January 5 2015

More Faith? Or less Unbelief?

Posted on the 05:05 pm under Teaching by admin

If I asked you if you wanted more faith, I’ll bet most of us would say “yes”. But in 2nd Peter 1 it states that God’s divine power has (already) given us everything we need for life and godliness.

Jesus said that faith the size of a mustard seed would grow up and become a great tree – and that nothing would be impossible to us. Romans 13 verse 3 in Young’s Literal Translation says “to each God did deal a measure of faith”.

It seems clear that we DO have faith – scripture says we do. Take just a moment and say to yourself mentally, “I have faith. I DO have faith.”
So then why do we think we need more faith? For me personally it’s because I don’t see as many of my prayers answered as I’d like.

But maybe more faith isn’t the complete answer. In Matthew 17 we see the story of the man with a lunatic son. While Jesus was gone for a time, the disciples could not cast out the evil spirit that caused the boy to convulse.

When Jesus returned he rebuked the spirit and it left the boy. When the disciples asked “why?” it reminds me of ME asking God why – why isn’t my prayer answered?
Jesus responded “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.”

Jesus contrasts faith with unbelief or doubt. The point we need to focus on here is not that we need more faith but that we need a littler unbelief. James covers this as well. In James chapter 1:6 – 8 in the Amplified it says about asking God: Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. 8[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

The one mind is in faith and the other doubts – this is a double-minded person and we’ve got to get rid of one of them!   What we need here is to put our doubts on a diet. We need to starve our unbelief so that our faith can work.

Paul wrote that we walk by faith and not by sight so it seems fair to say that seeing has something to do with doubt and unbelief. It is much easier to look around at fearful things than it is to believe God. In Matthew 14 we see Jesus walking on the water. Peter responds in faith by stepping out of the boat onto the water. In verse 30 we can see the results of “seeing” –

30 But seeing the wind, he [Peter] became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “(1) You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

In Young’s Literal Translation Jesus says to Peter, “Little Faith! For what didst thou waver?”

So what are some ways to starve your unbelief into submission? Well just like with a diet it’s not always easy. Paul calls it warfare in 2 Corinthians 4: for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Unbelief smothers faith. Unbelief makes faith ineffective and unbelief causes faith not to produce. When we’ve prayed in faith for something we may begin questioning ourselves internally, producing doubt, unbelief and skepticism. This may lead to fear on our part and fear is the opposite of faith or another way of saying it is fear is faith in reverse.

Notice that when Jesus came up against his biggest challenges he did not allow himself to be moved or affected by crowds, questions, or what he could see with his physical eyes. What can we learn from this? When going home with Jairus (Luke 8:41 -56), the servants told him his daughter was dead. Jesus response? Do not be afraid, only believe.
What else can we do to reduce unbelief? Unbelief feeds off the things that surround our lives on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with television or the radio or newspapers or magazines in themselves but only when they cause us to believe more in what we see than in what God says.

On the other hand faith feeds on the Word of God in scripture – so then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) God says in Isaiah that His Word will not return to him without accomplishing what it is sent for – and in the Gospel of John it says that God and his Word are the same thing.

So in closing let’s compare removing doubt to a successful diet. (I have a note here to wait for laughter to die down.) In a successful diet you must reduce your total calories – to remove unbelief you must reduce what causes you to fear or disbelieve. This could include less television news, less listening to all the bad in the world today or your complaining co-workers.

In a successful diet you must increase your overall activity level to burn more calories – to successfully remove doubt and fear you must increase the time you spend in the scriptures and in prayer.
And finally as we’ve already said – this is warfare. WE must cast down reasonings, WE must take every thought captive – and this requires discipline.

So this isn’t an easy lesson but the results can be as satisfying as weight loss is on a diet. Discipline yourself to reduce your doubt, fear and unbelief and, in just 14 days, see the results of faith for your self.

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