“And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.”
Reestablishing the godly society after they had strayed from God for so many years was no easy task for Nehemiah. Sinful habits had been set in place, and overcoming those habits seemed to be futile at times. Such was the case in the verse above. In Nehemiah 10:31, the people vowed that they would not buy anything from those vendors who tried to sell anything on the Sabbath; however, in the verse above, you can see that this attempt to overcome this sinful habit failed. Nehemiah realized that the only way to stop this sinful habit from happening was to shut the gates the night before the Sabbath and not reopen them until the day after the Sabbath. It was this act that finally helped them to stop this habit. Several observations can be made from this incident.
First, every act is a potential habit. You must realize that every action you perform, whether good or bad, is becoming a future habit. Every habit starts with the first act. If you don’t want to start bad habits then don’t ever perform the act one time. It the first act of smoking a cigarette the leads to addiction. It is the first act of taking the first drug that leads to becoming a drug addict. It is the first act of looking at immoral pictures that leads to a lust-filled mind. It is the first act of missing church that leads to a person dropping out of church. It is the first act of gossiping about someone that leads to the negative spirit. My friend, if you don’t want to end up with the bad habit, you had better never do the act the first time.
Second, action is more important than decisions. In Nehemiah 10:31, the people decided not to purchase anything that was sold on the sabbath, but in the verse above they were still buying and selling. You can walk the aisle in the church invitation a thousand times and decide you are not going to do something, but deciding has never gotten one person right with God. Don’t get me wrong; it is important to make the decision at the altar. I believe you should walk an aisle and decide to get right with the LORD; however, you don’t get right when you decide at the altar you are not going to do something, but you get right when you walk out the church and do what you decided at that altar. It is the action that God wants more than the show of walking an altar. Does that mean you don’t need to walk to the altar again? Absolutely not! It means that you should follow through by living what you told God you were going to do.
Third, the best way to quit any habit is to shut the gates that feed them. You will continue struggling to overcome your bad habits as long as you leave the gates open that feed them. The reason many Christians fail to overcome their bad habits is because they don’t shut the gates. It took three weekends for those gates to be closed before the merchants stopped coming. Likewise, it will take time with the gates closed to your bad habit to overcome the desires of those habits. If you close the gate to your habits, you won’t be able to do them. Christian, let me encourage you to close the gates. You will never see victory over sin until you close the gates that feed it.