Unbelief Achieves Nothing
[ Extracted and edited from D2Y2 Magazine – May 2005 ]
Belief and unbelief can actually co-exist, though it seem somewhat of an oxymoron. Within the Christian context, too often the dangers of unbelief lurk unnoticed by a believer, a Christian. In Matthew 17:17, Jesus rebuked the disciples (i.e. believers) for their lack of faith; in verse 20 He tells them exactly why they failed. One little word: UNBELIEF.
Matthew 17: 20 – 21 (NKJV)
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, l 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. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
One must make a decision between disbelief and unbelief: Disbelief is rejecting something as wrong immediately. Unbelief is when one knows something to be true but walks away from it without sufficient strength or conviction to follow through on the truth that one believes in.
True believing is the substance of faith – and without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is not about facts or outcomes or even what people think – it is about our obedience and faithfulness when God asks us to do something.
So, having defined unbelief, what then is faith?
Faith Is A Seed.
lt has to be planted before it can grow, and it is useless if it is not planted. We cannot reap what we do not sow after all, and sowing the seed is our responsibility, but reaping is not. Many times Christians focus so much on the reaping that they completely forget to sow. Let God take care of the harvest and the reaping! We are called to be faithful with what we have been given, not worry about things that do not concern us.
How do we build faith instead of unbelief in our lives? Matthew 17:21 provides the answer: this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. When all is said and done, the real problem with unbelief is us. Too much self in our lives. We cannot have more of God without having less of us, and the less there is of us, the less flesh there is to get in the way. Where there is more flesh, there is less faith.
In Psalms 73, the psalmist makes a long, plaintive list of all the things he finds wrong in life, especially the fact that the wicked prosper. But somewhere about verse 16 – 17, there is a vital turning point when he switches his focus to God instead.
To pray effectively as Jesus requires so that we can shed our unbelief. We must know how to fast – when the psalmist took his eyes off circumstances and looked to God, he was fasting self. All the philosophies, teachings, ideologies that we have in our heads must be set aside.
Fasting typically involves 3 aspects – the flesh, the soul/will and the spirit. Because we are born again, our spirits are attuned to the Holy Spirit, but our will and our flesh need training.
The biggest key in getting unbelief out of our system so faith can come in is a question of submission of our will.
Who is our will submitted to? We have to train our will to submit to the Spirit, because it is a mandatory discipline in the Scriptures, to learn how to forget self and submit to others, to God. It is a cycle – the less there is of our will, the less there is of us and the more there can be of God, and of faith.
Coming back then to the issue of casting unbelief out by prayer and fasting, what then is effective prayer that transforms? lt is when God speaks – listening to God and letting Him speak to us, not us blabbering on and on all the time. Effective prayer, where God speaks to us takes time. There are no shortcuts. It is as simple as that – the presence of God is what makes the difference.
Unbelief is proportional to how much time we spend with God – the less time we spend with Him, the more unbelief we will have because faith has no chance to be planted.
In 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicated the temple to the Lord and the glory of God came down and filled it completely when the priests came out from bringing the ark of the covenant in. Within the ark, there was nothing except the two stone tablets of the covenant which Moses put there at Mount Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the children of lsrael.
This is what we must understand: the principle of “nothing except”.
Nothing except the word of God and His covenant.
It is not enough just to have God’s word in our heads, we need His covenant also. A covenant signifies a commitment. We must have a commitment between ourselves and God, that we trust Him all the way, the word made flesh – The Lord Jesus Himself. A true relationship with God, in other words, is not a contract based on contingencies and mistrust. God is a covenant-keeping God, we must be a covenant-keeping people as well.
It is in this state of nothing, then of total submission and surrender to God of our wills that unbelief leaves and faith comes in. God is a God of the nothings. Just as with the formless, void earth in Genesis 1, He can create something out of nothing. In fact, the greatest miracles happened in the wilderness where there was absolutely nothing except barrenness.
The God of the nothings is the God of miracles. If we can just hold on, drop our unbelief, walk those few steps further than we see as necessary when it seems hopeless, that might just be all it takes to see our breakthrough happen.
TESTIMONY FROM A READER
“l used to think l believe. That was until l heard this message that l truly learn what believing is all about. God began to reveal to me that believing is more than just an intellectual assent, believing is a lifestyle. That revelation has enabled me to have a deeper walk with the Lord as l truly understand what living by faith really is.”
D2Y2, which stands for Don’t Despise Your Youth, was an official Asian Youth Ambassador (AYA) magazine birthed out in the late 90s. The printed materials communicated dynamic and effective encouragement to and from the Church, with special emphasis on the knowledge and experiences of our Christian youths, which we believe the content is still relevant and applicable in this current generation.