The Evidence of Unbelief

by Mike Ratliff

24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:24-25 ESV)

Let us never forget that those of us who stand for God’s Truth not only being knowable, but binding on all, are in a serious war. This is not a skirmish or a battle. It is a war. In his book The Truth War John MacArthur exposes the tremendous battle that is being fought over what is truth and what isn’t. The Church is wounded and compromised to an extent greater than most of us can imagine. Brian McLaren has said that the primary purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was not to provide a way for His people to be saved from their sins, but to show people how to be Kingdom people. He makes the message sound so right and our flesh loves that message, but it isn’t Biblical. This statement is nothing more than unbelief packaged as an alternative truth to designed to deceive people into discounting the truth from God’s Word thereby keeping them in darkness. It should be clear that this is a direct attack on the Gospel.

Keep in mind that this attack by McClaren is typical of the Emergent movement. From that group we hear these messages that appeal to our flesh while putting the real message from the Bible into a bad light. Those who have the courage to stand against this sort of thing will find that there will be a backlash coming their way from some very surprising sources. In their obedience they will be called divisive and legalistic. They will be treated as pariahs. All of this will be from so-called fellow Christians. Therefore, what me must seriously look at is the difference between professed faith and true saving faith. Those with the latter are regenerate. They have the Holy Spirit. They are New Creations. However, if a person is a professing Christian alone without saving faith then they are simply unregenerate and religious. If we simply look at “works” it might be hard to tell one from the other. So how do we tell? We must look at God’s Word.

Where do we start? We must admit that the main difference between a regenerate believer and lost person is that one is in belief and the other is in unbelief. Therefore, if we look at the Bible’s use of the word “unbelief” then we can draw a narrow line between the two. From this study we can see where true saving faith lies. Then we can look within to examine ourselves to see how much unbelief is in our faith. To do this, we must see exactly what unbelief is.

Our flesh believes that unbelief is simply making a bad decision while faith is making the right decision. We naturally believe that unbelief is nothing more than an error in judgment. However, unbelief is actually a rebellious and violent principle of opposition to God. In the Bible we find that the words “disobedience” and “obeyed not” come from the same Greek words as “unbelief” and “believed not.” The writers of the Bible used “unbelief” and “disobedience” as synonyms throughout Scripture. They are the same word in the original Greek. Please carefully reason through the following statement: “We cannot rightfully say we have saving faith while living in unbelief. It is a contradiction.” If we change the word unbelief to disobedience, the contradiction remains.

16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:16 ESV)

Paul tells us that we cannot claim saving faith if we are living in disobedience. Peter does as well.

7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (1 Peter 2:7-8 ESV)

We cannot separate unbelief and disobedience because they are the same word in Greek. They are synonymous. Conversely, obedience and faith are as well. Adam’s sin, which plunged all of Man into unbelief, was far more than a mere negative failing to believe God’s clear command to not eat of the tree in the midst of the Garden.

19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 ESV)

This passage tells us that it was Adam’s unbelief that was a damning sin, and so it brought the fall. Adam was not deceived by Satan’s lie as was Eve.

14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:14 ESV)

Adam’s sin was in discounting God’s smallest command while demanding to have his own way. This is self-will, which is the essence of sin. Unless self-will is broken there is no salvation, no saving faith. Adam’s sin was the first act of unbelief in the history of Man.

From this we see that unbelief is a damning sin. Here is another example.

18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18-19 ESV)

“Unbelief” comes from the same Greek word as “disobedient.” This tells us that they could not enter because of unbelief. Did they have faith? They believed enough to follow Moses in the Exodus, but what happened to them in the wilderness? They were condemned. They saw the plagues in Egypt. They saw the Red Sea part. They saw and ate the manna. However, they still would not obey. How did Moses admonish them for their unbelief?

25 And they took in their hands some of the fruit of the land and brought it down to us, and brought us word again and said, ‘It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us. ’ 26 “Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 1:25-26 ESV)

This is unbelief. Unbelief is far more than a spiritual struggle to question the existence of saving faith by the grace of God within us or not. When we struggle there it is a trial of faith, but that isn’t unbelief. Unbelief is a gross damnable sin. It is rooted in a self-will that has NEVER been broken. It is determined to have its own way and sit in the seat of God. Unbelief is evident in self-will, rebellion, defiance and disobedience. Therefore, it is a contradiction to claim saving faith while walking in self-will.

Unbelief is also directly connected with hatred.

24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:24-25 ESV)

Unbelief is connected with hatred because the conscience condemns them, so they hate. This is the source of viciousness and retaliation we experience from those in unbelief when we stand on God’s Truth or rebuke those in apostasy or heresy. A true brother or sister will receive our concern with love, but those in unbelief turn on us and become our worst enemy. They want the condemnation from their conscience to stop. Unbelievers, i.e., the counterfeit believers hated our Lord Jesus Christ because He told them the truth. When we emulate Him they hate us as well. It is by this that we know them.

40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. (John 5:40-42 ESV)

Our Lord pinpointed the distinction between faith and unbelief. What is it? It is the love of God. Those He was rebuking could not have saving faith with their will totally dissolved in God’s will without a motive of love.

Genuine believers are not in unbelief. Therefore, they are not consumed by disobedience nor do they hate other believers. On the other hand, there is nothing to keep professing believers who are not genuine from fabricating good works, but since they are in self-will, the truth of their unbelief will eventually become manifest. We see this in the growing apostasy in men such as Brian McLaren who unabashedly attack the veracity of the Gospel and say their message is the real Christianity.

Soli Deo Gloria!

11 thoughts on “The Evidence of Unbelief

  1. I guess, the following would be a good example(s) of unbelief leading to a damnable heresy. “It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins, but the work of redemption Christ accomplished in pouring it out.” -Dr. John MacArthur
    “We are not saved by some mystical heavenly application of Jesus’ literal blood. Nothing in Scriptures indicates that the literal blood of Christ is preserved in heaven and applied to individual believers. When Scripture says we’re redeemed by the blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19), it is not speaking of a bowl of blood in heaven. It means we’re saved by Christ’s sacrificial death.” -Dr. John MacArthur


  2. Alina, I most often refuse to post straw man attacks like your comment, however, since I believe you are basing this attack on John MacArthur from some bad teaching you have received from conspiracy teachers and other seeds of Satan who have some sort of agenda to bring down Dr. MacArthur as well as all those who don’t follow along with them in their little war I will post your comment with one reply, but that is all there will be. There will be no further discussion on this; been there done that… sigh… If you want to attack Dr. MacArthur there are plenty of other places on the Internet where you can go to do that, but not here.

    Here is a direct quote from The MacArthur Bible Commentary on 1 Peter 1:18 page 1906:

    1:18 redeemed. See note on 1 Timothy 2:6. That is, to buy back someone from bondage by the payment of a price; to set free by paying a ransom. Redemption was a technical term for money paid to buy back a prisoner of war. Here it used of the price paid to buy the freedom of a person in the bondage of sin and under the curse of the law (i.e., eternal death, cf. Gal. 3:13). The price paid to a holy God was the shed blood of His own Son (cf. Ex 12:1-13; 15:13; Ps 78:35; Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:24; Gal. 4:4, 5; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:11-17).

    So, you see, whoever gave you that quote was cherry picking and is a liar and you would do well to never listen to him or her or anyone else like that.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  3. I love The Truth War and wish all Christians would read it. I’m amazed at how many want to ignore the battle we’re in and go around like all is fine because they are saved.


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