Monday, November 1, 2021

The Nature Of Rebellion

 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” –  Genesis 2:15-17

As I was baking some scones the other day – not thinking about much, really – which is why I like to bake – the word “rebellion” came to mind – then Adam and Eve – then children – then me. Consider Adam and Eve. They knew the rules didn’t they? There was just one rule, really. “.. but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” And it was for their good that God made the rule.  But something happened didn’t it? They began to question God’s wisdom and His motives for making the rule. The seed of rebellion began to take root.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” – Genesis 3:1-6

So, there it is. The benevolent God said and mankind reasoned that perhaps God was not benevolent. That His motive was not in their best interest, but His. You know what happened after that.  It is called the fall of Man. Adam and Eve rebelled and were ejected from the Garden – no longer walking with God. There were consequences to their choices. Consequences that they, and we, had to live with. God did not prevent it. But did have a plan. Not to pretend it didn’t happen – but to give mankind another choice to choose life and restore a broken relationship.  That restoration came at a great price – Jesus on the Cross.

Then there are our children. Children are very trusting when they are young. But then something happens. They enter adolescence. They begin to question the wisdom of their parents and their motives.  They no longer see the rules as safety but as barriers. They want to know the reasoning for the rules – for the parents’ decisions. That the parents should justify themselves. Questioning parental authority. Then comes the mistrust and their desire to make their own rules which they deem better. Just like the Garden, they choose to go their own way.  The pain and trouble their parents wanted them to avoid falls on them. Still they will not turn back to their parents, but in wanting to prove they are right, they continue to make the same decisions and suffer the consequences. There may even be separation – perhaps they will no longer live in the “garden”, but will be on their own.  I can remember my older sisters saying, often, “I can wait to get out of this house.” I also remember asking one of my children when they didn’t like a rule, “I suppose you think that I sit around dreaming up ways I can deny your happiness and mess your life up?” At least it seemed that is what they thought. They were determined to go left when I said they needed to go right. Their rebellion did not cause me to stop loving them.  Just like God did not stop loving us. And there was a way for reconciliation and restoration – but that would require repentance. And that did not happen right away. But parents are much like the father of the prodigal son looking for his son’s return.

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20

What we are not told in the parable is that in order for the father to see him, the father had to be looking. I imagine that the father looked often in hopes that his son would return. Perhaps you are looking down that road – hoping. Don’t lose heart -  trust that God will do a work in your child’s heart and they will remember the love they have abandoned to go their own way.

And then I thought about me. I am no different from my children nor from Adam. Rebellion is part of our old nature. We are born with a rebellious spirit that begins to show itself even as a toddler, but does not come to full bloom until a little later in life.  I was reminded that ….

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” – Romans 3:23

Because of our sin nature there are things in all of our lives, yours and mine, that are regrettable and cannot be undone – perhaps to our shame and great sorrow.  But they can be forgiven.  God will not necessarily undo the consequences of those things – but God can restore relationships and set our feet on a new course. It begins with a broken and contrite heart before God – then towards others. Or what I say is that the pigs food has to look good before someone is ready to yield their heart. “And he [the prodigal son] would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.” (Luke 15:18)

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.” – Psalm 51:16-17

I so wish I could reach back in time and undo some of the things that I have done and even prevent some of the pain my children have experienced because of their choices – not for my sake but for theirs.  But that is not possible. But thank God – we can be made new – we can find forgiveness – we may not forget but in remembering we should rejoice that we are forgiven. I often quote John Newton and I will again to close this.

I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” – John Newton

Let it be said for all of us as well.

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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