As believers we know faith is the currency of God’s kingdom and by it, we minister at the Lord’s unction. But accurately defining ‘doubt’ and ‘unbelief’ and knowing the difference between them, can make or break our ability to receive from God. Doubt can be remedied quickly but unbelief can slowly accumulate in our lives, if we’re not careful. Unbelief even stopped Jesus from doing miracles in His home town of Nazareth! Interestingly, Mark’s Gospel identifies we can have ‘faith’ and ‘doubt’ at the same time, effectively nullifying our ability to receive from God. Join Carl now, as he shares key insights that might be holding you back…Tune in now…
Here is a complete transcript of the podcast…(below)
“Today I’m going to talk about three separate and distinct facets of our Christian walk, because I think that by explicitly defining them in their scriptural context, will better help us differentiate between their usage. They are Faith, Doubt and Unbelief. When it comes to doubt, someone said this, “When in charge, ponder, when in trouble, delegate and when in doubt, mumble” lol. But friend, we don’t have to mumble because we have knowledge of God’s word and a lack of it is the very cause of doubt. Now starting with faith, we know faith comes by hearing, we know it is a substance, therefore it can be measured and we know faith works by love. We also know that the mystery of faith is a clean conscience, as I’ve discussed in a previous broadcast. We also know that we apply our faith by speaking it out loud to the obstacle in our path. Remember Jesus said, “Have faith in God, say to the mountain be removed and cast into the sea, which represents an obstacle in your life. (Mk 11:23) ” Now one thing I’d like to point out is; you really don’t need that much faith at all in order for it to work. In the case of a mustard seed it was the smallest seed known to man at the time when Jesus walked the earth, but Jesus said you don’t need much faith at all in order to practice it. You just need to start using the little faith that you have and implementing it by speaking to the hindrance in your life. Friend did you know that God is limited by the power that works within you. Check out this scripture, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us“ (Ephesians 3:20).
Depending on your knowledge of Christ, depending on whether you’ve been Baptized with the Holy Ghost or not and are manifesting the dunamis power of God, depending on whether or not you’re moving in faith and not doubting, all these impact God’s ability to move on your behalf. You’re God’s conduit of power on this earth and He is able to move in your life, according to the power that works in you, as the scripture attests. Now here’s where it gets tricky. Did you know you can have faith and doubt at the same time? Yes, it’s true and Jesus actually said this, “21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive”– Mt 21:21-22. Now this passage describes the time when Jesus had cursed the fig tree and it withered at the roots on the way to Jerusalem, remember that? You can also read of this account in Mk chapter 11. Did you notice that if we have faith and doubt not, then and only then will our faith work fully but if we have faith and doubt, the two can effectively cancel each other out?
Let’s clarify from the outset that there’s a distinct difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt by definition is simply not knowing, but unbelief is knowing and choosing not to believe. Now I’ll say that again if you want to write it down, doubt is simply not knowing, but unbelief however is knowing and choosing not to believe. I love to look up definitions as you know, so let’s see what Miriam Webster has to say about doubt, “To lack confidence, to be uncertain about a thing, the word is actually stems from fear in its root”. The only way we as Christians can have doubt is because of a lack of knowledge concerning the promises of God and I’ll tell you right now, that’s not a one-time affair but we need a constant reminder. Thoughts of doubt may come but with knowledge of God’s word, we may speak the truth in return. If you’re a believer and you know God’s word and you know your covenant rights for healing and prosperity etc. then your issue is not doubt friend because you know the promises of God already, you just need to put them into action. Another way of describing doubt is uncertainty; you’re just not sure if God will do it because for you, as having no knowledge of His word will feed doubt. You could say this is evidence of the double-minded man, spoken of in the Book of James. One minute he thinks God can, the next he doesn’t and what does the scripture say, James 1:5-8:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.“
Friend, the only way to curtail doubt in your life is to feed and feast on God’s word and His promises so you will be confident of what He will do. Doubt is actually simple to overcome. It’s not easy because it takes effort to seek knowledge of God’s word but it is simple to offset. Doubt doesn’t take away from the faith that you have but it can oppose it and the net result is your ability to believe can become ineffective. If you want to receive from God, you have to be convinced and this is faith that has conquered doubt. Remember when Abraham gave Glory to God and staggered not at the promise of a child in his old age, but was fully convinced or persuaded, only then did he receive the promise of Isaac (Rom 4:21). It should also be stated that when we pray, we should come without doubt as (1 Tim 2:8) …” I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting’. Jesus also told his disciples not to have a doubtful mind concerning the goodness of God to provide food and raiment for his children, “And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind” (Luke 12:29). Once again, knowledge is key to alleviating doubt of God’s provision.
Now, in my opinion, for the seasoned believer who has known the Lord a few years and read His word, most likely it is unbelief that’s causing you the most problems when it comes to receiving from God, not doubt. Once again, doubt is simply not knowing but unbelief is knowing the promises of God and choosing not to believe them. And why do we subconsciously choose not to believe them? Well, because the circumstances of life are screaming the opposite of God’s promises to us at the top of their lungs, that’s why and we can’t grasp exactly how God is going to come through for fur us this time. Another reason for unbelief is familiarity. The best example of this is when Jesus returned to his home town of Nazareth. Let’s read Matthew 13:50-58:
“54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
Friends, this is an astounding statement in the bible, it didn’t say Jesus wouldn’t do mighty works, it said he could not do any mighty works and there is a big difference! He was certainly willing but the people in his home town, because they were familiar with him, chose not to believe. This is a very powerful concept to grasp. Your belief system can hinder what God can do in your life. We read in Mark 9:23, “Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”. Think about that for a minute, the Master of the universe, God incarnate on this earth was not only hindered by their unbelief down there in Nazareth but your beliefs about what God can or cannot do in your life can actually hinder his manifestation in your life. This is profound but true. When we review the miracles of the Gospels particularly, in 75% of the cases a person’s own faith was involved. In the other 25% they were deemed as miraculous or there was no mention of the person’s faith. Friends, based on that survey alone we can clearly see how impactful our faith can be. In the vast majority of cases faith is involved even if it is not explicitly mentioned and many believe, faith is always involved. In the coming weeks we will certainly address some of these examples of healing and deliverance that Lord revealed in the Gospels and we will study them in depth. However, let’s just park that right now.
Your belief system is very very important to God and those beliefs need to be founded on the word of God. As a Pastor, I’m in the bible belief business. It’s my job to both forge godly beliefs and maintain those godly beliefs, in God’s people. If you have an inkling of doubt in any area concerning God’s word, then that’s an area where Satan can work against you and hinder you receiving from God. Friend, you cannot believer further than you have knowledge and that’s why knowledge is crucial. Remember God said His people even perish because of a lack of it (Hos 4:6). So how do we know we are believing God? Hebrews 4:11 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Friend, know this, to be in rest, is living proof, that you are believing God, when we get out of rest we are getting into unbelief and this scripture warns us that our labor should be to maintain our rest or peace in God. And friend, also know this, God’s word is true and let every man be a liar. Your unbelief, does not nullify or cancel out the word of God. Romans 3:3 says “3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”
In closing, Doubt and unbelief are two of the biggest weapons Satan has in his arsenal but to a Christian who knows the word of God and applies it; these weapons are blunt and provide no damage whatsoever. To recap, ‘the measure of faith’ (Rom 12:3) is granted to you when you’re born. It is the measure by which you enter God’s Kingdom. You don’t have to go looking for faith friend, you already have faith. It abides within you. Doubt is not knowing, or more precisely not knowing God’s word. Just dive into the bible to find out promises you can stand on. And finally, unbelief, is choosing not to act on God’s revealed promises, in other words, you have knowledge of them but through apathy, fear or for whatever reason, you choose willingly not to put those promises into action and let the circumstances of life, override what God said, that is unbelief.”
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