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From Rebellion to Restoration

From Rebellion to Restoration

Last week we looked at a spirit of rebellion and noticed how prevalent it is in our society, and even in our own lives. To be controlled by a spirit of rebellion puts us in the kingdom of Satan and opens us up to other demons.

Proverbs 17:11 An evil man seeks only rebellion, therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

A cruel messenger could be a demon. Anyone who is unsaved and rebels against God is a candidate for demonic influence. According to the New Testament, demons cause many of the behaviors we see today and some physical and mental conditions we incorrectly call “illnesses”. Satan has blinded us to his activity by making us wise in our own eyes, thinking we can cure these “illnesses” with drugs, when what people really need is Jesus and His deliverance.

We need to be aware of the real enemy and fight with the appropriate weapons.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Today we will look at two questions that are more personal: Why do believers rebel against the Lord? And more importantly, how can we restore our fellowship with God after rebelling?

First, let consider what causes our rebellion. There are many different reasons that people walk away from God’s plan for their lives. For the sake of time, we will only look at three common motivations for disobeying Him.

1. Impatience. Genesis 15:4-6 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him (Abram): “This man (his servant) shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

God promised Abram a son. Initially, he believed the LORD and what He said; and God counted Abram’s faith as righteousness. But ten years pass. Abram is 85 years old and Sarai is 75. Still no children and they have become impatient. In the natural sense, the promise seems hopeless. Waiting on the LORD seems foolish and a waste of valuable time. At this rate, they will never have children. Sarai has an idea of how to accomplish their desire for an heir.

Genesis 16:1-4 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.

We can understand the impatience of Abram and Sarai because we are just like them. We pray and pray for something and we have not received it. We get tired of waiting. When we see another way to accomplish or get something we want, we rationalize our impatience by deceiving ourselves that God approves our disobedience as a way of answering our prayer. That is rebellion, because like Adam and Eve, King Saul, and so many others, we don’t think God meant what He said and we have a better and quicker way of acquiring our desire.

Even when our rebellion doesn’t result in demon possession, there are severe consequences. What was the immediate consequence of Abram obeying his wife instead of trusting in God? Immediately, there was strife in his home. When Sarai saw that Hagar had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress, who was now Abram’s second wife. The strife became so severe that Abram eventually put Hagar and his son, Ishmael, out of his home. But that was not the end of the consequences.

Genesis 17:15-21 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

At first, it sounds like Abraham got away with his impatient rebellion because he was blessed with two sons. But God made it clear that Ishmael was not the son of promise nor would he have a covenant with God.

This is what God said about Ishmael: Genesis 16:12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

As a result, not only did Abraham have strife in his home, there would be strife between his two sons and their decedents. We see that strife in the Bible, throughout history, and today in the Middle East.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

That is hard to do in our own strength. It was hard for Abraham. Sometimes in our impatience, we try to make God’s promises happen apart from His timing and leadership. That is rebellion!

Fortunately, Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be in us. The fruit of the Spirit includes patience. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will have the grace and power and strength to be patient and wait for the Lord.

2. Fear. Isaac was born and became the father of Jacob, who had twelve sons. Due to a famine, they all went to Egypt and fell into slavery for 400 years. God sent Moses to deliver them from slavery and lead them back to the Promise Land. When they arrived at the Promise Land, 12 spies were sent to scout the land and its inhabitants for 40 days.

Numbers 13:25-33 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

Instead of believing in God’s promise to give the land to them, most of the people feared entering the land. It was theirs. God miraculously freed them from slavery and brought them there by performing many more miracles. God’s leadership and timing for entering the land was NOW, but they rebelled because they were afraid. Rebellion, regardless of the reason, has consequences. What was the result of their fear and rebellion?

Numbers 14:1-12 Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” 

Moses interceded for the people and pleaded with God not to destroy them for His Name sake. God relented. However, the generation that feared and rebelled never entered the Promised Land. They wandered in the desert for 40 years and died, just like they wished when they rebelled.

Fear is the opposite of faith. Like the Israelites, many people focus on circumstances instead of simply obeying God’s instructions. They look at all the reasons why His plans will fail. Like the Israelites, rebelling against the Lord, because we are afraid, will cause us to miss the Lord’s promise and cause us to be rejected by the Lord.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Fear is not from God. Fear is from Satan, who uses it to make us doubt God and disobey Him. When you are afraid, realize where it comes from and get with God. Pour out your heart to Him and He will strengthen your faith. He will protect you and lead you victoriously when it is His time to fulfill His promise.

Psalm 62:5-8 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

3. Greed.  1 Timothy 6:6-11 But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

Money talks, they say. Maybe it does, but I am not sure money has a very large vocabulary. All I’ve ever heard it say is “good-bye”.

But if money could speak, it might give us this warning: “You hold me in your hand and call me yours. However, could I not as well call you mine? See how easily I rule you. To gain me, you sacrifice all but your life. I am invaluable as rain, essential as water. Without me, men and institutions would die. Yet, I am not the giver of life; I am futile without the stamp of your desire. I go nowhere unless you send me. I keep strange company. For me, men mock, love, and scorn character. Yet, I am appointed to the service of missionaries, to give education and food to the poor. My power is terrific. Handle me carefully and wisely, lest you become my servant, rather than I become yours.”

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Why is money so often portrayed as God's primary competition? Because we look to money to do the very things for us that only God can do. We want more money instead of more of God. That is rebellion against God, and that is what causes the “many griefs” that torment those who focus on becoming wealthy.

I could preach a whole sermon on greed, but for time’s sake we need to know what we can do to restore our relationship with God after we have rebelled against Him. There are three steps we need to take. (By the way, these steps must be taken to restore any relationship.)

Step 1. Confession. Admit you have rebelled against God and tell Him so. God knows you rebelled, but He is waiting to hear you acknowledge it.

Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Ultimately, confessing is agreeing with God that He was right, but don’t just give mental assent to it. If there is an area of your life where you have rebelled against God’s will for you, don’t hesitate to confess your sin to Him. He will be faithful to forgive you according to 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Step 2. Repentance. Confession admits sin. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of behavior. Admitting you were wrong, saying you are sorry, and continuing to do the same thing is not repentance and does not lead to salvation or restoration. That is only mental assent that you are a sinner. Without repentance, you are still in rebellion against God.

Ezekiel 18:30-32 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

God wants those He loves and who rebel against Him to repent so they can be saved and be restored to a right relationship with Him again. Then He can bless us. Our intimacy with God will never grow to its full potential unless we are willing to repent and continue to walk in repentance.

Step 3. Restoration. Rebellion against God harms every aspect of our lives, including relationships with others, our careers, our finances, and our health. It causes us to be rejected by God. But our relationship and fellowship with Him can be restored after we have confessed and repented from our sin and rebellion.

Restoration is the process of returning to wholeness in every area of life and it often includes restitution (compensation, reimbursement, repayment of some kind). For example, Zaccheus’s desire to make restitution demonstrated that his change of heart was genuine.

Restoration may mean physical, emotional, or spiritual healing that takes the rest of our life. We often want immediate restoration after we have confessed our sin. We think or say, “Well, I said I was sorry. What more do you want?” That is still a rebellious attitude.

Again, restoration is a process that requires complete dedication of our life to Jesus Christ. We are no longer in control, no longer ruling our life. We are living in complete obedience to Him.

Jeremiah 15:19 Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them.

The best way to guard against rebelling from God’s will is to remain in close fellowship with Him. We do that through daily Scripture reading and prayer. That way, our mind will be renewed daily with His perspective. Satan’s ability to deceive us will be diminished.

Furthermore, we need to ask God daily to fill us with the Holy Spirit so that we will have His patience, courage, contentment, leadership, and power over the spirit of rebellion. If we begin to sense the temptation to be impatient, doubtful, fearful, greedy, or selfish, quickly admit it, rebuke it in Jesus’ Name, repent, and run to God in faith and obedience. That is restoration living.

All of us have to make this journey from rebellion to restoration with God. We begin by believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God who atoned for our sin on the cross. Then we take the three steps of faith by making a public confession, repenting of our sin and self-rule, signified by our obedience in baptism. Then we are born again of the Holy Spirit, who leads us daily in this walk of restoration with God.