Just as obedience is a decision to make, so is rebellion. Every individual will make an ultimate decision as to whether he or she will live a life of obedience or a life of rebellion. In the path of decisions, there will be choices made, and those choices will for the most part correspond with the decisions. From time to time people have made choices that were contrary to their overall decision; but in the end, they will repent and seek a course correction. Each according to the decision they have made over all. Interestingly enough, those who have decided upon rebellion will walk in just enough obedience to rationalize their rebellion.
With rebellion comes self-deception and denial. The self-deception is that the individual becomes a god unto himself. Everything that he says and does is ultimately self-serving. Because he wants others to think he is good, he will do good works in order to glorify himself. Everything he does works to his advantage in order to gain favor with others. It is the counterfeit to God’s true favor, and is nothing more than manipulation. Simply put, he does things so people will feel obliged to pay homage and do service in return. Deeds with strings attached are not good works; they are dead works. The self-deception is the belief that these so called good works somehow balance out the rebellion. How often have people done acts of kindness to cover their true intentions and evil deeds? How many have the mindset that if they are not hurting others, they deserve to go to heaven? How many believe they do enough good to deserve it?
Question: When people manipulate others, are they not actually causing harm? Does it not interfere with freewill? So when a person says that they do not hurt other people, yet manipulates them even in subtle ways, is that an honest statement? Because of the self-deception involved, in their mind it is an honest statement. Again, in the art of rebellion there is just enough obedience involved to rationalize disobedience. Similarly, it is using a factual statement to reinforce a lie. A biblical illustration would be king Saul’s disobedience. In 1Samuel 15:3 we read, “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” As we continue on, we find that the Lord said that he did not perform his commandments, and yet Saul said that he did. While he may have done some things, he did not comply with everything, in fact, very little. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly" (KJV).
Of course, rebellion also employs rationalization and blame of others in order to hide the deception from the deceived. In turn, it hides the rebellion behind others, thus shielding oneself from exposure to the truth. Saul used the oldest trick in the book, the same one that Adam used in Genesis 3:12 where he blamed the woman. In the case of Saul, he blamed the people. Essentially saying, the people did it. Rebellion often uses false repentance with its primary aim of getting off the hook and saving face. Initially in First Samuel 15:24 it would appear as if Saul was owning up to what he done, and in verse 25 it seemed that his motives were pure, “Pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.” When his plea was rejected, his true motive would be exposed. “I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God” (1Samuel 15:30). He still wanted the honor of his people, and the status quo. It also revealed something even worse, separation from God. Notice that Saul said, “The Lord thy God.” He did not say, “The Lord my God.” Saul essentially had other gods before him. This is not the only rebellion that Saul was involved with; 1Samuel reveals several other instances. We can see these same principles found in each of them. Regardless of Saul’s rationalization, God called it rebellion and it cost Saul his throne and ultimately his life. We need to put rebellion in proper perspective, and see it from God’s point of view: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1Samuel 15:23). We are to do all things as unto the Lord for the glory of God. We honor the Son so that we may also honor the Father. How many publicly honor the Son so that people will honor them instead? It is like a young child who says, “Look at me!” Please understand when people are caught in that trap, they are not necessarily in rebellion. Sometimes it is the result of affirmation issues resulting from wounds that need healing. For those who are in rebellion, it is still a cover-up for their true motives. Remember, the imagination of man’s heart was evil from his youth (see Genesis 6:5; 8:21). God gives us new heart so that we may live a life of obedience.
This is an excerpt from "The Art Of Blessing."