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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? 🙂
Yup, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.
“Open 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?
“To 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.
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?