by Mike Ratliff
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58 (NASB)
The condition of the “visible church” in our time is quite tragic. It is full of professing Christians who appear to be running headlong into apostasy in ever increasing numbers. In this post we will attempt to look at what it is in these people that has brought this about. Why have they fallen into darkness and we have not? There are leaders amongst those on the broadway that leads to apostasy that have a problem taking God’s Word as absolute truth. On the other hand, I have always taught God’s Word as literal truth yet there are many places in the Word that some professing Christians have a problem taking literally because, if we do, then it refutes their pet theology exactly to the point. That is the nature of God’s truth. I have had some very ugly discussions in Bible Study classes about doctrine in which certain people were insistent that a section of God’s Word cannot be taken literally even though the only refutation they have against doing so is human philosophy. This, my brethren, is unbelief in action.
Unbelief in Matthew 13:58 at the top of this post is the Greek word ἀπιστίαν or apistian, which speaks of faithlessness or uncertainty, distrust, or unbelief. It is used in the New Testament to show a lack of acknowledgment of Christ in Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:6, a want of confidence in His power in Matthew 17:20 and Mark 9:24 and a want of trust in the God of promise in Romans 4:20 and Hebrews 3:12 and 3:19. Unbelief leads to a turning from obedience to follow what the flesh wants or what one wants to believe instead of believing God and walking by faith. This causes a hardness of heart to set in and become progressively worse unless God grants repentance, breaks through the hardness of heart and the person turns to Him in belief. If this does not happen then the heart will grow continually harder no matter how religious the professing believer becomes. Accompanying this heart hardening is spiritual blindness.
Professing Christians in this state of heart hardening and growing spiritual blindness are not regenerate. If they were, they would be spiritually alive and God would not allow them to apostatize, however, as John tells us in his 1st epistle:
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:18-19 (NASB)
Those who fall into irrevocable apostasy prove they were never truly Christians by this act. True, regenerate believers prove their authenticity by remaining faithful. However, there are professing Christians all over the place who are apostatizing, going after all sorts of false religions, trying to incorporate other religions into Christianity, et cetera, thereby proving that they are not truly Christians. They got to this point because unbelief and disobedience was their starting point. Eventually, they became so spiritually blind and hardhearted that they became open to all sorts of deception and that is what we are seeing all around us now.
8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (NASB)
Here we see that these people become so hardhearted and spiritually blind that they get to the point that they do not believe the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. A literal translation of verse 12 from the Greek would read, “that might be judged all the not ones trusting in the truth but having thought well in the unright.” They pursue what is not of God and take pleasure in it. They proclaim it to be right and true because they have rejected what really is truth, God’s truth, as the truth. They are in unbelief, are now so hard hearted, and spiritually blind that they are ready for the final piece of the puzzle. God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false. That is why we see so many professing Christians all around us right now falling all over themselves to go hard after false doctrines and follow men rather than God’s Truth and the Lord Jesus Christ and His good doctrines.
These professing Christians are not genuine believers because they are not regenerate. Their fall into apostasy began with unbelief and progressed into hard-heartedness and spiritual-blindness to the point that they found pleasure in unrighteousness. God then sends them a strong delusion to seal the deal. They believe the lie. They assume they are the real Christians and those who remain faithful are only dumb fundamentalists or whatever. They believe they are so cool and “with it” and “culturally-relevant,” but they have been deceived and it all began with their unbelief.
Soli Deo Gloria!