Are you on the downward spiral of unbelief? Did you even know that there was one?
Consider this scenario for a moment. A child of God is believing for a change in his life...is facing a spiritual test...or is under some sort of oppressive, ongoing circumstance. He comes across a certain promise from the Bible which will enable him to overcome his challenge. Or he is given a specific"word" from the Lord concerning his situation. At first, he is greatly encouraged. He holds onto the promise from the Lord and prays for a couple of weeks, but sees no change in his circumstance. He begins to think that what he is doing - praying and claiming the promises of God - is not working. Or he starts doubting if he actually heard from God in the first place. Did the devil trick him...did he fully understand what God meant...or did he somehow blow it and ruin His plan?
With no change in sight, he starts to doubt God's willingness or ability to fulfill His Word. He begins to reconsider whether something can or will occur. At this point, he thinks that the desired outcome is simply not going to happen. His continuous praying is doing no good. He is seemingly wasting time. So, he comes up with another plan or substitutes another belief in its place. Eventually, he comes to the conclusion that God is notgoing to do what he is asking. He determines that he is not going to get his hopes up again about something that just isn't going to happen. In fact, at this point, he talks against it ever happening.
Can you relate? Do you know of someone who is on this downward spiral of unbelief? Is it you?
We all know that the opposite of faith is doubt or unbelief. Hence, every believer stands strong in Christ by faith and falls away from Christ through unbelief. Faith is the means by which he enters into God's will for his life, and doubt and unbelief are the means by which that faith is hindered or the miraculous power of God on his behalf is limited or shut down.
How does one get on this downward spiral? How can he avoid such peril in his Christian walk?
It would behoove us to examine the steps downward that lead a believer to such a dreadful outcome - so that we can avoid - at all costs - ever entering this "dark" and evil path.
Doubt is the first step downward and away from God. It is basically the uncertainty on what to believe. It is a state of instability - a tossing about between two opinions. It is having two minds working at the same time - being double minded, if you will. It involves hesitation, staggering, or wavering at what God said would happen. It also involves opposition ...strife with dispute...or contention in the heart toward what God said.
In the following Scriptures, you can easily see this struggle -
Matthew 21:21 says - "...If ye have faith, and doubt not..."
Mark 11:23 says - "...whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubtin his heart..."
Acts 10:20 says - "Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them."
Acts 11:12 says - "And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting..."
Romans 4:20 says - "He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief..."
Romans 14:23 says - "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith..."
James 1:6 says - "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering..."
What Jesus is saying here is - "Have faith in God and doubt not."He is saying - "Speak to the mountain and do not doubt in your heart." It is a command to be carried out just as the command given by the Holy Spirit to Peter - "Arise... and go with them..." Peter was not to oppose, strive, contend, or argue with the Spirit of God. He was simply to obey. Abraham didn't argue with Him concerning His promise to give him a child in his old age. Nor should you oppose Him and His wisdom when you pray. Your heart must not be in opposition to Him. Your wisdom must not contend with His wisdom. You must not strive with Your Maker over the means or timing of His will. In fact, this is how the uncertainty is birthed. It is the contention of your flesh in opposition to His will which causes you to doubt - stagger and waver at His promise. Yours is simply to submit to His will - to trust and obey!
The second step downward on the spiral of unbelief is skepticism. It is reconsidering whether or not what you are believing can or will occur.
says - "And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
says - "And when they (the disciples) saw Him (Jesus), they worshipped Him: but some doubted."
Peter was given a "word" from Jesus in answer to his request. "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. And He said, Come." (Matthew 14:28-29) The disciples were also given a "word"from Jesus - "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." (Matthew 26:32) "...go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me." (Matthew 28:10)
Yet, both Peter and the disciples "doubted" or wavered. They went back and forth between two possibilities - either the "word" is true or it is not. They vacillated between two choices - to believe the "word" or to believe the circumstances. They fluctuated in their opinion, allegiance, and direction - can Jesus' word be trusted in the most fearful of times? Should they believe what God said or what their circumstances were saying at the time? In a sense, they gave up - they surrendered claim to the "word" of the Lord and gave in to their surrounding fears.
The third step downward on the spiral of unbelief is lacking or losing confidence in the One making the promise - the performer of the promised act. This losing confidence sounds like this - "Will God alter my circumstances? Can He do what I am asking of Him? Will His Word stand the test of time? Will it come through for me? Yes, but what about my past... my family's past...my family's inability to overcome...my impossible surroundings... my insufficiencies, etc.?"
Matthew 17:19-20 says - "...Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief..."
Mark 6:5-6 says - "And He could there do no mighty work...And He marveled because of their unbelief..."
Mark 9:24 says - "...Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief."Mark 16:14 says - "Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen."
Romans 3:3 says - "For what if some did not believe?"
Romans 4:20 - "He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief..."
Romans 11:20 says - "Well; because of unbelief they were broken off..."
Romans 11:23 says - "And they also, if they abide not still inunbelief..."
Hebrews 3:12 says - "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Hebrews 3:19 says - "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
Look what faithlessness does to a people. Look at the negative and detrimental outcomes that it produces.
Jesus could not do many mighty works because of the people's lack of confidence in Him to do what He said He could do. The disciples could not do mighty works among the people because of their lack of confidence in what Jesus said they could do. The father of the child with the dumb spirit struggled with his lack of confidence in Jesus' ability to do what men were unable to do - to cast out the devil out of his son. After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the disciples struggled with their lack of confidence in God to raise Jesus from the dead. The Jews - because of their lack of confidence in Jesus as their Messiah - forfeited their position as the people of God, reaped spiritual blindness, and drew down the wrath and judgment of God upon themselves.
Barnes' Notes tells us - "A 'lack of confidence in God' is the great source of evil in this world..." It goes on to say - "...let us who are professed Christians be cautious against indulging unbelief in our hearts. Our difficulties all begin there. We lose confidence in God. We doubt His promises, His oaths, His threatening. In dark and trying times, we begin to have doubts about the wisdom of His dealings, and about His goodness. Unbelief once admitted into the heart is the beginning of many woes."
This brings us to the fourth and final step downward on the spiral of unbelief which is a conscious disbelief or apathy. This is the hardest form of unbelief. This is where the individual refuses to believe and blatantly confesses - "I do not believe this! I do not believe that God is going to do this!" - even though His Word and Providence may say otherwise.
Romans 11:30-32 says - "For as ye in times past have not believedGod...Even so have these also now not believed...For God hath concluded them all in unbelief..."
Ephesians 2:2 says - "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children ofdisobedience."
Hebrews 4:6 says - "Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief."
says - "Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."
The Jews fell to the same level of unbelief that the sinner is on as a"child of disobedience." They took on a rebellious disbelief...a disobedience...an obstinate opposition to the Divine Will. As a result, we find many - even today - who are not able to enter into God's spiritual rest - either of grace here or glory hereafter.
Once again, we ask you - Are you on the downward spiral of unbelief?
If you find yourself on one of the steps downward and away from God, use this opportunity to repent and change your direction. By the grace of God, accept what the Bible says over what you see and think. Choose to believe God - at all costs.
We leave you with this final word from Matthew Henry on the seriousness of unbelief - "Unbelief (with rebellion which is the consequent of it) is the great damning sin of the world, especially of those who have a revelation of the mind and will of God. This sin shuts up the heart of God, and shuts up the gate of heaven, against them; it lays them under the wrath and curse of God, and leaves them there; so that in truth and justice to Himself, He is obliged to cast them off for ever."
Unbelief will cause you to distrust God - His power and His providence. It is evil - producing only negative results.
May this message be a means of deterring you from it and any of its deadly outcomes in your life.