This is Part 4 in my blog posts on Stiff Necks and Rebellious Hearts.

Surgery of the Heart

So, we’ve identified that our hearts are rebellious and it’s evidenced by our stiff necks along with our tense shoulders and clenched teeth and a variety of other nonverbal clues. But, what do we do to change this? We are not to just simply stop a behavior, although that is good… It is much deeper and involves surgery of the heart, taking out the ugly and replacing it with beauty. Refining the heart. This is the continual process in the life of a Believer… and THIS is the process by which we should be parenting to the heart of our children. This is how we focus our disciplining and discipling of our children…aiming at the heart, not focusing on the external. The behavior changes as the heart changes.

Let’s take a look at these same three verses from the first blog in this series  that reveal a stiff neck as being a sign of a rebellious heart. (There are 17 verses in the Bible that mention “stiff neck.”) Look for what we are to replace in our hearts.

  • Deuteronomy 31:27  “…for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck…”
  • II Kings 17:14  “…Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.”
  • II Chronicles 30:8-9  “Now do not be stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God,…return to the Lord”

To transform a rebellious heart, we are to:

  • put off a rebellious heart
  • put on listening, being teachable
  • put on believing/trusting in the Lord as our God  (put off believing in our own way or ways others have incorrectly taught us)
  • put on a yielded heart to the Lord
  • put on fellowship with Him
  • put serving Him, serving others
  • return our hearts to align with His

Put off/Put on

PUT OFF the attitude in your heart of “You’re not going to tell me what to do”- releasing your rights, and in its place PUT ON the attitude of “What you have to say is important and valuable and could help me. I will let you in. I will be teachable.” Here are just some of the  “Put off/put on’s” taught in the Bible.

  • pride / humility
  • pride / submission
  • rebellious / being teachable
  • self righteous / humility
  • hardened heart / humble, approachable, softened heart
  • losing temper / self control
  • stubbornness / brokenness
  • retaliation / returning good for evil
  • wrath / soft answer
  • easily irritated / not easily provoked
  • hatred / love
  • irritation to others / preferring in love
  • strife / peace
  • boasting / esteeming others
  • selfishness / self denial

Using Scripture to examine our hearts and applying its truths…

THIS is how we are to live out our lives. 

THIS is how we are to counsel our children.

When hearts are dealt with properly, stiff necks and tense shoulders simply disappear.


@2006. A family devotion at mealtime has been a great way to consistently teach scriptural principles with application for me as the parent and to parent to the hearts of the children.  

Practical application to this principle of Put Off/Put On

Read these verses to see what we are to put off and what we are to put on it their place. I’ve added examples of practical applications for you as an individual and as a parent.

  • I Peter 3:8-9 (NASB) “…all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…”
    • Put off: returning evil or insult
    • Put on: giving a blessing
    • The difference? I would have read this before and just thought to be nice (harmonious, kindhearted, etc), but it’s deeper…the last part says not only to not return the same behavior as someone gave to us, but to do the opposite…give a blessing. This requires the heart and mind to do the opposite of what we feel like doing. It is a mindset of yielding to Christ, to speak kind words back to the one speaking insults; to humbly look for ways to give to those who are evil.
    • Application example for adults: Do you have a neighbor who is unkind? Maybe speaks ill of you to other neighbors? Don’t just be nice to be harmonious. (I hope you are doing that already). The application of this biblical principle is to return to him kindness. Pick some of your flowers (not his. haha) and take them over to his home with a smile. Be prepared for him to be ugly, just in case, so that you are prepared to again respond in love, with the motive to be a blessing. This will help in not retaliating if your neighbor speaks unkind words. Continue to look for ways to be a blessing. You can teach the kids this scripture and principle alongside your learning. Simply gather the kids together, be intentional to explain with a humble heart, being transparent that you are learning this truth and ask for input…maybe bake cookies and deliver them with a smile. Your kids will come up with some good ones. They will be a doer of the Word, not just a hearer.
    • Application example for parenting: Your 5th grader Cher comes home from school and says Sally always takes her notebook paper. Rather than, by our words or our actions, teaching  Cher that she has rights and NO one is going to do that to her, coach her on what this verse means and some specific ways to return kindness rather than evil. Teach her the meaning, then ask for her input. Perhaps she can buy Sally a 25 cent spiral notebook to give to her. Teach her how to word this so that she is confident and not walked over. “Stand tall, communicate with confidence, and with a smile and in a strong, kind voice say, ‘Sally, I know you’ve been without paper, so I picked this up for you. I think purple is your favorite color?’.” Teach your daughter so she is prepared for the response which may or may not be that Cher is rude to her. Teach her that this verse STILL applies…to return Sally’s evil or insult with a Cher’s blessing/kindness. Help her to understand the heart of a bully or someone being mean. So often hurt people hurt people, and many times the very person being mean is truly wanting a friend and to be loved, even though she certainly doesn’t act like it. Role play with her. Teach her this compassion of Christ.
  • James 1:19 “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
    • Put off: being quickly angered
    • Put on: self control
    • Put off:  quickly speaking
    • Put on: quickly listening
    • Application example for adult:  Your boss makes you so mad. Rather than be put on the defense, or angrily attack back with your words, do this. Pause. Listen. Seek to understand. Say with a teachable heart and gentle spirit,  “Thank you for your input. Let me think about that and get back with you.” (Don’t forget to share with your kids about this real live example of how YOU are learning and growing and seeking to apply God’s Word to your life. WOW! )
    • Application example for parenting:  Your son has a bad temper on the basketball court. You see this when a bad call is made. Don’t let this continue. He’s quick to wrath which means he needs to do what this verse says, to put off being quick to anger, and put on being slow to speak…to put off being quick-tempered and put on self-control.  Teach him gently, specifically applying this to him on the court. This means to talk it out with him of what to do the next time X happens, and Y happens. You are training ahead to what and when you have seen the negative pattern in his temper on the court. Make sure he understands the principle of this and isn’t getting a list of do’s and don’t’s from you. Make sure he “owns” it.

I have no idea at this point how many are actually reading this blog. Sorry this one is soooo long. But, I am so excited to be able to share about this. I hope this impacts MANY, MANY parents (even dads who are reading this blog) to TRULY train children according to God’s Word.

In the next blog, I’ll focus more on parenting to the heart of our kids. Don’t miss it. We’d love to hear from you:

What are your thoughts?

If you missed any in this series on “stiff necks and rebellious hearts,” you can click here.

Rhonda whentheheartisdealtwithproperly,stiffnecksgoaway ellis

  1. Kate

    Thank you Rhonda!

  2. Mel

    I LOVE the put off & put on Biblical strategy and it’s been especially helpful in my approach with others. While also putting off unkind thoughts & words about others, I’ve also found it extremely wise for me to “put on” praying for said person. The Lord gives me compassion and His eyes for how to approach “Koolaidria” in a way I would have never fathomed.

    • Mel, thank you for that insight. You are so wise to PRAY FOR the very person with whom you are choosing to have self-control of your words and thoughts. God changes OUR heart when we do this.

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