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04 September, 2013

The Peril of Unbelief

Hebrews 3:12-19 “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,

    do not harden your hearts

    as you did in the rebellion.

 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness?  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”

 These verses mentioned above are about the peril of unbelief. Unbelief and doubt lead the way when we refuse to be persuaded, we refuse to comply with and we withhold belief. We wilfully reject Him and His Word because we lack confidence in Him. We live with unbelief in our hearts more than we think. Yet, most of us are not wiser about something so important in our walk with God, and it can rob us of this life in Him. When we live with unbelief in our hearts, it is like having a silent cancer ravaging your body, yet you are completely unaware of it all. And yes, this is a strong comparison but, sadly it is a reality. This week-end I had an unexpected visit of a Protestant lady whom I met about thirty five years ago. When I met her, I was a teenager and she was presented to me by my friend as the lady he was going to marry. I remember I did not like this woman just because she was a protestant and to me protestant meant “bible thumping”. We kept contact mainly over the phone because each one of us lives in a different Province. So, since I became a Christian about 15 years ago, I never had the opportunity to sit down with her and talk about our faith.

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It was so sad and disappointing to talk to her this week-end. This lady is plagued by unbelief right up to her eyeballs. Yet, in her ignorance and spiritual darkness, she has learned the Bible by heart and she actually remembered verses that I could never remember. Sadly, she is pleased with herself and her progress with God. In the meantime when I looked at her all I could see was spiritual darkness and sin. ( I will not take the time here to explain why what I said about her spiritual darkness and sin is simply what God calls righteous judgement).  Spiritual darkness plagues us when there is unbelief in the heart. It is the direct result of knowing what must be done, but we choose to be disobedient because it suits us. In this lady’s case she simply does not believe in the need to go further with God as long as one said the sinner’s prayer and keep up with your church attendance and some dead works. That’s her definition of Salvation.

 A few years ago, when the Holy Spirit wanted to teach me what the Scriptures means in Hebrews 3:14 “For we have become partakers of Christ, IF we hold fast the beginning of your assurance firm until the end” It was hard for me to see that through my own free will, I could choose to live in my unbelief. I could choose to sin and disobey God and step out of His divine nature. Unless the Spirit shows us the devastating effect this has on us spiritually, we have no idea how unbelief and its effects affect profoundly our walk with Him.

When we are plagued by unbelief and we are not even aware of it because we have done such a great job at forgetting why we did not want to follow Him to begin with, we take God and His Salvation for granted.  Yet, with our selective memory and selective amnesia, we are under the impression that all is well. I will never forget this vision as long as God grants me to keep it in my repertoire. When God showed me how easy it is for us to step out of His divine nature, He also showed me how important it is to make things right with Him right away, so that we can reattach ourselves to Him, spiritually speaking. The difference is like breathing pure oxygen and breathing polluted air. I was intrigued to see how easy we get used to breathing polluted air without thinking about it twice. After a while it becomes normal to us. But spiritually speaking, what seems normal to us in the flesh is pure suicide to our spirit.

I already talked about this vision with God in one of my previous posts where I explained as we stop being partakers of His divine nature, we exchange a mansion for a house made of cardboard on the streets. Often times we are told after a sin, all we have to do is to ask for forgiveness and all is well. While it is true when we sin God has made provision for us to simply ask for forgiveness as many times as we want and as long as we are living on this earth, we will be washed in His blood and reunited with Him again. But, on the other hands He has given us many verses in the Bible that give us the other side of the coin. We cannot remain in known sins and expect God to close His eyes just because we ask for forgiveness. This lady I mentioned above is a perfect example. After so many years of Christianity, she has rationalized why she does not need to go further with God. That is a known sin, unbelief and disobedience to God’s word. If God was alright with it like she thinks, then all would be well the Holy Spirit would have bypassed all her sins and resistance, and make sure she grew spiritually. When you look at it this way, you can see it for yourself that we cannot fool God.

We cannot act like the ostrich, stick our head in the sands and think that all is well because God is good and God is love. Even when we have managed to grieve the Holy Spirit and we lost all communication with Him, in our dull consciences and hard hearts we still know there is something wrong. God has given us numerous Bible verses that if we do not ignore them, we will know that all is not well. Why do you think God provides verses like Hebrews 3:12-19? Why are we told to live diligently? Why are we told to examine ourselves? Why are we warned not to grieve the Spirit?  And if you still do not believe, then you need to read the book of revelation and read the warning to the Churches. God was not talking to the buildings or just the leaders but to all of us who make up the Church.

Another thing I want to mention about living in our unbelief is that it eats away our spiritual life. As Christians, we need to understand how important repentance is in our lives. We are not allowed to keep going on while being ignorant of something that makes the difference between life and death. This lady that I talked about earlier, while she has been eating the bread of Christ, reading her bible and worshiping to the best of her ability but the proof is in the pudding. Why is it she has not grown spiritually and she is as blind as someone who is still living in the kingdom of darkness?

I recalled God showing me when we are separated from Him, at the beginning, it feels like our spirit is dying for pure air. It does not take long to feel like we can do without that precious air and suddenly we are back to the life in the flesh and loving it in our ignorance. In fact, slowly we forget how precious this life in Him used to be as we settle for the natural life. So, how do I translate this vision into a practical life? I live this life while putting into practice those warnings. I am always examining myself to make sure that I am not fighting God to have my ways. I am constantly examining myself in light of God’s Word I am always mindful of the life I live while making sure I live it to glorify Him. I am also mindful of how I live each moment for Him and in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s leading.

I am mindful of how surrendered I am to Him on a daily basis. Etc. But, one very important step that I practice religiously and I refuse to get by without, is to examine myself when I ask God for forgiveness.  I need to examine my heart to see if I am just taking Him for granted while there are things in my life that I do not want to do. While I know God loves me immensely, I know He showered me with His grace, I know I am saved, and I know God is good but, none of these things have ever been a reason for me not to heed to the numerous warnings found in the Bible. In fact, I am able to give heed to those warnings because He is in my life, because He is good, because He is just, gracious and love me, etc.
While we cannot see the new birth, but being able to heed to His word, obey and walk with Him, these things are proof that we have indeed been born again. So,  brothers and sisters give heed to the word of God (all of it)  and learn from the Israelites. We were given their examples because God does not want us to repeat the same mistakes. The peril of unbelief we find in Hebrews 3:12-19 was not written for unbelievers but for us believers. Take your head out of the sands, it never worked with God and He is not going to start with you.

Hebrews 4:1-2 “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed