Janet Weaver Smith ©gardenministries.org July 7, 2016
Unbelief is when a human being actively refuses to take personal responsibility for God’s generous provisions, made on their behalf, and look into whether or not, what God has said and done is true and believable—or not. God is continually reaching out to humanity through His written and spoken word(s) and actions. He is not willing that any human being should perish but that all human beings come to the saving knowledge of God’s gracious provisions through Jesus Christ.
Humanity must choose whether or not they will respond to what God has said and done on their behalf. Refusing to respond may appear to be neutral but it is not. The choice to ignore is the choice to reject God’s loving provisions for forgiveness, salvation, and transformation. Ignoring God is unbelief in God. This applies to Christians and non-Christians alike. Christians and non-Christians can choose to stop or never start responding to God.
Ephesians 4:17-25 Therefore, I tell you and insist on in the Lord not to live any longer like the gentiles live, thinking worthless thoughts [in the futility of their mind] 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19Since they have lost all sense of shame, they have abandoned themselves to sensuality and practice every kind of sexual perversion without restraint. 20However, that is not the way you came to know the Messiah. 21Surely you have listened to him and have been taught by him, since truth is in Jesus.
22Regarding your former way of life, you were taught to strip off your old nature, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires, 23to be renewed in your mental attitude, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new nature, which was created according to God’s image in righteousness and true holiness. 25Therefore, stripping off falsehood, “let each of us speak the truth to his neighbor,” for we belong to one another.
Satan and his dark workings as the “god of this world” capitalizes upon a human’s refusal to respond and blinds the minds of those who do not believe (2 Cor. 4:4). This blinding occurs to Christian and non-Christian alike. A Christian who remains in their unbelief and refuses to respond to God’s great invitations for transformation is one who is replacing the real with the counterfeit and is choosing a “form of godliness” but denying the Holy Spirit’s push to be transformed into the image of God through faith and active loving obedience. A fake Christian has no follow-through. They are pretending to believe.
2 Corinthians 2:3-4, 16-17 So if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are dying. 4In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe to keep them from seeing the light of the glorious gospel of the Messiah, who is the image of God. 16But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are becoming more like him with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:1-13 (ISV) You must realize, however, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unfeeling, uncooperative, slanderous, degenerate, brutal, hateful of what is good, 4traitors, reckless, conceited, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. 5They will hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power. Stay away from such people. 6For some of these men go into homes and deceive foolish women who are burdened with sins and swayed by all kinds of desires. 7These women are always studying but are never able to arrive at a full knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannesmen, their stupidity will be plain to everyone.
8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men oppose the truth. They are depraved in mind and their faith is a counterfeit. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those two men, their stupidity will be plain to everyone…
2 Timothy 3:14-17 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and found to be true, because you know from whom you learned it. 15 From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to give you the wisdom you need for salvation through faith in the Messiah Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good action.
So what are we choosing when we refuse to respond to God’s truths through faith-filled acts of obedience? We are choosing to believe lies. Ironically, when we choose to believe lies, there are perceived “pro’s and con’s” that our state of unbelief provides. Unbelief excuses us from taking responsibility to respond openly, honestly, and continually, until we break through to greater peace and intimacy in the relationship. Unbelief “lets us off the hook” to respond to love. If I don’t want to believe that I am loved or if I mistrust the motives of those who extend love toward me, I can reject or respond on my terms and conditions and thus, control what I give and get from people based on my needs more than anyone else’s.
Romans 12 directly confronts this type of self-protective, self-centered approach to relationship(s). Take for example Romans 12:9-11 (ISV), Your love must be without hypocrisy (i.e., say one thing do another). Abhor what is evil (hypocrisy is evil); cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to each other with mutual affection. Excel at showing respect for each other. 11Never be lazy in showing such devotion. Be on fire with the Spirit.
What are we agreeing with when we choose to believe God’s love and respond to His directives and commands? We are choosing to agree with the Truth that sets us free to trust and let the love of God in to both comfort and correct us as we ask Him to transform us into His sacrificially loving nature. From this intimately transformative interchange, God’s blessings pour out and empower us to continue on our path toward Christ’s fullness. Because God’s sacrificial nature is unchangeable and His love unconditional, every human being is without excuse for not responding.
Once we do respond and say yes to God’s dealings with our misaligned souls, His blessings and benefits come to strengthen us in our faith, hope, and loving obedience. Responding to God will grow us up into maturity. His eternal intent for all who love Him is to take us step by step, from glory to glory, into His transformative Presence until we are fully changed to be like Him. Thank God for His great gift of love! As we yield, bow, and turn our hearts and minds to Him, over and over again, the veil of unbelief will be peeled off of us, our spiritual eyes will open, our heart’s awakened, and the Spirit of Liberty will find a resting place in us—His very temple and treasured possession.
John 14:21-24 The person who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I, too, will love him and reveal myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) asked him, “Lord, how is it that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. Then my Father will love him, and we will go to him and make our home within him. 24The one who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The words that you’re hearing me say are not mine, but come from the Father who sent me.
To “keep” God’s word means that not only do we say that we believe what God says in His word about Himself and about his beloved humanity is true, we also take responsibility to continually apply the correlating action steps that our faith in God requires—action steps like loving God wholeheartedly and turning to Him as our First Love and loving and forgiving others as He loves and forgives.
Bottom line is this: Do we love Jesus Christ with our whole heart, soul, and mind or not? Our actions will always speak louder than our words. We are only fooling ourselves when we let ourselves off the hook from acting on what we believe. Most everyone else can see our hypocrisy—even other hypocrites!
Unbelief is a state of mind especially targeted by the spirit of antichrist—the god of this world. Whether or not a person confesses to be of the Christian faith or not, anyone who refuses to walk out what they believe is a hypocrite and is actively engaged in a state of unbelief. If as a Christian, I say that I believe in Jesus Christ and then refuse to respond to the Holy Spirit when He comes and offers me the next steps of obedience that draw me closer to Him, I am acting in unbelief. If I will not surrender the mental process of my mind to God’s leadership and actively seek to know and obey His will for my life, I am just putting on a Christian front and my spiritual house is being built on a sandy foundation that will crumble and fall at the first sign of trouble.
People who habitually process all of life intellectually and who intellectualize their feelings are prone toward thinking that they must always know better than anyone who differs from them on most, if not all matters. Intellectualism is the worship of the mind. This form of idolatry is highly competitive. We seek and value all time and approval from those we perceive to (possibly) be smarter than us and conversely, we duck and avoid any and all confrontational naysayer who we deem as less advanced than we are about this or that area of expertise. The game is to always know better and better than everyone else so one day we can stand on the top of the heap and wag our all-knowing tongue at everyone else and self-righteously declare, “I told you so.” Or better yet! Find a group who thinks just like we do so as a team, we can all say, “Too bad. So sad! I told you so!”
The problem with depending upon intellectualism as superior to First Love for Jesus, is that human intellect was corrupted in the fall and no amount of self-serving will ever keep the human intellect from being deceived. The human intellect is already deceived and only Jesus can bring us into our Creator’s truth and keep us from being deceived. Intellectualism is a perceived “safe harbor” in which “addicts” obsessively try to “figure out” how to prevent or escape pain. Bright-minded souls seeks a safe haven through the gateway of an overly active, open mind and a mistrusting, closed heart.
These folks are especially prone to the deceptive nature and words of the spirit of antichrist because they are trusting in the mind’s ability to discern what is true and right, above or instead of, relying on the Holy Spirit through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. This is where deception takes its greatest advantage of humanity. The fallen human mind is already prone to deception and without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, the fallen human mind is not capable of distinguishing and discerning all of what is actually evil.
1 Corinthians 2:13-16 (ISV) We don’t speak about these things with words taught us by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual things to spiritual people. 14A person who isn’t spiritual doesn’t accept the things of God’s Spirit, for they are nonsense to him. He can’t understand them because they are spiritually evaluated. 15The spiritual person evaluates everything but is subject to no one else’s evaluation. 16For “Who has known the mind of the Lord so that he can advise him?”
However, we have the mind of the Messiah.
To the degree that Jesus is LORD in my life is to the degree that I will, by His Spirit, be able to test and discern the spirit in another person as to whether Jesus is LORD in their heart. If Jesus is not Savior and LORD in my heart, I cannot discern spiritual matters or whether Jesus is LORD in someone else’s heart. It is the Spirit of the LORD Jesus within me that is “greater than he that is of the world,” not my intellectual prowess.
A Biblical example of natural man, logic-and-reason-based unbelief is revealed in Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Stunned by an unexpected supernatural visitation from Gabriel, the angel of the Lord, Zechariah’s knee-jerk reaction to all the supernatural-ness is to voice his natural-minded fear, doubt, and unbelief—as if it held any water compared to what was going on all around him!
While Zechariah’s unbelief did not cost him the promise of a son, he did not get to fully celebrate the joy of this miraculous event during the conception and gestation of his son John because his unbelief cost him his very speaking voice for 9+ months!
Luke 1:11-20 (ISV) An angel of the Lord appeared to him [Zechariah], standing at the right side of the incense altar. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled, and fear overwhelmed him. 13But the angel told him, “Stop being afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John. 14You will have great joy, and many people will rejoice at his birth, 15because he will be great in the Lord’s presence. He will never drink wine or any strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16He will bring many of Israel’s descendants back to the Lord their God. 17He is the one who will go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, and to prepare the people to be ready for the Lord.”
18Then Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this, since I am an old man, and my wife is getting older?” 19The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. I have been sent to speak to you and to announce this good news to you. 20But because you did not believe my announcement, which will be fulfilled at its proper time, you will become silent and unable to speak until the day this happens.”
Here is a short list of heart-and-mind attitude’s that make us vulnerable to antichrist’s deceptive doctrines: Unbelief. Empty words. No response. Hypocrisy. Logic-and-reason-based decision-making. Rejection of and refusing to let both sides of God’s love apply to our life. Listening to people’s meaningless words that feed the intellect and kill the Spirit through doubt and unbelief.
Attention all smart people! The smartest thing a person could ever choose is to love and obey the One Who created them and desires them to be a part of His eternal family. To become a part of God’s family, we must learn to think like Jesus thinks and be conformed into His nature. This happens as we value His love in all of its forms: the comfort of receiving a truth-in-love rebuke, the discipline of learning follow-through and consistency, strength that comes from enduring hardship and persevering in faith through painful circumstances.
Ephesians 5:6 (ISV) Do not let anyone deceive you with meaningless words, for it is because of these things that God becomes angry with those who disobey.
The Spirit of Jesus Christ is first and foremost Love in nature and requires faith-in-action to enter into. We must respond when God speaks to us. We cannot expect to grow if we shut down and harden our hearts every time we hear something difficult that disrupts us. Each time we refuse to respond, we are telling God that we are in charge—not Him and we are making the road to real relationship with Him all the more difficult. This unbelief also increases our vulnerability to the deceptions of the spirit of antichrist because intellectualism is the road that the spirit of antichrist travels upon the most successfully. The mysteries hidden in Christ Jesus are hidden from worldly-wise intellectuals. This was true in Jesus time and it is still true today.
Luke 10:21-22 (ISV) At that moment, the Holy Spirit made Jesus extremely joyful, so Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from wise and intelligent people and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this is what was pleasing to you. 22All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and the person to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (ISV) Where is the wise person? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? God has turned the wisdom of the world into nonsense, hasn’t he? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe through the nonsense of our preaching. 22Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach the Messiah crucified. He is a stumbling block to Jews and nonsense to gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, the Messiah is God’s power and God’s wisdom. 25For God’s nonsense is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ISV) Brothers, think about your own calling. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is nonsense in the world to make the wise feel ashamed. God chose what is weak in the world to make the strong feel ashamed. 28And God chose what is insignificant in the world, what is despised, what is nothing, in order to destroy what is something, 29so that no one may boast in God’s presence. 30It is because of God that you are in union with the Messiah Jesus, who for us has become wisdom from God, as well as our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. 31There- fore, as it is written, “The person who boasts must boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:6-9 (ISV) However, when we are among mature people, we do speak a message of wisdom, but not the wisdom of this world or of the rulers of this world, who are passing off the scene. 7Instead, we speak about God’s wisdom in a hidden secret, which God destined before the world began for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this world understood it, because if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 4:7 (ISV) For who makes you superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?