Quiet Rebellion

A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Sunday, February 19, 2023.

For the “Live in Church” audio of this message, click here.

Pastor Gus Brown has been bringing messages over the last couple of weeks about God’s warnings for people to heed and obey His messages. 

Are you listening?  Not just for what Gus said, but are you paying attention to the admonitions of God’s Word?

Proverbs 8:32-36 NLT

32 “And so, my children, listen to me,

    for all who follow my ways are joyful.

33 Listen to my instruction and be wise.

    Don’t ignore it.

34 Joyful are those who listen to me,

    watching for me daily at my gates,

    waiting for me outside my home!

35 For whoever finds me finds life

    and receives favor from the Lord.

36 But those who miss me injure themselves.

    All who hate me love death.”

If there is one constant that God puts forth about His Word, it is that He calls for everyone to listen to Him and heed His words, but He also knows the hearts of those who choose not to follow Him.

At one time, I was one of those people.  If we are all honest about this, we were all in this category at a time in our lives.  In our own flesh, we readily committed sin after sin.

Be honest.

1 John 1:8 ESV

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Romans 3:23 CSB

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Notice that there is a much higher standard that confronts us in our sin.  Our lifestyle in the flesh does not hold up well against God’s standards.  It will always fall short of God’s standard because of the hardness of our hearts.  Our challenge lies in where our hearts are.

This is not about your physical heart, which typically beats anywhere from 60 to 100 beats per minute, and it will beat faster during exercise in order to pump your blood throughout your body where your blood carries oxygen to your muscles.1  Everyone’s heart operates in the same manner.  What isn’t the same for everyone is the spiritual side of the heart.  God’s view of the state of your heart, from a spiritual perspective, is what the Lord deems most important.

Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

The heart is deceitful above all things,

    and desperately sick;

    who can understand it?

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

The Bible considers the heart to be the center of one’s personality, and it produces those things that encompass the thoughts from the mind.2

What God has seen about the hearts of those who do not heed his Word is far from complimentary.

Mark 7:21-23 ESV

21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

These are all characteristics of a hardened heart.

The symptoms of those with hardened hearts should be very troubling.  The most troubling matter is that those who have hardened hearts are unaware of their sickness.

Ephesians 4:18 ESV

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Matthew 13:14-15 ESV

14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

This passage shows that there is a way out for those who turn from their transgression.  Hardened hearts will receive God’s mercy through repentance and forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 CSB

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It is God’s character that He exercises mercy and draws us near to Himself; but we need to see that He only extends this mercy when we make the first move to show that we need Him in our lives.  Those with hardened hearts make decisions, sometimes over and over again, that they do not want God or, even worse, want nothing to do with Him.

So with this information, allow yourself to do some personal reflection on this.  Hardened hearts can happen with believers in Jesus as well as non-believers:

Mark 8:14-21 NLT

14 But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. 15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? 19 When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”

“Twelve,” they said.

20 “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

“Seven,” they said.

21 “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.

Even believers in Jesus can be negatively impacted by the lures of the cares of this world (Mark 4:18-19).

A specific characteristic that involves the hardness of hearts is rebellion.

Rebellion is any opposition to authority.  It may be overt (out in the open) or covert (kept to oneself), or it may be warlike or peaceful.3  In each instance, the mind is determined to go in the opposite direction from obedience to God and to His will.  The first recorded sin in the Bible was a sin of rebellion (Genesis 3).  Rebellion is an act of selfishness.  It sometimes comes out of a person in the form of arrogance.  It is the opposite of humility and empathy, and it only breeds confusion and more progressive acts of sin.

Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

James 3:16 NLT

For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

Any acts that are outside of God’s will and obedience to His Word are acts of rebellion.

A subset of rebellion is foolishness.  There are warnings throughout Scripture about foolish behavior, and each warning is consistent as to the negative outcome for those who practice foolishness.  Fools repel the truth of God’s Word.

Proverbs 1:7 KJV

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Note that foolishness is also how to describe those who fail to accept God’s wisdom and authority:

1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

The word “spiritual” in this passage can also refer to those “who don’t have the Holy Spirit,” or those who only have physical life.  Those who possess the saving power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not perceive His Word as folly or foolishness.  The natural man who operates in the flesh holds that believing in God is foolish.

The more concerning issue with rebellion is the more covert act of indifference towards God.  This is my opinion—of all of the acts of rebellion against God, this one is especially dangerous.  Why?  Because those who give off indifference over God do not think this is an issue or a problem.  They do not know that this behavior will never be accepted by God, and they do not know that it leads to eternal judgment where they will not be in fellowship with Him once they pass away.

The issue is the righteousness of God versus the perception of righteousness that men and women believe that they have.  Men and women who trust only in themselves are greatly deceived.  Satan has them in a “quiet” place where they are not contemplating the consequences of failing to accept Jesus as Lord.  You don’t consider Jesus if you believe that your good works are sufficient or that being a good person is enough to get by.  They fail to see that they are in the bondage of sin.

It is a quiet path to one’s personal destruction.

Romans 3:10-12, 18-20 NLT

10 As the Scriptures say,

   “No one is righteous—

    not even one.

11 No one is truly wise;

    no one is seeking God.

12 All have turned away;

    all have become useless.

   No one does good,

    not a single one.”

18 “They have no fear of God at all.”

19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

When measuring our good works against God’s Word, we will never measure up.

The Holy Spirit speaks to every person.  He even speaks to those who are in a state of quiet rebellion.  If only they would consider the words of the prophet Isaiah in his appeal to God:

Isaiah 64:5-9 ERV

5 You welcome people who enjoy doing good and who remember you

    by living the way you want them to.

But we sinned against you,

    and you became angry with us.

    But you always saved us!

6 We are all dirty with sin.

    Even our good works are not pure.

    They are like bloodstained rags.

We are all like dead leaves.

    Our sins have carried us away like wind.

7 We don’t call to you for help.

We aren’t excited about following you,

    so you have turned away from us.

We are helpless before you,

    because we are full of sin.

8 But, Lord, you are our father.

    We are like clay, and you are the potter.

    Your hands made us all.

9 Lord, don’t continue to be angry with us!

    Don’t remember our sins forever!

Please, look at us!

    We are all your people.

There are people all around us that are in a state of quiet rebellion against God.

The Lord is not pleased with anyone who chooses rebellion, but He readily accepts those who humble themselves before Him.

Proverbs 28:13-14 WEB

13 He who conceals his sins doesn’t prosper,

    but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

14 Blessed is the man who always fears;

    but one who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

The man who fears what?  Well, the original Hebrew in that section of the passage does not mention God specifically, although it is implied in that the word “fear” refers to a sense of reverence.  We are to be a people who respect the words of God and to take the necessary actions to follow His Word.  It is wise to do this. 

Let us always remember that our prayers for those in a state of quiet rebellion changes things.  It is God’s will for everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Hardened hearts need God’s softening touch.

Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Psalm 51:10 ESV

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

God wants you to know that He chose you from the beginning, and that He wants you to flourish in your fellowship with Him.  Too often, those who do not follow God believe that they don’t need God.  May we pray that those persons we know in this state be released from Satan’s bondage and experience the freedom of Jesus Christ.

John 8:31-36 NLT

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

A slave of sin is not a permanent member of God’s family.  Only believers in Jesus are permanent members of the family.  There is freedom in Jesus because He secures our eternity with Him.

Pray for the freedom of your family, friends and peers.  And don’t stop.  The Holy Spirit is continually working to secure those who seek His freedom of salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Titus 3:3-7 NLT

3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4 But—

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

Remain faithful in prayer that the Spirit will intercede and bring those in rebellion—even those in quiet rebellion—to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

He is faithful.

Copyright © 2023 Melvin Gaines

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). How the heart beats. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart/heart-beats

2 GotQuestions.org. (2011, September 15) “What are the causes and solutions for a hardened heart?” (2011, September 15). Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.gotquestions.org/hardened-heart.html.

3 GotQuestions.org. (2017, November 29). What does the Bible say about rebellion? GotQuestions.org. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-rebellion.html

Categories Christian Studies, Christianity, Church, message, Sermon, The BibleTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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