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Point of departure 1: Failure of belief

As long ago as New Testament times the Church has had a problem with those in the visible and local church who have genuinely been justified by faith but appear to have abandoned or modified truths they once so warmly embraced.

In the first chapter of his epistle to the Galatians Paul says he marvels that “you are so far removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” and in chapter 3 asks “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?”

It is not, alas, unusual for us to find those who at one time seemed to be true defenders of the faith no longer so sure of what they believe.

That this occurs should not surprise us, since “without faith it is impossible to please God” the supreme task and objective of the enemy of souls; the ‘father of lies’ is to bewitch or deceive us into doubting Gods word and character.

When Thomas was told that Jesus had risen from the dead and had been seen by some of His disciples it seemed to him to impossible to accept, so he replied saying, “Unless I can see” (or “unless you can prove to me by showing me the evidence”) “I will not believe”.

There are times when we struggle, confused by events or pressured by those around us we demand evidence that God is who He says He is and that His Word is true. At such times we need to remember that God requires faith.

When Thomas did meet the risen Lord Jesus said “Because you have seen Me you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen yet believe”.

Man made theories come and go, so called evidence disproving the Scriptures may later be seen to have been built on a false premise or limited knowledge. One thing is absolutely certain that it is man and not God who is limited in knowledge of the truth. It is God and not man who is “all wise”.

Like those of us who backslide today, the children of Israel had no valid reason for their seasons of backsliding, loss of faith and disobedience; God had never once failed them despite these frequent lapses, and He still does not forsake His children of our generation.

There are, I suggest, three main areas in which the devil attacks our faith or sows seeds of doubt

  1. He would like to have us deny the very existence of God. Paul tells us that “He who comes to God (or who fellowships and has a real relationship with God) must believe that He is”.

The mere professor of faith may leave the church and abandon beliefs he appeared to hold, may even adopt the stance of an atheist and declare “No God”.

However although doubts may sweep over him, especially when in the words of Isaiah, God seems to be One who hides Himself, I do not believe that even in a backslidden state the true believer can go this far. He may like Peter deny knowing Him, He may like Jonah, flee from Him, He may, as I once did try to convince himself that there is no God because then the voice of conviction would not trouble his conscience.

The fact is that even in his darkest hour the prodigal, however distant and estranged from him, knew he had a father.

For almost 26 years I denied His claims on my life but I could never deny the existence of God or the deity of Jesus Christ.

  1. If the devil can cause to waver but not destroy our faith in the existence of God, he will endeavour to have us doubt the Word of God, as indeed he has always done since his encounter with Eve in the Garden of Eden. Throughout the history of the human race he has misquoted and misapplied the Word of God.

The Bible is the inspired Word of the One for whom “it is impossible to lie” We are on extremely dangerous ground when we believe the devil’s lies, however plausible they seem, rather than the Word of Truth.

  1. The third area for attack is our faith in the character of God. Frequently the evil one creates confusion in the ranks of the people of God by falsely making God responsible for the tragic consequences of his and fallen mans sin. When Satan threw everything possible at Job to force him to deny the faithfulness, love and power of God, even his wife told him to curse God and die, but still this remarkable servant of God retained his integrity and faith in God. Later he answers one of his ‘fair weather friends’ with words of unfaltering faith “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” God will not fail, His word will never be proven to be untrue.

Why is it that so many of us seem to suffer some degree of a loss of faith under these attacks?

Before we seek to answer this let us look at the other point of departure.

Failure of obedience >