Why do some people believe in God while others do not? Why do some believers walk in faith easier than others? A number of Christians say the believe the entirety of the Bible, but their lifestyle does not seem to reflect it. While belief is at the core of people's lifestyle, their heart is at the core of their belief system or lack thereof. While we'll briefly touch on nonbelievers, the primary focus here will be on believers.
Belief is a choice we all must make. Who or what we believe in is our decision. That being said, rebellion is the reason many refuse to believe, who claim to be atheists.
As we recall, Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the Light, neither comes to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:19 - 20). We also find that idolatry is attached to unbelief (see Romans 1:18-32). Atheists want to do their own thing without being held accountable for their actions. While deep down in their heart of hearts they know that God exists, they choose disbelief in order to continue in their rebellion against Him. Of course, their pride will not allow them to acknowledge they know He exists. In extreme cases, some even curse God while on their deathbeds. There are those who do have a change of heart when they are at the threshold of eternity. Similar to the saying, “There's no such thing as atheists in foxholes.”
Another reason some disbelieve is anger.
They are angry at God for their lot in life, or perhaps for some loss they experienced. They blame Him for their hurts and failures. He did not live up to their expectations; therefore, they choose unbelief as an act of retaliation. For the most part, they hold God in unforgiveness. These are just a few reasons “atheists” exist.
As stated before, each of us have choices as to what we believe. One reason some fail to embrace truth is they have strongholds.
Meaning, they learned things that were in error. In many cases, from others who had influence in their life. Because they accepted error as truth, they find it difficult to believe truth when it comes along. Similarly, Christians can have theories they espouse as truth and refuse to be corrected. However a person received a stronghold (defined in 2Corinthians 10:3-5), it makes it difficult to see truth. In order to tear down and combat strongholds, we must be willing to hear or see the truth as God intended.
Religion is another reason some believe partial truth.
As long as a person wants to be in control of the Faith, truth will elude him. Those who seek control, pick and choose what they believe. That's why many overlook passages of Scripture that contradict their belief system.
Another similar trait is found in those who abuse grace.
Essentially, they want to live the way want to live and still be saved. Instead of conforming to God's standards, they seek to conform God to theirs. This is embedded in idolatry as well. They know they are suppose forsake those thing contrary to the Word of God, but will not. They esteem their idol or pet sin above God. When people do that, their imaginations become vain and their foolish hearts become darkened. Grace never sanctions or sanctifies sin; rather, it sanctifies believers and empowers them to live holy. Some need to stop using grace as some sort of “Get out of hell free” card.
At the same time, there is the religious crowd, who fail to grasp what grace is all about.
They put things on people, and even their own selves, that they have no business putting on. They hold people to standards they themselves cannot keep. They put themselves in bondage by becoming more concerned about what they cannot do. Failing to realize that our righteousness is in Christ Jesus (2Corinthians 5:21). When we have our eyes on Him, everything falls into place. Instead of enjoying the freedom found in the Spirit of the Lord, they're miserable following the spirit of religion. Yep, they make others miserable too. The minute you try to become a “better Christian,” you enter into dead works. Religious people (Pharisee types) fail to believe Jesus did it all. Somehow, they think they are better Christians than others, because of what they don't do. In some cases, they fail to love.
When we love God, we will obey Him. Part of obedience is belief. If we are to believe the right things, we need to love Him enough to embrace His truth. We have to esteem Him and His Word above all else.
The world would have us believe that in the heart of mankind are complications that make it difficult to discern fact from fiction. Actually, God deposits His truth into our hearts through His Spirit. We are told we must believe with the heart; not the mind (see Romans 10:7-10). The head and the heart are supposed to work together. Unfortunately, the natural mind can get in the way of the mind of Christ. Where things get sticky is trying to understand spiritual things through natural reasoning. This interrupts the belief process that begins in the heart. As a matter of fact, true understanding and discernment are found in the heart; not the mind. One clue if found in King Solomon's request to God found in 1 Kings 3:9, Give therefore your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this your so great a people? Proverbs 8:5 O you simple, understand wisdom: and, you fools, be you of an understanding heart.
Some have a very difficult time with faith, because they keep picking things apart trying to figure things out.
They want to understand how God is going to move in their circumstances before they believe. Essentially, they lean on their own understanding, and as a result, they fail to gain true understanding. As a suggestion, instead of trying to know how God is going to do something, get to know Him. The more you know Him, the more you will understand His ways. When you better understand His ways, you won't be overly concerned with the means. As you focus on the relationship, you'll become more in tuned with His will and desires. Hearing His voice become more valuable to you, and when it does, faith is freer to operate in your life. Obedience will be more important. As you become more submissive, your understanding increases.
Obedience means to believe with the intent to conform to the desires of a superior with a heart of love. That means with love for our Father, comes a greater desire to please Him. It is relational in nature. In the relationship comes a greater understanding of His heart, which is something that transcends head knowledge. It is amazing how you can learn things without knowing how. Why? Because He reveals His truth by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2: 11 – 16For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. 12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man' wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15. But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that He may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
People get into trouble when they value man's opinion more than God's. Frankly, because of living in the world prior to coming to Christ, Kingdom thinking can appear contrary to “reality.” As a result, people try to confirm their new found truth through other people. Lets be clear, godly counsel is a very good thing. Putting hope in man's opinion over God's Word is not so good. The more we agree with God, the more things will make sense. He actually makes life less complicated if we will just listen to Him.
What you believe about yourself will greatly influence your future. Decisions and actions accompany belief systems. Here is something important to know: you can choose what to believe.
That means you can change. That means you can succeed in life if you choose to believe the right things.
People tend to believe the voices of those to whom they listen. Those whom they esteem the most have the most influence in their lives. If you do not hold God in the highest esteem, man's voice will override His. At the same time, if you filter your view of God through man's opinion about Him, you will not have an accurate picture. That means when you hear the Father tell you that He loves you, you will be hard pressed to believe Him if the voices you listen to say differently. There will be a tendency to embrace certain passages of Scripture while overlooking others. As a matter of fact, some people beat themselves up with “favorite” verses of the Bible, because they fail to believe God is a loving Father, He is good and His mercy does indeed endure forever. Some believe He is angry with them. Of course, there are those who go to the other extreme, and miss words of correction as a result.
Warning: some esteem their own thoughts above God. What value do you place on yours in relation to His?
Your belief system is foundational as a disciple of Christ. Do you believe in God? Did you put your faith in Jesus? Do you believe the Bible? Do you believe God? Do you believe what He says about you?
While you were in the world, the devil was your daddy. He spoke anything he could over you to destroy you (he still tries). He used different people and methods to get to you. He sought to plant lies in your heart. Jesus said he is the father of lies (John 8:44). If he birthed lies in your heart that you believe to be true, you'll find truth difficult to embrace. These are called strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). That is why some feel confused when they actually hear the truth for the first time. Nonetheless, if they choose to believe the truth, confusion will leave. If you put your faith in Jesus and God is your Father, then listen to His voice. He will renovate your mind and your life will change for the better.
Take an inventory of what you believe about yourself with the help of the Holy Spirit. Compare it to the Word of God as He leads you. If you believe you are a piece of trash because of past behavior, it is time to recalibrate. Behavior modification does not change who you are; rather, believing the right things will change the behavior. Walking in the righteousness of Jesus makes you righteous. How do you do that? Believe in Him and take Him at His word. Finally, make the decision to believe what He says about you.
As a suggestion, consider the following scriptures and meditate on them.
John 8:31-32, 36Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; 32. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
John 6:28-29Then said they to him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29. Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.
Romans 8:14-18For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. 18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
2 Corinthians 5:17, 21Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 21. For he has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Galatians 2:16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Galatians 4:4-7But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7. Wherefore, you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Hebrews 12:5-7And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him: 6. For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. 7. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?
If you love people well, you have a ministry. When you shift your focus onto your ministry, you risk leaving love for a vocation.
God is love, and as a result, He ministers to us. God is not ministry, and as a result, He loves us. That's backwards. Sometimes those in “full time ministry” struggle loving people. Why? Because now it's their job. While the Lord does give people specific ministries, those ministries still work by love. As we know, faith works by love (see Galatians 5:6). Apart from faith, we cannot minister effectively. Apart from love, faith becomes ineffective.
While we are to be good stewards with our ministry, we need to keeps things in proper order. Have you ever wondered why some “preachers' kids” (PKs for short) want nothing to do with church? In numerous cases, they took a backseat to the ministry. Like it or not, we are designed to need love and attention. When children don't get the proper love and affection from their parents, there is a good chance rebellion is about to hit the household. They will get their attention by testing their parents' love. Is it good to save the world while letting your children to go to hell in a hand basket?
While bonafide emergencies do arise, not everything is a crisis in ministry. If you constantly break promises because “someone has to talk right now,” you will not be trusted by your family for very long. If you are simply filling squares with your family, so you can go minister, you are not loving your family well. 1 Timothy 3:2-5A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3. Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4. One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) In order to rule your household well, you must love well. Think about this: God our Father does not fill squares. He is ever present and very detailed about everything concerning us. He makes sure His family is taken care of.
Sometimes, one of the best ways to minister to others is simply leading by example. If you have a ministry of which people are aware, know that you are being watched. This is not meant to cause you to walk on eggshells; rather, encourage you to walk in love. When those who are connected to your ministry observe your love, they will be spurred on to love. If they see that you indeed keep boundaries in order to protect your family, they will tend to emulate the same thing.
As we well know, God has a purpose for every individual. All have a specific calling along with gifts tailor made for each one. Also in the purposes of God, He has a specific place in the body of Christ for every believer. One important principle we all must embrace is that we are designed to be one Body with many members. That means no one is supposed to be outside the Church. The gifts and calling of God function best when people are where they are supposed to be.
Being in church, as many like to point out, is not a prerequisite for salvation. True enough, but it is a sign of our love for God and obedience to Him. If we love God, we will love His people. Likewise, if we love Him we will obey Him. Since everyone has a specific place designed and defined by God, would it be considered obedience to refuse to be there? That's selfish; not love nor obedience.
If your calling and gifts best function when you're connected to the Church, how do you expect to fulfill your purpose to the fullest when you try to avoid the church?
Without being part of a community of believers, you will not completely fulfil the destiny on earth that God purposed for you. While people may be prophesied over, prophecy in relation to destiny generally do not align apart from obedience. It requires faith; but, if one refuses to listen, how can he or she walk by faith? After all, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
Has it occurred to you that someone needs your gift active in his or her life in order to become whom he or she needs to be?
Likewise, there are those whom the Lord wants to use to bring you into your fullest potential. We do not merely fulfill our destiny by hearing a Word. There is a process involved to bring its fulfillment. As the saying goes, “You don't send a boy to do a man's job.” If your character doesn't fit the position, God cannot trust you in that position. While some words of prophecy may not be contingent on what we do; our calling is dependent on process and obedience.
Have you ever thought that perhaps the pieces to the puzzle are hidden in community?
That one key your looking for might be in the pocket of a brother or sister. If you're not willing to be part of the community, you may never find the key you're looking for. Again, you may have one of the keys in your pocket that helps unlock someone else's destiny. Don't worry, God has other pockets if you're not willing. Just keep in mind that He wants to give you the opportunity to partner with Him, and for you to gain rewards untold. Selfishness evades joy as it also avoids obedience.
Have you been hurt by some in the church? Welcome to the club. Let me drop the F-bomb on you. Forgive! Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2). Even before the Cross, Jesus knew there would be many to betray Him besides Judas, Nonetheless, He died for them anyway. Furthermore, He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” By the way, if you don't forgive, you'll have a very difficult time fulfilling your destiny.