Sola Scriptura and Unbelief are Mutually Exclusive

by Mike Ratliff

Sola Scriptura       In Sacred scripture alone we find

Sola Gratia              Salvation is by grace alone

Sola Fide                  Through faith alone

Solus Christus       In Christ alone

Soli Deo Gloria!    For the glory of God alone!

3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:3-4 ESV)

Unbelief is rooted in arrogance. I hear quite often from some Emergent/Post-Modern know-it-all that certainty is the product of pride and the only ones who are truly humble are those who view uncertainty in all things as a virtue. However, what is unbelief in this context? To define it we must first define its opposite, belief. In John 6:35 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” So those who “believe in Jesus” are those who do what? Those with belief come to Jesus to partake of this promise instead of seeking fulfillment elsewhere. These believe God; therefore, those in unbelief are those who do not believe God. They may believe in Him, but they do not do so to the level that causes them to place all their trust in Him and His promises as their Lord. Those in belief live within the context of Jesus Christ being their Lord while those in unbelief do not. Oh, they compensate to be sure. How? They create their own Jesus who is more to their liking. Since they created him, they have him being “lord” in their context, but most certainly not according to that which we are clearly given in Sacred Scripture.

As the self-styled post-modern thinkers apply their wobbly belief system to Christianity they run headlong into something I am sure they never thought would cause them any problem whatsoever. There are those in Christ who believe God, have believed their Lord, not merely believed in Him, and are in Him. He has saved them and they live their lives within the context of Him being their Lord over all. Those who are in Christ are changed. They are new creations. They are regenerate. One of the primary ways they know their Lord and learn about their God is through His Word. From it, they learn that there is a huge problem with any attempt to reconcile post-modern indefiniteness with Sola Scriptura. In fact, it is impossible. God’s Word says something is true and God’s people believe it. They live according to the truths they learn from His Word. They learn that true Christianity is exclusive and precise. This is not arrogance, but belief. The epitome of arrogance is displayed by those who refuse to believe God and, instead, attempt to blend together various belief systems that please them. This is, of course, unbelief in action.

The enemy of God and His people, Satan, is a liar and a murderer. His goal is to deceive people and draw them into unbelief and spiritual darkness. He uses temptation to do this. These temptations are rooted in the world.

16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16 ESV)

The lust of the flesh pertains to personal gain or physical comfort in place of being satisfied in Christ. The lust of the eyes pertains to physical appetites as a distraction from pursuing fulfillment from God. The pride of life pertains to personal power in the world instead of living within the Lordship of Christ. Satan used these three temptations against Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He promised her that if she ate of the fruit that she would not die (lust of flesh), that it was actually okay to eat of any tree in the garden (lust of the eyes), and that if she ate of the tree then she would be like God, which is an appeal to the pride of life. Interestingly, when our Lord began His earthly ministry, He went into the wilderness to be tempted as well (Matthew 4) and Satan used these same three temptations, which are rooted in the world.

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4 ESV)

This is a direct temptation to the “lust of the eyes” made by our tempter against our Lord. What did our Lord use to counter the temptation? He quoted scripture from Deuteronomy 8:3 telling Satan that it is a sin to place physical appetites above obedience to God’s Word, being fed and sustained by Him.  I would imagine that this is not something being preached or taught a great deal in our churches in our time. In fact, the name it and claim it crowd would be all over this one, seeing no problem placing personal gain over self-denial and obedience to God’s Word. But you see, this is what God’s Word says and, therefore, we must learn this, take it to heart, and ask God to change us accordingly.

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. ’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:5-7 ESV)

This temptation was according to the lust of the flesh and in this, we see that our enemy can quote Scripture too. Satan’s quote is from Psalms 91:11, 12, but it is out of context and he twists the meaning. On the other hand, our Lord’s response, from Deuteronomy 6:16, recalls the experience of Massah, where the grumbling Israelites put the Lord to the test. They demanded that Moses produce water where there was none. This reminds me of these loose-mouthed preachers on TV who blaspheme God and tempt Him in ways that I find hard to understand why He does not just zap them. Our application here is that we should never presume upon God for when we do, we are guilty of giving into a temptation of the lust of the flesh. It is sin. Those who believe God are submitted to His truth from His Word (Sola Scriptura), while those in unbelief try to do things according to their own “reason.”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve. ’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:8-11 ESV)

This temptation is according to the pride of life. Satan offers our Lord all the world’s kingdoms for the price of Him worshipping our enemy. There are plenty of “Christian” leaders in the history of the Church who have fallen for this. There are some today as well. We must combat this temptation as our Lord did. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:13, 14. The Word of God is our source of God’s Truth. What it says is the Truth and it is the Truth no matter who argues about it or tries to sell a “better truth” in its place. Sola Scriptura is under attack by our enemy in all three of these temptations for he is saying his truth is higher and better than God’s Truth, which is His Word.

Our Lord’s response was perfect and teaches us that the way we defeat Satan is to worship the Lord our God and Him only shall we serve. If we do this as we subject ourselves to His Truth, then we not only prove we are His children, but we will be able to withstand all of the wiles of the Devil and turn away from his attempts to deceive us through the temptations of the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We will be able to do this because we will have a godly focus instead of a fleshly, temporal focus. We will then find ourselves working with God instead of for Him.

Sola Scriptura is under severe attack in our day by those with their own “religious” agenda. However, this is really nothing new as we saw in these passages from the Old and New Testaments. I encourage all reading this to commit yourselves to living in God’s Word, praying for both discernment and wisdom while walking in repentance. Be alert my brethren, our enemy is seeking to cause us to stumble and fall, but no matter what he does to us, if we are truly in Christ, He will sustain us and keep us in His sheep fold.

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “Sola Scriptura and Unbelief are Mutually Exclusive

  1. Mike, in light of what happened to Herod (Ac 12:21-23) I also long pondered ” … loose-mouthed preachers on TV who blaspheme God and tempt Him in ways that I find hard to understand why He does not just zap them.” Judgment will come at the Word of the Judge. Most heartbreaking are the countless millions giving heed to doctrines of demons; yet, if not for God’s heart transplant within me I would be skipping along the broad path of destruction.


  2. Chava, do you mean celebrating the birth our Saviour by the Holy Spirit of a Virgin, which is all according to Sacred Scripture? If you mean that then that is entirely within the realm of what Sacred Scripture teaches, but if you mean the secular stuff going on all around us then that is another question isn’t it? Also, what it means to be a Christian whose theology is based entirely within Sola Scriptura means just that, but there are Christians from all over the world from different cultures and I know from my interaction with missionaries that it is a huge error to major in minors when it comes to dealing with Christians across cultural boundaries. In the church where I attend we have been studying this very thing and it is very humbling. There are essentials for salvation and then there are religiosities that most certainly are not and we cannot hold them as essential to salvation for to do so makes us just like the Scribes and Pharisee’s and Judiazer’s in Paul’s day.


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