Battling Unbelief

Battling Unbelief

What do we mean when we say the word unbelief? For the Christian, it may mean something differently than for someone who is not a believer. For the Christian, unbelief might not be the absence of belief or faith, it might be more along the lines of struggling in faith. I think that we can all admit that the Christian life is not easy and that some days are a lot harder than others. How do we handle all of this? I have 5 components that I think will help us in our struggle with unbelief. I know that each believer is at a different level in their spiritual maturity but I believe that these 5 things can help at any stage of your faith.  

  1. Cry out to the Lord. One of my favorite stories in the Gospels is found in Mark 9:14-29. Jesus, Peter, James, and John have joined up with the other disciples and they are struggling to cast a demon out of a young boy. The father believes that Jesus is able to cast out the demon but he is still wrestling with unbelief. The father says in verse 22, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus replies, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Verse 24 is one of my favorites and it is something that I have found myself saying numerous times in my life. The verse says, “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s then that Jesus casts the demon out of the man’s son. When we struggle with unbelief, God wants us to admit that to Him. Notice that Jesus doesn’t condemn the man for asking for help in his faith. In fact, Jesus doesn’t act until after the man asks for it! If you are struggling in your faith, cry out to the Lord! Admit to Him that you are struggling and ask Him to help you with it. The father in Mark 9 is a desperate man that is wrestling with faith and unbelief. Yet Jesus responds to such a fragile faith. Our faith will never be perfect, but the One that our faith is in, is perfect.


  1. Surround Yourself with More Mature Believers. The Christian life was not meant to be experienced alone. Some of the people that have the hardest time battling unbelief are the one’s that are trying to do it on their own. Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Here we see the author of Hebrews encouraging the church to build one another up so that they would not be hardened by sin. The author is not addressing just elders, pastors, or deacons in this letter, this is a command to the entire church. This means that we have a responsibility to be there for those that are struggling. The Body of Christ needs to surround those that are hurting in their faith so that they can continue to see Christ’s active work in His Church. Surround yourself with other believers. Seek guidance from those that have been running this race for longer than you have. Many of them are familiar with the struggles that you may be going through because they too went through them many years ago.


  1. Ignore how you are feeling and cling to what you know is true. I struggle to use the word ignore because I think that we can think of it as meaning that something is not important and that we should just forget about it. Here is an example of what I mean when I say that we should ignore how we are feeling. Sometimes as we struggle with unbelief, we say things like, “I feel like God isn’t as close as He used to be”, or, “I feel like God has abandoned me or doesn’t love me.” There is a big difference between feeling and knowing. There are many times when we need to ignore how we are feeling in a moment and focus on what we know to be true. You feel like God doesn’t care about you and you are just another number in a long line of believers. But we know that in God’s eyes, you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9). We also know that before the foundation of the world, God set His sight on you and chose you in Him (Ephesians 1:4). We know that God has numbered all the hairs on our head, and we are valued by Him (Luke 12:7). We may feel unimportant but the Bible tells us that we should know that we are valued and longed for by God. What if we don’t feel like God loves us or loves us as much as He used to? Well we remind ourselves that God is never changing, and therefore His love for us does not change either. God doesn’t love some future version of you that doesn’t exist yet. He loves you for you. Stop feeling like you need to do something to earn God’s love and remind yourself that while we were still His enemies, God showed His perfect love by sending His Son to die for us. (Romans 5:8-10) If you feel like God is far away, remember that the Spirit of Christ now dwells in your heart (Romans 8:9-11). If you feel like God isn’t in control, remind yourself that God is completely sovereign over all things. There is not a single atom in all of existence that is outside of God’s total control. Isaiah 46:9b-10 says, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” Stop just feeling, embrace what you know to be true.


  1. Live for Jesus and trust Him to build your faith. This is something that we have already touched on briefly in our first thought so I won’t spend too much time here. We know that Jesus is the One that builds our faith. One of the most important ways to build our faith is by actively living out our faith. Seek out faith building moments. Look for moments where you could display your faith to the world around you. Maybe it’s going on a short or long-term mission trip, maybe it’s volunteer work, maybe it’s something as easy as inviting your neighbor over for a meal and showing them the love of Jesus. It doesn’t have to be something that moves mountains, it just has to be something. The more you live for Jesus, the more you will cherish, long for, and look like Jesus.

  And finally:  

  1. Remind yourself that it is the object of your faith that saves, not the amount of faith. I heard a sermon by D.A. Carson a couple of years ago that completely changed the way that I viewed my faith. For years, I had thought that if I didn’t have enough faith, I must not be a good Christian, or I might not even be saved at all. But the beauty of grace is that God is able to save those that have mustard seed faith and mountain sized faith. Here is what Carson said that continues to have a profound impact on my faith. He starts off with having us picture 2 Jewish men by the names of Smith and Brown that are living just prior to the Jews leaving Egypt. Carson says, “The day before the first Passover, having a little discussion in the Land of Goshen, Smith says to Brown, ‘Boy, you’re a little nervous about what’s gonna happen tonight?” Brown says, ‘Well, God told us what to do through His servant Moses. You don’t have to be nervous.” Brown then asks Smith if he hadn’t slaughtered the lamb and put the blood on the doorposts. Smith says, “Of course, I’ve done that; I’m not stupid, but still, pretty scary when you think of all the things that have happened around here recently, you know. It’s pretty awful. And now, there’s a threat of the first born being killed, and that’s alright for you, you’ve got three sons, I’ve only got one and the angel of death is passing through tonight. I’ll be glad when this night is over.” Brown responds, “Bring it on. I trust the promises of God.” Carson continues by saying, “That night, the angel of death swept through the land. Which one lost his son? The answer is neither. Because death doesn’t pass over them on the ground of the intensity or the clarity of the faith exercised, but on the ground of the blood of the Lamb.” That is our assurance before God! The blood of Jesus Christ is what saves you, not the amount or clarity of your faith! If that were the case, no one would be saved because we all struggle in our faith. Therefore we “need no other argument, we need no other plea; It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me.”
So, there you have it! Five thoughts that will help you battle unbelief or battle for a deeper faith. Cry out to the Lord, surround yourself with other believers, ignore how you are feeling and cling to what you know is true, live for Jesus and trust Him for growth, and remind yourself that Jesus is what saves you, not the amount of faith that you have.