From the beginning of time, man has seemed to have a problem with unbelief
in regard to the commands and warnings of Jehovah. The first man and his mate
ate of the forbidden fruit, even after God instructed them as to what NOT to
do. Apparently, they preferred the words of Satan rather than those of the Almighty.
They simply did not believe that God meant what He said.
The Israelites found themselves wandering outside the promised land for forty years. Why? Because they refused to believe what had been told them by their Heavenly Father. In fact, the sin of unbelief continued to plague God’s people throughout Old Testament history. Their falling away was a direct consequence of not believing God and His promises and warnings.
Things were no different during the days of Christ and the Apostles. From the early beginnings of Christianity and the Lord’s warnings for five of the seven churches of Asia, to modern-day congregations that choose to ignore the Bible pattern of worship and it’s teaching on grace, faith, and fellowship, many of God’s children still disbelieve Him in regard to what will happen if they continue to depart from His Word.
THE CAUSE OF ALL DEPARTURE FROM GOD IS UNBELIEF
Unbelief is the rejection of testimony, even though the testimony is supported
by sufficient evidence — it is the closing of our eyes against the truth
and refusing to accept the Word of God as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto
our path (cf. Psalm 119:105).
More often than not, unbelief arises from a desire to shift responsibility placed upon us by the Word of God, which, in turn, leads us to do whatever we desire, regardless of what the Bible says. Unbelief is the occasion of all sin and the very bond of iniquity. It darkens, destroys, and makes the world a moral desert wherein no divine footsteps are heard. Unbelief on the part of anyone closes to that person the door of Heaven, even as the door of Canaan was closed to the Israelites “who could not enter in because of unbelief.”
UNBELIEF AND DISOBEDIENCE ARE THE SAME
The Bible is very clear concerning the future of those who do not believe God’s
word. Referring to “them that had sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness,”
the writer of Hebrews continues by stating, “And to whom sware He that
they should not enter into His rest, but to them that were disobedient (believed
not, KJV). So we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief”
(Heb. 3:18,19). Furthermore, it is said in Hebrews 4:6, in regard to those who
shall not enter into His rest, “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some
should enter thereinto, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached,
failed to enter in because of disobedience” (unbelief, KJV).
It was unbelief that brought sin into the world, that filled the world with violence, that brought the flood and the downfall of Israel and will close the gates of heaven against all who do not believe God and His commands. “Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God” (Heb. 4:3).
CAUSES OF UNBELIEF
1) An evil heart. The heart can become so set on evil as to refuse to accept
the truth. The heart is evil when it cherishes evil. “From the heart comes
forth evil thoughts” (Matt. 15:19).
2) Ignorance or blindness of mind. Those guilty of such were the murderers of Christ, along with all who shut their eyes, close their ears, and harden their hearts to the truth. It is not the case that they cannot believe, they simply refuse to accept that which they know to be right. Israel had an abundance of evidence. They had seen the power manifested by God in many ways, but they were bent on evil and desired to turn back, in spite of all that Jehovah had said and done.
3) The love of sin. The Gospel demands our all. Those who profess to be Christians must come out of the world and be lovers of God rather than lovers of pleasure. But because some do not want to give up the pleasures of sin, they refuse to believe and continue in unbelief. The reason so many are “out of Christ” is because of their love of sin and refusal to believe that God means what He says.
4) The influence of the Devil. The parable of the sower presents a powerful lesson as it explains the seed that fell by the way side: “And those by the way side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12). It is not that they could not understand, they simply chose to disbelieve and let the devil fill their ears with what they wanted to hear. They heard the truth, but turned away from it and refused to believe.
5) The pride of human nature. All those who love the truth believe the Bible doctrine of faith and the fact that it humbles the soul. But the love of honor and social standing leads to a refusal to accept the truth. God’s word has much to say about the harmful consequences of sinful pride. The writer of Proverbs delivered the divine truth when he penned, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope of a fool than of him” (Prov. 26:12). Guided graciously by the Holy Spirit, James quoted from the same Old Testament book, that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And lest there be any doubt as to the plight of the proud, 1 John 2:16-17 should convince us: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vainglory (pride, KJV) of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
EFFECTS OF UNBELIEF
Centuries ago, God pronounced that “cursed” is he “that confirmeth
not all the words of this law to do them” (Duet. 27:26) and “cursed”
also is he “that continueth not in all things which are written...to do
them” (Gal. 3:10). Christians are also to understand that if we profess
to a part of the law, we are “debtor to the whole law” (Gal. 5:3);
because, as is taught in James 2:10, to “keep the whole law, and yet offend
in one point” makes us “guilty of all.”
Yet, so many seem to disbelieve that we are to accept and do “the whole counsel of God.” They shut their eyes and close their ears to the reality that a refusal to accept and practice even one of God’s commands will result in their being rejected by Him at the last day.
Those who are guilty of unbelief (including Christians) are joined together with those to whom Christ said, “Ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). What a terrible death that will be, because to die in sin (even one sin) is to die without God, facing an eternal torment in the horrors of hell.
Failure to believe that God means what He says is the biggest mistake a responsible person can make. This is true whether one does not know God’s word or refuses to obey God’s word. The consequence of unbelief is eternal loss. There will be no salvation and hope of heaven for those who do not believe and obey God’s word (John 8:31-32; Matt. 7:21).
By Alan Caudle
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /