Week 8: Holiness involves Discipline

by Katie Allen

Last week’s readings from Nehemiah saw the walls of Jerusalem finished. Along with the completion of the walls came a commitment from the Israelites ‘to not neglect the house of our God’ (Nehemiah 10: 39). God’s chosen people seem spiritually revived, and serious about the call on their lives to be God’s holy nation. Yet by the time we reach chapter 13 this week, things have gone pear-shaped. After returning to Jerusalem after a number of years away, Nehemiah demands to know, ‘why is the house of God neglected?’ The Israelites are no longer leading the distinctive lives that they were called to: they have fallen into sin and become comfortable in their ungodliness, letting themselves be shaped by the world around them rather than by God’s laws. Nehemiah is severe in his rebuke of the Israelites and has to take action to set them back onto God’s path.

In our readings in Revelation this week, several of the New Testament churches also receive rebukes about sins they are living in. Yet they are also commended for the areas of their lives in which they demonstrate obedience to the Lord.

  • Like the commendation given to the churches in Revelation, what areas of your life please God? Where is he commending you for walking in his ways?

As God’s people, called to live holy lives, both the Israelites and the New Testament churches needed to be rebuked for the sins in which they were living.

  • What areas of your life need a gentle but firm, rebuke from the Holy Spirit? Ask God to reveal to you anywhere that you tolerate sin, or where you have become blind to it.

In our first readings from Daniel this week we see a man who is uncompromising in his desire to remain holy before the Lord despite the godless world around him.

  • Are there situations where you need to stand up for what is right in God’s eyes rather than what the world approves of? Are there areas of your life where you have already compromised God’s ways for which you need to seek forgiveness?

As we seek to live holy lives, distinct from the world around us, Jude has an encouragement for us. He exhorts believers to ‘build yourselves up in your most holy faith’; ‘pray in the Holy Spirit’; and ‘keep yourselves in God’s love’ (Jude 1:20-21).

  • As you seek to continue to say no to sin and yes to Jesus, what practical steps will you take to be built up in your faith; to pray in the Spirit; and to keep yourself in God’s love?