to finishing the wall around Jerusalem. All they had left to do was hang the doors in the gates. This is when the enemy got very persistent and tricky, trying to get Nehemiah to “just come meet with them,” because they knew the gates were about to be hung and the wall would be completed.
Nehemiah could have just quit there and said, “Well, this is close enough. We’ll just post a couple of soldiers at each gate and call it good.” This would have left them very vulnerable!
Think about the areas of your life where you are weakest in terms of temptation. These are the areas where we MUST close every gap, or else we are leaving ourselves very vulnerable to the enemy. Practically speaking, that means getting rid of every form of temptation possible and replacing those things with Jesus. If drugs are a temptation for you, say goodbye to your friends who do drugs, and surround yourself with strong believers that can check in with you. Move out of the house if drugs are there. Stay out of situations that could lead into temptation, and stay busy serving others and doing new things that will build you up and others up. Get into the Word. Be at the church every time the doors are open. Pray, pray, pray. Close the gates to the enemy who so wants you to fall into temptation “just this once.” Don’t give him ANY opportunity.
Ephesians 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” And James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
There is no shame in confiding in a trusted believer if you are struggling with ongoing sin. They can commit to pray with you. Exposing those sins are half the battle. And the rest is left up to the Lord -- He has already overcome and given you victory on the cross! You just have to recognize that and step into the victory He has for you. Every temptation presents itself with a choice -- accept or ignore.
You have a Savior.
He pursues you. His grace is sufficient for you, for His strength is made perfect in weakness. He is on a mission to reveal His love and truth to you as He reminds you that He died on the cross to set you free from sin. He can only tell the truth -- it is impossible for Him to lie. He loves all -- even those that don’t love Him back -- and He desires that all are saved. He seeks to unify and focus our minds on eternity. He forgives our past and loves us unconditionally.
The more you fill your mind with the Word, the less room for temptation there will be. We WILL be tempted, and we need to expect it and be ready for it.
Do you know what Jesus did when Satan tempted Him (Matthew 4:1-11)? He simply answered back with the Word of God. Besides some of the practical ideas I listed above, this is ALL we need to do. God’s Word is sufficient - it is POWERFUL, it is LIVING, and it has the power to crush anything the enemy throws at us.
Satan himself knows this, so he will try everything to distract you and keep you from knowing God’s Word yourself. It is SO important to be in the Word so you can grow closer to the Lord. Even Satan knows the Word (he just doesn’t follow it), and he will try and twist it to deceive you. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Back to Nehemiah 6 verse 3… The enemies kept asking Nehemiah to just come and meet with them. He responded with, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” I love this! When God calls us to something, we need to set our minds to it and commit to it. Nothing should stand in the way, and we should never leave our post in order to go meet with the enemy. That leaves the entire work and all the people there vulnerable. It makes YOU very vulnerable.
Stay surrounded by believers who will keep you in check. Be in the Word. Pray. Be honest with others. Keep your guard up. Know that you have an enemy. But most importantly, know the Lord. And know who you are IN the Lord -- a child of God, righteous and redeemed.