Key points from the sermon:
We see in this passage that some people could not prove they were of Israel, and even worse, some people who could not prove their lineage were serving as priests. This was a severe affront on God’s holiness, as it was the work of the priests that allowed the Israelites to draw near to God.
To be holy means to be set apart, distinct, clean, perfect. God alone is holy. Holiness is original to Him and essential to Him. Our holiness comes only by being in proximity to Him. (Think about the Holy Hill, the Holy Temple, etc.)
God cares so much about our holiness that He sent His Son as the perfect High Priest (Hebrews 8), not to offer sacrifice but to be our sacrifice, that He might redeem our lineage and let us all draw near to God!
Regarding holiness, we often trend toward one of two extremes: legalism or license. Both extremes outrightly reject Jesus and impede relationship with Him. As New Testament Believers, we get to enjoy nearness to God, growing in holiness, and inviting others into that relationship alongside us, that all people might ultimately give Him glory!
Scripture to meditate on this week:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” -1 Peter 2:9
What do you notice in Neh. 7:61-65?
Why does God care so much about the priesthood? How does the priesthood relate to us as New Covenant Christians? Does it even matter to us? Why or why not?
Define holiness. Explain your feelings regarding holiness. Do we (as a local Church) see ourselves as “a royal priesthood, a holy nation”? Why or why not?
Do you trend towards legalism or license? How is Jesus good news for those who trend towards legalism? How is Jesus good news for those who trend towards license? How can a Missional Community fight together to preserve the holiness we’ve received in Christ?
Because of Jesus, we now have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We ourselves are God’s holy temple (1 Cor. 3:16); that’s the level of intimacy and holiness we now have with God! And yet, most of us are not daily enjoying that level of intimacy and holiness. This week dwell on James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Pray through that verse. Beg God to grace us with His presence, His nearness. Ask Him to expose our sins. Press into the forgiveness of Jesus. Practice confessing sins to God and to others each day this week. We can only grow in holiness if we’re growing nearer to God, so let that be our prayer this week. Not that we would be holy for our own sake, but that God’s holiness would shine through us for His name’s sake!