The Real Meaning of Rebellion Against God
By Zhang Jun, Liaoning Province
In the past, I believed that “rebellion against God” meant selling God out, leaving the church and returning to the world, or walking away from one’s duty; I thought these behaviors constituted rebellion, and that those who rebelled against God were all sifted out by God, and their faith in God would ultimately end in failure. So I would remind myself that I must absolutely not rebel against God as they did. Therefore, I was cautious in all my endeavors and submissively accepted all the tasks the church arranged for me to do. I neither gave up my duty when I was dealt with and pruned because I didn’t perform my duty properly, nor did I withdraw from the church when trials befell, regardless of the hardship. Thus, I believed that I had never once rebelled against God, and I felt that I had already acquired some stature and was confident that I would follow God until the end and ultimately achieve salvation.
One day during my spiritual devotions, I read this in a sermon: “There are several different types of rebellion against God. One type of rebellion is going against His will or going against His words; another type is having an arrogant disposition, lacking God in one’s heart, and thus boasting and being hostile to God—this is the rebellion of being disobedient and defiant to God; there is one more type, which is the rebellion of selling God out and forsaking God. … The rebellious behaviors that we frequently speak of in fellowship refer primarily to the first two types. This is because those who sell God out and forsake God are not within the scope of God’s salvation, and the rebellious behaviors mentioned in the words of God are also of the first two types; the third type of rebellion is not mentioned. We must not misunderstand or misinterpret God’s intentions, believing that only selling God out or forsaking Him can be called rebelling against God, as if going against His word or having an arrogant disposition weren’t a type of rebellion. This is such a one-sided understanding! So what really is rebellion? How should people recognize it? According to the word of God, all things that are incompatible with God are His enemies, and all things that go against God’s words are rebelling against His words. Rebelling against God’s words is rebelling against God, and acting as His enemy is also rebelling against Him. It seems that these two principles are not in line with human notions, but this is precisely the essence of the problem” (The Fellowship From the Above). After reading this sermon, I realized that rebelling against God was not simply expressions of selling Him out, leaving the church, or walking away from one’s duty. Rather, behaviors that went against God’s will or His word, or that opposed Him were also forms of rebellion. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I began to reflect on my actions: God’s will is for us to pursue the truth and seek dispositional change as we fulfill our duties. I, however, focus only on work and on seeking to gain high status within the church when fulfilling my duty, so that my brothers and sisters would look to me and hold me in high esteem. God requires us to perform our duties loyally, to be considerate to His will when facing difficulties, and to forsake the flesh and practice the truth. However, I always seek the way that requires the least effort in fulfilling my duty, and I am slipshod and I try to deceive God. I only care for my flesh in times of hardship, complaining of my difficulties and slacking off in my duty, so much so that I even think of giving up entirely as a means of escaping my duty. God demands absolute loyalty and complete devotion. In the presence of God, however, my thoughts are often occupied by my family and relatives, and I am often in two minds about my belief in God and about performing my duty, and I am unable to give my heart to God. God asks that we learn lessons in all things and enter into the reality of His word so that we can be made perfect by Him. When I encounter unfavorable people or matters, however, I don’t believe that all things are orchestrated by God and I find myself living constantly in a state of deliberation about rights and wrongs, and am unable to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. God asks that we enter into the reality of truth and accept God’s salvation in various environments and trials of hardship that He arranges for us. When I encounter dealing, pruning, setback, or failure, I misunderstand and blame God. I feel despair about the road ahead, and I lose my faith in God, to the point where I even consider leaving the church. God asks that we be serious, practical, and effective in our spiritual lives. I, however, often follow rules and procedures, and engage in religious rituals, which has resulted in me often being without a normal relationship with God and feeling numb within my spirit. God asks that we exalt and testify to Him in our work and lead people before Him. However, I exalt and testify to myself in all things, make others look to me and listen to me, thus bringing them before me. God asks that we use the truth to resolve our problems. Yet I boast and speak of letters and doctrines before other people, I limit others with rules, I solve problems according to the ways of man, and I suppress others with my status. God asks that we work strictly in accordance with the work arrangements. I, however, often follow my own desires as I perform my duty, doing things the way I deem fit without any principles. And so on. Aren’t all of these behaviors states of rebellion against God in which I’ve gone against God’s will and His word, and been in opposition to God?
At that moment, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread. It turns out that I had unknowingly been rebelling against God in all my actions while mistakenly believing that, as long as I didn’t sell out the church, or leave the church, or abandon my duty, then I was not rebelling against God. What’s more, I had shamelessly thought that my stature exempted me from being capable of rebelling against God. I really had no knowledge of myself, and my understanding of God’s word was so one-sided and shallow! The words of God say, “God has revealed the nature and essence of humanity, but humans understand that their way of doing things and their way of speaking are flawed and defective; therefore, it is a strenuous task for people to put truth into practice. People think that their mistakes are merely momentary manifestations that are revealed carelessly rather than being revelations of their nature” (“Understanding One’s Nature and Putting the Truth Into Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Man’s nature is his life; it is a principle on which he relies to survive, and he cannot change it. The nature of betrayal is the same—if you can do something to betray a relative or friend, it proves that it is part of your life and a nature with which you were born. This is something nobody can deny” (“A Very Serious Problem: Betrayal (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Yes, am I not precisely the type of person who makes a fuss over outward practices, who only settles for not being overly rebellious or defiant in my belief in God and in my duty, who settles for not behaving in obviously sinful ways, but who does not know my own nature? The behavior of corrupt mankind is dominated by their nature, and so our disposition is an expression of our nature. Since man’s nature is rebellious, then we will inevitably rebel against God; this is not something we can control through being cautious. Yet, I was not concerned with knowing my own nature according to what is revealed in God’s words. Instead, I was satisfied merely with keeping to some outward practices and following some rules, which resulted in me not having put any effort into pursuing the truth through all my years of following God, and not having had my life disposition changed at all. Instead, I have constantly lived by my rebellious nature, and if I continue to do so, given a conducive environment, or when I encounter persecution and tribulation or a situation that endangers my own life, I will inevitably be dominated by my nature, and will sell the church out or leave the church. And wouldn’t I then have completely lost my chance to attain salvation? This is a dangerous path indeed!
Thank God for His enlightenment that has remedied my erroneous understanding concerning rebellion against God. His enlightenment has enabled me to understand that forsaking and violating His word are forms of rebellion, and it has shown me that I am always at risk of rebelling against God, and even more so am always in danger of betraying God and abandoning Him. From this day forth, I wish to put effort into God’s word and contemplate more the reality of His word, so as to truly understand the essence of the truth and to enter and practice in strict accordance with the criteria of the truth. I am resolved to uphold God’s utterances in all circumstances and to truly resolve the problem of my rebellion.