The Sin of Rebellion

The Bible is an historical account of mankind’s propensity to rebel. Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden of Eden. Cain rebelled against the teachings of God. All the ancient people were in rebellion except Noah. Their rebellious acts resulted in the flood. The people were rebellious again when they built the Tower of Babel causing God to scatter them throughout the land. Miriam and Aaron rebelled against Moses. Lot rebelled against Abraham. Esau rebelled against Jacob. Absalom rebelled against David. The whole world is in rebellion against God.

The seriousness of rebellion can be illustrated by the life of Saul, the first King of Israel. God had given clear instructions to Saul. “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out” (1 Sam. 15:18). But Saul decided on his own to keep some of the spoils of war and spare the life of Agag, the Amalekite king (vs. 20,21). He justified his actions by saying he kept the best of the spoils in order to make sacrifices to God. Saul would not acknowledge his own rebellion and insisted that he had obeyed the Lord. “But Samuel replied: Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry” (vss. 22,23). Rebellion may be humanity’s worst sin.

Saul rebelled because he feared the people more than he did God (vs. 24). Like Saul we may not see our own rebellion. We are rebellious when we sit in judgment of those who are over us and decide for ourselves what the right course of action should be. We criticize the government and look for ways to get around the law, when we should be praying for and submitting to governing authorities. We go to church and critique the message and the choir. The message is supposed to sit in judgment of us, and we are supposed to “worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24).

Rebellion is more than an action, it is an attitude; a problem of the heart. Standing up on the outside, while sitting down on the inside will not escape God’s notice since He looks upon the heart. David came to that understanding after his sin with Bathsheba. “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:16,17).

Dr. Neil

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