The word AUTHORITY brings a mental and physical response to us all. Face it, none of us likes to be told what to do. We want to steer our own ships. We have rights.
Unfortunately, rights come with responsibilities. And authorities come in all shapes and sizes and have a variety of flavors–some we find savory and some not so much. Throughout life we each have several authorities in our lives. Obviously parents start us on this journey and no doubt we’ve all kicked against them at some time or in some way. You remember: the rolling eyes, the sassy retort, the slammed door…just a little way of saying “No way do I like you telling me what to do.” Then there are teachers who insist we sit still, do homework, etc. . .and the ever so dreaded principal’s office. Doctors and nurses can do their share of insisting we say “AH” so they can put a stick on our tongue and peer into the abyss of our throat; and heaven forbid they decide to give us a shot. No way did I want that. Surely I have rights and can say no. In these early years, we had to do what we were told–others were bigger than us. But as we aged, we became physically equal and we assumed that made us equals in every other way. Unfortunately responsible decision making is not embedded in our DNA so that it grows as we do.
We are told to submit to authorities whether they be God or His Word, governmental rule, the family authority or work authorities. These rulers are appointed by God as protectors over us. I was taught to think of an authority as an umbrella–a protection from the storm. As long as we stay under that umbrella we are safe. For example. As long as a child stays under his/her father and mother’s authority, they provide for and protect them. God holds the parents accountable for the child and deals with the child through the parents. Once we move out from under their umbrella of protection, we stand before God on our own and He deals directly with our sin. Unfortunately, most of us do not view our authorities as a protector, which means we move ourselves out into the storm unnecessarily.
When one does not understand the role of an authority, rebellion takes place. In simple terms, that means you refuse to do what you are told to do–you think you know better and take the reins of your future into your own hands.
Five evidences of a spirit of rebellion: are bitterness, stubbornness, an unteachable spirit, undisciplined living, and argumentation.
1. Bitterness. Deuteronomy 21:18,“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him. . .” In Hebrew, the word for “rebellious” is “marah” which is translated as “bitter.” Following are some evidences that a root of bitterness may be at play.
- Difficulty in resolving conflicts
- Acts of vengeance
- Outbursts of anger
- Subtle attacks
- Condescending communication
- Suspicion and distrust
- Misuse of authority
2. Stubbornness. The literal meaning in Hebrew for stubborn is “to turn away.” A stubborn person refuses to open his/her heart because their position will collapse under the light of truth. Signs of stubbornness are:
- People would describe you as independent–standing alone against authority.
- You insist on handling things yourself.
- You would sacrifice the best to say you did it your way.
- When confronted with truth you become angry rather than repentant.
3. An unteachable spirit. Deuteronomy 21:18 tells us a rebellious son will not listen to teaching from his parents (and no doubt their boss, etc. as they mature). The word “listen” means “to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc).” If you have a teachable spirit you will be an intelligent listener or one that makes an extra effort to understand what someone is trying to teach you.
Proverbs 15:31-33 says, “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility. The signs of a teachable spirit are:
4. Undisciplined lifestyle. “They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” (Deuteronomy. 21:20) Profligate means to be loose morally which is undisciplined activity. Drunkenness, over spending, over eating, no regard for time or appointments, slothfulness, laziness, etc. are just some of the indicators of a lack of self discipline.
5. An argumentative spirit. Proverbs 26:21,“As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.”
Manifestations of rebellion in our lives will place us in a position of bondage or slavery. Sometimes that may be an emotional or financial bondage; other times it may be a physical bondage. But rest assured, an authority will give you wings when you line up under their authority but will take measures to restrict your movement if you are kicking against their umbrella of protection. This is easy to picture when we think of someone breaking a law and having to stand before a judge in chains. Obviously they have rebelled against an authority. While you may be obeying the laws of the land, if you are in rebellion to the other authorities in your life (e.g., a husband, boss, etc. you will feel the pinch of bondage). When this type of rebellion enters in, the relationship begins to crumble. If you have a relationship that is crumbling, look to these five areas in your life and see if there is any correction needed.
I was taught “Foolish children bring grief to their father and bitterness to the one who gave them birth” (Proverbs 17:25 & 10:1). This is a good standard for making decisions. If it would make your parents proud of you–it is the right path. If it causes them grief or bitterness, you are on dangerous ground.
Unfortunately rebellion and its attributes have strong roots that wrap their tentacles around our hearts and minds. They direct our actions in inappropriate ways. We’ve all fallen victim at one time or another. They are tools/weapons that Satan forms against us because He desires we be in emotional, spiritual, mental and physical bondage. Determine before God that you will humble yourself and make amends where you have allowed rebellion into your heart and life (your relationships) and watch the chains fall away.