Oct 13, 2013

The Fearful & Unbelieving

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Rev. 21: 8)

Those who are finally cast into the Lake of Fire and experience the second death are described as being both "fearful" and "unbelieving." Obviously then, those who are saved are not either "fearful" or "unbelieving."

Lest any of those who are true believers lose heart at such a description, let it be known that such descriptions do not assert that true believers never have fears and never unbelief. Every true believer comes to Christ saying "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9: 24)

No Christian has perfect faith. As it was with the apostles at the first, so it is with most disciples that they "are of little faith." (Matt. 6: 30, etc.) After the resurrection we are told by Mark that Christ "appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." (Mark 16: 14) In the Hebrew epistle we find the Christians being warned about the dangers of unbelief.

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." (Heb. 3: 12)

Christians are to ever be on guard against having an unbelieving heart and disposition. They are to battle against it, and seek to grow in their faith and confidence in the Lord. Though the Apostle said that "the love of money is the root of all evil" (I Tim. 6: 10), it seems that unbelief is the root of all evil. Why does a man love money? Is it not because he is an unbeliever? How can one disconnect love of money from faith in money? Likewise, how can a man disconnect love for God with faith in God?

Fearfulness is a natural consequence of unbelief just as confidence and lack of fear is a fruit of faith. Well did Solomon say - "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge." (Prov. 14: 26)

It is impossible to disconnect John's two descriptive participles of "fearful" and "unbelieving" because they naturally go together. Where you find one you will surely find the other. Fearfulness is a natural product of unbelief. Jesus asked some - "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" (Mark 4: 40) Notice how Jesus connects "no faith" (unbelief) with being "fearful."

In what ways do we manifest unbelief in our lives?

First, we manifest it by being fearful, by worry and anxiety. Are there not many exhortations in Scripture against it? Do not worry and fear spring from unbelief? Are they not symptoms of unbelief and is unbelief not an evidence of an evil heart? Remember the words "evil heart of unbelief." Did not Jesus tell us not to worry about tomorrow as Christians? Would not doing so be an act of disobedience? Has God not said many times, in addressing his people, "fear not"? Again, to do so would show unbelief and would be an act of disobedience. When we fret and worry, when we sit in fear, are we not distrusting God?

Second, we manifest unbelief when we murmur and complain, and when we curse our circumstances and are angry. When we have strong faith we say "I will fear no evil for thou art with me." (Psa. 23: 4) The Lord also says - "But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil." (Prov. 1: 33) What person does not want to "be quiet from fear of evil"? To be in such a state requires that we increase in our faith and confidence in the Lord. It is the antidote for fear, worry, doubt, and murmuring.

Third, we manifest unbelief in being impatient, in our failing to wait upon the Lord. On the other hand, faith gives us the will and strength to wait and be patient, as well as to persevere.

It is therefore of the highest urgency that Christians constantly ask the Lord to give them increase of faith and to rid them of all unbelief.

When the lost are described as being fearful and unbelieving, it is to be understood that this is what they are characteristically. Further, it is affirmed that the saved are they who are generally and characteristically not so. If we are mostly fearful and unbelieving as professing Christians, then let Rev. 21: 8 be a means of exciting us to come to the Lord and asking him to help rid us of our evil heart of unbelief.

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