Rebellion, Deception and the Hallmarks of Our Condition

The biblical worldview is fairly straightforward about our current condition: things are not the way they are supposed to be. What God originally created has been rejected by his creation, and now we find things are drastically amiss in every area of life.

Instead of a close love relationship with God, we are alienated from him because of our sin and selfishness. We actively defy him, seek to deny him, and pretend he has no claims on us whatsoever. If there is one word that perfectly captures the human condition, the word rebellion is probably it.

In our fallen, sin-soaked state, we are all rebels who seek to defy our creator and our created order. We shake our fists at God and tell him he is not wanted. We want to be the master of our own fate, and certainly don’t want anyone – not even our Creator – telling us what to do.

As C. S. Lewis once put it, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.” This is a major feature of human sinfulness: complete and utter rebellion against God and his good and gracious plans for us.

Jesus captured this so very well in his parable about the ten talents (Luke 19:12-27). The ruler in the parable is of course meant to be Christ, yet we read about how he is received by his subjects: “We will not have this man to rule over us” (v. 14).

Just as throughout human history people have rejected God, so too when Jesus invaded planet earth. Mankind in its rebellion will have nothing to do with him. They do not want Christ as king. They would rather crucify him. Scripture takes this rebellion very seriously indeed. In 1 Samuel 15:23 for example we read that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry”.

Another hallmark of life in a fallen world is the problem of deception. Because we have cast off God and his perfect truthfulness, we are continuously living a life of deceit, deception, and falsehood. We fool ourselves, we fool others, and we seek to even fool God. Scripture speaks repeatedly about the importance of not being deceived.

As just one text, consider the strong words of the prophet Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Indeed, the ability for all of us to be swamped by self-deception as well as demonic deception is a real stranglehold on us, broken only by God.

And it needs to be pointed out that this rebellion, deception, and so on, is not limited to those who are non-believers. Sadly, Christians can be and are still subject to these realities. When we come to Christ we say no to sin and self and say yes to God. From then on we have a lifelong work of sanctification where we seek to become more Christlike by the power of His Spirit.

While we are to allow God to work in our lives and transform us, this does not always occur unfortunately. Often Christians can be just as rebellious, steeped in deception, and out of God’s will, as non-believers are. Thus the Bible speaks much about the need of believers to make sure they are not deceived, living in rebellion, walking in the flesh, and pushing their own ungodly agendas.

But sadly we have many examples of this very thing. The New Testament provides many instances of this, and today we find more of the same. One clear example of this is when Christians wilfully rebel against the clear teachings of Scripture on the issue of homosexuality.

Thus we have some radically misguided religious leaders who have completely capitulated to the homosexual agenda, exchanging the certainty of biblical faith for the latest trendy radical social causes. These folk have simply given up on the biblical position here, and have instead embraced this deceptive agenda.

Consider how the radical homosexual activist group, Australian Marriage Equality, has launched what they are calling “Christians 4 Equality”. They put forward a tiny handful of Christians who have been totally duped into embracing and promoting their unbiblical agenda.

They have actually come out seeking to have us believe that same-sex marriage is somehow God’s will and is just peachy. It really is incredible how far they have moved from biblical Christianity. This is of course a major case of deception.

And it is also wilful rebellion against everything Scripture teaches us about human sexuality. One might as well launch a group called Christians 4 Adultery, or Christians 4 Fornication. Such obviously anti-biblical and oxymoronic groups would be dismissed out of hand by any serious believer. Yet this is exactly what we find here with this group.

Jesus and the apostles warned us over and over again about this very thing. Jesus said for example in Matt 24:10-1: “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Paul warned in 2 Tim 3:12-14, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.”

Or as the prophet Isaiah said so long ago: “These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction” (Is 30:9). We must always be on our guard. Paul in fact warned that about those who “are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:13-14).

Indeed, on the very issue of homosexuality Paul makes an unmistakeable warning about not being deceived: “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:9-11).

In my new book on this topic I fully lay out the biblical case, and look at the various ways in which the theological revisionists seek to twist Scripture to their own destructive ends. But for now suffice it to say that this is not the time to let down our guard. Deceivers and deception seem to be getting worse and worse, as even those who claim to be believers live in defiant rebellion against God’s clear purposes for us and our sexuality.

Let us all stand firm and resolute. A major falling away is taking place all around us, but as Jesus said, those who “persevere to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).

[1195 words]

14 Replies to “Rebellion, Deception and the Hallmarks of Our Condition”

  1. Thanks Jereth

    I would not put too much stock in these polls. But if there is sloppy thinking in the pews about this, then yes, much of the blame must lie in our pulpits. I was just talking today with someone from our church. The last time a proper sermon or teaching on this topic was given at our church was around 15 years ago!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  2. Gee, we could have Christians 4 lots of things:

    “Gluttony” – live well at Maccas, you ‘deserve’ it!
    “Kleptomania” – a new angle on prosperity
    “Pyromania” – bringing judgement to the earth by fire

    Quite right Bill, most people would see immediately how silly such things are.

    But when it comes to something more serious they can’t, and so we see spiritual earthquakes and tsunamis shaking our cultural foundations.

    John Angelico

  3. Thanks again Bill for bringing this to our attention.
    Imagine fearing God so little to make such a stand!
    I cannot help but pray for the poor souls who belong to their churches and are being led by them ….
    Why are our churches remaining so silent on this issue?
    I know that my minister is completely PC and far more concerned with ‘offending’ some people than standing up for God, his Word or his people.
    This is the time for every minister and every denomination hierarchy to be speaking loudly and with conviction on this issue.
    Why do Christians and our leaders equate standing up and fighting in this debate to be a demonstration of ‘intolerance’? or ‘ungraciousness’? (as I keep being called)
    This issue is certainly separating and revealing the true convictions of people – Christian or otherwise.
    Even Phillip Yancey has written his ‘lack of conviction on this’ which a wellmeaning Christian forwarded to me

    (No more Yancey books in my house!)
    keep up your good work Bill.
    Annette Williams

  4. Thanks, Nanette, for the link to Yancey’s thoughts. What I read there is consistent with much of his thinking in his best-selling What’s So Amazing About Grace? His views have never sat comfortably with me. I’ve often thought that someone should write a book entitled What’s So Amazing About Law? Perhaps I will do it myself someday, but really the issue is that just because we live in an “age of grace”, the Law of God is not completely a dead matter for Christians (or non-Christians, for that matter). If one believes that the Law is a complete irrelevancy for Christians, then one is faced with many people presumably walking in the Spirit, but living unsanctified lives, such as is the case with, but not limited to, active homosexuals.

    Reading through my comment again, I see that it is not even correct to say that the OT was the Testament of Law, while the NT is the Testament of Grace. Grace and Law were and are operative from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22.

    Steve Swartz

  5. Thanks Annette and Steve

    As to Yancey, yes he is a mixed bag. Much of what he writes is very good, but also some of what he writes is very poor in my view. He has always been quite soft on issues like homosexuality, and he often likes to take potshots at those of us who are very concerned about such things.

    Yes you are perfectly right Steve. Law and grace are two sides of the same coin, and both are found equally in both Testaments. And books do need to be written on this – I look forward to your take on it. But some books already exist. I have elsewhere cited Ernest Kevan:

    In 1964 he penned The Grace of Law. It has come out in various forms, such The Grace of Law (Reformation Heritage Books, 1999):

    There is also a short (100 page) version available: Moral Law (P&R, 1991)

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. BTW I just opened an email from Koorong promoting Philip Yanceys’ Australian tour 2-9 Sept.
    Unfortunately for any good insights that he may have in other areas – if someone is wishy washy on a very clear biblical teaching and then writes about it in a manner that convinces other Christians to become wishy washy on the Bible – he is ultimately doing more harm than good for the cause of Christianity.
    The friend who gave this to me used to be strong on this issue and now his writing has caused her to change her thinking and then she in turn is passing it around to me and presumably other Christians, to influence them.
    (Interesting that Koorong will promote him but not the National Marriage Day)
    Annette Williams

  7. Many ‘Christians’ today believe that the Bible says what they want to do rather than believing they need to do what the Bible says.
    Leadership living contrary to God’s Word in the church cannot be healthy.
    We do not have the right to interpret Scripture piece by piece in isolation to make it support our sin.
    Judith Bond

  8. I have just been watching World Youth Day in Madrid and these young people have got it right.

    A group of 18 yr. olds in Spain have started a group called “Speak Out” and they promote Christianity via emails – like Get Up but these young people are promoting Christianity and the teaching of Christ. We live in hope.

    Madge Fahy

  9. Some Christians misguidedly claim that in supporting homosexuals, they are showing compassion. Which is better; the compassion of man or the grace of God?
    Gary Morgan

  10. Actually grace is only amazing if we have law. Did Yancy start on the right track and get over edited. I thought, a long time since I read it and a lot was happening in my life at that time, that it was about how amazing that a holy God would condescend to come to us with mercy. If God isn’t Holy we don’t need grace.
    I hope you are all telling politicians where you stand on marriage as the those you quoted who approve of “gay marriage” will be. Elected representatives need to hear from you they may not all read this site.
    Katherine Fishley

  11. Scripture warns of the consequences for those shepherds who lead their flocks astray – also for those (ourselves?} who should correct error and fail to do so. So then we work out our salvation if not in “fear and trembling” at least with a reverent sense of our responsibilities as members of the Body of Christ. Let’s never neglect to pray for all pastors and shepherds of God’s people because they come under attack far more heavily than most of us and if they stumble and fall maybe its because we didn’t support them in prayer as we should, or encourage them when they were faithful.
    Anna Cook

  12. I agree with you, Culture Watch! Saw this bit on the net:

    The Jesus-Predicted Steamroller

    Jesus warned that just before His return as Judge, there will be a strange, spontaneous, mind-twisting fad – a global steamroller notable for its speed, boldness, violence, and impudent in-your-face openness. In Luke 17 He called this worldwide craze the repetition of the “days of Lot” (see Genesis 19 for details). By helping to fulfill this worldwide mania quietly coordinated by unseen spirit beings, gays are actually hurrying up Christ’s return to earth! What’s really scary is the phrase “reprobate mind” found in Romans 1:28. One can ignore one’s conscience so much that God finally turns that person over to the “reprobate mind” of the most diabolical leader of evil in the universe. When this happens it’s almost as if the brainwashed human being has signed a statement saying “I don’t ever want God and don’t care if I end up in Hell!” The entire first chapter of Romans explains why God is forced to eventually and sorrowfully abandon certain individuals who constantly choose evil over good and ignore their conscience! If you’re laughing at this message, you may have almost reached the point of no return. Be sure to keep on laughing when God allows entire cities to be suddenly destroyed. Revelation 16:18-19 describes the greatest earthquake of all time which will level the “cities of the nations” – a quake that’s never achieved this in the past. There’s only one thing that can destroy America – no matter who becomes President – and that’s a four-letter word: EVIL. Change the letters and you can become totally VILE (and thus do your part to force God to send America even more disasters). Or better yet, you can turn to Christ (He’s the “Creator” that America’s founders referred to). And He’s alive (after having been killed) and promises to reveal Himself to you if you will just pray to Him in your own words and tell Him what you need! If you decide to partner with Him, He can change the letters in EVIL and show you how you can really LIVE – and you’ll kick yourself for not checking Him out sooner! Remember, He loves EVERY person and can forgive and erase from His records ANY sin – even murder – since He’s the only Saviour who can do this! I write this in the spirit of love because I care for the part of you that will live forever in either Heaven or Hell!

    Lilian Ounor

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