“So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”
This verse is going to need some context to explain. It would probably be helpful to go read the whole chapter, or at least Hebrews 3:16-19. The writer is referencing the Israelites who were rescued by God out of slavery from Egypt, led by Moses. He explains that the Israelites heard the word of God, yet still rebelled. Thus, God was stirred up against them and would not allow them to enter the promised land. An entire generation wandered in the desert for 40 years but was not allowed to enter because of their disobedience.
That’s not the point I want to focus on today, it’s more just a background for our verse. The verse comes right after the Hebrews writer has just explained all of this about the Israelites not being able to enter God’s rest due to disobedience. He follows that summary by saying this: “So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”
But I thought they weren’t able to enter because of their disobedience? Well, that’s correct. It turns out, what the writer of Hebrews is doing is equating disobedience to a lack of faith. It’s something that can be found fairly consistently throughout the bible, especially the New Testament. Jesus himself says that if you believe in him you will follow his commands. Simply, obedience is the natural result of faith.
I bring this up because I think, based on my own personal experience, that we fail to recognize that fact. Most of us can admit the sins that we struggle with in our life. I think a lot fewer of us would be willing to say that those sins mean they don’t believe in Jesus. And maybe it isn’t quite that black and white, but the truth is, disobedience flows from unbelief.
Think of it this way. If you truly believed that Jesus Christ is who he said he is, did what the Scriptures say he did, and had the power that Scripture says he does, why or how would you ever disobey something he said.
When we sin, we choose to believe in ourselves rather than in Christ. We choose to believe in the world rather than Christ. We choose to believe in pleasure, in comfort, in praise, or any number of other idols rather than Christ. The truth is that we don’t have an obedience problem we have a belief problem.
So as you reflect on the sin struggles in your life, maybe instead of focusing on what you’re doing wrong and what you can do to fix it, change your thinking. Ask yourself what lack of faith is leading to that sin. Ask God to help you in that unbelief, to give you faith. Renew the faith you have in Christ, and allow that faith to produce its natural fruit of obedience.
Help us in our unbelief. We can’t live perfectly and we can’t fix everything ourselves, only you can. We pray that you would help us to simply have faith, truly believe in you and your son, and allow that faith to change our behavior to look more like Christ.
In Jesus’ Name,