The manifestation of man’s rebellion (1)
Where is man’s rebellion practically manifested? First, it is manifested in words. Second, it is manifested in reasons. Third, it is manifested in the thoughts. In order to be delivered from rebellion, we must first deal with these three things. Otherwise, rebellion cannot be truly dealt with.
Words being the outlet of the heart
If a man is rebellious, his words surely will reveal rebellion. Sooner or later rebellious words will come out of his mouth, because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. In order to know authority, a man must first meet authority. If a man has not met authority, he will never be able to submit. It is useless to merely listen to messages on submission. A man must at one time meet God, and then the basis of God’s authority will be established in him. When he speaks, he will know if a word of disobedience comes out. Even before the word comes out, the thought of it will give him an uneasy feeling. He will realize that he has stepped beyond his boundary and that there is a restraining within him. If a man speaks words of rebellion carelessly without any restraining within, he must be one who has never met authority. It is much easier for a man to speak in rebellion than to act in rebellion.
The tongue is the thing that is the hardest to tame. Therefore, when a man rebels against authority, the tongue will show it immediately. Perhaps one agrees with you in your presence, but when the back is turned reviling words will come out. No words may be spoken up front, but the mouth is filled with words when the back is turned. This is because the mouth is so available. Everyone in the world today is rebellious. Mostly people pay lip service and submit outwardly. But in the church there should not be just outward submission; all submission should come from the heart. If you want to know whether or not a man is submissive in heart, see if he is submissive in words. God requires a submission of the heart from us. We have to meet God’s authority or the problem will explode sooner or later.
Eve adding carelessly to God’s word
When Eve was tempted in Genesis 3, she added a few words: “Neither shall ye touch it” (v. 3). We have to realize the seriousness of this matter. If man knows God’s authority, he will not dare add to God’s word. The word of God is clear enough. “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it” (2:16-17). God did not say, “Neither shall ye touch it.” Those words were added by Eve. Whoever changes God’s word by adding to or deleting from it proves that he has never met authority. Such a one is surely rebellious and unlearned. If a government sends a person as a representative to speak a word at a certain place, that person must remember precisely the words that he is to speak. He must not add anything else to the words. Although Eve saw God every day, she did not know authority. She spoke carelessly, thinking that it was all right to say a few words more or less. If a mortal man serving a mortal master would not dare to add to or delete from his master’s words, how much more should we who serve God be careful in doing the same? If a man speaks carelessly, it proves that he is a rebellious one.
Ham exposing his father’s failure
Look at the behavior of Ham, the son of Noah. When he saw the nakedness of his father, he went out to tell Shem and Japheth (9:20-22). A person who is not submissive in heart always likes to see authority in failure. Ham found the opportunity to expose his father’s mistakes. This proves that he was one who did not submit to his father’s authority. Previously, he submitted through pressure. When he saw his father’s mistake, he exposed it to his two brothers. Many brothers criticize others and delight in tearing them down because of a lack of love (1 Cor. 13:4-5). With Ham there was not just a lack of love, but a lack of submission. It was a manifestation of rebellion.
Miriam and Aaron’s reviling of Moses
In Numbers 12 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. They mixed up family affairs with the work. In God’s calling Moses was singled out; Miriam and Aaron were only the helpers. This was God’s decision. The disobedience of these two was also manifested in words. If we know authority, many mouths will be shut and many problems will be prevented. Once we meet authority, many natural problems are gone. Miriam’s words did not seem to be an overstepping. She only said, “Has Jehovah indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” (v. 2). But God understood that as reviling (v. 8). Perhaps there were many words which they had not spoken. Perhaps what was revealed was only the tip of the iceberg, a tenth of all that was there. Perhaps ninety percent was still hidden. As long as there is a spirit of rebellion in man, God will detect it no matter how many nice words he speaks. Rebellion is manifested in words. A rebellious word speaks of rebellion no matter whether it is strong or weak.
The company of Korah attacking Moses
In Numbers 16 when the company of Korah and the 250 leaders rebelled, the manifestation was all the more in words. Whatever they had in their heart they spoke. They even broke out in open rebuke. Although Miriam reviled, she did so in a reserved way, and as such there was still the possibility of recovery. But the company of Korah had no restraint. Everything spilled over like a flood. Even rebellion has degrees. Some have more of a sense of shame, and they can be recovered. But those who have shaken off all restraints, who are completely unchecked, open the gates of Hades for themselves, and Hades swallows them up. Not only did the company of Korah speak in an evil way; they attacked in an open way. It was so serious that Moses had to fall on his face. How serious were such words: You take too much upon you. Why are you lifting yourselves up above the congregation of the Lord? We only recognize Jehovah in our midst. The whole congregation is holy. We do not recognize your authority. You are taking too much upon yourselves. Here we see that whoever listens only to God’s direct authority, but refuses His deputy authority, is in the principle of rebellion.
If a man submits to authority, surely he will restrict his mouth. He will not be careless. In Acts 23 Paul was being tried. As an apostle and prophet he spoke in the position of a prophet to Ananias the high priest: “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall” (v. 3). But at the same time Paul was a Jew. When he heard that Ananias was the high priest, he immediately softened and said, “`You shall not speak evilly of the ruler of your people'” (v. 5). How careful he was in his words, and how much he restricted his mouth.
Rebellion being related to the walking after the lust in the flesh
Man’s rebellion is especially related to the indulgence of the flesh. In 2 Peter 2:10 the flesh and the lust were first mentioned, then those who despise lordship. The expression of this despising of lordship is shown in reviling words, words of rebellion.
Particular kinds of people live among those who are of their own kind; they have communication with their kind of people. Rebellious ones always accompany those who walk after the flesh. They are also the ones who accompany those who indulge in the lust of uncleanness and who despise lordship. In God’s eyes, walking after the flesh, indulging in lust, and despising lordship are all the same thing. Such ones are presumptuous, self-willed, and not afraid of speaking evil of dignities. But those who know God are fearful on their behalf. The mouth has a lust, which is to speak evil words. If we know God, we will be repentant and remorseful, because we will realize how much God hates this. The angels were under those with lordship at one time. For this reason, they dare not revile them with evil words. They dare not deal with a lawless spirit by lawless means. Therefore, if we live before God, we cannot revile others with reviling words. Please notice that it is possible to speak reviling words even in our prayers. David could say that Saul was God’s anointed. This proves that he was one who kept the proper position. The power of Satan is established upon lawlessness, while the angels are those that would not overstep their position. Peter used this as an example to show us that since the angels in the heavens are like this, we should be like that even more (v. 11).
There are only two things that cause a Christian to lose his power. One is sin, and the other is speaking evil of those above him. The more evil speaking, the more power is lost. If a man’s lack of submission is in his heart only, without corresponding utterances from his mouth, his power will not be lost as fast. The effect of speaking is much more serious than we can imagine.
To God, man’s thoughts and conduct are the same. As long as there is a thought, a sin is committed. However, Matthew 12:34-37 also says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. In the day of judgment, we will be judged righteous or sinful according to the words we have spoken. This shows us that there is a difference between words and thoughts. If there are no words, there is still the possibility of covering up. But if the words come out, everything is thrown into the open. For this reason, disobedience in heart is a little better than openly speaking with the mouth. Today Christians lose their power through their mouth in no less measure than they lose it through their conduct. Actually, more is lost through the mouth. All rebellious ones have trouble with their speaking. Hence, if a man cannot restrict himself in words, he cannot restrict himself in anything.
God rebuking the rebellious ones with the strongest words
Look again at 2 Peter 2:12, which says, “But these, like animals without reason, born natural for capture and destruction…” This is the strongest word in the Bible. There is no word of rebuke more serious than this. Why does the Bible rebuke these ones as animals? It is because these ones have no feelings. Authority is the most central thing in the Bible. Hence, to God reviling is the most serious of all sins. The mouth cannot speak lightly. As soon as a man meets God, his mouth will be restricted, and there will be a fear of reviling dignities. Once we meet authority, there will be a sense of authority in us, in the same way that there will be a sense of sin once we meet the Lord.
Problems in the church arising frequently from reviling words
The oneness and the power of the church are broken through man’s careless words. Today the majority of the problems in the church come from evil speakings. Only a minority come from real difficulties. The majority of the sins in the world also come from lies. If evil words are stopped in the church, the majority of our problems will be reduced. We need to repent before the Lord and ask for His forgiveness. Evil speaking needs a thorough termination in the church. Out of one spring there cannot issue two kinds of water. Out of one mouth there cannot issue words of love and words of reviling. May God set a watchman upon our mouth, and not only upon our mouth, but also upon our heart so that all words and thoughts of reviling would be stopped. May evil speaking depart from among us from this day forward.
Reviling words being from reasons
Man’s rebellion is manifested in words, reasons, and thoughts. If a man does not know authority, there will be reviling words. But these words come from reasons. Man speaks because he thinks he has a reason. Ham thought that he had a reason to revile Noah because he was naked. Miriam’s word concerning Moses marrying an Ethiopian woman was a fact; she had a reason. However, those who submit to authority and live under authority do not live in their reasons. Korah’s company and the 250 leaders said that Moses and Aaron should not put themselves above the others because the whole congregation was holy and Jehovah was in their midst. Again, their rebellion had a reason behind it. Reviling words often come from reasons. Dathan and Abiram had even more reasons. They charged that Moses had not brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, that he had not given them the inheritance of fields and vineyards, but rather that they were still in the wilderness. They charged that Moses was just covering up their eyes, saying, “Will you put out the eyes of these men?” (Num. 16:14). This meant that their eyes were very clear. The more they thought, the more reason they had. Reason cannot stand thinking. The more thinking there is, the more reasons are stirred up. In the world everyone lives in reasons. What difference is there between us and the worldly people if we also live in reasons?
Being delivered from reasons to follow the Lord
Indeed we need to put out our eyes and follow the Lord without reason. Are our lives based upon reasons or upon authority? Many become blind when they are struck by the Lord’s light. Although they have eyes, it is as if they have none. Once the light comes, all reasons are gone. Once Paul was enlightened on the way to Damascus, he became truly blind. From then on he did not care for reasons (Acts 9:3, 8). Moses’ eyes were not put out, but he was like a man without eyes. It was not that he had no reasons; he knew many reasons. But all the reasons were under him because he submitted to God. Those who submit to authority do not act by sight. A servant of the Lord must be blind. He must be delivered from a life of reasons. Reasoning in the heart is the first cause of rebellion. Hence, if we do not deal thoroughly with reasons, it is impossible to stop the words. If we are not delivered from reasons, they will issue forth in reviling words sooner or later.
How difficult it is to be delivered from a life of reason. We are rational beings. How can it be possible for us to not reason with God? This is a very difficult point. We reason continually from our youth. From the time before we believed in the Lord even until now, the basic principle of our living has been in reasoning. What can cause us to stop now? Requiring us to do so will take our flesh-life to the gallows! There are two kinds of Christians: one living on the level of reason and the other living on the level of authority. We should submit as soon as there is a command. On which level are we living? When God has a command, do we consider a little and submit when there are sufficient reasons and not submit when there are insufficient reasons? This is the expression of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil causes us not only to discern things in ourselves, but to discern things established by God as well. All these have to pass through our reasons and judgments. We can reason for God and even make judgments for God, but this is the principle of Satan. Satan wants to be equal with God. Those who know God only have submission; there is no reason with them. The two never mingle together. If a man wants to learn submission, he has to throw away reasons. Either he lives by God’s authority or he lives by reasons. He cannot have both. The Lord Jesus lived a life on earth that was completely beyond reason. What reason was there for the insults, tortures, and crucifixion that He suffered? He, nevertheless, submitted under God’s authority. He did not care for any reason. He was only responsible for submission. He did not ask for anything else. How simple is the man who lives under authority! But how complicated is the man who lives in reasons! The birds in the air and the lilies in the field live a simple life. The more a person lives under authority, the simpler his life will become.
God never reasoning
In Romans 9 Paul tried to prove to the Jews that God has called the Gentiles also. He said that not all of the seed of Abraham were chosen; only Isaac was chosen. And not all of the seed of Isaac were chosen; God chose only Jacob. Since everything is of God’s choice, can God not choose the Gentiles as well? God will have mercy on whomever He will have mercy, and will have compassion on whomever He will have compassion. Humanly speaking, God loved the wicked Jacob, while He hated the honest Esau. He also hardened Pharaoh. Is He then unfair? We have to realize that God sits on His throne of glory, and man is under His authority. Who are we but humble mortals, nothing but dust. How can we reason with God?
He is God. He has the authority to do things. We cannot follow God on the one hand, while forcing Him to listen to our reason on the other hand. If we want to serve Him, we must give up all reasons. Every person who has met the Lord has to throw away all his reasons. We can only stand on the position of submission. We cannot stand on the position of interference, attempting to act as God’s counselor. God says that He will have mercy on whomever He will have mercy (9:15). How precious is the word “will have.” We have to worship Him for this. God does not reason at all. God chooses to do this. He delights in doing this. He is the God of glory. Paul went on to say, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (v. 16). God said of Pharaoh, “For this very thing I have raised you up, that I might show in you My power” (v. 17). Moreover, He said that “He hardens whom He wills” (v. 18). To harden does not mean to cause to sin. It means to “give one up” as recorded in 1:26. Up to this point Paul anticipated that there would be more reasonings, such as, “Why does He still find fault? For who withstands His will?” (9:19). These reasons are very valid. Many will agree with them. Paul also knew that they were quite reasonable and sensible, but he retorted, “But rather, O man, who are you who answer back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him who molded it, Why did you make me thus?” (v. 20). Paul did not counter the reasons. Rather he asked, “Who are you?” Paul did not ask what kind of words these are. He asked rather what kind of person would dare reply against God. When God exercises His authority, He does not have to discuss it with us. He does not need our consent. All He asks is our submission to Him. As long as we say, “This is God’s doing,” everything will be fine.
Man is constantly trying to reason. But please consider whether or not our salvation had any reason behind it. There was absolutely no reason for our salvation. We did not will, nor did we run. But we were saved. This is the most unreasonable thing. But God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. Out of the clay, the potter can make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor. There is only the question of authority. There is no question of reason. The basic problem with man today is that he is still under the principle of the knowledge of good and evil, the principle of reasoning. If the Bible reasoned out everything, then we could be justified in reasoning out everything. But in Romans 9 God opened up a special window from heaven to shine on us. He did not reason with us. He only asked, “Who are you?”
Seeing God’s glory delivering us from reasons
It is not easy for man to be delivered from evil speaking. But it is more difficult for man to be delivered from reason. When I was young, I was always bothered by God’s unreasonable acts. Later, when I read Romans 9, I touched God’s authority for the first time. I began to see who I am. I am His creature. My most reasonable words are but stubbornness before Him. The God who is far above all is unapproachable in His glory. If we would see only a millionth part of His glory, we would bow down and cast off all our reasons. Only those who live far off can be proud, and only those who live in darkness can abide in reasons. No one in the whole world can see himself in his own torchlight. Only when the Lord grants us a little light and reveals a little of His glory to us will we fall down as dead, just like the apostle John (Rev. 1:16-17).
May God be merciful to us that we would see how unworthy and lowly a person we are. How dare we argue with God? When the queen of the south came to visit Solomon and he revealed a little of his glory to her, there was no more spirit left in her. But there is One who is greater than Solomon. Is there any reason in me that cannot be given up? Adam sinned because he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. From then on, reason became rooted in man’s very being. But if God would reveal just a little of His glory to us, we would see that we are but a dead dog and a lump of clay. All our reasons would vanish in His glory. The more a person lives in glory, the less he will reason. However, the more you see a person reason, the more you know that he has never seen glory.
During these years I have found out one thing — God’s work is never according to reasons. Even if I do not understand what He is doing, I still have to worship Him because I am His servant. If everything that He does is understood and realized by me, I might as well be the one to sit on the throne. Once I see that He is far above me, that only He is the Most High One, and that I should bow down in the dust, all reasons will disappear from me. From this day forward, authority only is the fact, not reasons, rights, and wrongs. Those who know God surely know themselves, and once a person knows himself, all reasons are removed.
The way to know God is by submission. Everyone who lives in reason does not know God. Only those who willingly submit to authority can truly know God. All of the knowledge of good and evil that we inherited from Adam must be removed. Then our submission will be very easy.
“I am Jehovah” being the reason
Every time the Lord commanded the Israelites to do something in Leviticus 18—22, He inserted the words, “I am Jehovah,” in between the commands. There is not even the word because. I speak this way, for I am Jehovah. There need be no other reason. “I am Jehovah” is the reason. If we see this, we will not live by reason from this day on. We have to say to God, “In the past I lived by my thoughts and reasons. Today I bow down and worship You. As long as it is of You, it is enough for me. I will worship You.” When Paul was struck down on the way to Damascus, all reasons vanished from him. Once light shines in, a person falls down. The first word that came out of Paul’s mouth was, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). Immediately, he became obedient. Those who know God do not reason. When the light judges, the reason disappears.
For man to reason with God is for him to say that God’s work requires our consent. This is the thought of the most foolish. God does not have to tell us the reason for anything He does. God’s way is higher than our way. If we pulled God down to the level of reason, we would have God no longer, because He would be no different from us. If we reason, there will be no more worship. When submission goes, a lack of worship follows. When this happens, the self becomes the judge of God and even becomes God. What difference then is there between the clay and the potter? Will the potter have to ask permission from the clay to do anything? May God’s glory be revealed so that all our reasons cease.