Nehemiah Chapter 6:15-7:3
The Last Enemy - Tobiah that 'good' man!
by I Gordon
 ↩ While its easy to see the true nature of Tobiah when you read the book of Nehemiah, its must have been a lot harder to discern in his day for only Nehemiah himself could see through it. The same is true of us today. You may say that nobody should be sucked in by Tobiah's good deeds but in all likelihood, you're probably offering them up to God yourself. That isn't a condemning thing. It's just a call to realise that much of what we offer God is just the good of old Adam. Usually we're no different. Probably the best example of this in the Old Test. is where King Saul was asked to 'strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has and do not spare him.' (1 Sam15:3) Amalek is probably the best picture in the OT of the fleshly nature. God said he didn't want to see it. What did Saul do? 'Saul defeated the Amalekites...But Saul spared Agag (the King of the Amalekites) and the best of his sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs and all that was GOOD!' (vs 7-9) Why did he do this? 'Saul said 'they have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord our God.' (vs 15). He wanted to offer God what God wanted utterly destroyed! He wanted to offer God the best of the Old Man. And he was going to offer it to God at Gilgal! (vs 21) The place that symbolises the cutting away of the fleshly nature was the place where Saul was going to offer it back to God! What did God do? He got rid of Saul and chose a new King because of this very act! (vs23)
 ↩ Mmmm. I'm still thinking about getting the best out of Tobiah (see last footnote). Its easy to spot Tobiah when he's immoral, impure, jealous, hateful etc (Gal 5:20) but that's not how we find Tobiah here. The walls of salvation are built. It's time for Tobiah to go. But he's willing to do anything to avoid the cross! It really is quite hard to realise as Paul did that 'in me dwells no good thing, that is in my flesh.' We tend to think of the Christian life as God slowly cleaning us up as if the old nature just needs a scrub up! While nobody would say it, we sort of think like this - When we start our Christian life we need God 100% as being babies, we have no strength or holiness. Given time we gain some strength, start to walk on our own and need God 50% of the time. Taken to the logical conclusion, soon we'll have totally cleaned our lives up and God will look down from heaven and applaud our efforts, and we won't need him at all! May sound stupid put like that but we do think that God is making us better in ourselves. The truth is just the opposite. All that we are naturally was so useful to God he nailed it to the cross and gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to be our only hope of glory (that which we had fallen short of). If a Christian is to grow, he must grow through this attitude - 'He must increase, but I must decrease.'
 ↩ Now that's not very nice is it? But if you don't treat him as dead, Tobiah will talk and talk and never shut up! The N.T's says it like this: 'knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him, in order that the body of sin might be done away with... Even so, reckon yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus...Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead.' (Rom 6:6-13) The order is Know, Reckon, and Present. If Nehemiah was speaking he'd say 'look, now that the walls are fully built, understand and know that Tobiah doesn't have to have influence over us anymore. So reckon, and consider yourself dead to him from now on! Stop corresponding with him and give yourself solely to God cause he has freed us from the enemies power.' Easy to put into three nice points, hard to put into practice. But we need to learn. It doesn't matter if we love ourselves or hate ourselves. Doesn't matter if we think we have enough ability to do something, or moan that we have no gifting and ability. Its all focusing on self and seeing how Tobiah is feeling. Hating yourself is the flip side of pride and shows that you're still very interested in self!. The bible teaches us to present ourselves to God on a new principle: 'AS THOSE ALIVE FROM THE DEAD!' This is on resurrection ground where 'I no longer live, but Christ lives in me' and has nothing at all to do with our natural strength.
 ↩ Probably the best example of this is Israel in the wilderness. As soon as they drank from the rock (meaning filled with the spirit), they were attacked by Amalek! (The BEST picture of the flesh.) The only way Israel could win this battle was for Moses to die to his ability to win the battle! When his arms were raised to heaven in an attitude of surrender, Amalek was defeated. And look at what God thinks of Amalek - 'I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.' (This he did, once and for all at the cross). 'The Lord will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation.' (This he continues to do in our lives because we don't know what he did at the cross - but notice its his fight!) See Exodus 17:1-16
 ↩ While Paul would give credit where credit was due, he would never do it where God alone should get the glory. Some people make it sound like we saved ourselves, and God should be fortunate that we chose him! Salvation is one of those areas that God alone should get the glory. When asked who can be saved, Jesus replied 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' (Matt 19:26) Paul said that we are 'saved by grace through faith', and then adds that even that faith is a gift of God! (Eph 2:8). To the Corinthians, some of whom were becoming arrogant, Paul wrote 'what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?' (1Cor 4:7) While we may not understand some of the mysteries surrounding the grace and election of God, we still know that the only thing we can boast in is the cross.' (Gal 6:12)
 ↩ I read a story recently about C.S Lewis and a debate some of his 'learned' friends were having over Christianity's unique contribution to world religion. With Lewis out of the room they were arguing what truth, if any, was totally unique to Christianity. Some suggested the incarnation but it was quickly pointed out that other religions have god becoming a man. Another suggested the resurrection but again other religions spoke of this happening. At this point Lewis entered the room and asked what all the trouble was about. Upon hearing the question he replied. 'oh that's easy; it's grace!'. So true! The message of grace is totally unique and shows what an awesome God we serve. Do not under-estimate or down play the grace of God!