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#2. UNBELIEF, DOUBT, AND PHYSICAL CIRCUMSTANCES ARE NOT FAITH

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Greek word study on πιστεύω, 'pisteuo' meaning 'to believe'.
Greek word study on πίστις, 'pistis' meaning 'faith'.

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Introduction 2

It is not always easy for some Christians to know whether they are really in faith or not, but it is important for them to know. Therefore, in our bible study about faith we will not only to explain what faith is, but also what faith isn't. This is a bible study which shows that unbelief, doubt, and physical circumstances are not real apostolic faith.

#2.1 Faith is not unbelief

MATTHEW 17:19-21
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief; for amen I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from here to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.
21 However this kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.

ROMANS 4:19-21 (Paul)
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb;
20 He did not doubt the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

GALATIANS 3:22 (Paul)
22 But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Note: We can see that belief is an essential ingredient of faith (See #3.4), but unbelief is the opposite of belief. Unbelief then is not faith, and Jesus made this clear when he contrasted the unbelief of the disciples as the reason why they could not cast a demon out with, "If you have faith ... nothing shall be impossible to you." (Matthew 17:20). A mixture of belief and unbelief is doubt, and Paul contrasted this with Abraham's strong faith (Romans 4:20). Doubt will get us nothing from God (Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23; James 1:6).

#2.2 Faith is not doubt

MATTHEW 14:31
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

MATTHEW 21:21
21 Jesus answered and said to them, Amen I say to you, If you have faith and doubt1 not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain, be removed, and be cast into the sea; it shall be done.

MARK 11:23 (Jesus)
23 For amen I say to you, That whoever shall say to this mountain, Be removed, and be cast into the sea; and shall not doubt1 in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he says.

ROMANS 4:19-21 (Paul)
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb;
20 He staggered1 not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

JAMES 1:6-7
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering1. For he that wavereth1 is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7 For do not let that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord.

Note: The words translated doubt1 (Matthew 21:21), shall ... doubt1 (Mark 11:23), He staggered1 (Romans 4:20 KJV), wavering1 and wavereth1 (James 1:6 KJV), are all various tenses of the same Greek verb διακρίνω (Gtr. diakrinō). It is made up from two words, the preposition διὰ (Gtr. dia) which means "through", and the verb κρίνω (Gtr. krino), which variously means "I choose", "I determine", "I judge", "I dispute" etc. In the context here, διακρίνω has the underlying meaning of, "through disputing, or through judging, or through contending in the mind", which really means "to doubt". In other places the same word is translated in the sense of "to discern" (Matthew 16:3; 1 Corinthians 11:29), "to doubt" (Acts 10:20; 11:12; Romans 14:23), "to judge" (1 Corinthians 6:5; 11:31; 14:29), and "to contend" (Acts 11:2; Jude 9). These scriptures reveal several truths, one of which is that when there is any disputing in the mind, any doubt or reasoning going on, then that is not faith. The words of Jesus verify this, when Peter failed to walk upon the water he said, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31). The condition to be in total faith is summed up by these statements, "doubt not" (Matthew 21:21), "shall not doubt in his heart," (Mark 11:23), "he doubted not" (Romans 4:20), and "nothing doubting," (James 1:6). Faith has a steadiness or firmness of mind (See #1.1 Note (2.b)), a total conviction that the answer is always "yes and Amen" (2 Corinthians 1:20), with no doubting going on at all. Doubt is caused by periods of unbelief, and goes hand in hand with it. We can see this from the statement of Paul, "He staggered (doubted) not at the promise of God through unbelief;" (Romans 4:20). Just as doubt, which Jesus called "little faith", caused failure when Peter attempted to walk on the water (Matthew 14:31), so unbelief caused failure when the disciples could not cast a demon out (Matthew 17:19-20). Here is a chart to show some comparisons:

FaithDoubtNo faith
BeliefSome belief, Some unbeliefUnbelief
YesMaybeNo
AlwaysSometimesNever
HotLuke warmCold
AllSomeNone
FullHalf fullEmpty
100 %90 %, 50 %, 10 %0 %

These comparisons show that doubt is therefore the middle ground between total faith and no faith, and needs to be overcome by all sincere Christians.

#2.3 Faith is not physical circumstances

MATTHEW 14:28-31
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter came down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

ROMANS 4:19-21 (Paul)
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb;
20 He did not doubt the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Note: Peter was defeated in his trial of faith to walk on the water because he looked at the physical circumstances around him, "the wind boisterous," (Matthew 14:30). He began to fear that he could not do it, because doubt crept in, and he began to sink. If he had kept his eyes on Jesus, he would have succeeded. Abraham, on the other hand, did not consider the physical circumstances in his trial of faith to have a son by his barren wife Sarah: "he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb;" (Romans 4:19). Abraham succeeded because he kept his focus on what God had promised him, and not on the physical circumstances, which indicated that it was impossible. The four men who brought a man sick of the palsy to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12) could not get into the house where he was because of the people. The physical circumstances were against them, but they uncovered the roof of the house (v4), and let him down to Jesus to be healed. Jesus saw "their faith" (v5) and healed him (v12), showing that faith overcomes impossible physical circumstances. Joshua didn't have enough daylight time to defeat the ten kings who were attacking the Gibeonites (Joshua 10:5), so he commanded the sun and the moon to stand still in the sky (Joshua 10:12), They did (Joshua 10:13), until he had a great victory. His faith overcame the physical circumstances, which are often in the Devil's realm. This is where he works to try and discourage us during our trials of faith, but if we can keep our attention on what God has promised us, and not on the physical circumstances, then we also can succeed just as many others have done.

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