The deceptiveness of the sin of unbelief

November 7, 2009

            I suppose that the unregenerate and unconverted have no understanding of the sheer unbelief of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They have no excuse and even profess to believe, but through their thoughts, actions and lifestyle they publicly deny the commands of the Savior, and indeed the Savior Himself.  Perhaps what represents the most painstaking comparison of understanding belief and unbelief is in light of true believers.  It is one thing to be completely ignorant and irreverent of Jesus Christ in an unconverted state and in turn, portray the fruit of unbelief.  But, the Holy Spirit enlightens the spiritual senses and awareness of the soul of believers to believe the Gospel and thus provides the discernment necessary to be empowered as a Christian. 

            Paul states, “And I think Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”  1 Tim. 1:12-13 

As a Pharisee of Pharisees, Paul understood and mastered the Old Testament Law in knowledge, but he persecuted true believers as a blasphemous and insolent man, thinking that he was doing right, according to the law.  To some professing believers, Paul’s “unbelief” would merely be a distorting or distraction from the “whole truth.”  However, upon his conversion, revelation came to Paul in the knowledge of the truth of the Gospel from Jesus Christ Himself to believe.  “Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”  Act 9:18

After Christ Himself came to Paul [Saul] and revealed Himself in glory, he immediately knew truth.  He believed the true Gospel because Christ took away his hardness of heart and rebellion and forgave his sins as he was filled with the Holy Spirit [v. 17].  What Paul understood as “belief” and “truth” according to the law prior to conversion, translated into blasphemy, insolence and ignorant unbelief after his conversion.

            The power, sweetness and purity of Jesus Christ through revelation of the Holy Spirit shatters unbelief in its most perverted form [anywhere from perverting certain doctrines, leading to heresy and to simply be unconverted].  It can turn the mind of atheism into a mind of a radical evangelist for the glory of God.  It can transform the demon-possessed and the utmost sexual and murderously perverse mind into a great saint of God, who worships in spirit and in truth.  It will break the heart and convict the most hardened of sinners, as Paul claimed to be chief [1 Tim. 1:15].  He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God, says the Scripture [John 3:18 emphasis mine]. 

            If unbelievers are converted from complete unbelief [meaning everything they do is sin and rooted in selfish pleasure and pride that ultimately blasphemes God], then believers must never have unbelief, since they have the Holy Spirit causing them to believe?  No, it is the very truth of unbelief after conversion that is the most difficult to discern and repent from due to subtlety and deceit.  A believer may be convinced that what he believes is the truth when it in fact, may be a lie. A believer may fall into grievous sin rooted in unbelief.  A believer may doubt his salvation to the point of feeling utterly despaired and forsaken by God.  The deceitfulness of the flesh and “the old man” in the believer can possibly view unbelief in its truest sense as feeling “normal” or in its latest stages finally realized as being “lulled to sleep”  before awoken to [practical] righteousness by the Spirit.

There are at least three practical ways I believe “unbelief as a believer manifests itself”; if understood and acknowledged correctly, then the believer will be enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome unbelief [and all sin] with sound doctrine and simply believe and apply the Gospel in all areas of life [the same truths apply to the unbeliever but they simply cannot know these truths without the new birth].

 

Unbelief is rooted in:

1.)    Failure to believe that God, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, can and will deliver from sin and temptation.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as it common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

2.)    Failure to believe that all our sins [past, present and future] are forever forgiven and nailed to the Cross of Christ.

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

Colossians 2:13-15

3.)  Failure to believe in the power and complete sufficiency of the bloody death of Jesus Christ on the Cross and physical resurrection that makes our faith, power and knowing Him possible.

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is not resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God and He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.  For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”

1 Corinthians 15:12-18

 Sanctification by the ministering of Spirit brings the light of Christ into the heart and mind of the believer and reminds him of his saved and eternally hopeful condition.  It is the Gospel of Christ that allows us to capture thoughts of the horrid, yet eternally liberating crucifixion to see the sins of all God’s remnant nailed once and for all to the cross and forgotten forevermore.  That is where the power of practically applying the Gospel to one’s life lies.  Without believing the death and resurrection of Christ and applying to every encounter and situation of life, we are prone to sin and indeed, do sin.  We are prone to moral failure because we do not acknowledge the true power of the Gospel.  But, this desire of the true believer is caused to see the Glory of Christ when tempted to sin and may be able to overcome because of Christ’s victory.  How are you overcoming sin, believer?  Do you see the Cross?  Do you see a religious self-effort?  Do you understand the true victory and power you have because the eternal Son of God died for and forgave your sins, in particular?

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  They are of the world.  Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God.  He who knows God hears us; He who is not of God does not hear us.  By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

1 John 4:4-6

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