The word unbelief can be represented by two Greek words, apethecia meaning ‘disobedience’ and apistia meaning ‘distrust’. (Bible study tools)
According to these two words when a person has unbelief it is equivalent to disobedience and distrust in God.
What does unbelief do?
It denies us access to God’s rest
We are told that they were unable to enter God’s rest because of their unbelief. What was this rest? The rest of God’s promises. The Israelites were disqualified because they refused to put their trust in God.
And we are exhorted not to fall into sin like they did.
Take care brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12
It hinders us from receiving God’s promises
They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe in his promise. So he swore to them with uplifted hand that he would make them fall in the wilderness. Psalm 106:24, 26
Speaking about the Israelites in the wilderness. They didn’t believe in God’s promises so God swore to them that they would die in the wilderness, consequently forfeiting the Promised Land.
If we refuse to receive by faith the promises God has given to us. We will end up just like the Israelites in the wilderness. We will not be able to see and enjoy what God has promised us in His word.
It limits God
And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58
I love mark 6: 5 it says, and because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
It says… He could not … Jesus in all His power was limited because they refused to believe in Him.
New American Bible says…so he was not able to perform any mighty deed there…. God was unable to display His power because the environment hindered him.
It is possible to tie God’s hands through unbelief. God can want to do great things in our lives but can be limited because He finds no faith to partner with Him.
But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” If you can?” said Jesus. Everything is possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24
The boy’s father thought that God was limited. He, therefore, tells Jesus if He can. He wasn’t sure if Jesus could heal his son. Jesus replies, ” If I can? The limit is not on me it’s on you. Everything is possible to the one who believes.”
Jesus gives the man the responsibility of partnering with Him through faith. And the boy’s father immediately cries, “I believe, heal my unbelief.”
He had a revelation, it wasn’t that God was unable to give him the miracle, it was his unbelief that was limiting God.
Jesus here sends us an invitation into a realm where everything becomes possible. When we put our faith in Him, nothing will be impossible.
Unbelief amazes God
But not in a good way.
And He marveled at their unbelief. Mark 6:6
Jesus is shocked that the people who knew Him and had heard of all the great things God was doing through Him, would refuse to believe in Him. He was puzzled that they could hear about all the miracles happening around them and still choose unbelief.
We can shock God with our lack of faith. We can surprise God because we refuse to believe in Him even when He has proved and revealed Himself to us over and over again.
God isn’t easily amazed; we can see this in scripture.
The only other time we see Jesus being amazed is when a centurion- a non-Hebrew who didn’t have a background of faith displayed such great faith.
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. Matthew 8:10
Two things make God marvel, the presence of great faith in a man, and the presence of unbelief in men.
We’ll either amaze God because our faith or astound Him with our unbelief.
It grieves God
How often they disobeyed Him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! Psalm 78:41
Through their unbelief, the Israelites constantly disobeyed God, hence grieving God’s heart.
God is grieved by our lack of faith. When we know the truth and refuse to believe, we grieve God.
When we choose unbelief rather than faith even when we don’t understand, we grieve God.
How do we cultivate faith instead of unbelief?
We praise God for the promise
No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and empowered in faith as he gave praise and glory to God. Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21
I love this. Abraham didn’t allow unbelief and distrust to grow bigger in his heart even when the promise delayed. No, we are told he grew strong in faith because…. He gave praise and glory to God.
It’s not whether doubt or unbelief will come, but our response to it that matters.
Here is the secret. When we praise and give glory to God even for the things we are yet to see, our faith grows stronger and stronger. And we offer no room for doubt in our hearts.
We refuse to grumble and complain
Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the LORD. Psalm 106:25
Their murmuring and grumbling was rooted in unbelief. They didn’t believe that God’s intention toward them was good. So they began to murmur and grumble whenever they encountered problems, instead of leaning in trust and putting their faith in God.
Whenever there is unbelief in our hearts, the fruit we will see will be complaining and grumbling.
We should not test Christ, as some of them did- and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did- and were killed by the destroying angel. 1 Corinthians 10:9-10
In the wilderness, God judged their murmuring and complaining by sending fiery snakes amongst them. ( see Numbers 21:5-6)
God wasn’t judging their complaining, He was dealing with the root cause of their murmuring- which was unbelief.
So Paul warns us to be careful not to do the things they did lest God deals with us as He dealt with them.
We are exhorted Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus in you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The cure for complaining and grumbling is a thankful heart. Unbelief cannot grow in a heart full of thanksgiving. When we choose to give thanks to God we make room for our faith to grow stronger.
We hold fast to our faith
Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised); Hebrews 10:23 KJV
Amplified says…Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word];
We are able to hold firmly to our faith even when doubt and unbelief threatens to steer us away because we are convinced that he who promised is faithful to fulfill His word to us.
May we partake of every one of God’s promises for our lives through faith.
Have a blessed weekend!