The Convolution of the Rebel Heart

“This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men. Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?'” “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” Isaiah 29:13,15-16; Psalm 81:11-13

Isaiah captures well the convoluted thinking of rebels who live apart from God. Their tendency is to give lip-service to a higher Being but disregard accountability to Him. They clutch their life-reins, justify self-determination and perverted choices, and believe they can hide their actions and motives from the all-knowing Maker. In seeing themselves as a god, they mock the true God. They listen and submit only to self, and bear the consequence. The psalmist describes God’s heart for His people, along with the freedom He gives by releasing them to their own devices.

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While I may not consider myself a spiritual anarchist, where has a hint of rebel seeped into my thinking? Do I act as though He is available, but keep Him on the periphery as I make plans and go about my days, fine to forge ahead on my own? I may never consciously pretend to be God, but how have I distorted His character by subconsciously fashioning Him into my (desired) image, expecting Him to act as I want, dispense what I want, when I want? Is there an area I am hiding from His light because I think if I keep in the dark He will not see? Where have I allowed my reasoning to turn upside down because I have exposed myself to folly and refused the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

Many rebels are blinded to the gospel by the god of this world, unable not to be convoluted in their thinking, but believers grow subversive when we shun truth and make up our own. Is there a growing impatience, irritation, stubbornness, bitterness, covetousness, that are evidences of rebellion? When God Almighty, in mercy and lovingkindness, exposes any calcifying of our heart, He beckons us to call out to Him, repent, put away our strange gods, and open wide our mouths to be filled with His finest satisfaction. He delights to soften the rebel heart and make it new, and reconcile us back to intimate communion. (Psalm 81:7-10,16; Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4)

Mighty Lord, penetrate my thinking with Your truth. Expose rebellion in my flesh and my mind, that I might, enabled by Your grace, put it away. Grant me discernment and wisdom, the mind of Christ, so my living is consistent with Your ways. (Isaiah 29:14; 1 Corinthians 2:16)

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