“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
By unbelief I refer to a lack of the only response acceptable to God. Biblical faith is two-sided, including the more passive aspect of reliance and trust and the more active aspect of obedience. In the Old Testament, faith might be more accurately rendered faithful in most instances, for the objective aspect of an obedient response to God was intended. The more common word was fear, or reverent awe – the unconditional amen of the soul to God, the expression of the same basic requirement for any acceptable relationship between creature and Creator. In the New Testament, the subjective aspect of reliance predominated the writings of John and Paul, but the original concept of obedience was never lost. James explored fully the relationship between obedience and trust as aspects of saving faith. It is, therefore, often helpful, in searching for the root cause of subnormal Christian attitudes and conduct, to distinguish between disobedience and lack of trust.
Active rebellion. This cause for failure in the Christian life is easiest to identify. God is still available; He has not changed and He is capable of winning the conflict. But “your wickedness has separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 Amp). No one who is deliberately rejecting the known will of God in one area of life can expect to receive His enabling to live supernaturally in other areas, a truth that most Christians who are actively rebellious know.
Passive drift. This second way of disobedience is far more common and not as easily identified. Through failure to pursue actively God’s highest standards, through neglect of Bible meditation, prayer, or active church involvement, or through the accumulation of small, hardly conscious disobediences into a callous pattern of spiritual insensitivity, a person may leave his or her “first love” (Revelations 2:4) and become lukewarm and actually obnoxious to God ( Revelations 3:15-16). Passive drift will distance a person from God just as surely as active rebellion, though it may take longer and prove more difficult to identify. Because the relationship is not easily recognized, especially by the person experiencing it, this condition is more dangerous than that of conscious rebellion. The original covenant relation with God has been violated, and the person can no longer experience the normal, Spirit-empowered life God promises. I believe that this passive drift into a condition of disobedience is the most common reason for failure in the Christian life.
Some earnest, fearful souls may be guilty of unbelief in a second way. They seem to long for holiness of life, to be unconditionally yielded to God’s will, to strive and struggle, but yet they fall short. Such failure may partly be due to unbiblical expectations, but often the root problem is lack of trust in God that He will do what He promised.
We have identified disobedience and lack of trust as the reasons most Christians subsist in a condition of defeat and spiritual poverty. These reasons reflect the common malady of unbelief, for which the cure of faith is necessary. How is it for you? Do either of these reasons cause you to live in a condition you do not desire? Choose faith today, choose obedience believing God will do