Man's Character

Stubbornness in Today’s Believers

February 23, 2014

Have you ever dealt with stubbornness in your own life? How about in the life of your siblings, your children, your friends, or your coworkers?

If you ask the average person, they’ll probably say that they know lots of stubborn people, but will not likely admit to be stubborn themselves. Let me be quick to admit, I have been very stubborn in the past, and still struggle with this issue from time to time.

God says that stubbornness is iniquity (wickedness/sin).

Sin is very deceitful, it can creep up on us and we may not even know it.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
Romans 7:11

So God tells believers to exhort each other, so this doesn’t happen.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 3:13

In this verse, exhort comes from the Greek word parakaleō, which means “to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): – beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray”.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Hebrews 10:24

But what happens if a Christian is caught in sin, and their heart has been hardened? How can other believers even tell if they have been hardened?

People that have been hardened by sin don’t usually cry/show emotion, they tend to always have something negative to say, they’re stoic (stiff, unapproachable), can’t seem to find anything positive in any given situation, and so on.

God’s people are supposed to exhort one another, as the verse says. That’s sure hard to do if you never have anything positive to say.

But it’s pretty difficult to edify someone else if you are sin yourself. And as we saw in Hebrews 3:13, that sin causes a hardness. Another rendering of that word hardness is stubbornness.

So the question is, are you hardened? Are you stubborn?

God Likens Stubbornness to Rebellion

These two are companions and they are often found together.

For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?
Deuteronomy 31:27

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
I Samuel 15:23

And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
Psalm 78:8

The word stedfast there is talking about faith – they lacked faith. They refused to get right, they were stubborn and rebellious.

I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:
Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.
Psalm 75:4-5

Have you ever seen someone speak with a stiff neck?

They kind of look robotic, don’t they? There’s not much warmth, not much humanity, not much mercy to be found in them. They’re stubborn. They’re rebellious.

God Gives a Graphic Representation of the End Result of Stubbornness and Rebellion

And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.
Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:
But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
Zechariah 7:8-14

God cries out to the stubborn for them to hear him, to allow him to change them, but Israel, like so many American Christians and churches today, have made their hearts like an adamant stone. They’re hard as a rock, and totally refuse to repent and come back to God.

God does not hear the cry of the stubborn.

O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
Jeremiah 5:3

The stubborn will not repent, they will not be persuaded of anything. They have it all figured out. They’ve been there, they’ve done that. They know it all. I’ve seen this kind of attitude out of those who profess Christ, and let me tell you, it makes me sick. It’s disgusting, and it is a characteristic that is completely opposite of the characteristics of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was meek and lowly. He submitted himself to his parents. He submitted himself to his heavenly father, and carried out his will, even the death of the cross.

So how far does God have to go with his people before they listen to him?

I’m grateful for the Lord’s mercy, but how long will he bear with his own? How long will he allow them to continue? What do they need to do?

God has Commanded His People to Help the Stubborn One

If there is a one caught in sin, one who is stubborn amongst believers, one who is unteachable, proud, stoic, obstinate, stiffnecked or hardhearted, God has commanded his people to help them.

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

In this passage, the word admonish comes from the Greek word noutheteō, which means “to put in mind, that is, (by implication) to caution or reprove gently: – admonish, warn”.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Galatians 6:1-3

Believers have a responsibility to restore that one. Another very large problem churches face is a total lack of unity. Everyone does there own thing. Nobody takes responsibility for anyone else. God says believers are to be united in their common purpose, which is getting the gospel out to a lost and dying world.

Yet we can’t even agree on how to go about that. Some want to go out on visitation, but they can’t agree on a day or time. Some want to use other mediums like radio, TV, phone and internet, but can’t get aligned on that strategy. And still others seem to have no interest at all.

Are believers not stiff-necked? Are they not stubborn?

If that’s you, what are you willing to do about it?

Are you willing to break the pattern set by Israel and followed by today’s Christians, and fall to your knees and ask God to forgive you?

If this isn’t you, but you plainly see it in the life of another person in your church, do you have the courage to confront them in meekness, while considering yourself?

I’ll be honest, I fear this.

The last time I confronted a major sin issue in the life of another, it cost me dearly.

But I pray that you have more courage than me, that God would correct each erroneous believer, and make them the powerful tools he wants them to be, that many might be saved and trained in the faith.

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