Hello again brothers and sisters!
When I last left you, I left you with a verse to think about. Mark 9:24:
Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
This verse is very informative for this discussion. This statement by the boy’s father seems contradictory. Why would he need help believing, if he already believed?
My initial reaction when I read this verse to learn about belief was to place my faults and failings on this man. I assumed it was his pride. He did not want to acknowledge his own difficulty believing, and instead was kind of hedging between his pride and God’s place. In other words, “I kinda believe because my pride won’t let me say otherwise, but I know I really need to believe and I need you for that.” However, context is key so lets take a look.
And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”
And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:17-24
So instead of a prideful man. It is clear that this man was actually desperate. He did believe that Christ could do it, however, he also recognized his own weakness and inability to believe that Christ could do it. This, the very opposite of pride resulted in Christ healing his son by casting out the demon.
Have you ever thought that what kept you from acknowledging your need for God to help you believe is your own pride? That in actuality our nature of staunchly stating that we know what the Gospel means is the root of our issue in actually believing it?
Another way of saying it is that as soon as you, in your heart, decide that you know the depth of the Gospel, you have indeed lost all capability for understanding it. By its very nature, our pride cuts us off from the source of the faith that we have, the work of the Holy Spirit.
Specifically the difference is between a headfull and a heartfull. There is a difference in knowing and believing. Belief brings about action based in that which is believed. Knowledge becomes belief through the working inward of that knowledge by the co-labor of your spirit with the Holy Spirit. This is a part of sanctification, or the separation of yourself to God’s purposes rather than your own.
Knowing is not believing. It works like this: All that you believe you know, but there are things you know that you do not in your heart believe.
To return to an earlier passage we talked about, James 2:18-20:
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
The idea that James is reiterating is that faith without works is not true faith. Faith with works is true faith because when you actually believe something, when you have faith that something is true, you live as if it is true.
Now lets take a look at our faith to see if it is really faith…or simply an acknowledgment in our minds.
Do you worry?
If you do, you are not having faith in God. Matt 6:25-34.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Do you tell others of what God has done for you?
If you don’t, how true is it that you believe He has done it for you? Not many would refuse to tell their neighbor about something that was going to kill them. Yet, when you do not share what Christ has done for you, when you do not live according to His commands, you show you do not believe and do not tell them.
There are many more questions that can allow you to gauge what your belief is like. If you are like me, I was shown to be a liar by the first, not to mention the second.
So inevitably the question is, what do I do to fix it?
Do you remember in the last post when I said that the problem with those statements of the Gospel was that they were focused on us? Yet asking what we do to fix it is the same problem. Your pride screams that it is something you can handle. The truth is it isn’t. It never has been. And your and my belief that we could handle it was what put us in our current predicament.
The problem is our heart. Its not a problem we can fix. Like the man in Mark, Christ is the only one who can help us in our unbelief.
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
So, renounce your pride and ask God to help you in your unbelief, as the boy’s father did. Be made new.
In other words: Be Utterly Dependent.
The grace and peace of Christ be with you.
PS. Look forward to the next post. Now that we have a solid understanding of what it means to believe, and how we have gone wrong in our thinking before, we need to find what we are believing. A quick preview, one definition of the Gospel by a wise guy is: The Gospel is a righteous God declaring sinners righteous in a righteous way.