Unprofitable for You – Hebrews 13:17

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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In 1955, the movie Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean and Natalie Woods, portrayed moral decay in American youth. Three teens, disenchanted with their circumstances, rebel against authorities and their parents. Sadly, this film and its title has become something of a cultural rallying point for rebels of varying ages.

The book of Hebrews concludes with sobering warnings. Like today, rebellious tendencies had emerged among believers toward their churches and leaders within the church. Some were callously forsaking attendance (Hebrews 10:25), while others chafed against the authority of the leadership. Elsewhere, God addressed the need for church elders to have a proper attitude of humility (I Peter 5:3). However, the focus in Hebrews 13 is on the proper attitude and conduct of believers in local assemblies. God’s instruction was to “remember them which have the rule over you” (vs. 17). Many become immediately rebellious when it is suggested anyone is to rule over them, even in a godly way. Nonetheless, Gods’ divine instruction is to “remember” the valuable ministry of elders by showing respect and appreciation. Each believer was also to “obey them” and “submit yourselves” (vs. 17). Why should any adult believer submit to any church leader? There are several reasons. Beyond appreciation for their ministry of the Scriptures, we must remember, “God is not the author of confusion” (I Corinthians 14:33). To avoid chaos and aimlessness, the Lord ordained that order be provided through biblically-qualified, proven, and godly men. This was true in Jewish kingdom churches, and it is true for grace churches today. Further, these elders who are to be well grounded and capable in the Scriptures are to “… watch for your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). Sound teachers who are good leaders help protect believers from being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. Finally, if we rebel against their authority, “that is unprofitable for you” (vs. 17). God views rebellion as heinously wrong as the sin of practicing witchcraft (I Samuel 15:23), and He hates the practice of sowing discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19). To defiantly rebel against church leaders is unprofitable because it can’t be done with a clean conscience, we rob ourselves of joy and peace now, and we will ultimately answer for such conduct with loss of eternal reward. That makes rebellion unprofitable.

Have you been rebelling against church leadership? Let God’s instruction, that doing so is “unprofitable for you,” be an impetus to abandon rebellion and fully cooperate with leaders in your church.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."