Rebellion and You

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What is rebellion?

First, why do we care? That question is easily dealt with:

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.

Proverbs 17:11 An evil [man] seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

Jeremiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.

Remember that both rebellion and witchcraft were punished by stoning in OT Israel. Ouch. So… what is rebellion then?

Of course you know where I am going to go to find out, don’t you? πŸ™‚

Yup, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.

β€œOpen resistance to lawful authority.”

That is the short bit, and all we really need here, but the rest is very cool too, so check it out if you are interested. [http://1828.sorabji.com/1828/words/r/rebellion.html]

The only proper (meaning ‘approved by Jay’) shift of meaning that has transpired since Webster’s writing of this cogent definition is a variation of use which allows for rebellion to occur covertly, rather than openly. One may have a rebellious attitude that remains sequestered within your breast, and never sees the light of day, and yet remains truly rebellious in the sight of God.

(One could argue that this sense still retains the quality of openness, since all things are open to God. But if you take that into consideration you might as well strike it out of the definition anyways since all things are open and thus it ceases to be a defining factor.)

On to the next word.

What does it mean to resist?

β€œTo stand against; to withstand.”

To set yourself against something means that you are out from under it. You cannot be submissive and rebellious simultaneously. Thus rebellion is a rejection of authority.

Ah, but not just any authority.

Lawful authority.

I think that little word there, Lawful, is the most important word in that definition. I believe that is so because of this simple fact that it makes true:

You cannot rebel against unlawful authority. It simply cannot be done.

This ties directly into Romans 13:1-2.

Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

The message of this passage is very clear and simple: Authority only comes from God. And so to resist lawful authority (rebellion) is indeed resisting God just as much as if you spit in His holy face or committed witchcraft.

Because of this powerful fact, we must be very careful. Why? People claim to have authority over us constantly, and by thereby demanding obedience of us they are claiming to be the ministers of God. Whether or not they think they are claiming this is irrelevant.

The Bible is very very clear that we are all equal, and equally at liberty from the control of others, except where God has specifically delineated an authority figure to perform a specific function.

These authority figures are defined and instituted by God for our good. That is His created order: for us to submit ourselves to these authority figures. I cannot go into all of the different ones here (that is a matter for many books), but I do want to point something out:

If an authority figure steps outside of his jurisdiction and exerts control that was not given him by God, he is sinning. And by definition, he is sinning against someone (or more than one someone). This does not mean that we ought to revolt (notice my word choice: we can’t rebel against him, since he isn’t exerting lawful authority, we can only revolt) against him, though. Generally we ought to merely yield (give up your cloak, turn the other cheek, etc.). There are very few situations in which the Bible commands us to revolt, resist, and overthrow unlawful authority. Most of the time we ought to pass it by.

Realize this though: your parents are your lawful authority, and their jurisdiction is far reaching. Their authority surpasses and supersedes the authority of every other ordination of God. That means that if your pastor tells you to do one thing, and your father tells you to do another, you obey your father. Period. Full stop. No questions, no buts, no hesitations, no qualms.

Realize also that even if your parents tell you to do something that you consider to be sin (like for example not going to church, or not wearing a headcovering, or going to public school, or reading a secular book on the ‘Sabbath’ day (I am looking at you Elsie Dinsmore)) in the vast majority of cases, you ought to obey. Even if they are not saved. (Especially if they are not saved, depending on how you look at it.) This passes the responsibility for that action onto them, and God will bless you in that deed.

Why do I say this? Wouldn’t God say that you aren’t rebelling since it isn’t their jurisdiction?

Because God commanded us to do it. Do a study of 1 Peter 3:1-6 and ask me about it in the comments if you don’t see it.

Controversial issue, I know. But those who know me know that I don’t shy from those. * smile * There are a lot of facets that I haven’t covered (such as when parental authority ceases to be binding), but I will save those for another time and another post.

What do you think? How do you think you should change your life in light of this study? In particular, what do you think about how you are treating (and thinking about) your parents? Are you rebelling against them in your heart or in your actions by simply not yielding to them with all your heart?

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6 Responses

  1. Good post, Jay. One question I have for you that you are perfectly free to not take the time to answer (and maybe it would make a good blog post in the future) is…what scriptures would you cite as best summing up the “lawful” authority of fathers? Maybe the top three or five or something…

    The reason I ask is because I agree in principle with pretty much everything you said, but I’ve found that most people, when they talk about parental authority and assert that is extensive (which it is) they can’t really define or explain what they are talking about both in clear principles and specific scripture passages.

    Knowing that you have the excellent habit of knowing what and why you believe what you do, I would love to hear your input on the matter. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the good post!

    • Thanks for the comment Mark!

      That would indeed make for a good blog post. I would need to collate the Scriptures from my studies and memory again, which will take time. But I think it would be well spent. Thanks for asking!

      I am pleased that I have that reputation. I will do my best to uphold it. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for the good and challenging comment!

  2. *sigh* Well, you got me. I’m definitely guilty of rebellion… both against God and against my parents. Lately God has been really showing me that… of course you would do a post on it right now. It kind of feels like when I first really realized that I am lazy… my parents taught me to dread those two things, and it is rather… unpleasant to discover them now in myself.

    The scary thing is that I am so good at acting that I managed to not only appear to be obedient in other’s eyes, but I also managed to fool myself for the most part. I mean, I sort of knew that I wasn’t as honoring as I could be… but rebellious? Me?

    However, God, in His grace, is bringing these things to light. And I am glad. But it does hurt. And, furthermore, I know it’s not enough to merely recognize this problem… I must change my attitude and actions. I need to obey promptly and cheerfully. I also need to obey not only direct commands, but also those things that I know they want me to do (or not do) even though they haven’t commanded me to.

    Oh… it’s so easy to feel like I’m not that bad… I mean I’m still friends with them, I still contribute to the household, I still obey most commands… but it actually is “that bad” to disregard the wishes of my parents, and I know it. It’s kind of odd… I really don’t mind direct orders, such as when papa asks me to go get him a drink or something. But, when he or mama hints about something they’d rather I’d not do, I tend to kind of… brush it aside. Pretend I don’t notice. Because I want to do that! And I’m 20. I should be able to decide… πŸ˜›

    Honestly… I like control. So, in my foolishness, I try to maintain it. Really dumb of me. I’m learning, though, to let go and let God. (To borrow the colloquialism) [Oh my!! I spelled it right! Oh sorry. Back the comment.]

    Well, now that I’ve practically written a blog post here in the comments, I think I shall close.

    I do hope that all made some sense… as you can tell I’m in a rambling, thinking sort of mood. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for that nice… uncomfortable sort of post. πŸ˜€ Prayers appreciated!

    • Hey Carissa, thanks for your comment. I know how tough it is to write something like that. Thanks for your courage.

      As you know, the first step is to do what you just did: admit your problem. So we can already begin to rejoice in your progress. πŸ™‚

      Rebellion really is tough to ferret out. I believe that is because it is so close to pride, and pride blinds us to its presence. I think, though, that our generation needs to focus on eradicating it. This time is full of the junk of rebellious attitudes, and we need to shine the light of submission, to show them what God has for them.

      So many people are so stuck on independence and proving themselves and standing up for themselves and doing stuff their own way, without thinking about their own need for authority.

      So just some encouragement for you, a bit of a vision to keep in your mind: a cause to fight for beyond yourself. πŸ™‚

      I hope all goes well for you. I am glad my post helped.

      God bless.

  3. Hmmm. *drawls* Why does this sound familiar.
    Ouch. Two paragraphs up from the bottom in your response to Carissa just stuck a barbed arrow in. *runs away*
    Yup, I’m a coward.

    Good post…God bless!

    ~ Jane

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