There’s a vast difference between believing in God, and believing God. Most Christians have pretty much settled the issue in their minds of belief in God. We believe He is real, and He is God, and that Jesus is God the Son, who died, was buried, and rose again. So we believe in God.
But in what ways do you struggle to believe God in the details? What areas of your life do you struggle to trust God with? In what ways do you struggle to believe His words concerning your specific situation?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to naturally divide my life up into compartments, like:
· My overall faith in God
· My children
· My finances
· My personal future
· The future of our country
· My church
· My ministry
· My relationships
Take a minute and write down 3 areas of your life with which you struggle to trust God.
How do you view this lack of faith? Is it a big concern (do you see this as an act of rebellion), or have you accepted in your mind that this area of distrust is OK because it’s human nature to lack faith in these areas?
We claim to trust God, to believe in His abilities and what His word says about Him; yet in so many ways, we continue to live in worry and fear. We tend to make excuses for that unbelief by fixing our eyes on our circumstances: “Look at all the horrible things happening around us in our culture! It’s impossible not to fear and worry.”
We tend to justify our fear by telling ourselves that it’s not an issue of unbelief…after all, it’s not like we don’t believe in God; I mean, that would be sinful, right?
We excuse our lack of faith in these “little” areas by telling ourselves that it’s OK, it’s normal to be afraid…God understands our weakness and is patient with our doubts; and He is. But His patience is not a license for us to continue in a lifestyle of fear and not correct our habits of unbelief. He doesn’t just require us to believe in Him; He requires us to believe His words.
Let’s look at some examples:
In Numbers 13, after God has miraculously brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, they have arrived at the edge of the promised land. God tells Moses to send 12 men, one from each tribe of Israel, into Canaan to spy out the land. Ten of the spies bring back a report that the land is full of wonderful food and provisions, but the people are far too big and scary for the Israelites to conquer. These ten spies focused on the challenge of their circumstances, but Joshua and Caleb kept their focus on who God had shown Himself to be.
Read Num. 13:30-14:3 (Can you hear the cry of American Christians in these verses? “Why is God allowing all these horrible things to happen to our country? Our rights are being destroyed. Our financial futures are at risk. Our children will be destroyed by this culture. We will become victims of this two-tiered justice system!”) Can you feel the fear closing in? Can you feel the negativity sucking the oxygen from your lungs?
Now read ch.14:8-10: Notice in these verses that fear = unbelief. Unbelief =rebellion. Look at ch. 14:11-12, 27-29: They had just witnessed God performing all the miracles in Egypt and the Red Sea. They knew what He was capable of, yet they refused to believe He could conquer their enemies. They remained focused on the enemy, not on God. Yahweh was ready to destroy them completely, because of what?Unbelief. He saw this as a sin worthy of death.
Unbelief makes God angry. He hates lack of faith. These issues are not little pet peeves to be shrugged off and swept under the rug. Unbelief in the daily things of life is a deal-breaker to God, just as much as unbelief in who Jesus is. He takes our refusal to trust very seriously. He sees it as blatant rebellion.
Satan works hard to strike fear into our hearts and keep it there. He’s been doing this since the beginning of time. Swelling up fear in your heart is a strategic effort to pull you away from belief in God’s abilities. He uses fear to lie to you about God’s character.
Look at Deuteronomy’s account of this story: Deut. 1:26-27: “Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; and you grumbled in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us.” Satan uses our fear to distort our view of God.
Read Heb. 3:6-19:
v. 8—hardness of heart was their unbelief
v. 12--unbelief=evil (NIV—sinful)
v. 13—deceitfulness of “sin” (in this context, unbelief is the sin)
v. 16—their unbelief provoked God to anger (repeatedly during their journey in the desert)
v. 19—could not receive the blessing because of unbelief
Isaiah 43:10: Why did God choose His witnesses? To know Him and believe Him.
John 3:36: believe=obey
John 3:16: belief=eternal life
Mark 16:16: unbelief=condemnation
Read Rom. 11:17-22:
v. 20: Israelites were broken off from God for their unbelief.
Rom. 4:1-5: Righteousness comes by faith
v.3: “Righteousness” simply means a state of “rightness” with God; to be right with God. So, in essence, this verse is saying that Abraham believing God made him “right” with God.
v.5: faith is “credited” (added up) to him as rightness with God. Believing God makes us right with Him. So the natural conclusion is that not believing God makes us not right with Him.
Battling your fear is not just an effort to protect your peace. Battling your fear is battling Satan. It is spiritual warfare. How do we battle our fear? By choosing to believe, hoping against hope (Rom. 4:18). We choose to remember who God is—His character and His heart toward us. We remind ourselves of what God is capable of, and what He has already done. We fight fear by reading His promises, and resting in them. We strengthen our faith by believing the truth of His Word. Then we put fear and worry in its place by standing firm on that Word.
Take your fear to God and let Him partner with you to overcome it. Ask the Lord to help your unbelief (Mark 9:24).
The Lord bless you in your effort to grow in Him!