Aug 14, 2014
I Believe, Help My Unbelief
That’s what the man with the demonized boy prayed in Mark 9:24.
And that’s what I’m praying this morning.
Here’s my problem: I’m dealing with some fears that show I am loving fame and money more than Christ. (Sounds awful — but there it is.)
This shows there is unbelief in my heart, since I am not believing Jesus’ promise in John 6:35 –
I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
My problem is unbelief, since I am not believing that Jesus himself will satisfy all my heart hungers and thirsts, and I am believing that fame and money will satisfy me more.
A Common Struggle
I’m not alone. Unbelief is something we all battle —
- When we worry about bills, we are not believing the promise of Matthew 6:33.
- When we seek revenge, we are not believing the promise of Romans 12:19.
- When we boast, we are not believing the truth of 1 Corinthians 4:7.
- When we are afraid, we are not believing the promise of Isaiah 41:10.
- When we lust, we are not believing the warning of Mark 9:47-48.
Every Christian has to deal with unbelief.
What Can We Do?
So what can we do when we discover unbelief in our hearts?
Here’s what we should NOT do –
- Beat ourselves up for not being better Christians (how does THAT help?).
- Blame our upbringing, or our circumstances (those can affect us, but they are not the root issue).
- Ignore it, and hope our belief will be stronger tomorrow (and wallow in unbelief the rest of the day?).
- Rely on our own will-power to overcome our unbelief (never works).
- Call a friend and complain (and draw them into unbelief with us?).
Okay. But what CAN we do?
Where Faith Comes From
The good news is that faith does not ultimately come from us – it is given to us by God.
That’s taught in Ephesians 2:8 –
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
So faith is not our own doing; it is the gift of God.
That’s also taught in Philippians 1:29 –
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (New American Standard Version)
So believing in Christ is not something we come up with on our own. It is granted to us — given to us — by God.
That’s also implied in the prayer of the man with the demonized boy in Mark 9:24 –
“I believe; help my unbelief!”
He knew he could not overcome his unbelief, but he knew that Jesus could.
So faith does not ultimately come from ourselves; it is given to us by God.
Don’t Passively Wait
Please don’t misunderstand this. Faith IS a gift from God. And we CAN’T produce faith by our own willpower.
But that does not mean we should passively wait for God to give us more faith.
Even though faith is a gift from God, we are never commanded to passively wait for faith; instead, we are commanded to have faith in Christ, to believe Christ, to trust Christ —
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5)
- “Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
- “Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
- “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27)
- “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
So if we can’t produce faith by our own efforts, and if faith must be given to us by God, how do we obey the command to have faith?
The Fireplace of Your Heart
See if this helps. Picture your heart like a fireplace. You want it to be ablaze with the fire of faith.
But what can you do when there’s no fire — and you have no matches?
God promises that if we will provide oxygen (prayer), and firewood (the Word), he will strike the match of the Holy Spirit – and the fire of faith will once again start to burn.
I get this from —
- Mark 9:24 — the man with the demonized boy prays for Jesus to overcome his unbelief.
- Luke 11:13 — if we pray for the Spirit’s work, the Father will always answer (and part of the Spirit’s work is to strengthen our faith — Ephesians 3:16-17).
- Romans 10:17 – God promises to give us more faith as we hear his Word.
What Happened to Me
When I started writing this I was full of unbelief, which I planned on battling as part of this blog post.
But halfway through my writing I had to run an errand. So while I drove I prayed earnestly for God to increase the work of his Spirit in my heart (adding oxygen into my fireplace).
And on my way home, along with prayer, I preached a couple verses to myself (putting firewood into my fireplace).
So there I was, with oxygen and firewood in my fireplace — and just as God promised, he struck the match of the Holy Spirit.
It was while I was preaching Hebrews 13:5 to myself —
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Usually the match of the Spirit starts with a little piece of kindling, and I can feel the fire of my faith grow slowly.
But this time it was not slowly. This time the entire log of Hebrews 13:5 lit up all at once — and I saw and felt the glory of Christ as the one who would never leave or forsake me.
God had helped my unbelief, by strengthening my faith.
My heart was so filled that I desired nothing besides Christ, I cared nothing for fame, and I knew he would provide whatever finances we needed.
So when you find your heart full of unbelief, don’t despair. Through Christ God will give you more faith — as you pray for the Spirit’s work, and as you set your heart on his Word.
When we pray, “I believe, help my unbelief,” he will. Every time.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Five Misunderstandings about Faith, and How You Can Avoid Them
- No Matter How Burdened, God Can Change Your Heart
- How Is Faith the Substance of Things Hoped for?
- How Can I Help Others Grow in Faith?
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