Boldness or Rebellion
Rebellion is a counterfeit of holy boldness.
When I sometimes feel bold in the Lord the temptation often comes in to derail that boldness with independence and pride. I feel like wanting to take some of the credit for the wisdom flowing through me or for some of the results of what God is accomplishing in someone else's life through my ministry to them.
Satan is quick to accuse me of acting in rebellion instead of in genuine care for someone else. Then it is so easy to believe that my motives may in fact be partly rooted in my longtime spirit of rebellion. There is always the presence of selfishness in my heart from my fallen nature. Its very presence gives credence to the accusations of Satan about why I am doing things, especially for God.
Can I have two opposite motives for doing the same thing, one from my selfish nature and another from God's Spirit working in me? Or does it always have to be exclusive as far as motives go? I think there may be a deception in here that keeps me in confusion. As long as I am in this body there is going to be competing motives in conflict with each other. My sinful flesh will even rush in to claim false credit even after the fact, after my renewed heart has done something spontaneously prompted by the Spirit of God. This can set me up for serious confusion if I don't understand what is really going on inside.
The very nature of counterfeits is that they look so plausibly true. I may take actions of boldness that look so much like very similar actions that can be motivated by a rebellious, independent spirit that it is not hard to insinuate that I am still operating from rebellion and not from true love. Satan is so eager to discount everything God is doing inside of me and to deny the presence of true grace and growth in my heart. On the other hand, God asks me to exercise faith which seems to include choosing to believe that my motives are different than what my mind, assisted by outside interference, often accuses me of having.
Rebellion can motivate me to take strong positions in the name of being right. It can assemble all sorts of righteous sounding reasons for its positions and clothe itself in religious piety or patriotic fervor. It can easily disguise itself under all sorts of covers but at its roots there is a foundation of lies and very often a deep reservoir of bitterness and anger.
Holy boldness is a lot harder for me to describe since I don't feel like I have much experience with it. I feel like most of what I might say would be more from observation or conjecture. But maybe as I try to understand it better God's Spirit may enlighten me as I want to move more in that direction. To understand true boldness I can also draw clues from the reasons that make rebellion a counterfeit.
Rebellion is usually filled with a spirit of self-defense, self-justification and legal maneuvering of some sort. It often revolves around trying to defend my rights and freedoms. It maintains that if I don't protect my rights and freedoms that they will be lost along with those of everyone around me eventually.
Boldness must be based on a strong confidence in God's methods and God's ability to defend me in the ways and times of His choosing. Holy boldness has to be rooted in strong beliefs in the goodness of God, in His faithfulness and strength, not in my ability to secure my freedoms and rights through my own efforts. Boldness comes from an atmosphere of peace and confidence and release from the power of fear that fills the heart and mind when the Holy Spirit is present in power. Boldness is very close to the feeling of assurance of salvation that is so anathema to those rooted in a fear-based theology.
Rebellion is almost always connected with anger or bitterness.
Boldness, the right kind of boldness, is deeply rooted in knowing that I am loved and the confidence that this surety gives me in the face of opposition or evil.
When the early disciples encountered persecution and threats of bodily harm after the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit into their midst, they did not come back and pray for God's protection over them to prevent harm from coming to them as we might do. Instead they prayed for boldness. I find this very instructive and insightful. What they were really saying was that the enemy was trying to suck them back into feeling intimidated and afraid in order to muzzle their contagious witness about the goodness and power of God that was flowing out of their lives. They knew this clearly. They saw the real issues at the core of the confrontation and instead of trying to get God to look out for their safety they asked God to remove the fear of evil men and fill its place with holy boldness.
The immediate answer to that prayer was significant and overwhelming. They received a second mighty shaking encounter with another outpouring of the Holy Ghost which empowered them to do exactly what they had asked God to empower them to do. They spoke with even more fearless boldness which in turn made their testimony about God's attractiveness even more compelling and contagious.
I want that kind of boldness and that kind of close connection with God. I want to be delivered from the counterfeit of rebellion that keeps me in bondage to fear and selfishness and to be filled instead with the passion of God to bring honor and glory to His reputation. I want to be healed of all the roots of bitterness that feed my spirit of rebellion and to be filled with the transformational love that comes only from an intimate relationship with heaven.