There is a well known sermon illustration originally used by a preacher in Haiti.

A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price.  After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.

After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.

The Haitian preacher’s conclusion: “If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.”

I think the point is clear in this parable.  If we are going to call ourselves Christians, we must give our entire lives over to Christ.  In our life there cannot be a peg of doubt hanging up and there cannot be a peg of discouragement hanging up because Satan will find them.  If we expect to have a life worthy Christ, we must be fully committed to him.  However, this is easier said than done.

Consider Nicodemus in John 3:1ff.  Nicodemus had a very difficult obstacle in his way of reaching the father.

Verse 1 tells us 2 things about the position of Nicodemus:

1) That Nicodemus was a Pharisee.

2) That Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council(or Sanhedrin).

These two observations show that Nicodemus was undoubtably a man of power in Jewish society.  These two observations about the position of Nicodemus are crucial for understanding the significance of his statement to Jesus in 3:2.  Nicodemus is defying all common sense by speaking to Jesus in this way.  Because Nicodemus is a Pharisee, his relationship with Jesus would already be strained.  Not to mention the fact that had Nicodemus been found out, he would have suffered hardships through persecution and a loss of status.

Satan tested Nicodemus through hardships and persecution.  The fact is, modern christians are often the complete opposite.  We may be tested by persecution; however, modern christians are almost more often tested by a freedom from persecution.  In America, far less people pressure us about our faith.  Therefore, it is far too easy to relax and not concentrate on Christ, on His teaching, and how He wants you to live.

Nicodemus defied all common sense by believing despite the threat of persecution.  It is about time that we defy all common sense by being truly committed to serving Christ.  Don’t give allow Satan to hang up garbage in our house.  Don’t give him a peg of apathy or a peg of carelessness to hang his garbage on.  Give Christ your complete and total commitment, and love living a life that is free from the stench of Satan’s filthy garbage.

Clay Smith

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