When Faith is Low and Unbelief is High!
Mark 9:19, “He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” To whom is Jesus calling the “faithless generation”? Amazingly it’s his disciples. Although they were not altogether destitute of faith, their faith was very low and their unbelief was high.
At this point in their walk with Jesus, they were spiritual oxymorons - unbelieving believers! In fact, Matthew’s account of this same incident states, in Matthew 17:20, “So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Wuest’s translation reads: “O unbelieving breed of men… how long shall I be with you?” Jesus attributed the inability of the disciples to cast out the demon to their unbelief. To be successful in casting out demons, there must be trust in the Lord God who has total authority over the demons.
Unbelief continued to be a problem for the first century church even after Jesus was raised from the dead. We read in Mark 16:14, “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.”
Dr. Ralph Woods was so right when he said, concerning most professing Christians, “In spite of our professions, we are in fact barely supernaturalists.”
Many theologians and masses of Christians are barely supernaturalists as they assert that miracles ceased because they served their purpose in authenticating Jesus, the Apostles, and the Bible. And now that we have the complete Word of God, we do not need to have performed, nor to see the demonstrations of the supernatural in the form of casting out demons or operating in the gifts of the Spirit with signs, wonders, and miracles following. Because of this “cessationist” frame of mind, multitudes of Christians are being made prisoners to problems and evil spiritual powers, and for the most part, the church is counseling them to trust in the Word without the Spirit, or the Spirit without the Word. The more liberal churches are counseling their members to trust in the latest advances of science, medicine, and modern psychiatry.
Far too many Christians have been taught that “seeing is believing” and as a result they are living under a “brass heaven” as unbelieving believers, where they never see God do a whole lot. In contrast, the biblical approach of “believing is seeing”brings the Christian to live under an “open heaven” where angels are ascending and descending in supernatural partnership for the advancement of the kingdom of heaven over the cross-defeated, kingdom of darkness. We need not only revival and reformation, but a radical interior renovation of our worldview to embrace the power of the life, love, and light of kingdom living under and open heaven as co-partners in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons!
Ancient Israel had lived under “brass heavens” for so many centuries that they couldn’t, as a whole, perceive and receive the “open heavens” that Jesus brought with Him. Their first response as religious men living under a brass heaven was to analyze with natural reasoning what they could only realize by supernatural revelation! They had lived in the dark for so long that they lost their sight and adapted a worldview that focused on what God had done in the past and what He would do in some golden future period, and as a result they could not see or perceive or receive Him when He showed up in the Now in Jesus!
For me I must confess that I constantly battle against unbelief! Faithlessness, unbelief, disbelief, a loss of trust for future grace, is the greatest challenge that you and I must face as believers!
Spurgeon was on target when he said: “For the child of God, unbelief is the mother of vice, the parent of sin, Thousands of prayers have been strangled in their infancy by unbelief. Unbelief has been guilty of infanticide; it has murdered many an infant petition; many a song of praise that would have swelled the chorus of the skies, has been stifled by an unbelieving murmur; many a noble enterprise conceived in the heart has been blighted ere it could come forth, by unbelief. Many a man would have been a missionary; would have stood and preached his Master’s gospel boldly; but he had unbelief. Once make a giant unbelieving, and he becomes a dwarf. Faith, for the Christian, is like the hair of Samson - cut it off, and you may put out his eyes - and he can do nothing.
“Unbelief dishonors God. Every other crime touches God’s territory; but unbelief aims a blow at his deity, impeaches his truthfulness, denies his goodness, blasphemes his attributes, and maligns his character. Because of this, God hates first and foremost, unbelief, wherever it is.”
How much belief - how much faith - do we need? A lot? Must it be perfect? No. Faith the size of a tiny little mustard seed will do just fine (Matt 17:20). The key is not the depth of our faith but the direction of our faith. What is important is not the potency of our faith but the Person our faith is in. A little faith in a great Savior gets amazing results!
One of the keys to defeating unbelief is to go on making a good confession of faith. Despite today’s rejection and abuse of confession, there is a persistent link in the Bible between believing and speaking. Ron Dunn called confession “faith turned inside out.” What we say is the result of what we believe or disbelieve. What we believe in our hearts, we are going to speak with our mouths. If we are speaking words of unbelief, it is because we are living in unbelief and are feeding our hearts unbelief. To confess faith is to agree with what God has spoken in His Word!
Overcoming unbelief can be helped by regularly making a good confession and feeding our hearts faith. Here’s one I have used for years:
Unbelief says some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us.
We repent of the sin of unbelief and declare by faith that anything God did any other time, He is willing to do now; anything God did any other place, He is willing to do here; anything God ever did for any other people, He is willing to do for us.
Holy Spirit, we invite you to do everything you need to do in us so that you can do all that you have designed to do through us. Recreate Jesus’ likeness in us so that we can re-present Him to the world about us. By faith we declare: Name of God be hallowed more gloriously, Kingdom of God come more fully, and will of God be done more freely – as it is in heaven, so let it be on earth!
Lord, I believe - help my unbelief!
More in Pastor Wade's Blog
March 27, 2023We Are at Risk of “Burnout” in a Short-term Sprint for Jesus!
March 27, 2023Replacing Discipleship with Dreaming!
February 16, 2023The Wrath of God