HEBREWS 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
HEBREWS 4:1-2 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
The power of unbelief is substantial in that it can stop a person from receiving all the benefits of the sacrificial work of Christ which are proclaimed through the Gospel. We can see a great illustration of “unbelief” in the life of the disciple Thomas, recorded in the famous “doubting Thomas” passage of JOHN 20:24-29
- JOHN 20:24-29 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
The words of Thomas, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I WILL NOT BELIEVE” indicate that he was believing something, it was what he could see and feel, this is unbelief in a nutshell. Unbelief is a choice to only believe the five sense realm. “I will not believe” implies a decision he had made. Faith is also a choice to believe what we cannot see and feel, or have no evidence of in the sense realm.
- HEBREWS 11:1 Amplified Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
The Effect of Unbelief.
Unbelief in the hearts of people in Nazareth stopped the miracle ministry of Jesus Christ.
- MARK 6:5-6 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
Jesus Christ Himself could not help people who refused to believe His Word over the five sense realm. Jesus was operating in the Gifts of Holy Spirit with the power of God in manifestation, but this group was not ready to receive it. We read in VS. 6 that the “teaching of the Word of God” was needed to cure the unbelief of the crowd. Everywhere Jesus went He taught the people how to believe for a miracle, He was a “faith teacher” as we find in MARK 11:22-24 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Jesus was a teacher and healer, LUKE 6:17-19 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
Hearing the “word of faith” must precede prayer for healing or little will result due to “unbelief.” People must be taught “how to believe and exercise faith.” Jesus used every opportunity to teach His disciples how faith works.
- MATTHEW 8:5-10 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” 7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!
“I have not found so great faith” indicates that Jesus was looking for real faith among the people. Faith that can take God at His Word without any evidence in the five senses. The Centurion simply chose to believe in the authority of God’s Word and didn’t require any proof before believing he already had his desire. The Centurion used the “tenses” and not the “senses” when he considered it done.
Abraham, “the Father of Faith” chose to believe the Word over his natural condition when he “staggered not at the promise of God through UNBELIEF, but grew strong in faith giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that what He promised He was able to perform.” ROMANS 4:17-21. Abraham knew that faith was a matter of the tenses when he “called those things which be not as though they were.” We are to follow in the steps of the faith of Abraham who conquered unbelief by choosing to believe what he could not see or feel.
Unbelief also stopped the disciples from being able to complete their ministry assignment that was given to them in MATTHEW 10:1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.
A discouraged man who had encountered the unbelief of the disciples complained to Jesus about it and wondered if the Master Himself could do anything about his problem. MATTHEW 17:15-21 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “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. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Jesus had no unbelief working in Him because He had already done what He told the disciples to do, “pray and fast.” Unbelief was so strong in the disciples that they couldn’t believe beyond their own five senses to operate in the “faith realm of believing with the heart.” This same problem hinders today’s disciples from bringing the needed deliverance to afflicted and tormented people. Even though we have been “given power over unclean spirits and to cure diseases,” we may see little of it happen while unbelief exists in the heart. Unbelief is simply a refusal to believe anything we cannot see or feel.
Unbelief was the cause of Israel not “profiting” from the Word preached to them while in the Wilderness, they “could not enter in because of their unbelief.” When they “saw the giants and walled cities of the land” they chose to disbelieve God’s Word that declared that it was “already theirs.” When it comes to the finished work of Christ, we must believe that all things are “already ours.” Faith is more about the “tenses” than the “senses.” When we choose to believe that we already have what Christ died to give us, regardless of whether we can see or feel it, we have conquered unbelief and entered that “promised land” of possession. ROMANS 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
There is Relief From Unbelief through prayer, fasting and meditation of God’s Word.