The Nature of Unbelieving Thought

by Mike Ratliff

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:17-18 ESV)

Genuine Christianity is that which is within the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christians are commanded to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) within that Lordship. We are to obey our Lord as branches abiding in the True Vine (John 15). How do we practically do this? We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling presuppositionally, that is, with every thought, intent, and action taken captive to the will of God. We do this by approaching and living life with God at the center of all things instead of ourselves. In the passage above, (Ephesians 4:17-18) we see the opposite way to walk and the outcome of that. Unfortunately, that is how most professing believers approach this life, that is, in functional unbelief.

Unbelief is rooted in neutralist thinking. As we saw in yesterdays post, The Robbery of Neutrality, the demand for neutrality in our scholarly, apologetically, or educational endeavors actually robs one of all the treasure of knowledge that there are. The actual act of taking a neutral approach to knowledge has been demonstrated to be immoral in character. Some may protest that, but it has been shown repeatedly that those who slide into this allow their Christian distinctives to be muffled and finally integrated into the rebellious ways of an unbelieving mind-set. It is impossible for the genuine Christian to be neutral in his or her intellectual life. Why? This neutrality in a Christian would call for dual commitment: one to secular agnosticism, one to saving faith. It is would be what our Lord called “serving two masters.”

Those who are outside of a saving relationship to God, when they follow the intellectual methods mired in unbelief, are actually doing so in the futility of their minds and are darkened in their understanding. Neutralist thinking is, therefore, characterized by intellectual futility and ignorance. Contrast that with Psalm 36:9.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (Psalm 36:9 ESV)

True Christians in God’s light are able to see light. There a boatloads of highly educated people with a many letters after their names who can call themselves scholars, but if they have turned away from intellectual dependence upon the light of God, the truth about and from God, they have actually turned away from knowledge to the darkness of ignorance. I am sure we could come up with many lists of names to fit this category. Those professing Christians who desire to begin their scholarly endeavors from a position of neutrality are thus willing to begin their thinking in the dark. They would not allow God’s Word to be a light unto their path (cf. Psalm 119:105). To walk on in neutrality would be stumbling along in darkness.

The Christian who strives for neutrality in the world of thought is (1) not neutral, and thus (2) in danger of unwittingly endorsing assumptions that are hostile to the Christian faith. The pressure to be neutral causes professing Christians to actually compromise while they never actually realize they are doing so. They may believe that their intellectual neutrality is compatible with a Christian profession, but actually, they are operating in terms of unbelief. Why is this so? If the believer caught in this trap refuses to presuppose the truth of Christ, he or she invariably ends up presupposing the outlook of the world instead. Remember, our Lord made it clear that we cannot serve two masters. No one is truly neutral. All have their presuppositions. Shall your presuppositions be the teachings of Christ or the opposite, which are nothing more than vain deceptions?

Choose this day whom you will serve!

Soli Deo Gloria!

12 thoughts on “The Nature of Unbelieving Thought

  1. There’s that Lordship Salvation thing again! LOL The pastorprenuer down the road has his salvation for sale for a much lower price, Mike!
    But he just couldn’t explain Col. 1:18 very well…seems it didn’t fit with his “best life now sermon series.”
    Thanks again for confirming the Lord’s Work in our lives.
    We appreciate you, brother!


  2. To choose neutrality is to contradict the Designer who has designed us with at least two very distinct characteristics unique only to humans, choice and reason, both of which cannot be neutral.

    Christ told us we would serve something by choice, either God or money. I see a number of things in our society that we serve…rock stars, politicians, spiritual gurus, celebrities…all driven by guess what? Money. No neutrality there.

    God has given us 3 dimensional sight by the light of His Word. Take away the Word and we now see only in one dimension. And that is what these liberal theologians are doing with their intellectual genius…leading us away from the Word where there is no positive and negative…only positive, only one dimensional thinking. Yes, the futility of thinking. No neutrality there.


  3. Carolyn, Intellect minus God is the foolishness and darkness of this world that only leads to futility and, yes, you are right, that is exactly what the church visible leaders are in the midst of doing.


  4. Yes, and even in Christian circles where someone “looks down upon one of these little ones of mine” who cannot put two sentences together as well as they can, are guilty of the same intellectual futility. Although I greatly admire intellectual qualifiers of the gospel, subject to the Spirit sometimes I see a “superiority” of snobbery among the bloggers that intimidates rather than builds up in the faith. And all my brothers and sisters, no matter what level of education and position in life, have something important to say when they have a praise, or a psalm or a comment on what is on their hearts from the Word.
    God Bless you all in the Faith of Christ! Let us speak boldly for Him.


  5. Dear Mike,

    As we know the strongholds being built in opposition to God are in our minds. This is why we must depend on the Lord to deepen our love for Him in our hearts so that we will draw and be drawn ever closer in our thinking to the obedience of Christ.
    I praise God for your ministry that seeks to continually reverence and honor the Word of our God and remind us that it is the only basis of Truth, wisdom and understanding in a world that is saturated in chaos.
    God has blessed me beyond measure to be fed by a pastor who loves God’s Word on Sundays and your daily teachings. Praise Him for the abundance of His riches poured out for us.
    Praying your rest was refreshing in the Lord:)
    In the care of our faithful and true Shepherd, charisse


  6. Amen and thank you Charisse. Yes, what a blessing it is to have the wonderful gift of God’s Word knowing that we do not have to depend upon anything subjective for reasoning or knowledge. Amen!


  7. I have been told many times that I am critical and judgmental about many issues, spiritual and practical. These same people who want me to be “PC” and tolerant of everyone everywhere, are hypocrites! They are not tolerant when it comes to ME. They absolutely make a judgment about me, and do not remain “neutral”.
    You cannot have it both ways! I think that is what the Bible refers to as unjust weights. ??


  8. In the interest of discussion of this topic of Christian Universalism, which fires me up a bit…
    Mike you said:
    True Christians in God’s light are able to see light. There a boatloads of highly educated people with a many letters after their names who can call themselves scholars, but if they have turned away from intellectual dependence upon the light of God, the truth about and from God, they have actually turned away from knowledge to the darkness of ignorance.
    just a few thoughts to confirm what you just said…
    Romans 1:
    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    “God gave them over”(a phrase which is meant to awaken us out of our complacent daze)… “to their shameful lusts…..gave them over to depravity”…

    And then, once again, for the proponents of Universal Light and love, (Rob Bell and his mentor Brian McLaren and everything in between), those who paint a picture of a laid back, cool-headed and detached God who is non-committal to what is to be done about sin, and waits for some kind of blended, harmonized merger of good and evil in an great cohesive, endtime finale.

    Romans 2 paints a completely different picture of a God who has a definite plan to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

    God does not seem to me to be too neutral on the subject…


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