Saturday, January 22, 2005

A Heart of Unbelief

In attempting to address the spiritual issues in my life, I notice my tendency toward a quick and painless resolution. "If I stop doing X , then all will be well and copious blessings are sure to follow." These tendencies are the result of my own intellectual dishonesty and fool no one- not even me.

That is because I know sin goes much, much deeper than a mere list of "Do's" and "Don'ts." Trying to achieve spiritual fitness by ticking off a list of things which are usually no more than bad habits is like trying to lose weight by conforming to a strict and inflexible diet. A person CAN lose weight quickly most of the time on such a regime- but after a while the pathologies which caused the weight gain in the first place resurface and things are worse than before. (unfortunately this is something I ALSO know about- lol!) The same principle applies to sin- I can clean up my act and get some immediate outward results, but if I don't work from the inside out, the results will be short-lived.

The Biblical word for sin, hamartia,
is a term used in archery and also by Aristotle and other philosophers to describe the tragic hero's demise due to his own fatal flaw - hamartia.

Aristotelian principles hold that patterns of excessive pride, errors in judgement, and self-destructiveness set the stage for the hero's downfall. Some Greek scholars even believe that traditional interpretations of the word hamartia are incomplete and that any disproportion in one's character can also be considered hamartia. In other words, even being TOO GOOD can be sin in certain circumstances! Being "good" and following rules is very often no more than an attempt to hide the true state of one's heart- a heart of unbelief.

In seeking to develop an authentic and meaningful relationship with the Living God under the aegis of Jesus Christ, it is necessary to work from the inside out and address the UNBELIEF that is often the biggest factor in our bad decisions.

C.H. Spurgeon, an English evangelical minister of the early 20th century called unbelief "Satan's firstborn child," and insisted that it was "the parent of every other iniquity." He was speaking not only of obvious blasphemy- the outright denial of the existence of God- but also of the type of unbelief which masquerades as humility: "God can't possibly save me- I am too far gone."

All disbelief calls into question the abilities and character of God, his fidelity, his righteousness, his love. We begin to cut ourselves slack in every area because we are unconvinced of our salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. (It just wasn't ENOUGH to save such a wretch as me!) This failure to accept the promise of salvation results in a falling away as surely as if we didn't believe in God at all. The worst part is that we fool ourselves into thinking that we are somehow holier for having failed to lay hold of the promises of God and do not understand that such failure comes directly from a lack of faith (disbelief.)

In the Bible two names are used to describe God: Elohim- which describes God as a creative, omnipotent governing power, and Jehovah- the One who KEEPS COVENANT.
I have a lot of trouble with the latter, I keep forgetting that He who promised to keep me so long ago remains faithful and committed to me, even when I fail to reciprocate.

It is my heart's desire to be able to declare my BELIEF along with the Apostle Paul:

" Yet I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him (me!) for that day." (II Timothy 1:8-14)


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