2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
If unbelief hindered Jesus from ministering effectively (Mark 6:5,6) then unbelief can hinder us from ministering and receiving healing today. We need to recognize that faith has enemies, and there are hindrances that Satan throws up to stop our receiving from the Word.
We should not be satisfied with doctrine and no experience. We should not rest content when what we read in the Bible is not what we see in our life. We do not want religion, we want reality.
Today, so many are amazed when they see a miracle. They are amazed when they see an answer to prayer. They are amazed when the supernatural enters into the natural.
Jesus was amazed at their unbelief. He was surprised that the people failed to believe God, to take Him at His Word. He was surprised that they failed to receive what God so freely, so willingly, and so earnestly longs to give them. Jesus was amazed when people were not healed.
Doubt And Unbelief
Doubt and unbelief are great enemies of faith. We must seek their remedy.
Doubt is the lack of faith. Faith is based on the knowledge of God’s will, so we can see that doubt springs from this lack of knowledge. Hosea cries, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge!” (Hosea 4:6).
Doubt exists when we have insufficient evidence to produce faith.
When Peter began to sink in the waves of the sea, Jesus lifted him up, saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). Doubt is contrasted with little faith, or insufficient faith.
Unbelief is quite different from doubt. Unbelief is willful. Unbelief is disobedience. Unbelief is when we possess the knowledge of God’s will, but fail to act upon it. We have heard the Word but we remain unmoved by what we have learned. We assent mentally to its truth, but we give to it no corresponding action. It has no effect upon our lives. We allow it to make no change in our daily affairs.
Paul wrote that those who fell in the wilderness had heard the same message that we have heard, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2). Unbelief has received the testimony of God’s Word, but fails to release faith through actions. We are led away by our flesh, by the testimony or experiences of others. We depend on what we see, are moved by what we feel, and fail to walk according to what we believe.
An example is required.
The story is told of a man who wanted to help his wife so he took special care to clean the home while she was away. He worked very hard and made a great effort. He cleaned every room. He even washed the dishes and put them away. Everything looked wonderful.
When she returned home, he met her at the door. “What have you been doing,” she asked.
“I cleaned the house today” he replied.
She looked at him and said, “I don’t believe it!”
Now, she is in doubt. She lacks the evidence to believe what he has said. Nothing from her past gives her any reason to believe this. She doesn’t have enough evidence to believe what he has said.
“Then let me show you,” he answers, and together they walk through the house. She looks in every room and she is amazed. He didn’t miss a thing.
She shakes her head, and says, “I still don’t believe it!”
Now, she is in unbelief. She has sufficient evidence to believe it, but refuses what she knows to be the truth!
This comical illustration helps us see the difference between doubt and unbelief.
The cure for doubt is time spent reading and listening to the Word of God, for faith comes by hearing the Word of God, (Romans 10:17). Like the woman, we walk around and see what has been done. When the knowledge of the God’s will is made known, faith is present, and we can be confident and bold to stand upon His promises. We gain sufficient evidence to believe, and we can intelligently cooperate with the Word of God.
But we must make that decision to believe, to be united to the will of God through our faith and by our actions.
While doubt is cured by more of the Word, unbelief must be cured by repentance, and often by prayer and fasting. The Bible declares that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” (Romans 14:23). It is necessary to restore our fellowship with God from the presence and effects of unbelief, for unbelief is disobedience to God’s Word. It is the willful rejection of the truth. Unbelief is broken by a determined resolve to act on the Word of God in every circumstance and at every opportunity. Unbelief is removed when we gain an understanding of the Word, and learn how to apply it in our lives.
In the face of unbelief, Jesus “went about the villages teaching,” (Mark 6:6). He gave instruction in the Word, and through teaching they found understanding.
The truth alone sets no one free. It is the “knowledge of the truth” that sets us free, and that knowledge comes when we “continue in the Word” and are His disciples, (John 8:31,32).
Just hearing the Word is not enough, but you must “mix faith” with what you hear, or you must incorporate what you hear into your daily life.
The knowledge of God’s will enables us to act intelligently upon the Word of God. If you cannot apply what you have heard, you have not found the understanding that God desires for you to gain from its principles.
The father of the epileptic boy cried out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” (Mark 9:24). The man had no doubt. He said he believed. He recognized that he believed the Scriptures, but he had failed to give what he believed priority in his life over what he could feel or see.
We are to “walk by faith, and not by sight,.” (2 Corinthians 5:7). When we allow what we see and feel to dominate our actions, what we believe in our heart becomes ineffective. We pray one thing, but say another. We pray for healing, but we speak sickness and disease. Our lives are filled with unbelief.
The man said to Jesus, “help my unbelief.” The presence of unbelief was the issue and the hindrance to the man’s faith. Unbelief was an enemy to his faith.
Later, the disciples came to Jesus and inquired about their inability to deliver the boy.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Many have missed in these verses the central truth that Jesus was trying to convey. They assume that prayer and fasting is necessary to cast out certain type of demonic spirits. This is true, but only in a certain context.
First, the name of Jesus is more powerful than any evil spirit, and we have been given “power and authority over all devils” (Luke 9:1).
Second, Jesus has already declared “nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20).
How can it be said that this kind of evil spirit will not go out “but by prayer and fasting?” Prayer and fasting does not remove the evil spirit. Jesus did not stop to pray and fast before ministering to the boy. He had already spent his time in prayer and fasting. Prayer and fasting had already had their effects upon His spiritual life.
To what does He refer when He says, “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting?” He was referring to the hindrance to the boys deliverance, and to the enemy of their faith. He was referring to their unbelief.
This kind [of unbelief] goeth not out by by prayer and fasting.
Why couldn’t we cast the demon out? they asked. Because of your unbelief, was the answer, and unbelief is removed through prayer and fasting.