OceanSide church of Christ
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REASONS PEOPLE DEFY GOD
Victor M. Eskew
God is the sovereign of the Universe. All of His creatures are supposed to reverence Him and bow to His will. However, God does not force man to obey Him. Therefore, man can defy God if he choses to do so. The word “defy” is an accurate term. It involves one challenging the authority of God. It involves one resisting the authoritative will of God. The word originates from the French word “desfier” which literally means “to distrust.” Those who defy God do not trust Him. It is hard to imagine that a frail and ignorant man can believe that he knows better than God. What is it that causes men to defy God? We will provide a few answers to this question in the remainder of this article.
First, pride often causes man to defy God. Pride involves the elevation of man to a position that is not his to have. The individual begins to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. He sees himself as wise, strong, and indestructible. His pride makes him believe that he is superior to God. In that state, the individual does not believe that he needs God. He does not believe that he must submit to God. There are numerous individuals who have defied God out of pride: Satan, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and the man of sin. Listen to how Paul describes the latter in his second letter to the Thessalonians. “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2:4).
Second, anger can move a man to oppose God. This is what caused Naaman to oppose God when he was instructed to dip seven times in the Jordan River in order to be cleansed of his leprosy. “So Naaman came with his horse and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage” (II Kings 5:9-12). The key words are: “Behold I thought.” Naaman was relying on his knowledge instead of trusting the words of God revealed by the prophet. Thoughts of having to dip in the muddy Jordan River made him angry. Thus, he left the prophet’s presence in a rage. When he left, he continued in his leprous condition.
Third, fear can cause individuals to defy the Almighty God. When the armies of Israel were challenged by the giant of Gath, they trembled in fear before him. “And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we might fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid” (I Sam. 17:10-11). Their fear paralyzed them. Their fear caused them to cower before Goliath. Their fear caused the God of Israel to be mocked by their enemies. Saul, the king of Israel, should have donned his armor. He should have stood with faith to fight the giant. Fear, however, caused him to refuse to bring glory to the God of heaven.
Fourth, there are those who defy God out of sheer ignorance. When Jesus was crucified, the first words He spoke from the cross where these: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Jesus indicated that the horrible actions of both the Jews and the Romans were being done out of ignorance. When Peter spoke to the Jews who saw the miracle he performed at the Beautiful gate of the temple, he affirmed that they “killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:15). A few words after this, he also said: “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also you rulers” (Acts 3:17). Ignorance of the truth of God’s Word has caused many people to engage in evil actions that defy God. Those who act in ignorance might not have defied God had they known (See I Cor. 2:8).
Fifth, there are individuals who defy God out of negligence. There have been individuals who knew the will of God, but who neglected to give heed unto it. Priests under the Old Law were supposed to be students of the Law. They were supposed to know what the Lord required of them as they engaged in their service of the tabernacle. One of these priests was negligent of his duty. Sadly, it cost him his life. In II Samuel 6, David makes plans to take the ark of the covenant and place it into the tabernacle. A priest by the name of Uzzah is the one who is driving the cart upon which the ark was carried. “And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.” Uzzah should have known that touching the ark was forbidden by God (Num. 4:15). Because of his neglect, he defied God. God’s judgment against him brought his death.
Sixth, there are people who defy God because of their selfishness. This seems to have been one of the problems Judas had. He loved money. The Bible tells us that he was the treasurer of the apostles. This gave him access to money that was not his. Unfortunately, he yielded to the temptation to steal from the till. In John 12:6, we are told that “he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” His covetousness also led him to covenant with the Jews to betray Jesus into their hands for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15). Judas’ selfishness would not allow him to look beyond instant gratification. Sadly, when he saw that Jesus stood condemned, he realized the consequences of his actions, returned the money to the Jewish leaders, and in a deep state of guilt went out and hanged himself (Matt. 27:3-5).
Seventh, there have been many people who have defied God because they were deceived. Paul tells us that Eve “being deceived was in the transgression” (I Tim. 2:14). All of us know the story. Satan presented his lie to Eve in the Garden of Eden and Eve believed it. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. For God doeth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the three was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also under her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:4-6).
If Christians were asked: “Would you ever defy God?” They would respond in the negative. They know that defying God brings severe consequences. However, when push comes to shove, they sometimes defy God. Pride gets in their way. Anger moves them to disobedience. Fear causes them to disobey the plain commands of God. Ignorance blinds them to their rebellion. Negligence hinders their obedience. Selfishness overtakes them and they resist the Lord. And, they are deceived into believing their defiance of God is justified. This is true even though defying God is never profitable for those who do it. Dear reader, there is no reason that justifies our defiance of anything God has authorized. Let’s resolve to never resist the Lord.