Unbelief, a chain that binds our faith and a poison that inhibits our full walk with God.
As human beings designed by God, Scripture tells us we are composed of both flesh and spirit...
On CBN's website, Pastor Craig Von Buseck writes:
"According to the Bible, mankind is distinct from all the rest of creation, including the animals, in that he is made in the image of God. As God is a tripartite -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- so man is three parts -- body, soul and spirit. In the most explicit example from Scripture of these divisions, the Apostle Paul writes:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB).
Man is made up of physical material, the body, that can be seen and touched. But he is also made up of immaterial aspects, which are intangible -- this includes the soul, spirit, intellect, will, emotions, conscience, and so forth. These immaterial characteristics (the components that cannot be touched or seen) exist beyond the physical lifespan of the human body and are therefore eternal." So, a human being is basically composed of two men, one of flesh and the other of spirit.
1) People have no problem believing we are made of flesh because we can see and feel it, both our bodies and those of others. We interact with one another on a daily basis from birth until death.
2) But the spiritual component is difficult for human beings to comprehend because we cannot physically touch or see it. Could this be why so many people have such a hard time believing in spiritual things? Or, we believe to a point, but then at some juncture, our own understanding gets in the way. Our own understanding is based upon what our flesh tells us through carnal, worldly understanding and life experiences. So, when our own understanding attempts to kick in, the flesh is unable to comprehend the things of the spirit. When this happens, when spiritual things are too difficult for the carnal mind to comprehend, we then resort to 'unbelief.'
Is this why the Bible admonishes us in Prov. 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding ..."?
3) So, why does our flesh have such a difficult time accepting things of the spirit?
Why in our humanness, does our flesh reject those spiritual things the mind cannot comprehend? Is it because we are unable to see, or touch, or smell the spiritual?
---We cannot see or touch gravity, but we know it exists if we're sitting on a tree limb and it breaks. We cannot see air, but we can feel it when a warm, summer breeze blows across our face. We are unable to see cold or hot, but we surely know it exists when it's -20 below zero or 105 F and we are outdoors!
4) We have become so accustomed to living in the flesh and in the fleshly realm, we don't allow the spiritual man in us to rise up. Some of the things in the spiritual realm seem so foreign, so incomprehensible to the fleshly mind that we automatically reject them and resort to our own understanding, which some call, "Stinkin' thinkin.' This is when 'unbelief' kicks in. And the Bible tells us God does not honor the man with unbelief. We, as Believers, know in our hearts God exists even though we can't see or touch Him in the flesh. So, then if we accept God's existence, why do we reject some of the things written in God's Word just because we cannot understand them in the physical?
Let's break this down with some examples ---
1. Most of us believe there is a Heaven and a Hell, even though we can't see them. Most of us believe our deceased loved ones who have died in Christ are now in Heaven, though we can't physically see that either.
2. Many of us believe the example of faith given in the Bible describing the woman with the issue of blood. She took a step of faith by touching the hem of Jesus' robe, and she was healed. Can our fleshly man explain this miracle? In Matthew chapter 9, we read:
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. (Discuss how she may have been bleeding: Hemorrhagic, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease)
"She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.' ”
Comment: At that moment of faith, the woman crossed the thresh hold from the fleshly realm into the spiritual realm. She allowed her spiritual part to rise up by putting down her fleshly part, rejecting her fleshly understanding. And look at the result!
3. We read about Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings chapter 6 where the Bible describes how God provided an army of angels leading horses and chariots of fire to protect the prophet Elijah and his servant while opening the servant's eyes so that he could see the angelic army surrounding them:
"And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him (Elijah), 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?'
So he (Elijah) answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' " "And Elijah prayed, and said, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man (Elisha), and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
During prayer, Elisha crossed the thresh hold between his flesh and spirit. Because he was so full of faith and belief in God, Elisha's spiritual man entered the spiritual realm and touched Heaven. So, God answered his prayer. God honors the man or woman of faith! But, 'doubt', which is another word for 'unbelief' is a cancer to our spiritual man that hinders our full walk with God. Unbelief takes away our spiritual power!
Comment: When God allowed Elisha's servant at that moment to see into the spiritual realm, did the servant say he didn't believe it? Or, did he say, 'Oh, It must have been a dream!' Did the servant allow his own understanding to get in the way of such a blessing?
The Bible describes the exploits of so many men and women of great faith. They were made of flesh just as we are but when required, they put down their fleshly man and his understanding. They allowed their spiritual man to rise up in faith, crossing the thresh hold into the spiritual realm. And look at what they accomplished through their faith and trust in God! In Hebrews 11:6, we read:
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."
Comment: One of the more contemporary men of faith whom I admire is Smith Wigglesworth. He always encouraged people regarding his faith, saying: "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."
Question: "Has anyone here ever experienced a spiritual encounter that can't be explained by your fleshly understanding?" (Allow them to describe)
---Describe my face was shining.
---Describe what happened to me at dad's apartment.
Our fleshly man gratefully accepts and acknowledges the times when our prayers or the prayers of others on our behalf are answered, even though we can't see or feel those prayers in the spiritual realm. But we certainly feel their effects in the fleshly realm. The fleshly realm and the spiritual realm are intertwined and intersect. We have to learn how to cross that thresh hold in prayer while totally rejecting any unbelief that hinders our spiritual walk. Most of us, may initially have to take baby steps: "We have to crawl before we can walk, we have to walk before we can run, we have to run before we can leap."
We have to come to the point where we believe every word that is written in the Scriptures:
(ex 1) "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he Prov 23:7
There was a book published in 1903 by James Allen titled, As A Man Thinketh, describing the power of thought:
I'm now quoting a brother describing the content of the book:
"As a Man Thinketh is a self-help  book by James Allen, published in 1903. It was described by Allen as "... [dealing] with the power of thought, and particularly with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues. I have tried to make the book simple, so that all can easily grasp and follow its teaching, and put into practice the methods which it advises. It shows how, in his own thought-world, each man holds the key to every condition, good or bad, that enters into his life, and that, by working patiently and intelligently upon his thoughts, he may remake his life, and transform his circumstances."
(ex 2) What about the words we speak in the flesh? Proverbs 18:21 tells us:
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. What we speak in the flesh has consequences in the spiritual realm. Words can build a person up, bless, curse, encourage, and motivate or they can also tear down, hurt, and cause horrible scars. We have to watch what flows from our mouths. Our words flow into a person's spirit. We have all seen the power of our words and how they affect another person. Whether we yell at someone in anger or even when we complement someone, we can see how the effects of our words enter their spirits and reflect on their faces.
(ex 3) Do we pray over our meals as an outward demonstration of faith like the Pharisees? Or do we pray over our food so that God would truly bless and sanctify it?
My wife told me a story of two men in Romania who were at a cafe drinking a beverage. One man prayed over it and the other did not. (In those days, Romanians recycled glass bottles). The man who did not pray over the drink became severely ill and died but the man who prayed over it, did not so much as become ill. There had been poison in the bottle from which their beverages had been poured. The bottle had not been sufficiently cleaned during the recycling process!
(ex 4) The principle of binding and loosing. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells Peter:
" I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
So, if in prayer, we bind an infirmity in a person on earth, God will bind it in heaven. If we loose a spirit of poverty on a fortune telling establishment on earth, God will loose it in heaven. God binds and looses the power in heaven to answer prayer, if in His Will.
These are just some examples of how the fleshly realm and spiritual realm are interconnected!
I pray that each of us grows our faith to the point where we can cross the thresh hold between the fleshly and spiritual realms, back and forth, as the angels do on Jacob's ladder. And as the great men of faith have done throughout the millennia. So may God use each of us who love Him, to likewise perform great exploits for Him and for His Kingdom. Amen.