Summary: We commit because it reflects the character of our God, it helps us stay on the right track and it helps us stay focused on God.
In the past 2 chapters we see a nation’s attempts at re-connecting with God.
• It started with the reading of the Book of the Law (Torah, Pentateuch), the Word of God.
• They were convicted by the Spirit of God and convinced of a need to change.
Last week, we saw the gathering of the people in prayer. Led by the Levites, the prayed a prayer of confession. They repented before God.
• TRUE CHANGE or spiritual renewal can only happen when 3 things are present:
(1) Confession (admit our sin) – agreeing with God that a change is needed.
(2) Repentance (acknowledge God’s ways) – this set the direction of change. God’s Word is the benchmark, the blessed way.
(3) Commitment (act on it).
All of these happen through the work of the Holy Spirit. He takes the Word of God and impresses it upon our heart.
• Jesus says the Spirit convicts the world of sin, and righteousness and judgement (John 16:8).
• So let’s be quick to confess before God.
WHY CONFESS? Surely not to inform Him of something He does not already now.
(1) It is to agree with God so that the Holy Spirit can aid us as we can take the steps toward change. If we do not “come to our senses” and be convinced of the need for change, we won’t.
(2) Confession makes us authentic. We are fully honest before God, honest with self, and honest towards people. This is the secret to happiness and fellowship with God.
The BASIS of our confession is the greatness, goodness and the forgiving grace of God.
• 9:17c “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
The people were determined to act on it. Let’s read Neh 9:38, 10:28-39.
• They made a “binding agreement” in Chap 10 to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. No one asked them to do it; they wanted it.
• They put it in writing and sealed it. Putting a seal on a document is a serious matter because it meant taking a solemn oath before the Lord.
Without this, confession and repentance means nothing. You can express sorrow for sin and understand the need to change, but NOT change.
• This third step is critical. It expresses their commitment to God, a commitment to change.
• They signed a covenant with God – the list of signatories are the leaders (Nehemiah, Zedekiah), the priests (21 names), the Levites (17 names), and the heads of noble families (44 names). There were 84 signatories.
• They represented the entire nation in making a commitment to God – to SUBMIT to God’s Word, to SEPARATE as God’s People, and they SUPPORT God’s work (needs of the Temple).
Commitment is what we need today. But sadly this is a word few likes to hear.
• Few like to talk about commitment, because it feels that we are binding ourselves to something, or to someone, if we are talking about marriage.
• We want to be free to change, to do whatever we like, as and when we want. We want liberty, not obligation. We prefer to go by how we FEEL than what is RIGHT.
Why COMMITMENT? Why ask for commitment?
• At baptism, we vowed to follow Jesus and be His faithful disciples, never to leave Him.
• At wedding, we exchange vows, to stay faithful to each other, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish each other till death do us part.
• Why don’t we do it without commitment, without making any vows?
(1) We commit because commitment reflects the character of Christ
• Commitment is a virtue. It is a characteristic of God, who is always faithful and true.
• Commitment starts not with us, but with God. He has committed himself toward us, to call us and save us and build us up and give us an eternal inheritance.
• We need His mercy. We need His grace. We are able to trust Him today because He is unchanging in His character and His promises.
Commitment is the basis of our relationship with God. It is the basis of our faith in God.
• And it is the basis of any good relationships with people. Relationships break down when commitment is absent, when we start to find it difficult to trust.
The Lord says in Matt 5:36-37 “And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your `Yes' be `Yes,' and your `No,' `No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
• We should be like Christ. His yes is YES and His no is NO. His yes is ALWAYS YES and His no is ALWAYS NO.