Winter solitary fenceline

A Rebel At Heart


Rebellion is a major problem in the lives of many counselees. A majority of the issues that bring a person into biblical counseling can be directly related to some issue of rebellion in their life. The typical scenario is something that is out of order has been revealed either through personal reading of the word of God, a sermon, or someone has come to them out of concern. I wish I could say otherwise, but the human tendency when confronted by another Christian about an area of sin is usually anger and defensiveness instead of humility and self-examination. This just complicates the matter and reveals the level of rebellion within that person’s heart.

Rebellion is indeed a heinous sin. 1 Samuel 15:23 says rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft in the eyes of God, and stubbornness is the same as idolatry. I think learning this shocks people. As Christians, we cannot for one moment excuse rebellion toward God. The sin of rebellion begins within the heart before it is ever visible in a person’s life. Rebellion at the heart is idolatry because the person is focusing on their own wishes and desires, and elevating them above what they know to be God’s wishes and desires as found in the Bible.

Consider King Saul. Saul, son of Kish was Israel’s first King. God rejected Saul as king because he was self-centered, self-willed, and utterly disobedient to the things of God. Numerous times in the book of 1 Samuel it is written how Saul disobeyed God. He was a rebel at heart.

While God will never rejects those he has regenerated and filled with his Holy Spirit, we do receive consequences that are often serious for rebelling against God. One of the most serious consequences we receive is that of a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:1 – 2). This is the point where God turns the person over to their sin and lets them have their own way. This is a terrible and frightening place to be.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

Most people who are living in rebellion know it even if they do not admit it. They are miserable, unhappy, unsettled within, and often angry. This is because they are being convicted, but do not want to answer the call of the Holy Spirit to repent. Repentance is the only way to deal with rebellion.

You can begin by doing what the psalmist did in Psalm 139:23 – 24 and ask God to search your heart. Ask God to turn you inside out and to help you see your rebellion for what it is. As he shows you the areas of your heart that are hardened because of your continual disobedience, confess to him your sin, confess to him your stubborn pride, your refusal to obey, your dishonor of him, and tell him that you want to change.

Change does not always come easily, especially after prolonged periods of rebellion. You may have developed certain habitual patterns that you will have to break. This is where the help of a discipleship partner or a biblical counselor can come in handy. I no longer recommend “accountability partners” because very often those kinds of relationships go nowhere. The person who is chosen for accountability is often a friend who is unwilling to jeopardize the friendship by truly holding the other person accountable for their sin. Having a genuine Galatians 6:1 relationship is what is necessary if you are truly willing to repent from rebellion and idolatrous living.

Repentance must begin in the heart, and it is more than simply stopping the wrong behavior. When a person is truly repentant of their rebellion there is an internal brokenness that causes them to be humble before God. Humility is a sure sign that changes are being made in the heart, and these changes will lead to a new and satisfying life that is focused on worshiping, loving, and glorifying God.