The Downward Spiral of Defiance
by Charles R. Swindoll
Talk about going from bad to worse. Defiance is the classic illustration. First, defiance begins with carnal attitudes. Long before there are carnal actions, there are carnal attitudes. It can happen to adults just as quickly as it can to teens or kids. Perhaps it would help if I spelled out a few of the attitudes by describing some actual thoughts in the minds of the defiant.
The first thought says: "I want my own way." Those who are defiant aren't interested in your way, or God's way. "I want my way." That is an attitude of selfishness.
The second thought says this: "I won't quit until I get it." That is an attitude of stubbornness. "I want my way, and I want it when I want it. I will not quit until I get it." That's just plain obstinacy; that's stubbornness.
Third: "I don't care who it hurts." In other words, "I want my way. I won't quit until I get it, and I don't care who it hurts—husband, wife, peers, parents, kids, the team, my church—I don't care. I'm gonna get my way." That is an attitude of indifference.
Fourth: "I refuse to listen to counsel." Obviously, that is an attitude of resistance. "I know God has something to tell me, but I don't want to hear what He's got to say." Or, "I know what He's going to tell me—I know what that Book says. I don't want to listen to God's counsel." That's resistance.
Fifth, and finally: "I am not concerned about the consequences." That's contempt. Pushed to the wall, this extreme reaction includes ignoring the consequences—a total lack of concern for the results.
"I want my own way. I won't quit until I get it. I don't care who it hurts. I will not listen to counsel. I am not concerned about the consequences." Those are the words of a defiant person. And they can come from our lips just as readily as from a person without Christ. They represent selfishness and stubbornness and indifference and resistance and contempt. As I mentioned earlier, defiance begins with carnal attitudes.
Continuing the downward spiral, the second inescapable reality about defiance is this: Defiance leads to personal misery. The defiant person wants freedom, but he finds himself captured. He wants his own way, but he finds himself ensnared by the restrictions that misery brings.
Look at Proverbs 13:15 and you'll see a pretty good illustration or statement of that kind of misery. I want to examine two particular terms:
Good understanding produces favor,
But the way of the treacherous is hard.
The word treacherous is translated from the Hebrew verb that means "to deal treacherously or defiantly." The way of one who deals in defiance is hard. Interesting term. It means "to be perpetual, steady, constant, ever enduring, rugged." The etymology of the term finally leads to "ruggedness." The way of the person who deals in defiant thoughts and actions is perpetually rugged, hard, and miserable. Defiance leads to personal misery.
There is a third stage on this downward spiral:
Defiance results in inescapable bondage. Those most defiant are most bound, not free.
For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD,
And He watches all his paths. (Proverbs 5:21)
That's quite a thought. But the next two verses complete the picture:
His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
He will die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.
Look at that! The "cords" from one's own defiance will wrap themselves around the victim and will cause him or her to be inescapably bound up. In the margin of my mind I have written "Samson," who was literally bound with the cords of his own sin—unconquered lust.
Frankly, I'm much more concerned about "acceptable" defiance than bold defiance. Why? Because that's what happens more often than not. We cover up. We hide our defiance. We sit on the lid. But, sure enough—given sufficient pressure—something eventually snaps.
Your defiance will come out in the most amazing ways: a battered child; a crime of passion; a blistering tongue-lashing; running away from home; an illicit pregnancy; an ugly, caustic line of profane words; an affair; domestic disharmony; a ruined testimony. I charge you before God to deal severely with this giant. It may be slumbering right now—but I warn you—not for long.
I would like you to think about your life for just a few moments. I'd like you to trace your actions and attitudes back a day or two, or maybe several weeks. Take a long, straightforward look at where you are. Are any signs of defiance there? "I want my own way. I won't quit till I get it. I don't care who it hurts. I refuse to listen to counsel. I'm not concerned about consequences."
My friend, those are dangerous words. If they are there in your head, you're on a powder keg that's going to explode. Your stress fracture will soon become a compound fracture. I ask you to find the hope of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He is there, and He awaits your turning all that turmoil over to Him . . . that hot cauldron of resentment. The longer it boils, the more lethal it could become.
Don't rationalize and say, "Well, that's just the way I am." Call it what it is and say, "Lord, I come to You in my need. I need You to take it, take it now."
This devotional is part five in a five-part series.
Excerpted from Avoiding Stress Fractures, Copyright © 1990, 1995 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
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