What is rebellion? Where does it come from? How do we combat it in our own lives and in the lives of our kids? Join AMBrewster has he helps Christian parents come to biblical conclusions concerning disobedience, rebellion, and insubordination as he sets us up to have a more robust conversation concerning culture upheaval.
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Discover the following episodes by clicking the titles or navigating to the episode in your app:
“The Nature of Sin”
“Training Your Children to Rebel” (episode 43)
“Teach Your Children to Obey” series (starts in episode 138)
“Why Do You Children Do What They Do?” Series (starts in episode 95)
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Welcome back to Season 16. In just a very short time we will be celebrating our 4th year of ministry. And we’re eight episodes away from our 400th episode.
If you are just joining us, I welcome you. Our audience has been growing quite a bit recently. I thank the Lord so much that each of you are here.
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Okay, so today we’re going to talk about something that affects every individual and family and nation on this world. It’s this little thing called rebellion. We’re going to see what the Bible has to say about it, and we’re going to discuss how to deal with it.
If you’re new to the show, you’ll be happy to hear that we provide robust episode notes and transcripts for free. Just click the link in the description to be taken to our blog, Taking Back the Family to download and read them.
They always include all of the Bible passages we cite.
Okay, let’s get started.
1. What is rebellion?
According to Merriam-Webster, to rebel is to “oppose a government or ruler.” Their second definition is simply “disobedient, rebellious.”
We did a short series called “Teach Your Children to Obey.” I’ve linked the first episode in the description. But over the course of that study we determined that biblical obedience is doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason in the right power.
Therefore, according to a secular dictionary, any and all disobedience is the same as rebellion.
Merriam-Webster’s first definition for rebellion is “opposition to one in authority or dominance.”
And all of those are fantastic definitions, and the biblical use of the appropriate Hebrew and Greek words communicate the same meaning.
And I’m sure that most of us will know the answer to the next question.
2. What does God think of rebellion?
I believe the best verse to inform our thinking on this point is I Samuel 15:23. Please note that — most of the time — I quote Scripture from the New American Standard Bible. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”
Let’s break this down. In God’s eyes, rebellion is the same as witchcraft and insubordination (the refusal to put oneself under another’s authority) is as sinful as worshipping a false god.
I included that last part of the verse so that we would understand its severity in Saul’s life. Saul was the first human king of the Jews, and due to his partial obedience to God — which, by the way, is complete disobedience to God — Saul as stripped from his right to rule the nation.
So, this is a big deal.
In fact, it’s been said that pride is the root of all sins, and I would agree with that. But to the same degree that pride is the root of all sin and therefore all sin is prideful, I would say the all sin is rebellion. Whether it’s murder, lies, partial obedience, or neglecting to do the good things God has commanded . . . it’s all rebellion and insubordination. We’ve opposed our authority and refused to put ourselves under His rule. We — instead — have decided to worship the puny god of self instead of worshipping the true God of the cosmos.
And God hates rebellion because He hates sin.
There are many lists in the New Testament. Some are what I call Sanctification Lists that provide goals toward which all Christians should be growing, and some are lists of sins. Romans 1:29-32 reads, “being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
II Timothy 3:2-5 includes this list, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”
All of those behaviors and attitude are rebellion, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
3. From where does rebellion originate?
I mentioned in the introduction that every individual, family, and nation has experienced rebellion. Why is that? Well, every nation and family has individuals, and every single individual born to this world save Jesus Himself was born a sinner.
Every single one of us, our spouses, and our kids were born with a sinful fleshly nature. We have a whole page at TruthLoveParent.com that contains all of the episodes we’ve produced concerning the nature and consequences of sin. I’ll link that page in the description of today’s episode so you can check it out.
The point is, every one of us has a sin nature. Everything about that sin nature is insubordinate. Everything about that sin nature is rebellious. We could put it this way, rebellion is the trajectory of man. Self-autonomy cannot abide authority. Psalm 2, Romans 1, the Flood, and the complete history of the Israelites are a perfect proof of this point.
The circumstances that precipitated the Flood were as follows: Genesis 5:5-6, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
Now, keep in mind that only 1,656 years had passed since the creation of the world. Adam died only 726 years before the flood. That means that most of the living world had likely either met or had heard of Adam.
Of course, it’s possible that man’s desire for dominion mixed with their sinful desire to rebel had them run so fast and far from Adam that it wasn’t long before kids were born, lived, and died without ever hearing about him, God, the Creation, or anything else of consequence.
I’m just sharing these statistics to show that in less time than the span between the birth of Christ and us, mankind went from brand new, sinless creation of God to so evil that the Lord had to immediately judge them for their wickedness.
That is the power of rebellion.
And even though it makes no sense, it’s our plight. Psalm 2 asks the same question we are: “Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” Why do men do that? It’s because sin makes us stupid.
Thankfully, the Lord provides a more robust answer for us in Romans 1: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
Mankind has seen and studied God’s awesomeness, and they petulantly refuse to acknowledge what they’ve clearly seen and rush to replace the Creator with the creation.
Every infant born — other than the Messiah — is born with a penchant to resist and refuse and rebel against authority.
This should not surprise us.
But it does.
It is absolutely amazing to me when I encounter parents who are surprised by their children’s rebellion. It’s as if they convinced themselves that their children could never rebel against them even though the entire history of the Israelites is them repeatedly rebelling against their perfect Heavenly Father and King.
The majority of the Old Testament exists to teach us two things: 1. Mankind is inherently and inextricably rebellious, but 2. God is patient and loving and gracious.
Isaiah 30:9 says, “For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the Lord.”
Ezekiel is the Old Testament book that uses the word “rebellious” more than any other. If you want a crash course in rebellion and how to respond to it, Ezekiel would be a great place to start.
So, here’s the first parenting application today:
A. Your children are born rebels.
They do not want to submit. They will feign submission in order to not receive consequences, but no matter how sweet and cute they look while doing it, their “obedience” is motivated by their own self-interest which means it’s only partial obedience — which means it’s disobedience before God.
The very first time your children will every submit to anyone is the first time they submit to God in salvation — through the power of the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith.
Until then, they are insubordinate to their core and rebellious even in their attempts to do what they’re told.
But now we need to turn our attention back our questions.
We’ve asked what is rebellion and what does God think of rebellion and from where does rebellion originate, so the next question must be . . .
4. What are the consequences of rebellion?
The answer to this is simple and could be illustrated multiple times from every book in the Bible.
However, I will read only two passages.
Despite what we may do, God is going to judge us by our motivation. Did we do what we did for self or did we do it as an act of worship to God?
In Matthew 7:17-23 Jesus says, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from ME, you who practice lawlessness.’”
And Revelation 20:11-15 explains what will happen to those who must depart from Jesus: “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
If anyone perseveres in their rebellion against God, His holiness and justice will require Him to condemn them for all eternity. You cannot sin against an infinite God without expecting to pay and infinite price.
So . . .
5. What is the cure for rebellion?
And by way of an answer, here’s the second parenting application today:
B. Everyone in your home has a natural predisposition to rebellion, therefore teaching everyone in your home the important truths concerning submission and obedience must always be our top priority.
Now, please understand that no one at Truth.Love.Parent. is going to suggest that mere legalistic, behavioral externalism is ever going to make a family work. True submission to God and obedience to Him is first and foremost a heart posture. We believe God’s promises to be true, and we follow Him in that trust.
There is nothing more seminal to the Christian life than that. That means that valuable parenting is going to consistently point us back to our need for Christ, our love for Christ, and our submission to Christ.
In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
I John 1:5-7 reads, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
The only correct response to our constant temptation to rebellion is submission to God.
And it must be noted that true and complete submission to God is going to involve submission to the other authority figures God has ordained for us.
First and foremost are our parents. Ephesians 6:1-3 should be a very familiar passage in our homes: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” This — of course — is a quote from the 10 Commandments — “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
We could talk for days and days about how our modern cultures have completely dismantled that hierarchy of the home. Parents are told to submit to their children. Children are told to submit to their hearts. And our nations are paying the price.
What’s funny is that the government that wants the power to tell us how to live our lives has been teaching our children through the public schools that they don’t have to submit to anyone but themselves. Our governments are literally creating a generation of people who will refuse to obey the government.
But, unless a government is requiring us to directly obey God’s Law, God expects us to obey the government.
Romans 13:1-7, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”
Here’s another parenting application:
C. When parents disobey their authorities they’re teaching their children to do the same.
How many of your behaviors have taught your kids that they don’t have to do what they’re told if they don’t feel like it.
Dad doesn’t buckle his seat belt because he doesn’t want to. Why should I clean my room if I don’t want to?
“Yeah, but Aaron, the government shouldn’t have the right to tell me to wear a seatbelt.”
Guess what . . . I agree with you. I don’t believe we should have given our government the right to tell us to do that either. However, biblically speaking, they’re not telling us to sin by wearing our seatbelts. Therefore, your refusal to wear one is rebellion against the legitimate authority God put into your life. And your rebellion is only gong to embolden your children’s rebellion.
There are so many, many, many examples of this, but today is not the day to delve into them.
Now, I want to end with an observation. We’ve answered 5 questions from the Bible and applied them specifically to our parenting 3 times.
But there’s one more parenting application we need to make based off of an important consideration concerning rebellion that we have not discussed yet.
Here’s the observation: Rebellion multiplies from generation to generation.
That’s not to say that former generations were less rebellious — each individual rebels every time they sin for the same terrible reasons that anyone else rebels — but as rebels discover more rebels, they team up against the authority they abhor.
This is the story of every human city in the Bible. If you get enough rebellious people in one place, they will work together to rebel even harder against God. The Tower of Babel incident is the first record of this tendency in human cities.
And every city thereafter has been proof of the problem. Why are major cities the hub of the most liberal and unbiblical thinking in a nation?
Of course, the people living in those cities — the people teaming up against their authority — could never abide any of their fellow rebels being in authority. Their common bond is not a bond, it’s division — unity through animosity.
America is experiencing this as we speak. The mob wants to rule because no one individual of the mob is going to trust any of the other individuals in the mob to tell them what to do. Anarchy, democracy, and mob rule is the only way they can feel like they have the control and that no one controls them.
So, here’s the parenting application:
D. Christ-honoring parents need to help their children manage their influences.
Entertainment, the media, the internet, books, music, games, friends, school — all of those influences and more are generally going to multiply rebellion. As everyone feels that they’ve found others who “understand them” they will feel a draw to consume even more and more of the lie that we are self-autonomous, beautiful snowflakes who shouldn’t have to endure anything we find distasteful or uncomfortable.
I’m not calling us to shelter our kids, I’m calling us to equip our kids to attack lies with truth. I’m calling us to surround our kids with Truth so they will learn to spot and reject the counterfeits. And there are so many extremely loud and persuasive counterfeits out there.
This season we’re going to talk about some hard-hitting and seemingly controversial subjects on this show. But I want to explain why.
TLP has been very quiet on governmental control, riots, racism, injustice, and the like. We’re a ministry that focuses on equipping dads and moms to be the parents God called and created them to be. Just because we have a platform — just because we’re an influencer — doesn’t mean that we have to publish our position on every single issue.
But here’s why I decided to focus on these issues this season. Your kids are surrounded by all of this. They’re either interacting with it now, or they will one day be old enough to interact with it. And we parents must prepare our kids to reject lies and embrace truth.
Our children already have a natural predisposition to throw off authority. The more influences in their lives that encourage insubordination and rebellion, the more likely they’ll be to follow that wickedness in their hearts.
We parents aren’t parenting to protect our kids from Satan and the World, we should be fighting to prepare our kids to resist their own Flesh.
That’s why we’re going to talk biblically about these issues and more.
If we are going to win the spiritual war in our homes, we absolutely must know what God says on these subjects. Otherwise the rebellion in our children will grow, and they’ll connect themselves to people and ideologies that support their rebellion, and we’ll lose our kids.
It’s going to be a great season. I hope you’ll subscribe and join us for each weekly installment.
Also, if you want to have free access to a discipleship program that will beautifully dovetail everything we discuss on Truth.Love.Parent., I want to strongly encourage you to subscribe to The Celebration of God podcast.
We’re talking about how to disciple our kids for Christ. The Celebration of God is an amazing facet of that responsibility.
And please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so parents all over the world can join us in our mission to help our families thrive in God’s Word.
If you ever need help for your unique family struggle, don’t hesitate to contact us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. That means we’re going to have to teach our children to fight the rebellion in their hearts, not give in to it.
To that end, join us next time as we look at what will happen if your family does what’s right in its own eyes.
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