Description: Human hope looks at circumstances and thinks maybe its getting better! But divine hope looks away to God who keeps his word and acts on our behalf.
Authority and Rebellion
2 Peter 2:10-12
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Last time, we began our study on authority and subjection and today, we’ll close what we’ve been
talking about. God has been showing us the need for some understanding of authority and submission
and subjection inside the body. One of the real difficulties for many of us has been that we’ve
lived in such a licentious and permissive kind of society that it may seem strange to some of the
older ones among us, but many of us have really surprisingly little understanding of what authority
and subjection is all about. I think some of us find great difficulty in being able to tell whether
we are in submission or whether we are in rebellion ourselves.
What I’d like to share tonight is three of the ways in which rebellion shows itself. It will enable
us, through the Holy Spirit, to at least look at our own actions and our own behavior and then tell
whether we are in the right relationship to God’s authority. Because it is true that if you’re in
the right relationship to the authority of God then you have no trouble with other delegated
authorities, you see. Every one of us that is fighting our father or fighting our mother, every one
of us that is fighting the government, every one of us that is fighting the elders in the body,
we’re having trouble with Gods authority. That’s really our basic problem.
So what are the signs that there is rebellion in our hearts? The first sign is our word. A lack of
a spirit of submission, or a respect for authority, or for those whom God has put over us is seen in
our words. You can see this 2 Peter 2:10-12, if you look at it. 2 Peter 2:10-12, and Peter is
describing some of the disorderly people who will take over the world towards the end of times. 2
Peter 2:10, “And especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones,” and you reviling and
criticizing, “Whereas angels though, greater in might and power, do not pronounce a reviling
judgment upon them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born
to be caught and killed, reviling in matters of which they are ignorant, will be destroyed in the
same destruction with them.” You can see those are strong words against those who despise authority
and express the contempt in their words.
And then in Ephesians 5:6, you get the same kind of emphasis that a rebellion or a spirit of
rebellion is expressed in words. Ephesians 5:6, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is
because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Disobedience
and rebellion is shown really in the empty words that people speak. And Matthew 12:34 is one last
one that we should look at. Matthew 12:34, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you
are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” And really brothers and sisters
you can hold yourself in, in all kinds of ways, but if you have a real lack of a submissive spirit
you know, and we’ll talk about the difference of submission and obedience in a moment, but if you
have a lack of a submissive spirit towards professors at school, towards your own parents, towards
the authorities, eventually out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
You may be able to hold it in, whether while you’re in their presence, but eventually when you get
them away out of it you’ll revile them with words of criticism. So often you can tell what your own
inner attitude is by the way you speak of people who have authority over you when they’re absent. I
think that’s why many of us do not bless our teachers, or we do not bless our parents, we are not a
blessing to authorities in the body because our obedience or submission to them is just out of the
mouth and out of the eyes, but it really isn’t an inner thing. So when we get rid of them, the old
mouth lets the expression of rebellion out.
Now examples of rebellion expressed in words: we’ve looked at some of them before but maybe it would
be good to look at them again because God always shows us some new things. Genesis 3:3 is one clear
instance. Genesis 3:3 and you remember, it’s in the Garden of Eden and Eve is talking with Satan
and she says, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden,” in 2b and then 3, “But God said,
‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you
touch it, lest you die.’”
Now the rebellion in that is found in the last three words, or rather the four words before those
final three, because look at God’s own words in 2:16. Genesis 2:16, “And the Lord God commanded the
man, saying, “’ You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of knowledge of good
and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’” But God never said,
“Neither should you touch it.”
Now it’s interesting that if a man or a woman really respects God’s authority every word of God is
important, and he’s very slow to change God’s word. It sounds corny at first, “Oh just add another
phrase,” but it’s interesting the more anxious you are to be submissive to God the more important
his words are to you. I suppose we found that a lot I was brought up in a kind of liberal seminary
atmosphere, and we were very easy going about God’s words. We would wipe off a scriptural
difficulty just with, “Ah, it was Paul’s mistake. It wasn’t God’s revelation. It was Paul’s
mistake.” We would be very casual about God’s words. But it’s interesting when we come under
submission to Jesus, every word of God is precious and every word of God is important.
It’s also interesting that then when you speak God’s word to others, whether you’re speaking in a
house fellowship or whether you’re speaking a word of personal counsel to a friend, it’s important
just to speak what God gives you to speak and not to add to it or subtract from it. That’s one way
in which rebellion is shown, in taking a person’s words casually. Isn’t it true that a lot of us
have got into difficulty in our relationship to authorities by misquoting them, and quoting them
glibly and carelessly? How many problems come about because people misquote? I think I spend a lot
of my time gathering up the mis-quotes that people use. They say, “Pastor said,” and I have to get
right round back of it and say what I think I originally did say. But I think that when you’re
anxious to submit to God then there’s a care over every word.
Now there’s another instance, dear ones, Genesis 9:22. Genesis 9:22, and you remember that Noah had
two sons and you remember Ham one of them Shem and Japheth were the others. And you remember that
Noah got drunk and he laid there naked and of course, it was an attitude of disrespect for the sons
to see him naked. Now Genesis 9:22, “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his
father, and told his two brothers outside.” It’s a good way to check your submissiveness to
authority. If you find yourself telling things about the authority that take away from the dignity
of the authority or take away from the other person’s trust in that authority, then there’s a
rebellion hiding in your heart you know. Even though you have very good when you’re facing the
authority, yet if you find yourself despising the authority or contentious of the authority when the
authority isn’t present to others, then probably there is a rebellion in your heart.
It’s interesting how used we have got to deception and hypocrisy — isn’t it really? I mean, we’ve
almost – we’ve grown up in this atmosphere of deception and hypocrisy and so it’s become an easy
thing to us to have two faces. We show this face to the authority, but behind the authorities back,
we show another face completely. Yet, I think a lot of us have problems in our spiritual life
because of that dishonesty, that schizophrenia. So, that’s one way in which you can detect a
rebellion in your heart. More and more God is bringing it home to my heart that it doesn’t simply
apply to my attitude to those in authority over me, but it applies in my attitude to you. If I say
something about Gary to Sam when Gary is absent I’m not responsible to Gary. I’m having to be
submissive to him. If anything, he is to be submissive to me, but yet I’m doing the same kind of
thing has Ham did. I’m trying in some way to lower the dignity of Gary himself in Sam’s eyes.
Now brothers and sisters I honestly do think that we are careless in our words and in our attitude
to authorities. You can think, loved ones, think of your attitude to the teachers you know, those
of you who are at college or at Bethel. We have all kinds of reasons for it, haven’t we? But
really we’re undermining the dignity of the teacher, or the dignity of his position in regard to the
other person. So it’s one way in which it shows itself. Would you look Numbers 12:2? Again, it’s
one I think that we have looked at before. Numbers 12:2, “And they said,” you remember of course,
that Moses married a Cushite woman and Miriam and Aaron were his older brother and sister, “And they
said, ‘Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?’ And the
Lord heard it.” Contempt for authority is expressed in words and almost always comes out of words.
It comes out in words.
A respect for authority will close your mouth, and will seal your mouth, and will solve a lot of
problems, really. A lot of us would talk far less if we really had respect for the authorities that
God has placed over us. Mind you, a lot of us might have had really little to talk about then or be
very poor on conversation, and it does take a real willingness to be thought a most uninteresting
person in order to abstain from misusing words. But really dear ones, we always express a rebellion
sooner or later in words, and it always comes out. Numbers 16:3 is the situation you remember,
where Korah led a rebellion against Moses and is the same thing. Numbers 16:3, “And they assembled
themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, ‘You have gone too far! For
all the congregation are holy, every one of them and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt
yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” And then 16:31-32, “And as he finished speaking all
these words, the ground under them split asunder; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them
up, with their households and all the men that belonged to Korah and all their goods.” And the
reason seems to be that words, in some way, are even worse than thoughts.
In some way words bring destruction to the whole order of authority and submission in a way that
even thoughts don’t. That’s why you remember, Jesus said, “For you will give account of the last
day for every careless word you utter.” It does seem when you utter words in criticism of an
authority or in criticism of anybody you lose spiritual power dear ones, you do. I mean, you must
admit it yourself — haven’t you experienced a kind of dissipation of spiritual life when you’ve
talked about somebody else you know? I know I have, whether it’s an authority over me or not, there
seems to be a loss of spiritual power when you revile anyone or you criticize anyone.
Something my dad used to say comes back to me. For a long time, our house was just chaos before my
mom or my brother dealt with God at all. We were fighting and squabbling all over the place, and I
would always want to say to my dad, “No dad, you must explain to them what’s wrong. I mean, you
must come back at them and explain it.” He would say, “No, no you love them, and you bless them,
and you pray for them, and God will do more through that then through all your arguing and
discussing.” And of course I was young and thought I knew all the answers and it took me a long
time to learn that talking about people really does nothing. All you do is lose spiritual power
yourself and it enables Satan to spread enmity, and disagreement, and lack of love, and paranoia
among your brothers and sisters.
So it is really important. I just have great respect for Watchman Nee — I suppose maybe some of
you noticed that. He says this, “Difficulties in the church often derive from slanderous words.
Speaking inadvertently is largely responsible for the breaking of the unity of the church and the
losing of power.” When you think of the mess we’ve made of our churches right across the nation, by
the careless way we’ve criticized pastor, elders, everybody. It’s just like a scythe; we’ve gone in
with a scythe and just cut the feet from under them.
“Probably most difficulties in the church are due primarily to slanderous words.” Here’s an
interesting phrase. It’s one of his insights that are good, “Only a minor part of the difficulties
are real problems.” That’s right. Really, only a minor part of the difficulties in any church are
real problems. Only a minor part of the difficulties in the body are real problems. It’s always
what we do with the problems. It’s the way we increase them and exaggerate them. And remember
there was a good illustration that somebody shared about someone who had spread a rumor about
someone else or had said something that wasn’t true about them. And the person said, “It’s really
like bursting a feather pillow, in a high wind. It’s impossible to gather up all the feathers.” It
really is. Once you say something about somebody else you can’t tell where it goes. You have no
longer control of it and it’s just impossible ever to get that word back.
So loved ones, our words are our ways of expressing our rebellion. Here’s a strange one. Our
reasons are often a way of expressing rebellion. Could we read that difficult passage in Romans 9?
I’m not going to explain the passage. I’m using it as an illustration. Maybe someday in 10 years
time will come to it on Sunday morning. I hope it will be in that length of time till I have the
Romans 9:10-24, “And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our
forefather Isaac though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order
that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call she was
told, ‘The elder will serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I
will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So it
depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh,
‘I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be
proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart
of whomever he wills. You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist
his will?’ But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder,
‘Why have you made me thus?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump
one vessel for the beauty and another for menial use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and
to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction,
in order to make know the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, in which he has prepared
beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the
I will not answer a question on that, I cannot, but I’d like to share that one of the ways we can
tell a lack of submission to God is in our always being preoccupied with our own reasons for doing
something else. Often God will give us a command and will ask us to obey it, but we will filter it
through the old tree of the knowledge of good and evil that we have gathered in our own mind, and we
will examine it under our own reason. Now brothers and sisters, do you see that our minds are to be
renewed according to the mind of Christ, to take in the values that Jesus himself had?
Now if we begin to reason in a fleshly way, we’ll find ourselves often rebelling against God. Many
of us can tell that we’re rebelling against God because of our tendency always to give our reasons
for doing something different. If we go by reason alone, we’ll eventually end up in slanderous
words and in rebellion against them. Now this comes out in a scripture again and again where you
find old Miriam and Aaron. They had reason for criticizing Moses. He had married a Cushite woman.
He ought not to have married outside the tribe and he was wrong to do it. They found the reason.
They said, “We’re his older brother and sister. We have the right to rebuke him.” [Numbers 12:1]
But according to God’s state of values he was the head of the people, the leader of God’s own
people, so he was superior to his elder brother and sister. According to God’s reasoning, they had
no right to criticize him. But you find that most of the cases of rebellion they always find
reasons for criticizing. You remember old Korah said, “You’ve led us out here in the wilderness.
There’s no promise land.” He had a good reason, you see. There was a good reason for criticizing
Now brothers and sisters, I think Satan often gets us to rebel against God’s authorities on the
basis of using our reasons and giving good reasons for rebelling — and you know how we do it.
We’ll do it against the dad who is an alcoholic. The reason is plain and obvious. We’ll do it
against a teacher who is a bit liberal in his theology. The reason is obvious. We have always good
reasons for it. We’ll do it against an elder who doesn’t seem to be as mature as the other elders
and we seem to have good reason for it. But do you see that if you go simply by reason you end up
living your life by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
I don’t know how many of you have ended up complicating your life by not doing what God was telling
you to do, but by reasoning about it. I think maybe two weeks ago, a brother told me what God
seemed to want him to do, and I said, “Go and do it. Do it and be finished with it and obey him.”
But the brother fiddled around and reasoned around it and argued around it. The next week he came
and he wasn’t so clear on it: “Now I’m not sure which, not sure whether it’s Satan or whether it’s
God who is telling me.” And the next week he didn’t do anything. He just left the whole thing.
Now it seems to me brother and sisters that we can get into difficulty by not leading the simple
life of faith. We try to walk by sight all the time and by our reasons and our arguments.
Now loved ones, I’m not opposing the mind. The mind is there to gather information. But the mind
is there to be controlled by the Holy Spirit after it’s got the information. We often try to use
the mind to bring about the thing ourselves. You notice of course, from that piece in Romans 9, God
just doesn’t argue. He says, “Look I am God. Some things I tell you, you won’t know why I’m
telling you them. You have to obey me just because you trust me.” And that comes out I think in
Leviticus 18. From Leviticus 18:22, God is telling the people what to do. And he doesn’t give them
great reasons for obeying him. He must have bored them to tears. He keeps repeating this phrase,
this clause, and you’ll see it if you read it a wee bit. Leviticus 18:1-5, and you’ll see the
clause occurring several times. Leviticus 18:1, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the people of
Israel, I am the Lord your God.’” That’s his reason. “You shall not do as they do in the land of
Egypt, where you dwelt, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am
bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall do my ordinances and keep my
statutes and walk in them.” Here’s the reason, “I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep
my statutes and my ordinances, by doing which a man shall live.” Why? “I am the Lord.” And just
keeps on and really gets to you. Verse 6, “None of you shall approach any one near of kin to him to
uncover nakedness.” Why? Would it be physically bad, or …? “I am the Lord.” That’s the reason.
And just keeps on through all those commands about sexual relationships and keeps on saying, “Why?
Because I am the Lord.” In Verse 21, “You shall not give any of your children to devote them by
fire to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”
Now God will often tell us to do things and he’ll expect us to obey him just because he is God. And
brothers and sisters it is important to know when that happens. And it’s important, too, to see
that Satan gets us to become rebellious on the basis of our reasons. I’m sure there isn’t one of
you who would disobey mom or dad, or disobey an elder, or disobey authorities without excellent
reasons for doing it. Except, that you see, there’s no reason that is sufficient for doing it,
except that you’re obeying God, rather than man. So it’s important.
REASONS are one way [to rebel against God] and THOUGHTS are the other. You find it in 2 Corinthians
10:4-6. You can detect rebellion in your own spirit just by your thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6,
“For the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” And
then what are the strongholds? “We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of
God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
It’s amazing that men and women protect themselves from God behind endless defense lines of thought.
They have always good reasons for really not dealing with God and their thoughts run along those
lines. The only way to deal with it, is to bring every thought into captivity of Jesus. But many
of us are so opinionated that we cannot possibly submit to the Father. Old Saul was on his way from
Tarsus to Jerusalem to arrest the Christians. Jesus confronted him and told him to go to Jerusalem.
And he neither went back to Tarsus nor did he go on to go to Damascus, nor did he go on to go to
Jerusalem. He went straight to Damascus where he was told.
Now many of us, we’re on our way from Tarsus to Jerusalem and Jesus confronts us and tells us, “Go
to Damascus,” but we either go back to Tarsus first or we go on to Jerusalem first. But we’re very
full of our own opinions and our own thoughts and we think, “Well, now it might be better to go this
way, or to go that way.” Now really brothers and sisters, your thoughts can show you whether you
are really trusting in God’s authority and really submissive to him, or whether you have lots of
ideas of your own.
Now maybe it would be good just finally to look at the statement that we made some time ago: that
submission is an attitude and is absolute, but obedience concerns action and is relative. It’s
relative to God’s will for you. So could we look at a few verses? There is a place for obeying God
rather than men. Hebrews 11:23 “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid for three months by his
parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s
edict.” Now by faith obviously they were guided, it says, to do this. They were not afraid of the
king’s edict, in spite of the fact that God’s word tells you to respect those who are in authority
Now then, see Matthew 2:13 in connection with Jesus’ own birth. Remember, this is in the light of
the fact that later on in the New Testament — there is that piece in Romans, “Respect those who are
authority over you, because the authorities are placed there by God. And let every person be
subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God and those that exist
have been instituted by God”. Matthew 2:13, “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the
Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to
Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy
him.’” So there was a time there to disobey the governing authority. And then again in Acts
5:27-29, that’s the plain and obvious one — “And when they had brought them, they set them before
the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in
this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s
blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”
Now dear ones, there are times it seems when obedience has to be relative to God’s own command to
you, and though your submission must be absolute, yet your obedience in that case has to be first to
God and only secondly to men. Now obviously, it is always concerned with preaching God’s word or
with transmitting God’s life, or with a clear command of God to you. It brings up the whole area of
what attitude you should take to parents who just will not let you go to the mission field. There’s
the whole teaching that Bill Gothard has shared that, yes you go with it. You submit to those
parents. They’re part of God’s chain of authority. Sooner or later, the Holy Spirit will work with
them. Now all I suggest is that you must put alongside that, Acts 5:29. You must also see that
there seems to be a time when you must obey God rather than man. Now only the Holy Spirit it seems,
can show us the difference. The attitude must always be the same dear ones — I think that’s it.
Acts 4:19 shows that the attitude always has to be the same. The attitude has to be one of
submission and respect. So even if you make suggestions to your parents or creative alternatives,
as even I think Bill Gothard would suggest you do, yet they must be made in a submissive attitude of
respect. Acts 4:19, “But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to
listen to you rather than to God, you must judge.” Peter and John’s attitude was, “Well look, we
respect you but you have to judge which is right for us to do.” And so there was an attitude of
submission to them.
Now you probably have to work that out in your own relationships with parents and your own
relationships with authorities. All I do submit to you is that while submission must be absolute,
surely obedience must a relative kind of thing. Now I think too many of us are too anxious to rebel
against the parents or authorities. That’s where we come into trouble. Too few of us are sure that
we have a command from God. Too many of us lack a submissive attitude and submissive spirit to
those in authority and so, were looking for an excuse to disobey them. But it seems brothers and
sisters, where you really have an attitude of submission and respect for parents, or teachers, or
elders, or those in authority over you, that comes over to the authority and it has a winsome way of
breaking down their opposition to you so that you can actually share what you believe God is telling
you to do. So it seems that God does work these things out if the attitude is correct and if it is
an attitude of submission.
It seems to me that those of us who have an obedient spirit have definite signs. I think for one
thing, if you have an obedient spirit rather than a rebellious spirit, you will look for authority
wherever you go. You will look for authority. Perfect authority and perfect obedience is found in
Jesus’ body. There’s no perfect obedience found outside his body, certainly. Normally, a person
who has a spirit of obedience will look for a body to belong to, and to come in, and to be under the
authorities that God has set up in that body.
Another mark of a person who has an obedient spirit will be a softness and a tenderness. A person
who has respect for God’s authority has a tenderness about them and a softness. They’re always
afraid to err and to go aside from what God is telling them. So, there’s a gentleness about them
and they are easily reproved. They are easily turned in God’s hand. I think probably, submissive
people who have an attitude or spirits of submissiveness are very reluctant to council, or to
command, or to be in authority over other people. But like Plato’s old recommendation, you
remember, that only the philosophers govern, and among them only the ones who didn’t want to,
govern. It seems that that’s one of the marks of a person who is submissive to God’s authority.
There’s a reluctance to be an authority over others, a reluctance to control them. I think there’s
a great desire to keep their mouths closed, and to speak little, and just to speak when God tells
them to speak. I think there’s also sensitivity to lawlessness or rebellion whenever it does occur.
Now it seems brothers and sisters, that we might talk in some future Sundays about delegated
authorities and who is able to be a delegated authority, yet this is probably the last time we’ll
deal with our attitude to authorities. So maybe we should just have a few minutes if you want to
Q. If your dad or mom tells you to submit in something, do they not need to give you a reason?
A. It seems to me that’s right. I think any sensible dad or mom will see that it’s important to try
to give a reason if you possibly can because, for instance, it helps the son or daughter to mature
and to understand as well as to obey. Paul, it would be true, that they really should not be
required to give a reason to us, that we ought to submit to them until their commands cross God’s
will for us, and there of course, our own hearts have to be very clear before God. They have to be
very sure that we are totally submissive to them in spirit and therefore, that we can know when
their commands contradict God’s.
Q. [Question from audience is inaudible.]
A. I think it is true, that yes, that a real attitude of submissiveness to authority does not demand
reasons from that authority. Now I, on my part, would say any authority that knows anything about
authority would be certainly very wise to give reasons wherever he or she can. But we, in our
attitude of submission to them, should have no right to require reasons. That’s the basis of
command and obedience. Obedience is really obedience when you don’t maybe see it the way they do.
That’s why I think our obedience is only tested often with God when he disagrees with us. That’s
the test of our obedience, whether we go his way on that occasion. Come back at me again if you
Q. Is there any place for us telling a person where they’re wrong?
A. Yes, but it has to be done very wisely, it seems. If you do it in a way that is commanding, or
that does not have an attitude or a spirit of submission in it, then I think you begin to undermine
that person’s position and in fact, you disobeyed by coming out of position yourself. So as a
general rule, I would say it’s very difficult to do, even with one who is an equal with you, let
alone one who is an authority over you. But certainly it must be possible if you have a real
attitude of submission yourself. I would recommend to us all to try prayer first and see if they
are still in touch with the Holy Spirit, in which case, if they are, he will transmit to them what
we have prayed. So I strongly recommend that we depend a lot in prayer on that whole subject of
putting each other right. Especially, it would seem to me if they are in authority.
I think many of us have done irrefutable damage in our homes, by explaining to our father just where
his theology was, a little old fashioned, perhaps. And I think we’ve done irrefutable damage by
pulling him out of his position. He has maybe been prepared to agree with what we said, but he felt
there was something wrong. And dear love him, he was right. He sensed there was something not
right in the relationship. So it is that I really praise God for brothers and sisters here, who
pray for me a lot, and trust that I am still close enough to the Holy Spirit to hear what he’s
saying. So I don’t have a lot of brothers and sisters who are putting me right in my theology, or
even putting me right where I am making mistakes in administration. It seems that to me to be more
an up-building thing then going around putting me right. So I say, yes, in a very rare case where
you be very sure there’s an attitude of submission inside yourself.
Q. [Question from audience is inaudible.]
So you’re dealing with an employer or with someone who is over you in a job situation, or with
someone in your family situation? It seems to me you have almost no grounds for speaking to them at
all in that case. I can see a person who is sensitive spiritually, perhaps being anxious. I trust
God that I would be anxious to see where God was putting me right, wherever it was coming from. In
other words, it seems to me if you’re sensitive to the Spirit, you’re anxious to find out where
you’re wrong, wherever the information comes from. I don’t see why a person who is not sensitive to
the Spirit would have any of that attitude. I think they would just crush you with their heel. I
think on a purely worldly a basis, they presumably have every right to.
I don’t think it’s particularly open minded of them, but I think most of them would take that
attitude. I think it’s really difficult with an employer, or with a boss, or with parents who don’t
see it your way. I think it’s intercessory prayer. And brothers and sisters, why I fight against
this business of putting the other person right by word is I think we’re babies in intercessory
prayer. If I felt all of you were on your knees two hours every day in intercessory prayer, then I
would think, ‘Well maybe if that didn’t work, maybe you should speak to them.” But I feel that many
of us aren’t praying strongly for the people in authority over us. I think prayer is the first
thing you try — and after you’ve done two hours a day and it doesn’t work, then maybe you can think
of trying words.
Q. How do you interpret the verses, “Rebuke your brother”?
A. Brother that’s part of the problem — that we have quoted these verses glibly. In fact, there
isn’t a verse that says that. There are verses in James that says that if you convert another man
and turn him from his sins, you will cover a multitude of sins — but you could obviously convert
them by prayer, and not simply by speaking words. There’s another verse that says, if your brother
sins against you then you ought to go to him and tell him. Now it that case, it’s a definite thing
that he has done against you. I believe that God’s Spirit is showing us that we first have to pray
over whatever we feel that our brother has done against us and come into real victory over it
ourselves. And then, go to brother and confess whatever resentment we had to him, and trust the
Holy Spirit to make it clear to him what was wrong in his case.
Now I know that Matthew goes further at times if the brother won’t listen. It seems to me, Steve, in
an issue like a finance situation, if Sam had been in business with Hank, and Hank had taken $2,000
or $3,000 of the business money and left Sam just in trouble, it is obviously just not the work of a
man of God. And so, Sam has to go to Hank first and tell him. Then if Hank won’t listen, they both
have to come to me and explain the situation. But it seems to me it’s that kind of situation that
the Father is talking about rather than situations where somebody has offended me by saying
something hard against me. It seems to me I ought to intercede for that person, win victory over it
myself and go and share with them that I love them.
Q. How would you define the distinction between placidity and submission?
A. It would seem to me, brother, that submission for one thing, would be a loving, positive
attitude of affection and eagerness to obey towards a person. Whereas passivity would be just an
attitude, “Well I’m here, and I’m in this position and I just have to suffer whatever comes,” — a
kind a fatalism, kind of, “I don’t have a positive attitude of a love or affection to a person. I’m
here and I better grin and bear it.” It’s an attitude of stoical endurance. It would seem to me
that would be passivity. Submission is a loving active thing, and I once shared one evening that I
think you can really bless another person. However, I think there can be a “Uriah Heep-ish”
quality. Do you know Uriah Heep in Dickens? He was always saying, “Your humble servant, sir.” Now
I think there can be that kind of attitude that is just miserable. You just don’t want anything to
do with it. It just seems you can almost feel it in the wringing of his hands. Now there’s no
place for that, but it seems to me there’s a place for a healthy, loving submission to another
person that blesses the other person. It seems to me that kind of healthy atmosphere then leaves a
lot of room for all kinds of humor and all kinds of easiness in the relationship.
I know just as a school teacher, I would always be much more confident with a student that I knew,
and that I could joke a lot with him. But it was the other fellow that was always looking to get
under the guard that you had to watch for. I think that’s the same situation.
Q. Inaudible question: [What about] fornicators and adulators?
A. Brother is bringing up a quotation that it seems to me could maybe be expressed even more
bluntly. Paul says, “I excluded a certain person. I gave a certain person over to Satan for the
destruction of his flesh,” and I think what he did was exclude the person from the church fellowship
so that the person in question would know the seriousness of his relationship with God and would
begin to seek God. The Holy Spirit would begin to deal with it so that the person would not be able
to do what many people unfortunately can do today. They can be kept in the church either because of
the money they give or for some other reason. They can continue to be bluffed into thinking they’re
still a child of God.
Now obviously brother, there is a place for the apostle or the successors to the apostles — and I
would imagine it would be pastors and elders in our present body — to discipline a person. It
would be important to do that. I think for instance — and I don’t want to offend the dear ones who
may be here. I don’t know that there are any Mormons here tonight, but I know there are a couple of
dear brothers who went into the Mormon Church some years ago and then come back. You’re not too
sure whether they’re seeking to love Jesus and seeking to be a blessing, or whether maybe there’s a
wee bit of interest in other sheep. And so in that situation there is a place for the leader, for
the elder, for the leader in a house or for the pastor to exclude them from the body. So it seems
to me, yes brother, there’s a place for discipline in the body, but it would seem to me it’s the
responsibility of the pastor and the elders.
God has in some way placed you older brothers and sisters in a position of eldership, whether you’re
officially elders or not. It would seem to me the same thing would apply to you. It seems God just
will give wisdom at times to you. So it would seem to me, that’s it, brother. Dear ones, do you
see what I’m protesting against? Old Oswald Chambers was very wise and he said, “The undergraduate
sin is criticism,” and that’s what I’m fighting. We are just so open, aren’t we, as we’re
discovering lots of new things to want to put everybody right — as long as we don’t have to get
right ourselves. It’s so easy to be pointing the finger at each other. I think a lot of love is
required and a lot of praying for each other, and just a great deal of tolerance of each other.
Jesus will put us all right if we do that.
It seems important, nevertheless, to have at least the degree of honesty that we would have in a
sensitivity group and that to at least be able to be as honest with each other as that? Surely the
important thing is the spirit with which we say things? I think that’s true. I think the problem
about a sensitivity group is it’s not gathered by the Holy Spirit at all. It’s just, let me throw
everything at you whether it does you good or does you harm. But it seems under the guidance of the
Holy Spirit, there is a time for real honesty with each other. So, Marlene, the heart of that is if
we’re going to minister up building to a person, we need to be very sure that they are able to
receive it — and indeed, maybe even suspecting it themselves. It seems real administering a thing
to a person rather than just saying it to them is having the discernment to see that they already
even are suspecting it themselves — and will be willing to receive it.
I would like to say that this is all consistent with real honesty, dear ones. I use a phrase that
is sometimes I think brothers and sisters may misunderstand it. We’re having a meeting and we’re
trying to decide whether we should buy bread for the bizarre from the supermarket across the way, or
whether we should buy it from a wholesaler. I think it’s fairly obvious what we should do, but
we’re discussing the thing — and I’ll say, “Okay, fight me on it. Here are my reasons for it.
Fight me on it.” And they’ll think, “Well we’ll pull out the guns.” But I really mean that we
should have such a healthy relationship with each other, such a healthy attitude of love and
submissiveness that we should be able to offer strong reasons to each other. If you have better
reasons, and God does not check me on it or check another brother on it, let’s go.
But yeah, Marlene, I think there should be greater honesty among brothers and sisters in Jesus than
anywhere else. And it has no place for, “Yes ma’am” – as John brought it up last Sunday. There’s
no place for just agreeing because you’re supposed to obey authority. But again Marlene, it seems
to me it’s always the spirit of the thing. I know in the elders meetings on Tuesday night, it just
can be very straight because I have no question of the brothers’ attitude to me. It’s just I know
they would die for me and I would die for them. They would die to maintain my position and I for
them. So there’s a possibility of great honesty — but if Satan gets in there and seems to deceive
that spirit, then boy, the whole thing can change.
Q. How do you see the Old Testament prophets?
In the position of a preacher brother, I think it’s a unique position, and I mean I thank God for
it, but it’s one that I think one has to use very humbly, and carefully, and wisely and I know that
God gives us a real freedom in a preaching situation. Except brother, for instance, that one of the
things I have to die to when I go into the pulpit is anything I know about Dave, or Mike, or
anything I know about Sam. I have to die to that and ask the Holy Spirit what he wants to feed his
body today. And so brother, a prophet or a preacher who is under the anointing of the Holy Spirit
is not really speaking his own words. He’s speaking what God wants spoken to the body and the Holy
Spirit applies it individually. And so brother, even in preaching it seems me, there’s no place for
me speaking to John directly and rebuking him. But I agree with you, the prophet and the preachers
seem to have a unique position where he speaks generally to a situation. It’s the Holy Spirit I
think that applies it individually.
I think a sister was going out last day and she said, “How did he know we were coming today?” Well I
didn’t know they were coming — but the Holy Spirit did and he applied the word directly to her
heart. So I think that’s a miracle brother. I think it’s a unique position. I think you have to
pray for me and I have to pray for every one of you that ever preaches or speaks, because it’s a
dangerous position and a gracious one for Jesus to give to men.
Q. [Question is inaudible.]
A. This is an old problem. A lot of us have been in a sensitivity group being organized in the
nursing school in the University by someone who is an authority over her. Some of the older
brothers and sisters may not know, but the sensitivity group approach is that you’ve to get up and
say all your good points. You tell what you think is good in you and then tell the things that are
bad in you. I mean, it’s wild. Anybody who can lie any way at all will get clear of that one, I’m
sure. It just proves nothing. But sis, no. I think it’s wrong. I think we witness, however
difficult it is. I’m not for sticking out as sore fingers if we can avoid it, but in that
situation, I think you witness. I think you say, “No, I don’t really know what is good. If I were
really honest with you, in regard to God, I don’t think I’m good at all.” I’d turn it into a
testimony. But sis, I know it’s too easy to quickly say that, but I would be honest with my Lord in
the thing. I wouldn’t play their game. Push me.
[Question/comment from same person is inaudible.]
A. Yes, alright I would do it. I don’t think she can force you to say what you don’t believe. You
probably don’t really – or, do you? Ah, you do look a little proud. No, I know, but you see, she
presumably wants you to say things like, “Well I’m really very good with people, and I get on very
well with people. I don’t get on very well with nursing instructors, but with people.” And it
seems to me you really have to be honest. You have to say what you’ve found in relationship to
Jesus. You have to say, “Well I’m sure many people might say that I’m a sociable type, but I know
in my own heart, that boy, I lack a lot real love for people, real unselfish love.”
I think why that is, is a lot of us have good times in our classes when we’ve taken the
opportunities. It’s one thing to not say anything and another thing to make up an opportunity. For
example, when the electric light bulb goes out you say, “Yes, but I have the real light.” No,
that’s terrible. That just makes fun of Jesus and that isn’t blessing. But this other kind of
situation is very real, and I think can be a blessing. Lots of us in speech classes have really
been used by Jesus to transmit his life to others because they’ve just given us an opportunity to
speak about things that we were concerned about.
Q. Could you speak about reluctance to be over other people?
It seems to me sis, that that would be a very safe attitude to have. And I know I have kind of felt
that, “Lord, I’ll try to keep myself under you. I don’t really want the job of trying to keep a lot
of other people under you.” I think it’s a good attitude to have, sis, that it’s a terrible
responsibility to exercise authority. I’m sure it’s good – at least I can say this positively —
I’m sure that those of us who are in authority should be reluctant to exercise authority. We should
exercise it when Jesus tells us. Now I don’t think we should stand back for a moment when he tells
us to exercise it — that’s important. But I think we should be suspicious of any readiness and
eagerness to exercise authority. I think the only things that enable a man or woman to exercise
authority in the Spirit is God’s Holy Spirit and God’s grace. So you’ll only want to do it when God
tells you to do it and gives you the grace to do it. Well maybe we should pray dear ones.