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Posts Tagged ‘Saul of Tarsus’

Day Sixty-Seven

The Enemy of Faith – Unbelief, and the Mercy that Overcomes

“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him.”  Heb 11:6

            Many people are unbelievers in Jesus Christ because they have never had an encounter with the living God.  Few can remain unbelievers after having such an encounter.  Ever fewer make it their posture in life to actively fight against God by blaspheming, persecuting His people, and being outrageously insulting to the God of the Universe – but Saul of Tarsus was just this.  It was in this behavior that the Apostle Paul (previously called Saul) confesses that he was Chief among sinners.  He was not just an unbeliever – he aggressively contested against God and His recognition, and he persecuted other believers in the church unto their death.

Now maybe you are an unbeliever.  Maybe you have found it impossible to find this God.  Maybe you find yourself stuck in unbelief like a pit of quicksand!  But let me assure you – if there was hope for Saul of Tarsus (who was an Uber persecutor) – there is hope for you!

What is this hope?  MERCY!  Paul says that he obtained mercy for the reason that (through Paul’s life) Jesus might show forth and display all His perfect long-suffering and patience for an example to [encourage] those who would thereafter believe on Him for [the gaining of] eternal life. (1Tim2:6)  You see, Jesus has made a special provision for those who wrestle against Him in unbelief.  He has made a way to come to belief – it is through His mercy!

I look at this provision for Paul like I look at the raising of Lazarus from the dead. (John Chapter 11)  Jesus established His authority and power over life and death by raising Lazarus after being dead for four days.  Jesus also overturned every religious superstition that the spirits of the dead hung around for three days (and could have then been the explanation for Lazarus’ resurrection), by waiting it out for four days.  The point is, if Jesus could raise Lazarus, what situation could then be too hard for Him?  Likewise, if Jesus could win over Saul of Tarsus by mercy, who can be too hard, too unbelieving, too persecuting, or too obnoxious for Jesus to also win over?  No one can! Saul was the Chief of Sinners – and yet the Lord’s mercy reached out to him and won him over!

Now the point must be made here, that Saul had had no encounter with Jesus previously.  Saul was a Pharisee and hence steeped in the religious doctrine of the Law of Moses.  He excelled at it!  Yet the Law had not helped Saul find the true Jesus because Saul’s confidence was in his own righteousness according to the standard of the Law.  In his own mind Saul saw no need for the Jesus of the Christians.  In Saul’s religious thinking — he already had all he needed.  Saul was in fact quite ignorant of the truth.  First Tim 1:13 declares that Paul obtained mercy because he acted out of ignorance in unbelief.  Unbelief blocks faith from arising in you!  Unbelief is a mental stance where you are closed and have made up your mind concerning an issue.  Unbelief lodges in your thinking refusing to give way or yield to truth – and it is a device of the enemy (Satan) to keep you from believing. The Lord’s mercy overcame Saul in this because His appearing was so dramatic as to leave Saul unable to continue in his unbelief.  Saul simply could no longer entertain any other stance but to believe Jesus was Lord and He was at that moment standing before Saul! (Acts Chapter 9)

The same provision has been made for you!  The Lord would not have you continue in your same mode of unbelief about Him!  He has extended mercy already – that you will lay down your unbelief and turn to find Him!  He will reach out and make Himself known to you.  But you must let go of unbelief and not pick up it or doubt again!

Unbelief fills the mental pathways to receiving Jesus life like drugs fill and block neural receptors to be open to other life-giving substances.  But Jesus desires to fill and satisfy you at every point of your need.  Only when you make a conscious choice and let go of the doubt and unbelief can you begin to have faith rise in you to fill your heart and thinking!

The provision has been made – it stands!  But before doubt and unbelief so harden in you and harden your heart before God – choose today to lay them aside.  Open yourself to the Lord.  Receive faith from Him to believe this very moment.  Like Paul, your life will never be the same!

 

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