Grace tidings: Dealing with a hardened heart and unbelief

One can have faith and unbelief at the same time.

Hardness of heart has stricken all Christians in some area of their lives. This is what keeps us from hearing the voice of the Lord and being led by Him in our everyday lives.

In Matthew, chapter 17, there is a perfect example of a hardened heart. Jesus’ disciples are trying to cast a demon out of a boy. Starting at verse 14, it says, “And when they came to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for many times he falls into fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief....” If I asked you, “Why have you prayed for something and not seen the manifestation?” the typical answer would be: “Not enough faith.” Jesus’ disciples asked Him the same question, “Why couldn’t we cast him out?” Jesus didn’t say they didn’t have enough faith. Instead, He pointed to their unbelief.

You can have faith and unbelief at the same time. Most people have never considered this. They think you either have faith or unbelief, but not a mixture of the two. For instance, Jesus once said, “Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark. 5:36). Why didn’t He just say “believe”? It’s because it’s possible to believe and disbelieve at the same time. Also, a man once told Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief” (Mark. 9:24). In other words, the man said, “I have faith, but I have unbelief at the same time.” Mark 11:23 says, “For verily I say to you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says.” Why would Jesus say, “and shall not doubt” if faith is automatically the absence of doubt?

It is because you can operate in faith and unbelief at the same time. This has been a source of confusion to many people, because they have seen their faith work, but when they don’t see it work, they ask, “God, what’s wrong? I know I prayed in faith. I have seen it work before, and now it doesn’t seem to be working.” The problem is that you had faith, but it was hindered by unbelief.

A lot of us really do release our faith, but it is negated by unbelief. Nothing moves. When Jesus rebuked the disciples, He didn’t say, “You don’t have any faith.” He said, “It’s because of your unbelief.” Remember, in Matthew, chapter 10, the disciples had already been commissioned with power over unclean spirits, and over all sickness and disease. They had seen people delivered, apparently every person delivered.

They knew about faith, but they still didn’t see results. I have had that same problem, and I have wondered, God, I have seen it work so easily before—why isn’t it working now? It’s because of unbelief.

 In Matthew 17:20, Jesus continues rebuking the disciples: “for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” Imagine that: faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to cast a mountain into the sea! In other words, the faith we had to get born again is enough to see anything happen. It’s enough to see cancer healed. It’s enough to see people delivered. It’s enough to see the dead raised ... if it’s not mixed with unbelief.

Many people try to build faith, but they don’t deal with their unbelief. Some of us have such high levels of unbelief that the only way we will ever receive anything is through corporate faith: we will always have to have the entire church pray for us. The only consistent way to live in victory is to decrease your unbelief level, to just pull the plug on unbelief. If you do that, you’ll find that “with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5) is all you need to maintain total healing.

You won’t need a thousand scriptures on healing; one will do if you don’t have any unbelief to wipe it out. Unbelief can take various forms. It can be total rebellion, such as saying, “I just don’t believe this, even though it’s scripture.” That’s unbelief. Or it can also be as small as saying, “I believe God heals, but what if..?” The Bible says in James 1:5-8, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”

This is an example of belief and unbelief occurring at the same time. “For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” The Bible talks a lot about being single-minded. That means don’t believe and disbelieve at the same time. Confessing the Word, believing that you are healed, but then questioning God when a pain hits you, is unbelief.

In Mark 9:20, the Bible cites the same instance of the disciples and the lunatic boy. It says, “And they brought him to him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.” This demon, in other words, had a physical manifestation. The disciples saw it. This is why it’s so hard, for example, for people to get their eyes healed. Your eyes are your strongest sensory knowledge gate.

Over 80% of your contact with the physical world comes through your eyes. You depend more upon them than what you feel, hear, smell or taste—all combined. When someone has hands laid on him for his eyes to be healed, immediately his eyes either say, “You’re healed,” or “You’re not healed.” If that healing is not instantaneous, that person is in for the fight of his life. Most Christians have never learnt how to bring their senses into subjection, so most of them fail to get their eyes healed, even though it takes no more faith to heal your eyes than it does to heal your big toe.

If there is no instantaneous manifestation, there will be more unbelief to deal with concerning your eyes than there would be concerning your big toe. The disciples saw this demon convulse this boy, and it’s my personal opinion that when they saw it, they related easier to the physical manifestation than they did to their faith. That’s where their unbelief came from.

Hebrews 5:14 says, “But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Our physical senses—what we see, taste, hear, smell, and feel—are what this is talking about. It says we can literally bring them into subjection, bring them to the point that they don’t always have to be going contrary to God.

We can exercise our senses to the point that they will be sensitised to God more than to the world, more than to the junk on television, more than to sin, hatred, strife, unbelief, jealousy and adultery.

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