Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.”
The most difficult people to deal with in the church are those who are rebellious. Rebellious people think they can “teach the teacher” and be everyone’s “speck inspector.” However, just like with the rebellious hypocrites in Jesus’ day, they fail to see the “log” in their own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). They willfully forget that it is God’s will for them to submit to leaders in the church (Acts 14:23).
Rebellion was the greatest challenge of my spiritual life because it convinced me that I was right and everyone else was wrong. I believed that I knew better than those who were in leadership over me because of my own personal convictions. I failed to follow the command God gave in Hebrews 13:17, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
Certainly, there are times we shouldn’t submit to leaders- like if they try to harm us, willingly sin against us, break the law or teach false doctrines. However, like in the time of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16:1-35, most rebellion in the Body of Christ is based on people trying to arrogantly make themselves equal or above the leadership God has set up. The Lord punished Korah for rebelling against Moses by opening the earth and swallowing him, along with sending fire to consume 250 of his followers (because rebellious people never work alone). Jude warned in the New Testament of these “Korah-like” people in his letter to the churches in Jude 1:11.
Rebellious people should always be avoided, especially in the church because God will never bless what He said He would curse.
Paul wrote in Titus 3:10-11, “10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” Disciples shouldn’t be in relationship with people that are considered rebellious and divisive because godly leadership is appointed by God to serve as our protective shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-8).
Here are some signs of rebellion to watch out for in people; (1) They cannot receive correction without being bitter (Proverbs 17:10). (2) A pattern of trying to teach the teachers (Hebrews 13:7). (3) Judging other people based on personal convictions instead of the Bible (Romans 14:10). (4) They are divisive and slanderous because of “self-righteousness” (2 Corinthians 12:19-20).
The solution to rebellion is humility. Those who desire to avoid rebellion should joyfully submit and serve the godly leadership God has placed over them (Romans 16:17-19). If for whatever reason a person believes their leadership is no longer biblically based they should bring their issues respectfully before the leadership as Jesus commanded in Matthew 18:15-19. And if the church is not willing to address the important issues, they should leave and let God handle it (Romans 14:4). But for everything else that is not sinful, the disciple should be a joy to the community of believers and not a burden.
Do you struggle with being rebellious, especially in the church? If so, pray this out loud, “Father, forgive me for being rebellious and prideful towards your appointed leadership. Help me to love as much of the church as you do and to humbly serve alongside my elders and deacons; just as Timothy served with Paul in Philippians 2:20-23. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Are you rebellious?
- Repent if you have been rebellious towards godly leadership in the church. Francis Frangipane wrote, “You say, ‘Well, I am not going to be anyone’s ‘yes man.’ If I see something wrong in a person, I’m going to warn others about it.’ Fine. But beware that what you are calling ‘courage to speak out’ is not more truly a deception masking a rebellious, dishonouring attitude.”
- Pray for the leadership of your church.
- Desire to be a good leader so people will follow you, as you follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
One Year Reading Plan
Jeremiah 51:1-53, Titus 2:1-15, Psalm 99:1-9, & Proverbs 26:17. Click here to read online.