Give Me That Mountain

Unpleasant Side Effects

The Law and Grace. Day forty-one...

“If you had just done what I told you, we wouldn't be having this discussion!” How many times did I hear that phrase as a child!

If Adam and Eve had just done what God told them, we wouldn't be having this discussion either—this discussion about the intent of God's law and the wonder of God's grace.

parental discussion

But sin put Adam and Eve on a different course—and the rest of us as well.

Have you ever thought about just how much of contemporary life is built around dealing with sin—and what would happen if sin didn't exist in the world?

  • The military‐industrial complex would be almost non‐existent because wars don't start except by sin.
  • The entire healthcare industry would be reduced primarily to just delivering babies if sin wasn't in the world.
  • The seedier side of the entertainment industry would disappear as there would be no demand for it.
  • The size of the law enforcement agencies would be greatly reduced because people would behave.

But sin does exist. And we have to deal with it.

I can package sin in two very different ways.

I can see sin as something I want to do, but someone or something is stopping me from doing it. Or I can see sin as something I don't want to do, but no one or nothing is stopping me from doing it. Of course, I can go from one extreme to the other in a split second—or make any stop in between.

Today, let's talk about the first extreme, which I will refer to as rebellion. When I see sin as something I want to do, but someone or something is stopping me, I am in a state of rebellion.

Even if I don't act it out externally—internally, I am rebelling against authority. And if the authority at the time happens to be God, then I am rebelling against God.

The remedy for rebellion is pain (or the fear of pain).

Rebellion completely stops up our ears to hear from God. We don't want to hear from God. When we're in a state of rebellion the last thing we want to hear is something from God. And this attitude frequently leads to death.

And the LORD said to Moses: “Place Aaron's staff permanently before the Ark of the Covenant to serve as a warning to rebels. This should put an end to their complaints against me and prevent any further deaths.”
So Moses did as the LORD commanded him.
Then the people of Israel said to Moses, “Look, we are doomed! We are dead! We are ruined! Everyone who even comes close to the Tabernacle of the LORD dies. Are we all doomed to die?” Numbers 17:10–13 (NLT)

The Israelites had finally acknowledged the cost of rebellion against God. But what were the events leading up to this realization?

First, it was Korah's rebellion against the authority God had given to Moses. Korah, his co‐conspirators, and their families, along with over 200 other people were swallowed up by the earth, as a result. It would seem that observing such pain would break the rebellion of anyone. But not yet!

Even after seeing the earth literally swallow up the rabble‐rousers in their midst, the remaining people still rebelled against the goodness of God.

But the very next morning the whole community of Israel began muttering again against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the LORD's people!” As the community gathered to protest against Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the Tabernacle and saw that the cloud had covered it, and the glorious presence of the LORD appeared. (Numbers 16:41–42 NLT)

And the Lord released a plague in the crowd. This time an additional 14,700 died in their rebellion, before the plague could be stopped. The survivors most certainly had at least a short‐term awareness that rebellion doesn't pay.

Rebellion doesn't offer freedom. It offers death.

A young man (I'll call him Steve) in one of my classes had his rebellion against God hidden away in good manners. But the rebellion was still there. Steve was in a great deal of physical and emotional pain, but always refused prayer. In fact, he refused anything that had to do with God.

That Steve was in a pain—physical and otherwise—was obvious. But his pain was apparently not great enough to drive him to the Lord. In his rebellion he could still find a place to sleep, food to eat, and—ultimately—a government check.

Instead of allowing him to face his rebellion, our community enabled him to manage his pain so that he never had to face his rebellion. And with his first government check, Steve moved into an apartment, bought some alcohol, and drank himself to death in just a few days.

When you see a little rebel streak manifesting in your life, I suggest that you destroy it at once. Destroy it with God's grace. Destroy it quickly and without mercy. If you don't destroy rebellion, it will destroy you.

Have a good day,

Mike

Image credit: Paul Townsend

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