The word obstinate is not one we hear often in our everyday speech. It used to be heard often in reference to a child. A dictionary definition of the word is, “stubbornly adhering to an attitude, opinion, or course of action”. No wonder obstinate has been used in reference to children, for they can certainly be stubborn.
However, the word can very well be used in reference to some people’s attitude, opinion or course of action in the spiritual realm. It may be that some of the more modern versions of the Bible contain the word more, but the old King James Bible contains the word just two times. The first was when Sihon, king of Heshbon refused to let the children of Israel pass through their land. The text says that God “hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate…” Deut. 2:30). The second time it is found is in the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah, speaking in behalf of God, said of Judah, “Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass” (Isa. 48:4).
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls”. The following words found in that same verse spotlights obstinacy. “But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16). There have been examples all through the Bible of those who stubbornly persisted in following their own ways and means rather than embrace the truth of God’s word by way of obedience to it. Since the completion of the Bible in the later part of the first century, there have been and continues to be multitudes that could also be labeled, “obstinate”.
Every case in the word of God wherein one learns that they are not in harmony with the will of God and they immediately make whatever changes are needed in order to be in harmony, is a case of someone who is just the opposite of “obstinate”. Shortly after that statement about Sihon, Moses encouraged Israel saying, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children for ever” (Deut. 5:29).
He is pleading for the opposite of obstinacy. When Saul of Tarsus was busily working to stamp out Christianity altogether, by arresting those who had embraced the truth of the gospel and having them imprisoned and often executed, he traveled to Damascus to arrest those found in that city. It was while in route to Damascus that Saul came to realize he was not right in the sight of God. But, Saul was not obstinate, he did not stubbornly hold to those beliefs and practices that had proven to be in error.
He immediately said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). On the day of Pentecost, when Peter and the other apostles had proclaimed the gospel of Christ to those present, though the majority chose to obstinately reject that which was spoken, some “were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
Now, lets make a bit of an application of the things above concerning obstinacy. There are many doctrines and practices that most who have studied the Bible to any extent will readily admit that they are not in harmony with the word of God. Yet, those same people hang on to said erroneous beliefs and practices. Few, if any will not agree that the Bible clearly teaches that there is just one church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; I Cor. 12:20).
Yet, our land is filled with churches that had their beginnings centuries after the Lord build His church, built by those other than the Lord and in somewhere other than Jerusalem which is where the word of God said the church would begin and most people love to have it so. Another example and one that is really very elemental in nature is the requirement of God’s word for us to be obedient to the gospel of Christ. How can so many people claim to be Christians and yet determine that they do not have to do anything to be saved. The very thought of someone saying they do not have to obey God ought to raise the eyebrows of any man of reasonable intelligence. Jesus Himself ask, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)
Jesus also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And one more quote from Jesus, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). The next time someone says that there is nothing you have to do, maybe you ought to question other things that person says, for they are being obstinate to the extreme. Peter ascribes nobility to those of Berea saying, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).