Bible Topics: Willfulness and rebelliousness

Definitions: Willfulness is stubborn determination to have one’s own way rather than God’s way. Rebelliousness is defiance, disobedience or open opposition to Godly authority or control.

1. Rebellion against what is right — is wrong!

* 1 Samuel 15:23a For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

* James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

2. Rebelliousness refuses to listen to God or His people.

* 1 Samuel 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us.

* Nehemiah 9:16,17a,26a [Nehemiah recounted the rebellions of his forebears:] But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to Thy commandments, 17a And refused to obey, neither were mindful of Thy wonders that Thou didst among them; but hardened their necks. … 26a Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against Thee, and cast Thy law behind their backs.

* Isaiah 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of Me … that they may add sin to sin.

* Jeremiah 32:33 And they have turned unto Me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.

* Jeremiah 44:16 [The people rebelled against the prophet Jeremiah’s constant warnings:] As for the Word that thou hast spoken unto us in the Name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee.

* Zechariah 7:11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

* Matthew 23:37 [Jesus lamented:] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.

* Acts 7:51-3,57,59a [The rebellious religionists rallied and thought they could silence Stephen by killing him, after he exposed them by telling them:] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of Whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, … 59a And they stoned Stephen.

3. The Devil was the first rebel, and continues to try to incite rebellion against God.

* Isaiah 14:12-15 [The story of the Devil’s rebellion and his condemnation:] How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, to the sides of the pit.

* Matthew 13:38,39a The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the Kingdom; but the tares are the children of the Wicked One; 39a The enemy that sowed them is the Devil.

* Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. [See also 5:6 and Colossians 3:6; Isaiah 57:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4.]

* 1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that Wicked One [the Devil], and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

4. Those who rebel against the Lord’s ordained leadership are rebelling against the Lord.

* Exodus 16:8b And Moses said [to the people who were murmuring against him] … the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against Him: and what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.

* 1 Samuel 8:7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

5. The rebellious separate themselves so much from the Lord that He stops speaking to them!

* Deuteronomy 1:43a,45 [Moses said to the Children of Israel:] So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord. … 45 And ye returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.

* 2 Chronicles 15:2b The Lord is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you.

* Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

* Proverbs 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

6. The rebellious, in following their own independent way, are taking the hard way.

* Psalm 68:6b The rebellious dwell in a dry land.

* Psalm 95:9-11 When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My work. 10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest.

* Psalm 89:30-32 If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments; 31 If they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments; 32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

* Psalm 107:11,12 Because they rebelled against the Words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.

* Proverbs 1:24-26 Because I [God] have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.

* Proverbs 13:15b The way of transgressors is hard.

* Jeremiah 2:19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.

* 2 Peter 2:19-22 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

7. Willfulness leads to disobedience, rebelliousness and eventual backsliding.

* Proverbs 14:14a The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.

* Isaiah 65:2 I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts.

* Jeremiah 7:24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

* James 1:23,24 For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

8. Willfulness limits usefulness.

* Psalm 32:9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

* Titus 1:7a For a bishop [shepherd] must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled.

* 2 Peter 2:10 [Self-will is the product of pride and carnality.] Them that walk after the flesh … presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

9. Willfulness and rebelliousness cost dearly.

* 1 Samuel 15:23 [King Saul’s rebellion cost him the throne:] For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.

* 2 Samuel 24:4,10 [King David stubbornly refused to listen to reason, and went his own way, taking a national census in disobedience to God:] Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel [take a census]. 10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech Thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. [David’s willful disobedience cost the lives of 70,000 men, see verses 11-25.]

* 2 Chronicles 35:22,23,24a [King Josiah of Judah insisted in fighting a battle which God didn’t want him to fight, and it cost him his life:] Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho [king of Egypt] from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. 24a His servants therefore … put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died.

* Job 9:4b Who hath hardened himself against Him, and hath prospered?

* Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone [Jesus] shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

10. God often deals very sternly with those who persistently rebel against Him.

* 1 Samuel 12:15a But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you.

* Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

* Isaiah 63:10 But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.

* Luke 12:47,48b [The more truth we know, the more accountable we are to obey it.] And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes. … 48b For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

* 2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12 Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

* Hebrews 10:26,27,31 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  • 11. Some safeguards against rebellion:
  • * Psalm 141:5a [King David prayed for the Lord to use others to correct him:] Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.

    * Proverbs 19:25 [Openly reproving the rebellious at least serves as a warning to others.] Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

    * Matthew 18:15-17 [Jesus gave the basic guidelines for correcting wrongs among brethren:] Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

    * Ephesians 4:15 [Good honest, firm, but loving communication creates an environment for spiritual growth.] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.

    * Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

    * Hebrews 3:7-13 [We must warn those who are self-willed and walking in rebellion, before it’s too late.] Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. 11 So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into my Rest.) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    12. If willfulness is the problem, submission to God is the solution.

    * Isaiah 64:8 [The prophet Isaiah exclaimed:] But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand.

    * Luke 1:38b [Young Mary prayed:] Be it unto me according to Thy Word.

    * John 3:30 [John the Baptist said:] He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.

    * Romans 6:13,16 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

    * Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

    * James 4:7a,8a Submit yourselves therefore to God. … 8a Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.

    13. Jesus showed by example that we must choose God’s will over our own.

    * Matthew 6:10b [Jesus taught us to pray in this way:] Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.

    * Luke 22:42,43 [Even Jesus honestly confessed that He didn’t want to die on the cross, but He yielded anyway, and God sent Him strength from Heaven:] Saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto Him from Heaven, strengthening Him.

    * John 5:30 [Jesus said:] I can of Mine Own self do nothing … because I seek not Mine Own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.

    * John 6:38 For I came down from Heaven, not to do Mine Own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.

    14. The grace to forsake our own will comes from a sincere desire to please the Lord.

    * Psalm 40:8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart. [See also 112:1; 119:16.]

    * John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

    * Romans 7:22 [Paul testified:] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.

    * Ephesians 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

    15. Our every plan should be subject to the will of God. — Let Him have the final say.

    * 2 Samuel 15:26b [King David said:] Behold, here am I, let Him [the Lord] do to me as seemeth good unto Him.

    * Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?

    * James 4:13-15 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

    * Hebrews 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

    16. Our happiness and well-being depend upon our choosing the path of obedience and submission to God rather than the path of rebelliousness.

    * Numbers 14:8,9a If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9a Only rebel not ye against the Lord.

    * Deuteronomy 11:26-28a Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: 28a And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God.

    * Psalm 43:3,4 O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. 4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee, O God my God.

    * Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

    * Isaiah 1:19,20 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

    Copyright (c) 1998 by Aurora Productions

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