Are you guilty of unbelief?
In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve been looking at God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments. We started by examining the first commandment: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We saw the duties of the first commandment and then began to examine the sins forbidden by the commandment, such as atheism, self-seeking, loving the world, ignoring God, forgetting God and hating God. But what other sins are forbidden?
Unbelief and distrust in God are also forbidden by the first commandment.
If you claim God as your god, then you have to believe/trust/have faith in him. Otherwise he isn’t your God. Whatever you are trusting in instead of God is your god.
Thus the Bible regularly commands trust in God. The Book of Proverbs says: ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).
In the New Testament, when the Philippian gaoler asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved, they replied: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved– you and your household’ (Acts 16:31).
The also Bible warns strongly against the sin of unbelief. The author of Hebrews says: ‘See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first’ (Hebrews 3:12-14).
Now, to believe in God, means accepting that his word is true and trusting him to take care of you. In the Scriptures, there are many examples where people failed to do so. The Psalmist reminds the Israelites of their unbelief of God’s care: ‘But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert? When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food? Can he supply meat for his people?” When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance’ (Psalm 78:17-22).
Before he was converted, the apostle Paul also misbelieved God and opposed the followers of God’s son. When on trial in the Roman courtroom, he said: ‘Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth”’ (Acts 26:8-9). Sadly, the court did not respond favourably.
But that is no excuse for you today. You are commanded by God to have no other gods before God. And that means accepting his word and trusting in it. So will you?