Honor and Rebuke
Honor and rebuke occupy the same coin. The word translated “rebuke” is epitimao, and it means 1) honor buy 2) restrain.
Rebuke is a technical term for the authority exerted to cast out demons or to restrain demonic activities and the spiritual and natural conditions they produce.
Rebuke is a relational term for speaking truth into a loving situation to alter unwanted behavior.
Rebuke is a restraining authority to behaviors in individuals and leaders.
Notice that the first meaning is honor, so the rebuke matched up with the relational dynamics of
God’s designed roles of leadership. Who rebukes whom and those to be honored rebuke others, with a specific outcome in mind, answer to God’s designs.
Paul tells Timothy to rebuke using this term, epitimao. Next, Paul tells Timothy not to strike or chide an elder, using a different word altogether (epiplesso) that is unfortunately translated without clarification as “rebuke.”
Paul tells Timothy to “rebuke publicly the people who continue to sin.” Paul tells Titus to “to offer evidence in court with the intent to produce courageous boldness for action and rebuke with all authority: do not allow anyone to dishonor you.”
Authorized to Expand and Limit
If you have the authority to offer evidence in court to produce the boldness to act, you have the authority to rebuke unwanted behavior. The definition of your authority to provide evidence in court to convince people to bold action matches the definition of authority to rebuke.
The authority to rebuke matches God’s design for honor.
The sense of the word honor flows from the sense of the word bless. The sense of the word rebuke flows from the sense of the word curse. Blessing means expansion. Cursing means limitation.
The kingdom keys operate in this way, to expand what God wants expanded and to limit what God wants limited.
God in Heaven wants His ekklesia to expand and limit things on Earth. To do that, the people in that ekklesia must honor His kingdom’s apostolic order for personal expansion and limitation.
The authority to establish God’s intentions and the authority to rebuke demonic usurpations matches the authority to enforce kingdom culture and the authority to deal with unwanted behaviors in kingdom citizens.
An ekklesia without apostolic order (the kingdom design for leadership identified by this biblical label) cannot exercise the authority to confront principalities and cosmic dominators when the people in that ekklesia dishonor the blessing and cursing aspects of the King’s representatives. To the extent that ekklesia is composed of people expanded and restrained to the proper heart condition and lifestyle, to that extent that ekklesia can deal with cosmic spiritual conditions and atmospheres influencing a region or nation.
Define honor by its authority to rebuke to find a more accurate understanding of honor. Beware of defining honor by what brings you what you want because you define blessing and favor by the same criteria.
The Restraining Power of Rebuke
Grace enables behaviors that please God in a lifestyle the fulfills the expectations of His principles (often called the Law). Rebuke installs the strength of will for this spiritual enabling to stop unwanted behaviors and embed Truth in the inward parts.
You might notice how those who think grace means mercy miss this essential aspect of how things really work in the spirit. Moreover, the “false grace” assumption about forgiveness ignores the Biblical concept of authority to restrain as a basis for establishing habits of right behaviors.
What Rebuke Really Looks Like
Kingdom leaders curse with the same authority with which they bless. They rebuke with the same authorization that God designs to bring them honor. Nothing could be more clear about kingdom authority.
Rebuke looks and sounds like whatever it takes to make it stick. Rebuke looks and sounds like the scope of the recipient’s authority.
Rebuking your leader is a big No-No. Failing to rebuke those asked to honor you is a big No-No. You leave something to restraint that should be expanded when you rebuke your leader; you commit dishonor as lawless as satan revolting against God.
You leave something expanding that God asked you to restrain or limit when you fail to rebuke those who honor your leadership; you commit dishonor to the One you represent as damaging as limiting the Lordship of Christ in His kingdom.
Of course, these things occur all day long, many times a day, and God doesn’t break out in a sweat. The point isn’t to judge the kingdom as inept and paint hopelessness across the clouds. The point is to recognize the intentions of the King to expand the flow of grace to individuals, so the flow of authority to the ekklesia usurps the usurpers.
Rebuke is spiritual warfare. So is discipling. So is fathering. So is ekklesia. So is encouragement.
I was eating breakfast with a spiritual son and his wife. I answered their call to be heard and helped. I listened to my spiritual son share the doctor’s report of his deadly levels of bad cholesterol. I saw his tears and fears.
I said, in a quiet voice, “Son, you need to change your lifestyle.” I spoke to his spirit, as an honored father to an honoring son, and the rebuke was a gentle as spring drizzle on the daisies. I saw him flinch as the words embedded.
So, he went home and changed. He started running again until he was running five miles every morning. Then, he started eating differently because his diet was deadly. He lost fifty pounds in a few weeks, and his deadly cholesterol normalized. He has maintained this for more than ten years to this date.
His testimony is that my words of rebuke empowered his restraint, changed his inner man, reset his thinking, and strengthened his will to bold behavior. He says rebuke transformed his life, and his testimony bears scrutiny because the outcomes or fruit produced match his words.
Another Case Study
I was drinking coffee with a spiritual daughter. I rebuked her. I watched her stand up in the coffee shop with fire in her eyes, pointing her finger in my face, telling me what part of hell to occupy.
So, I stood up and looked her in the eyes with a hotter fire, pointed my finger past hers, spoke a little stronger than a whisper around her jaw-clenched guttural rant, and said, “You stop that right now! Sit down! Don’t say another word! Don’t you even talk to me in that tone of voice again! Are we clear?”
Her eyes bugged out. Her voice drowned out in tears. Her britches hit the chair. Her set jaw began to quiver.
I then kindly repeated the previous rebuke. Finally, I asked, “Do you understand what I am saying now?”
She nodded, but I said, “Speak up.”
She said, “Yes, I understand. You were right the first time, but it made me mad.”
“Are you mad now?” I asked.
“No,” she realized she wasn’t, and that intrigued her. “No, I’m not mad at all.” She sat back in her seat and looked at me intently, and said, “I’m changed.”
Six months later, she said, “That moment changed my heart and life.”
The bottom line here is the bottom line of how God designed and defined leadership in the kingdom. You can raise your voice and get nowhere. You can rebuke with a loud voice or a gentle whisper as you respond to the moment and person. It is the representative authority that transforms, not your own anger.
When a fathering leader says something in that tone of voice with the microphone, in front of everyone, he produces transformation at some level in those that honor.
Paul rebuked openly those who opposed openly. He didn’t stutter or apologize when he did any more than Jesus would. When someone else attempts to do that without having designated honor or when not honored by the people listening, it is just nasty words thrown against the wall.
Encouraging exhortation and rattling rebuke release expansion of blessing and restrain of limitation. Be careful what you bless because it will get bigger. Be intentional in what you curse so it will diminish.