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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 43 - Hebrews 3:12 - The Mischief of Unbelief Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Mischief Of Unbelief.


"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."-Hebrews 3:12.



     Unbelief in Scripture is spoken of as the sin of sins. As faith is the root of all good, so is unbelief of all evil. God hates it; Christ condemns it; our own hearts cannot but say it is evil. 'The evil heart of unbelief' is the most evil of all.

     Let us consider unbelief in its bearings on what is divine and what is human; what relates to God and to ourselves; its injustice in the one case, its injury in the other.

     I.  It's injustice.-It does injustice.

     (1.) To God.-It assumes that He is not to be trusted or credited; that He is not the being that He has said He is. It does gross injustice to His whole character; His love, His grace, His veracity, His unchangeableness. It misinterprets and misrepresents Him in all respects, and so dishonours Him, and separates us from Him.

     (2.) To Christ.-It rejects the testimony which God has given of Him; it refuses to accept the character which the Father has given of Him, and treats Him as one like ourselves. Every act of unbelief, every doubt, every suspicion is an injustice to Him,-to one who has not deserved such treatment at our hands. It keeps us apart from Him, and Him from us; it will not allow us to be satisfied with what Scripture has revealed concerning Him.

     (3.) To the Holy Spirit.-All unbelief is a rejection of the Spirit's testimony to the Son; a grieving of the Spirit. It is a doing injustice to His love and power; to His willingness to bless. It is making Him a liar. It is casting discredit on that Book which He has written for us concerning the love of God.

     (4.) To the cross.-All unbelief, more or less, directly assails the cross. It says-(1) That cross is insufficient, it cannot save unless assisted by goodness in us; (2) That cross may save ordinary sinners, it cannot save me; (3) That cross is not the place of substitution, but merely of example of a divine self-surrender. Thus it insists that we shall not take our peace from the cross alone.

     (5.) To the blood.-The special thing which marks the cross is the blood; and unbelief specially sets aside the blood in its value and efficacy. It refuses to take peace from the blood alone. It rejects the simple meaning of such a text, 'He hath made peace through the blood of His cross.' It sets aside or invalidates the finished work; and maintains that we shall put away all peace and all assurance of forgiveness that comes to us from a direct and simple recognition of the great propitiation. It does grievous injustice to the cross, and blood, and work of Christ.

     (6.) To the gospel.-It makes void the good news, and turns them into evil tidings, or at least into no tidings at all.  It makes the faith which receives the gospel a work to be done, a condition to be performed; and upon the right doing of that work, and the right performance of that condition, it makes our peace to turn. What grievous injustice to the glad tidings! What a mockery of the gospel!

     II. Its injury.-It does most grievous injury to ourselves; and through us to the Church of God; nay, to the world. It is a deadly poison. It is a dismal shadow. It is our worst enemy. It does infinite injury to us in every possible way.

     (1.) It mars our peace; either forbidding it altogether, or subjecting it to continual breaks; turning it from the continual flow of a river, into a tide with ebbs and flows.

     (2.) It hinders progress.-It brings us to a standstill; instead of moving forward and upward, we revolve in a narrow circle of useless routine, or perhaps slide backward.

     (3.) It checks prayerfulness.-Prayer implies expectancy: 'Ask, and ye shall receive.' Where unbelief comes in, this expectancy is stopped; and prayer becomes irksome, and in the end brief and infrequent.

     (4.) It destroys fruitfulness.-Without faith how can we be fruitful? Unbelief takes the sap out of the tree. None of the graces of the Spirit can grow up in an unbelieving heart. We may do many outward things, but the true, the inner, the acceptable, can only be done by faith. In proportion to our faith will be our good works.

     Thus unbelief injures-

     (1.) Ourselves.-It keeps us dark, and gloomy, and useless, and in bondage.

     (2.) The Church.-For of what use are we to the Church in this unbelieving state? We are not helpers of the brethren in any sense, nor bearers of each other's burdens, nor assisting the growth of the body.

     (3.) The world.-We are not useful to the unconverted. We do no good in our families or neighborhood. The world is not the better for us at all. Our good outward life does not tell upon the world, if it is not the fruit of faith.