Let's begin with a definition...
Rebellion is the denial, resistance, disobedience, or independence to/of authority.
The ultimate authority is God (Romans 13: 1).
The are several examples of delegated authority mentioned in both OT (Old Testament) and NT (New Testament) Scripture.
Among these delegated authorities are governmental (NT Romans 13: 6), ecclesiastical (NT Hebrews 13: 17), OT/NT marital (Gen. 3: 16/Eph. 5: 22), OT/NT parental (Exodus 20: 12/Eph. 6: 2), and NT labor (Col. 4: 1).
In principle, there is the necessity for some form of delegated authority is every institution or organization on Earth that has a population or membership greater than one. Otherwise, there is NO final authority, leaving everything open to debate or selective compliance.
The higher the position that one holds within any given institution or organization, the more responsibility and accountability that one has for the institution's success. Persons in positions of management, are not only accountable for their own activity and productivity, but for the activity and the productivity of those who are under his/her umbrella of supervision.
Persons in positions of authority are not only accountable to the institutions they represent, but to God. Everyone has a "boss," and the ultimate "boss" is God (Col. 4: 1).
"Masters (governmental leaders, judges, employers, bosses, supervisors, husbands, parents, pastors, coaches, teachers, etc.), grant to your slaves (subordinates) justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in Heaven (Col. 4: 1 NASB italics mine)."
It is the responsibility of those in positions of authority to enforce the do's and do not' s of the institution/organization. In some positions of authority, one can have input as to what the organization's policies may be, whereas in other positions of authority, their function is to enforce the policies that are in place.
Those who hold positions of delegated authority in the spiritual realm have the responsibility and the accountability not to exceed the limitations that God has established (Prov. 30: 6) for the position they hold.
One can "add to" the Word of God in either word or action. One can "add" to what the Word of God has to say by taking on and/or delegating functions that God did not authorize.
Christian religion has a long history of establishing its own positions of delegates authority, and has assigned functions to those in such positions, that God has NEVER given to any human clergyman.
In cases involving legitimate positions of delegated authority, God has established the purpose, the functions, and the limitations for each position of delegated authority that He has established for the Church Age.
The same God that has delegated the authority, has also set the limitations and the parameters that each person in a position of authority is to function. Without such limitations and parameters, tyranny will inevitably rise to the surface. Tyranny violates the God-given principle of free will.
P-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g those in legitimate positions of delegated authority within the spiritual realm are functioning within the parameters that God has established, rebellion against them (OT: Numbers 14, 16/NT: Romans 13/Hebrews 13: 17), is rebellion against God.
IF and when persons in positions of delegated authority erroneously require something that amounts to disobedience to God, the advancing disciple is called to obey God, and not Man (Acts 5: 29). Accordingly, the advancing disciple must have a working knowledge of exactly what it is that God desires in a host of different situations. One can not apply what he/she does not know.
To disrespect persons in legitimate positions of delegated authority is to disrespect God, the ultimate authority (Romans 13).
Disrespecting God violates the, "...great commandment in the Law (Matt. 22: 36 NASB)," and is the root from which all rebellions sprout.
"And He said to him, ""You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and the foremost commandment (Matt. 22: 37, 38 NASB)."
"IF you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14: 15 NASB)."
One cannot disrespect God (or the things of God) and love God at the same time.
In light of the (original) Greek language in which God inspired the human authors of New Testament Scripture to use, there are several different types of love. If the principles of these passages are to be understood and applied, it is most important to be able to make these distinctions between the different types of love that any given verse may be addressing.
The English language (and the Bibles that have been translated into the English language) does not make these distinctions. If one, for instance, tries to apply personal love when it is unconditional love being spoken of, he/she is going to put demands on himself (and others) that was never God's intentions, or fail to develop and apply the type of "love" that any given verse of Scripture requires.
The "love" that an advancing disciple is to have for his/her enemies, for example, is not the same type of "love" that he/she is to have for God, wife, family.
Note that the love that we are called to have for other people is the "second (Matt. 22: 39 NASB") greatest commandment of the OT law.
What makes these two commandments (not options) the greatest of all the commandments is that one can not be in compliance with these two commandments and engage in any kind of sin at the same time!
If you love God, you will obey Him (John 14: 15, 23). If you love others, you will do nothing to or against them that the Bible defines as sin. If whatever one does (or refrains from doing) does not offend either God or Man, it is pretty safe to conclude that it is not sin!
Compliance with the "love" commandment of Matt. 22: 37, 38, 39) concerning God and others can be defined in different ways, but can only be measured by the degree to which one places the interests and the desires of God (and people), above his own.
Note, however, that having a greater love for self or other people that is over and above the love that one has for God, disqualifies one from being His disciple (Luke 14: 26).
The self-centered rebel has no problem with loving others, so long as there is something in it for him/her. At whatever point there is nothing to be gained, or (worse) there is something to be lost, the rebel loses interest in the object of his/her love.
The rebellious, fallen nature in Man is self-centered. All too often, what we really want (and often pray for) is for God to give us what we want to fulfill our plans or desires, while giving little (if any) consideration to what He wants to fulfill the desires and the plans that God has in mind.
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Obviously, one rebels by choosing to disobey authority, either by doing something that authority prohibits, or failing to do something that authority requires in any given situation.
In the middle of a crisis, under the pressure of the moment, is NOT the best time to be looking for answers or guidance. It is critically important, therefore, to learn what it is that one must do, or refrain from doing, in any given situation before the need arises.
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One can a rebel via expressing disrespect for ultimate or delegated authority.
For most of us, we can see the principle when it comes to God, but the scenario gets a little clouded when it comes to showing the same level of respect for persons in positions of delegated authority. It might help to keep in mind that, in the case of delegated authority, it is NOT the person, but the authority of the position that holds that Church Age believers are commanded to respect.
One can rebel passively or overtly, but it is still rebellion. God sees what is going on in our minds.
"For as he thinks within himself, so he is (Prov. 23: 7 NASB)."
Giving someone in a position of authority the silent treatment can be a form of passive rebellion.
I say "can be," because there are times when it is best to disconnect, cool down, and then reconnect to avoid saying or doing things that are counterproductive. The silent treatment IS a form of rebellion when it is done to "silently" protest something that a person in a position of authority has done in that capacity.
"Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Phil 2: 14 NASB)."
Note that this command does not say that we are only to do this things that we are in agreement with without grumbling or disputing, but ALL (legitimate-Acts 5-29) things that are placed on us by either the ultimate (God) authority or by persons in positions of delegated authority.
Just think about how the degree of environmental peace in such places as the home and in the work place that could be experienced if this Phil. 2: 14 NASB New Testament command (not an option) were to be consistently practiced.
Q. How important is this ONE command in the eyes of God?
A. "For whoever keeps the whole Law (all the rules) and yet stumbles in ONE point, he has become guilty of all (James 2: 10 NASB)."
Having a loud mouth and expressing negativity towards ultimate and/or delegated authority are common characteristics in a person or in a society that is in moral decline.
Respect for authority requires that one does what he is told, when he told, and how he is told to do it, without complaint.
This principle strikes right at the heart of one who fosters the nature of a rebel within him/herself.
The rebel will often self-justify him/self and what he/she does (or won't do) by pointing out the "type of person" (in a position of authority) that he/she has to deal with on a regular basis. But unless it is an Acts 5: 29 situation that is in view, the advancing disciple will apply the principles of delegated authority and leave the matter/outcome in the hands of God.
Discipleship is a 24-7 lifestyle. It applies no matter where the advancing disciple is and whatever the advancing disciple is otherwise doing. IF you are NOT where God would have you be. and you have the opportunity to change that (1Cor. 7: 21-24), then do so.
If you are where God wants you to be, then the advancing disciple will learn and apply the Word of God to THAT situation.
Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances in which we have no realistic control over who the people are that in positions of delegated authority over us, but this does not relieve of us our accountability to God.
"Servants (people in position of subordination), be submissive to your masters (people who are in positions of delegated authority) with ALL respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for sake of conscience toward (obedience to) God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly (1Pet. 2: 18).
Christian woman who are considering Christian Marriage would be well-advised to take a good look at the person who is going to be in the position of delegated authority once the "I do's" are exchanged.
Christian men would be well-advised, when considering Christian Marriage, the potential willingness of the one he marries to submit to his delegated authority. There are all kinds of marriages, but if you are a Christian, you have the obligation to establish, build, and maintain one that is based on what the Bible has to say about marriage, here in the Church Age.
Telling any rebel at any age what he/she must or can not do is going to be received as an irresistible invitation to do just the opposite, even with full knowledge of the inevitable consequences is store.
Any parent who has dealt with so-called teenage rebellion can speak of the frustration, tension, and the pain that such rebellion can bring to a home. The more the parents does to steer them right, the more they rebel until (if) the rebellious spirit is not repented. If a rebellious child refuses the respond to the discipline imposed by a parent, the parent has done all that he/she could do.
Such things as prisons, medical and mental hospitals, rehab centers, and divorce courts are filled with persons who never learned to respect ultimate and delegated authority.
We will address where the nature of a rebel comes from a little further along in this study.
Often, with the best of intentions, parents often exceed the delegated authority that God has given them.
Accordingly, it is one thing to pursue a "different" plan other than what a parent may have had in mind, but if and when such plans involve sin, it is NEVER the right thing to do. In time, one will eventually come out from under the literal roof and the delegated authority of the parent, but he/she is never out from under his/her accountability to God (Romans 14: 12).
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6: 23), of one kind or another. It may be physical, spiritual, or temporal in nature, but that is another subject for another day. For the purpose of this study, the point is that the sin of rebellion and independence is NOT without inevitable consequences.
The prodigal son was forgiven, but NOT without consequences. The inheritance that he might have otherwise enjoyed in God's timing, was gone for good (Luke 15: 31).
Many rebels will experience a lot more pain than did the prodigal son of Luke 15. Others may not see the consequences of their rebellion until eternity (1Cor. 3: 15/Rev. 20: 15) is in view. The bottom line is that in the timing of God, no one gets away with anything.
At any age, one can rebel by choosing to do his/her own thing, if/when doing one's own thing is not the thing that God desires.
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It may come as a surprise to many where, why, and when the first recorded rebellion in the spiritual realm took place.
The first rebellion took place in Heaven (of all places) before Man was even created! It originated with a being, that prior to the rebellion, served in the capacity of a guardian cherub in the very throne room of God (Ezekiel 28: 14).
"But you (the devil) said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars (angels) of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds (symbolic language for a place of ultimate rule and authority); I will make myself like (ruler and object of worship) the Most High (the God of the Bible)." - Isaiah 14: 13 NASB italics mine).
While most humans would not go as far as desiring to become worshiped (some have) as God is worshiped, but the concept of establishing and living a life or lifestyle independent of God and/or the things of God is a common thread among all rebels.
Some teach that all of the angels originally rebelled, but that some repented and returned to God. We do know that at least one third of the Angels did follow and remain with Satan during and after his revolt. He and they attempted to establish this kingdom on the surface of planet Earth. The revolt failed. As a result, the cities that the angels had built were destroyed by God (Jer. 4: 23), rendering the surface of the Earth to become, "empty and void (Gen. 1: 2/Jer. 4: 23).
God has prepared a place (the lake of fire) for Satan and the fallen angels (Matt. 25: 41) where he and they will spend all of eternity, but not until their appointed time in the future.
As a result of the failed revolt, Satan lost his position (guardian cherub) in the Court of Heaven, but had not yet lost his access (Job 1: 6, 7) to the court of Heaven. I believe that it was not until after the Lord's victory on the cross that the devil and his fallen angels were cast down to the Earth for the last time (Rev. 12: 8, 9). I say this because, for one thing, the devil would no longer have a case to argue when making accusations against the saints who were covered by the shed blood of Christ (Romans 8:1).
In any event, the devil still has not lost his access to planet Earth (1Pet. 5: 8). In fact, he claims to have regained the title to planet Earth as a result of the Fall of Man (Luke 4: 6), a claim that the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 4) did not dispute.
Never-the less, the devil knows (Rev. 12: 12) that his days and the days of his kingdom are numbered. To the extent that God allows, the devil is intent on carrying out his rebellion (Rev. 12: 12) until his final incarceration (Rev. 20: 10).
Furthermore, the devil has no intentions of going down alone.
To the extent that God permits in the realm of spiritual combat (Eph. 6, the devil (1Pet. 5: 8), his allies (Eph. 6: 12), and the human souls that he deceives (Rev. 12: 9), will continue to promote rebellion (independence) from God and/or the things of God).
One of the reasons that God permits spiritual warfare, is that God desires to be worshiped willingly. In order for this to take place, the potential worshiper must be presented with the opportunities to make actual choices. The human race was created by God to be given the opportunity to glorify God by the choices they make. The devil's objective is to deny God the glory by convincing the souls of Man to make negative choices that deny God the glory that He would otherwise receive.
The devil had great success in the Garden of Eden, and has had considerable success ever since, in light of the majority/minority principle of Matt. 7: 13, 14, and the ominous principles found in such passages as Luke : 52 and Rev. 12: 9.
The individual souls of Man, having been given free will, can choose in favor of God or in favor of Satan, and will reap the accompanying blessings or consequences. This, and not much of what is displayed in the horror films of Hollywood, is what the bulk of spiritual warfare is all about.
Ever wonder why, of all the planets in the vast universe, that planet Earth became the natural home for Man?
After the devastation recorded in Gen. 1: 2/Jer. 4:23, God prepared the devastated planet Earth to receive its next inhabitants (the human race). Man was created by God at that time to bring glory to Him in the midst of this ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil.
As each dispensation (period of time) of human history presents itself, the souls of Man were/are judged by the spiritual decisions they make, based on the extent to which God, and the things of God, had/has been revealed to them during their appointed time here on Earth.
When souls chose in favor of God, they received accompanying earthly blessings while here on Earth, and set the stage to receive rewards (1Cor. 3: 12-15) and (Rev. 2/Rev. 3) privileges in Heaven.
When the souls of Man chose in favor of the Satan, they set the stage to receive the the discipline (Heb. 12: 6) of God here on Earth, and (in the case of unbelievers) the ultimate wrath of God (Rev. 20: 15) in what the Bible calls the lake of fire.
Here in the dispensation of the Church Age, the primary thing of God is the Gospel Message, as one's chosen response to it here on Earth is what determines which one of the two eternal experiences he/she will enter into and remain in for all of eternity future.
Here in the dispensation of the Church Age, the second most important thing is the identification and execution of the post salvation spiritual life, as this is what determines how much glory, if any, the saved soul will bring to God here on Earth, and what, if any, 1Cor. 3: 14 eternal rewards and what what, if any, Revelation 2 / Revelation 3 eternal privileges any given born again will either receive or forfeit.
Q. OK, but what does this have to do with rebellion?
A. As of the Fall of Man, Man received (and passes down to next generation - Psalms 51: 5) a sin nature (Romans 7), that is inherently hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and the things of God. This hostility is what causes ALL of us to be natural-born rebels, when it comes to God and/or the things of God.
Even AFTER one has been born again, this rebellious nature does NOT go away (Romans 7: 14-23), but increases its pressure on the soul, keeping pace with whatever forward progress that a born again believer might make towards identifying and executing the post salvation spiritual life.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter (epistle) to the local believers in Rome (Romans 7: 14-23), spoke of his personal and o-n-g-o-i-n-g battle with the fallen nature within him, some thirty years AFTER he had been born again, and towards the END of his earthly ministry.
In addition to this inherent "hostility," Fallen Man, without the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, is unable to understand the things of God (1Cor. 2: 14), let alone respond to such things. Fallen Man, when under the influence of the fallen nature, does NOT really want to hear of God or the things of God, and does not really want to apply what he does hear.
In any type of warfare, it is important to gather accurate and current intelligence as to the location and the plans of the enemy. It is also important to be aware of one's area(s) of defensive weaknesses, and how the enemy (Eph. 6: 12/1Peter 5: 8) will exploit the weaknesses that we do have.
The spiritual enemies of the born again believer can do NOTHING to impact the integrity of the salvation that he/she has already received (John 3: 18/Romans 8: 1), but they can do much to destroy the productivity of his/her post salvation spiritual life.
The devil, our adversary (1Pet. 5: 8), and his allies (Eph. 6: 12) are NOT presently in "Hell," waiting for God to send all the "bad" people to join him/them. Only the ones that have violated the parameters in which the devil is allowed to engage in spirit combat have been so confined (Jude 6/Genesis 6/Luke 8: 31).
The lake of fire (Rev. 20: 10) will be the final destination for the devil, his allies, and all the human souls (Rev. 20: 15) that reject the Gospel Message . But at this present time, "...the devil (and his allies-Eph. 6: 12) prowls around (the Earth-Luke 4: 6) seeking someone to devour (1Pet. 5: 8 NASB italics mine)."
The devil does not have the divine attributes of omnipresence (the ability to everywhere and anywhere at the same time) or omniscience (all knowledge).
Accordingly, he must rely on his allies (Eph. 6: 12) and those he has deceived to do much of his bidding (2Cor. 11: 14)." Only on a few occasions has the devil gotten personally involved (Luke 4: 2-13/Luke 22: 3).
The devil much rather prefers to make use of third parties, some not even being aware that they are unwittingly doing his will (John 8: 44/Matt. 15: 14).
Being a rebel at heart is what makes Fallen Man easy prey for the devil and his allies. While being hostile towards God and the things of God, the rebel has open ears to the devil's counterfeit alternatives.
Satan, in his desire to deny God as much glory as he can, appeals to this rebellious nature that is in ALL of us, encouraging denial, disobedience, compromise, independence, and disinterest in the things of God. To have a disinterest in the things of God, is to have a disinterest in God.
Have you ever had an interest in God or in the things of God? Have you lost whatever interest in God and/or the things of God that you once had? Is your "cage rattled" when you are offered the opportunity to learn of God and/or of the things of God?
The devil has mastered the art of spiritual combat, evidenced by his record of success. He's been at it since the Garden of Eden. He knows what buttons to press and when to press them for maximum effect.
The post salvation spiritual life of discipleship is one of willing submissiveness to the leading and the control of God the Holy Spirit.
This goes against the grain of the fallen, rebellious, nature in Fallen Man. Like a wild horse, the fallen nature in Man does NOT want to saddled, corralled, or subordinate to anyone or anything. Fallen Man is NOT naturally predisposed to submit to authority.
The post salvation spiritual life is NOT about doing what comes natural to us, but what is supernatural with the enabling power (John 15: 5) that God provides.
As in the case of the Apostle Paul, one can have God take all the energy that a hostile, rebel expends resisting God, and redirect it to accomplish much in the spiritual realm.
Could it be that you are in a state of rebellion? Do you have unacknowledged sin in your life? Are you living with an independent attitude towards God and the things of God?
If so, the Biblical solution is the same solution that it has for any other sin. It calls for a 1John 1: 9 confession (to God), followed up by a John 8: 11 commitment to forsake the sin of rebellion in the future.
It is your life here on earth, but what you do with your life here on Earth is what determines how you will experience all of eternity. Eternity is going to be around a lot longer (it never ends) than the time you have here on Earth. God has given you the freedom to live your life independently of Him while here on Earth (if that is what you want to do), but not without consequences.
This concludes our study of the Doctrine of Rebellion.