I believe, help my unbelief
Imagine you had a successful ministry that saw you healing the sick and casting out demons everywhere you went. Then one day a father brings his son to you, the boy has a seizure right in front of you, and you can’t heal him. How would you react? Would you;
(a) conclude that it’s not God’s will to heal all the sick?
(b) tell the father that God can heal but He is not going to heal your son right at this moment – maybe in eternity?
(c) speculate that the son has some unconfessed sin in his life?
(d) declare that the boy is healed even though he is still writhing on the ground?
(e) be puzzled?
If you chose (a), then you’ve built a theology based on your experience that is contrary to the promises of God (Acts 10:38, 1 Pet 2:24).
If you chose (b), then you’ve joined the ranks of those false comforters who say things like, “God used to heal in the Bible, but now He’s on a break.”
If you chose (c), then you’re saying sin can stop the power of God, which it can’t – otherwise no sinner could get saved.
If you chose (d), the father would think that you’re nuts.
If you chose (e), then your reaction is the same as the disciples’ when they were confronted with this situation.
Perhaps you are familiar with the story of the man who brought his troubled son to the disciples for healing (Luke 9:37-43). It was an intense encounter for the boy was afflicted with a demon that threw him into convulsions and made him scream and foam at the mouth (Luke 9:39). The disciples tried to drive out the demon but failed. So Jesus stepped up, rebuked the demon and healed the boy.
Have you ever wondered why the disciples were not able to heal this boy? After all, they were the same disciples who had previously gone from village to village driving out demons and “healing people everywhere” (Mk 6:13, Lk 9:6). They weren’t rookies; they were seasoned ministers of the gospel. It was because they had been successful elsewhere that they were puzzled when they failed on this occasion:
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matt 17:19)
Jesus’ answer to their question may surprise you. It may also answer questions you have about why more people aren’t healed today. So why did the disciples fail to heal this boy? Contrary to what you may have heard, the answer has nothing to do with their faith. Indeed, the disciples had faith to heal and deliver. They had performed many miracles and could not have done so without faith in the name of Jesus (Acts 3:16). So what was the obstacle in this case? In his book God Wants You Well, Andrew Wommack identifies two clues from the story:
1. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their unbelief
In response to their question, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus answered:
“Because of your unbelief…” (Matt 17:20)
We tend to think of faith and unbelief as opposite ends of the same pole, but according to Jesus it’s possible to believe and doubt at the same time:
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matt 21:21)
Of course it’s important to have faith, to believe. As Jesus said to the boy’s father, “everything is possible to him who believes.” But the father, like many of us, wanted God to take responsibility for the healing. “Lord, help us!” Yet Jesus said, “If you have faith, you can heal him.” We think healing the sick is God’s job, but He wants us to do it (Mark 16:18). Look at how the father responded: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
The father is saying he has faith, but he also has unbelief. Unbelief nullifies faith. Wommack says it’s like having two teams of horses hooked up to the same wagon and pulling in different directions. One team negates the other. If you have faith in God’s word (“by His stripes you were healed”), but you’re also putting stock in the contrary word of doctors (“you’ll be dead in a week”), then your mountain’s not going anywhere. Your unbelief is canceling your faith.
2. Jesus said even little faith was enough to get the job done
“Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20)
After identifying the problem (“your unbelief”), Jesus assured the disciples that their faith was not the issue. Even if their faith was the size of a little mustard seed, it would be sufficient to move mountains. The real obstacle was their unbelief. Jesus called them an “unbelieving and perverse generation” (Mt 17:17). He was saying, “you had faith, but it was undermined by your unbelief.”
Note that some translations interpret “unbelief” as “little faith.” So Jesus’ answer in verse 20 begins, “Because of your little faith.” But this is a poor translation that makes Jesus sound like He’s contradicting Himself. The Greek word for unbelief (apistia) in the passage above is the same word used by the boy’s father when he says, “help my unbelief.”
Some translators equate unbelief with little faith, but Jesus clearly says that little faith is not the issue. If little faith can move a mountain, it can surely heal one small boy. It’s not about the the size of your faith (we all have the same measure as Jesus anyway), but whether your faith is handicapped by doubt and unbelief. Pure, childlike faith, untainted by grown-up unbelief, is what moves mountains. Pure faith is strong faith.
Why was unbelief a problem for the disciples in this case?
In his book You’ve Already Got It, Wommack identifies three different kinds of unbelief. There’s unbelief that arises from ignorance (“I didn’t know God heals the sick”); unbelief that arises from bad theology (“I don’t believe God heals the sick any more”); and unbelief that arises from our natural senses (“look at the size of that growth!”). What kind of unbelief undid the disciples? Wommack speculates that they may have been unnerved by the sight of a convulsing, frothing child. A seizure in a child is not a pretty sight, especially if there’s a demon behind it. Natural unbelief is fueled by what we see and hear. We get a bad report, x-ray or scan and believe the worst. We’re now walking by sight rather than faith (2 Co 5:7). Even if we have faith, our unbelief will send us to the Internet looking for reassurance and hope. We may be declaring the promises of God over our situation but at the same time we’re feeding our doubts by heeding our circumstances.
How do we deal with unbelief?
And He replied to them, “This kind (of unbelief) cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)
Unbelief that arises from ignorance and bad theology can be corrected by showing people the truth (Mk 6:6), but overcoming natural unbelief may require prayer and fasting. If the Internet is fueling your doubts, then stay off the Internet! If your “faith sense” is dull because of your natural appetites, then curb your appetites. If your body is telling you what to think and believe (“I’m hurting – I’m not healed at all”) then deny your flesh by going without food. Your flesh needs to learn that it is not in charge – you are! By fasting for a time you are telling your five senses that there’s more to life than bread (Mt 4:4); you’re saying that you prefer to live by the spirit.
Three months ago I had the opportunity to pray for a man with a life-threatening head injury. I boldly declared that Christ has provided for his healing and recovery. Using the authority given to me as a believer, I commanded life and the complete restoration of his damaged brain. My faith felt strong, yet as soon as I finished praying I had the following thought; “When he dies, you’re going to look foolish. It’s this sort of praying that gives Christians a bad name.” Whether this was the devil or the voice of reason I’m not sure, but my spirit reacted violently. “No! I will not accept that.” I hadn’t yet read Wommack’s book but my spirit knew that unbelief was not welcome in my mind. So I sent that thought packing and from that moment onward I felt complete peace. I just rested in what Christ had done and what we had received by faith. I didn’t even sense the need to pray for him again. And three days later the doctors declared that the man would recover.
Your prayer and fasting doesn’t move God. Neither does it move the devil. Fasting and prayer moves you. It affects you… You don’t have a faith problem. What you have is an unbelief problem. Instead of trying to build bigger and bigger faith, we need to stop feeding unbelief. (God Wants You Well, p.121,124)
Fix the right problem
Today there is much emphasis on faith and getting more faith. This sort of teaching will leave you thinking, “I’m not healed because I lack faith.” Like the disciples we pray, “Lord, increase my faith” (Lk 17:5), and Jesus responds, “Your faith is not the problem – even little faith will get the job done” (Lk 17:6, my paraphrase). Why is our faith not the problem? Because it’s His faith. Paul said he was justified by the faith of Jesus Christ and now lived by the faith of the Son of God (Gal 2:16,20, KJV). He understood that his faith was a gift from God (Eph 2:8). If you think there’s something wrong with your faith, it’s like saying God gives faulty gifts. When Peter healed the crippled man outside the temple, he gave all credit to the faith that comes from God:
By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. (Acts 3:16)
When there’s a problem, a strategy of the devil is to get your attention onto fixing the thing that’s not broken. If Christ lives in you, then there’s nothing wrong with your faith. But you might have a problem with unbelief. God is faithful and His will is to heal every sick person every single time, but unbelief will limit the power of God in your life.
Stop worrying about your faith – you already have enough to move your mountain – and apply the hammer of God’s word to your unbelief.
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Wonderful post, Paul. I’d really appreciate if you post more of your experiences when healing people, those testimonies would really help me and perhaps other readers too.
This post in my opinion is one of your best and probably my favorite. It really helps make sense of the faith / belief / healing issue. I had suspected for a while now that people often confuse belief and faith together but didn’t know how to put the language to it.
As I see it, most people confuse belief and doubt. All over the internet, they say belief is the problem, but they think this, because they are trying to increase their faith and belief, while there is the presence of unbelief, which doesn’t work. And because it does not work, they conclude, that faith and belief are the problem, because having faith, while there is a presence of unbelief, causes an INTENSE CONFLICT. Because of this, they shut the door on faith. But they lose so much in doing this, instead of trying to understand why, when unbelief is present, to try to believe or increase their faith, does not work, which does not mean, that faith is the problem.
There is a time for everything, and when unbelief is present, then the answer is to fast and starve it to death, and NOT to try to increase our faith. The “need”, to increase our faith, already shows, that we lack faith that our faith, is good enough. We doubt the faith we have. Like Paul said, you can not fix something, that was never broken.
However, this does not explain, how unbelief, came into our minds, to begin with. How did this doubt arise? I am not sure yet, but most certainly know, that trying to believe, while it (unbelief) is present, only strengthens it, and causes more conflict. Faith always builds, and unbelief is not something, that we want to build or add more to. We want it to die and end. So fasting and starving it, is the answer here, and not increasing our faith, which does not mean, that faith does not have its place, but just not, when unbelief is present. Or should I say, the desire to increase our faith, does not have its place there. It is like the devil , came in the middle of the night, and whispered in our ears, you have lost your faith, and you need to get it back again. Then we strive to get it back, causing more stress and more doubt, and more unbelief.
But if faith is a choice, then that does not mean, that it is necessarily there, hidden under my unbelief.. So then, how do I know, that under my desire to increase my faith, that my faith is there or still in tact. Like everything else in life that you desire, you just have to have faith, that your faith is still there.
Thanks Paul, your insight here is definitely needed in this time, and must have come from above.
This is a great article, Paul! Thanks
Many sincere Christians (myself included) want to walk by faith – but come up short. We live in a faith “twilight zone”. We have some faith that Jesus will help to (say) resolve a business problem – but we stew on it in bed at 4am…
In a sense this teaching (above) says that faith is binary. On or off. Unbelief turns it off. So for all of us that like to think that faith mixed with a bit of natural unbelief and doubt is still ok – its not! We cannot expect God’s help if unbelief is nobbling our faith. Many christians say that doubt is good – wow!
Although this teaching sounds like a harsh and un-compassionate God – I think Jesus just wants us to start walking in faith and reap the benefits this brings. I think God knows our natural fears and inertia. Knowing that God wont act if our faith is sidelined by unbelief – gives me perhaps some understanding as to why God might not have intervened in my past – and creates a great desire to root out my unbelief.
Hey bro, I just wanted to let you know that I’m still with you. I’m really beginning to see things differently. Thank you for your help and prayers and please keep speaking words of life (and praying for me if you don’t mind). Thank you!!
Good to hear from you Erik. I’m still praying. Better still, so is Jesus (see Heb 7:25)!
Paul – I was with you until the mustard seed. Jesus said LIKE a mustard seed and you’ve done what many do and assumed ‘the size of’. But Jesus didn’t specify what likeness He was referring to. It wasn’t necessarily size. Given that some manuscripts use oligiopistia in Mat 17, which means small, weak or puny faith, so say that puny faith is the problem and then say that the smallest faith will work doesn’t make any sense to me. However, In Mat 13:31 Jesus explains the characteristics of a mustard seed when used as an example of the Kingdom. It’s about how it is planted, nurtured and transforms into a tree, notwithstanding it’s small size prior to planting. It does not mean a seed left unplanted and unchanging. So your picture of someone holding the seed is, I feel, rather confusing when compared to what I feel Jesus was thinking. Were it merely the size of the seed, Jesus could equally said grain of (lifeless) sand. But He didn’t. What do you think?
Does Jesus use a mustard seed as an illustration in Mt 17 because it is small or because it grows? Some quick thoughts:
1. In Mt 13:31 Jesus says the seed grows, but in the next verse He adds that it is less than all the seeds. So referring to Mt 13 it could be either way.
2. In Mt 17:20 Jesus speaks of moving mountains; in Luke 17:6 He speaks of moving trees. In the latter it was a direct answer to the disciples’ request, “increase our faith.” Jesus doesn’t but says that seed-sized faith is enough. In the next breath He tells them the story of the servant doing “what he was told to do.” He’s saying, you have faith, you just need to put it to work. The problem is not that they lack faith but that they’re not putting it to work.
3. If the problem in Mt 17 was that the disciples needed to nurture their faith, how are we to account for the fact that they had already used that same undeveloped faith to drive out demons and heal “people everywhere” (Mk 6:13, Lk 9:6)?
I agree with you that faith needs to be nurtured, but I prefer the word “exercise”. We need to learn to walk by faith and that’s going to be difficult when you’re still walking by sight (as I believe the disciples were doing in Mt 17). But the larger point is that we don’t live by our own faith but His. We have all obtained a “like precious faith” (2 Pe 1:1). I don’t believe we have faith as small as a mustard seed. Indeed, Jesus’ point is that size is immaterial. Even if we did have seed-sized faith, it would still be enough to get the job done because it’s His faith.
Short version: Faith is strong when it’s not compromised by doubt and unbelief. His faith is perfectly fine. We have it, so use it.
I thank God for you link. God has been dealing with me on Mattthew 17:20 and only today after a whole months effort, self i might say, God has given me ubderstanding. I gyess you could say i came to the end of myself this morning in prayer. I thank God for you.
Paul to walk by faith and not sight means what: blind faith or faith in who we are in God’s eyes or either or both?
I have recently heard that it is seeing the cross. Doesn’t that makes sense especially if faith is a rest.
I believe Unbelief is what is killing Christians today in the church. Due to unbelief there are so many doctrines out there to justify it. Most people put their experiences above Gods word which is not acceptable. thank you for the post
WoW Paul – God is soooo good. A few of us here in the US meet monthly to share the Grace Gospel of Jesus Christ. At our last meeting there was great concern due to some of us were not seeing the BIG blessings (healing and financial breakthroughs) manifested in our lives. After that meeting I began to pray daily for God’s understanding on how to receive these blessings. This morning while praying I suddenly began quoting John 15:7 and then later this morning I opened your blog on “I Believe, Help My Unbelief.” God answered my prayers through you with this article. Keep up the wonderful work that God has entrusted to you.
Hi Richard, thanks for the feedback. It’s always good to hear how God is using these posts to strengthen and edify brothers and sisters around the world.
Good article, but it is full of half-truths. God is not impressed with little faith and neither was Jesus. Remember how many times he scolded the disciples for little faith by saying “Oh ye of little faith”?? So then how can we say that little faith is enough? Hardly so! Little faith could not stop the storm when the disciples were in the boat, little faith could not feed the 5000 hungry people, and I could go on and on. Guys, mustard seed faith is NOT LITTLE faith. Come on! Why would Jesus tell us all we need is a little faith when he rebuked little faith over and over and over? A mustard tree is no little tree. Jesus was referring to the image in the seed. It’s not about the size of the seed but what is contained in it.
Dr Mr Property, Jesus never rebuked anyone for their faith, He consistently rebuked unbelief. On the five occasions that “little faith” (oligopistos) is found in the Bible, the issue He is addressing is unbelief. Unbelief commonly takes the form of doubt, fear and worry, as indicated in the following.
– “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you DOUBT?’” (Mat 14:31).
– “He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so AFRAID?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Mat 8:26).
– If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not WORRY… (Mat 6:30-31)
Your theology will perversely encourage unbelief because who knows whether they have enough faith to feed 5000 or silence storms? No. It’s much simpler than that said Jesus. Even a mustard seed of faith – “which is the SMALLEST seed” (Mk 4:31) – will get the job done. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that moves mountains. Stop doubting and believe.
Can unbelief be old baggages (former wrong beliefs, traditional values, habits) we still carry with us even after receiving the Truth that comes through faith in Jesus Christ? These are not easy to discard. So, is it through washing of the Word of God that we can rid of these unbeliefs?
Unbelief can be brought about by lack of confidence that the result can be achieved. Because if one is 100% sure and have 100% confidence that the result can be achieved, his heart pumps at a normal rate and he does not waver or lean to the right or to the left when put to task.
Before the bell for Round 1 is sounded, the opposing boxers are oozing with confidence believing that the opponent will be knocked out. As the match progresses, fear can be seen through the eyes of the weaker boxer while the eyes of the stronger boxer glitters with expectation of a definite knockout. The weaker boxer by now lacks the confidence and his belief of a win turns into an unbelief – wishing to last at least until the Final Round.
How to discard unbelief? Fight as many matches as you can. The Word of God will give you all the logistics, the armaments needed but you have to punch and continue punching, each time claiming ground by the blood of Jesus. In your winnings you do not only win others to Christ but you also overcome your own fear and unbelief.
Has anyone ever been hit with the venom of Hades whenever they tried to fast? What is the secret to avoid this?
brushing your teeth and maybe swishing some mouthwash…? lol
seriously tho, just remember what Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18 – we will drive out demons, pick up snakes, and no poison will harm us 😉
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and compassion on whom I have compassion” You can’t twist God’s arm with your faith. Or do you think like Job that God is answerable to you? Some are vessels of wraith.
I really believe that GOD has pointed out this message to me. It is wonderful. I was struggling a lot with “Unbelief” and thinking that I have “Faith” problem. Also, my confusion regarding Fasting also got cleared. Thank you so very much. GOD Bless you, your family and your ministry.
in a message by joseph prince, he describes how the word “doubt” in matt 11:23 in the greek is the word diakrino, and goes further into it by disecting the word. dia meaning “through” or “through the channel of/by the way of” and krino meaning “to judge, investigate, or even condemn”. his conclusion? those who do not diakrino (judge themselves/condemn themselves) in their hearts (in the light of romans 8:1 and His finished work), whatever they believe WILL COME TO PASS. still learning on this though. i want to know more because my dad is currently going through a lot of back pain and i want to heal him so bad and know i can. i guess my question is, is it my unbelief? blessings.
i wonder …..if it is as simple as my faith will heal me….why didn’t paul tell timothy that instead of telling him to drink a little wine for his “often” infirmities….also paul said i left trophimus in miletus sick..the same paul that raised a dead man back to life without the dead man’s faith…whose faith raised that dead man..pauls?why was timothy pastor of the church that supposedly taught faith healing often sick himself?these questions always bothered me…love this (sight) though..i know it’s site but i used sight as a play on words meaning i’m beginning to see clearer…anyone have ideas???
Donavon, good answers to your questions about Timothy and Trophimus have been written by my friend Cornel. I encourage you to check them out.
Hi paul,I did read the thoughts left by Cornel concerning my question..but he didn’t answer my question.He said it’s not rocket science,meaning we should be able to grasp the concept of what he’s saying easliy.In other words he was saying that, because Timothy went on different missions that Paul said(because Timothy couldnt figure it out on his own)
it’s the water!Stop drinking it.But here’s the thing Paul told Timothy to stay in Ephesus that you may make sure that that no other doctrine creeps up in the church( I Tim,1:3),,so he wasn’t traveling drinking all kinds of different water from different towns.
2.Lets say it was the water that was polluted…Just because the water was bad in all these towns that Timothy went to wouldn’t automatically mean sickness for the unknowing Timothy.If that is the case then the snake that bit Paul should have killed the unknowing paul due to it’s poison just as the impuriteis in the water Cornel said made Timothy sick..It is rocket science sometimes when it comes to why God does what he does and not as simple as we think..so my question still remains
I think Cornel provides some good ideas regarding why Paul said what he said to Timothy, etc. Regarding the larger issue, why are some healed and some aren’t, I agree, it’s a mystery. I don’t know. I have prayed for people who have been healed and others who’ve left in the same state they arrived. I really don’t know why. But I would argue that healing is far less mysterious than many Christians think and I am CERTAIN that Jesus died for our healing, that it is always God’s will to heal, and that Jesus experienced 100% success. Since I am certain of these things, I pray for the sick and, as I say, some get healed.
Paul, I would like to thank you for teaching me about God’s grace. I have been taught about religion, tradittion and law for soooooo many years. So, now that the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes I am devouring anything that speaks of Him and the finished work of the Cross. In my local ministry. I am telling everyone about this new and living way of thinking and in doing so, I often refer them to your blog as a great place of reference. So, Thank You!! I appreciate you……
I still have confusion with prayer and fasting… my question is… is fasting while asking your petition to God is unbelief?
Thank you for sharing! You have really blessed me!!
I’ve lived 24 years of my life as an atheist and having relationships of broken trust. I’ve recently come to the faith – I’ve been praying, fasting, reading the Word, and researching. The persistent thought “If I can’t present solid evidence for my faith, how can I witness to others?”, really hid the truth of my own unbelief. It has been a stumbling block preventing me from having childlike trust in Yahuweh’s Word. I realise that the fearful and unbelieving will burn in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8). In my actions and words, I’m like a zealous believer, but my heart is constantly pricked with doubts. I hope these doubts do not make my faith of non-effect and make me an unbeliever.
Thanks to you I understood that I should just stay away from worldly proofs and engross myself in the Word, taking a leap of faith that doing His will is better than breaking it, and believe that He will indeed come and reward every unnoticed service.
Yahuweh bless you my friend.
This helps me to understand. Thanks!
This post is over 2 years old but still relevant today. THANK YOU for breaking this down and giving me the motivation to continue to work towards casting down my unbelief, daily!
P.S. “Your prayer and fasting doesn’t move God. Neither does it move the devil. Fasting and prayer moves you. It affects you… You don’t have a faith problem. What you have is an unbelief problem…..” The best way to put ALL of this in to perspective! JESUS!
Forget moving the mountain. It isn’t going anywhere. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Then the mountain won’t matter any more
I found this post when researching 2 Timothy 4:20. Paul left (left behind) Trophimus sick (ill) in Miletus. Paul is in prison (dark cold hole in the ground) about to be beheaded for the gospel. His last words through the power of the Holy Spirit are here in 2 Timothy. It is a book filled with the suffering for the gospel of Christ and Paul is asking Timothy who had “frequent ailments” to suffer with him, for the Gospel. Suffering is a key word in 2 Timothy. My question is – if God heals every child of God who has faith, which is empowered by Christ in us, then why are all of the people Jesus healed or those who the apostles healed, or the apostles themselves….dead? Why weren’t they healed? Why did they die?
Every person who claims they need to believe more or have enough faith or that God heals every person who has enough faith, will, in fact, at some point get sick and die. If I truly believe I have to believe more to be healed, then how is that not legalism? Sovereign God can only move if I let him. How do you resolve these questions in your own mind? Or, maybe we are not allowed to ask them? At some point we have to die to be absent from the body, to be present with the Lord, many times this is through illness, correct? I guess I have a LOT of questions.
Hi Liz, I like questions too. I can’t promise you answers (and since I can’t this post may help), but I have written a post on why people still die.
Life and death are like Grace and works for preservation of salvation.
Church leaders who themselves have no belief have Lorded their faith over the flock.
They do not really believe in the power of the cross and transfer this to the flock by telling you that you have to work to preserve your salvation they are fearful that grace will cause the flock to fall into sin.This may be with good intentions but feeds the lie.
It is the same with life and death they are afraid to preach the truth that you were dead are now alive and will never die if you believe in Jesus , they believe that they will have people committing suicide as a result, or becoming complacent.
I can assure you that Jesus is what he say,s he is , when he said that he was the Resurrection he meant it. When you take on his identity you also take on this, it is not optional.
We continue to be arrogant and place our definition of life and death over what God,s definition is. We still do not believe God,s first warning to man and the results.
We know that Enoch was taken by god, If this is true and he never died then that makes God a liar.
Awesome word Man of God! I needed to read this today and I am truly thankful for the revelation
Hi, I desperately need direction. My Dad has stage 4 lung cancer from smoking. I heard words of knowledge on the 700 club specific to him. Story is too long to share but I have no doubt about this. My Dad felt the warmth inside when he watched the episode. Gifts of the Spirit are totally foreign to my Dad. He said “I don’t know if God just healed me or not, but I felt the warmth inside”. He has felt peace since. I thought when God healed someone like that the results were immediate or shortly after. Why is there no evidence? My insistence that God has healed him is causing anger from him towards me and disturbing the peace he received. He continues on with symptom mgt treatments that would damage a healed body. xrays are taken frequently but no one has said the cancer has disappeared. If I were in his shoes, I would have stopped all treatments the day I believed God healed me and ignored any symptoms and clung to what God had spoke to my spirit. Especially when my prognosis is 3-6 mos of miserable treatments before death arrived. Can someone lose a healing, that other men of God spoke out in a word of knowledge that they saw God doing, because of disbelief. Can my belief heal him or does he need to believe?
If God intended to heal all the illnesses then why do people like evangelist Steve Hill, the one who sparked the 5 year revival in Brownsville, Fl., still die. He died from cancer at the age of 60 a week ago. He has seen God perform many healings and is faith filled and does not doubt. Why does God’s healing gift seem so random. Although I believe God intended to heal my Dad, I fear my Dad’s unbelief may have changed that. Why my Dad and not Steve Hill. If Steve had received that Word of Knowledge he would still be here. The belief that God will heal anyone who has faith and casts out unbelief does not appear to be true. Maybe he intends to take some home through illness like he did Elisha, who saw twice as many miracles performed in his ministry than Elijah did. He received a double portion and yet died from an illness. I just want to understand God better, not argue.
One more question, why would God allow me to hear specific Words of Knowledge that applied to my Dad and then not follow through. Words of Knowledge, as I understand, are when godly men, while praying, speak out what they see the Lord doing. So, they saw God healing my Dad. They said God is healing you completely right now. That should mean RIGHT NOW not next week. But he is not better on xray so radiation continues. It has been 12 days since the Word of Knowledge was given. He eats, breaths, and sleeps better so there is hopeful evidence of healing but my Dad says it is because they treated him for bronchitis and the radiation must have shrunk the tumor pressing on his esophagus. I have kept a journal of everything that has happened in a Word Document. It is about 10 pages long. I would love to email it to you so you could see the details of why I believe so deeply these words of knowledge were for my Dad. I can’t put it all here. Let me know if you are willing to help.
I am studying Matt 17:20, and found that the word for unbelief in the king james, was actually Strongs G3640 “oligopistos”, which the NIV kind of translates it right “as little faith” according to Strong’s concordance, and its not G570. “apistia”. which you have rightly said for Luke 9:24. I am not disagreeing with you and Andrew Wommack on the understanding of the context. But why would Matthew use Oligopistos, where apistia would have been more appropriate to drive this point?
Sorry Paul forgot to hit “reply” Albert..it depends on what Greek manuscript you are looking at. The King James translators used the Textus Receptus which clearly has the word “apistian” there the Byzantine/ Majority Text also uses it. The NIV uses the Nestle type text which has “oligopistian” You can see them here. Scroll down the middle column until you see where it has the texts transliterated. It is the 7th or 8th word over http://biblehub.com/multi/matthew/17-20.htm
This post underscores why I listen to Joseph Prince but not Andrew Wommack. There are some good overall themes, but it makes blunders because of not knowing the actual scripture (just the king james translation.) There is no word “fasting” in the original Mark 9:29 (only prayer), so that whole point has no foundation. Where Jesus said “everything is possible to Him who believes” He was referring to Himself- the only one who was actively, continually believing (as per the tense used). He was responding to the man questioning “IF (Jesus) could do anything”. We need to stop trying to have faith in our faith, and have faith in Him. His faith & belief is always enough. I (or we) may have issues believing for something, but Jesus does not. Trust HIS faith and stop worrying about your own, which was a gift anyway. That is resting.
Well said Connie T. Well said.
When the Holy Spirit indwells you he brings with him FRUIT.But you know this right?Or do you?
So if the Holy Spirit is in you don’t you have the fruit of >His< Spirit ?
One of the fruit is (((FAITH)))!!!
The Holy Spirit brings with it the Faith of God.
There's no need to rely on your faith when you can rest having his in you.
When you're having family over for thanksgiving and you figure out whose bringing what,once someone says I'm bringing the Turkey you cross it off the list no need to have two.
Same with God's faith and yours once you find out he's giving you his why trust yours?
I know you're saying Jesus said “Your faith has healed you"what about that? Well that's true but did they have the HolyGhost in them
before the cross? No! Then they relied on their faith,so it was in fact there faith.After the cross to ensure that you rest in him he gave you his faith as so not to lean on your own.
sorry Paul..forgot to hit “reply” earlier Connie T. Ironically Joseph Prince primarily uses the New king James Bible which includes “fasting” in Mk. 9:29. When you say “not in the original” many scholars would disagree. The Majority Greek text has “fasting” (nesteia) included as well as the old Textus Receptus used by the King James translators. The Westcott, /Nestle Greek texts that are used by NIV,ESV NASB etc do not have it. If you would like more in depth info. look here http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol06/Robinson2001.html
Connie T and Donovan, old posts I know…. but I too feel there is truth in what you are saying. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. When we get our eyes off what Jesus has done… resting in His finished work, and instead we concentrate on trying to work out if our faith is more than our unbelief… it is not helpful. This is my opinion, and I am still learning. I read a post on this site from Lisa Jane who said, ‘satan is always about the things of man’. In my own experience I have found that hearing/thinking more and more of God’s goodness and His wonderful gift of righteousness…trusting Him to bring forth His fruit in my life has produced more than I ever did with trying to change things with working on building my level of ‘faith’.
I pray Paul’s prayer in Ephesians, that God would give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation….that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened etc. Jesus revealed God as a Father, I hope to know more of my Father’s influence in my life.
I do believe that God wants us well just as He wants everyone to know He loves them.
Wow dat is vry helpful
Thank you for that information I needed to read it and it open my eyes, because I have a unbelf problems, I pray to God to help me with my unbelf because I do believe. Amen amen
I am confused. You wrote that in Matt 17:20 “little faith” is a poor translation but the word there is Strongs 3640 – oligopistia which is little faith. In Mark 9:24 the father speaks of his unbelief which is Strongs #0570 – apistia. Please help me understand your point of view.
In some translations, Jesus’ words appear contradictory. “Why couldn’t we drive him out?” ask the disciples. Jesus replies: “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed.” That’s confusing. It sounds like both the problem and the solution are little faith.
But look at Jesus’ words in the KJV: “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…” See the difference? The problem is not little faith but unbelief.
This distinction can be seen by looking at the Greek words for each. They are different: unbelief is apistia (G570) while little faith is pistis (G4102).
The words of the father in Mark 9:24 reinforce this distinction: “I do believe (pisteuō G4100); help me overcome my unbelief (apistia G570)!”
Conclusion: The issue is not little faith, but unbelief.
Excellent distinction/clarification Saint paul. I also like how this post brings out and supports the fact that our faith is a gift from God and we all have the same measure of faith.
Warren (South Carolina, USA)
It seems that unbelief has to do with one’s trust in the Will of God?
When Israel sent spies into the promised land to see what was theirs only 2 of the 12 had Faith that they could receive it. 2 had Faith, 10 other had unbelief, as it turned out 40 years later Israel entered Canaan after the unbelieving leaders had died and not when they had more guys with Faith. . . their unbelief had been dealt with.
2 guys were enough
Oh Richard, I’m truly blessed with the way you have taken it from another angle. that was a great and powerful revelation I received. God dealt with Israel’s unbelief, the little faith took them to cannan.
It makes a huge difference to know that our Faith is not the problem, Jesus said to his disciples, “even the smallest Faith can move mountains, the problem is your unbelief”.
Unbelief is built on the facts collected by our senses, while Faith is the knowledge of relationship and works of Faith are our response to that relationship.
Our relationship with our Father allows us to understand when the facts lie against the truth of our relationship.
We can disregard the facts in favour of the truth when we are more impressed by our relationship to the Father because of Jesus.
I am so tired of trying to do spiritual gymnastics to try and make sense of all I’m learning. I’m a believer and have done everything to try and make the depression and doubt and guilt I’m constantly battling disappear. I’ve spent many evenings literally crying in defeat and exhaustion. I know someone’s going to say I’m trying too hard but I honest to God have no idea how to apply faith any other way.
Which brings me to my next point. There’s having faith, and then there’s being stupid. Forgive my bluntness, but when I can barely support myself, I can’t give all of my money to people living in warzones. I can’t give what I don’t have. I know about people who are working two jobs and have been for three years to get caught up after giving all their money on the offering. You can’t manufacture miracles. I’m not going to use faith as an excuse to make decisions I know are not good.
I’m sorry but this article feels like a slap in the face. I can’t just magically make all my doubt disappear. It’s just how my brain works.
It’s how everyone’s brain works. We all tend to regard the facts as truth. Our life discipline is to renew our soul (mind,emotion,ego) to the true reality. “We will prosper and be in health as our soul prospers”. Philemon 1:6 says that our Faith becomes a reality as we confess it. I’m not suggesting “blab it, grab it”, “by faith alone” trip. We are told to continue as we started, that is, “by Grace through Faith”. By Grace we receive what we could never deserve. . . let that run through your head in so many ways, confess(testify) that you cannot do anything to deserve any favour from God. Testify(say/confess) that by yourself you can do nothing, BUT, through Jesus you can do all things that he can do. Discipline yourself as David did, “he strengthened HIMSELF in the Lord”. He recounted his story, the relationship God had started with him. Faith is the knowledge of relationship, and our works of Faith are our response to that relationship. Abraham knew that the one speaking promises could and would complete them, he filled his mind with images of the promise, stars by night, sand by day.
Condemnation comes easily when we focus on our efforts for Jesus. Boast of Jesus love for you, and not of your service for him.
It’s not that I don’t know what grace is, I just have a hard time applying it.
For me. . . Mercy was just a word until I had a greater understanding of the extent of what I had been forgiven.
My Christian walk was theory and rhetoric before I knew that I was saved from the terrible demands of justice.
It was easy and natural to forgive others and stop demanding justice from others.
I then began to understand my relationship with God the Father and saw that I was now a son, and nothing could change that, the only question was whether I would be the son I already was.
Condemnation, guilt and religion makes love and sonship conditional on our actions.
By our actions men will know you are the son’s of God, but God already knows who we are without actions . . . he’s not confused.
So to answer your question on applying Grace.
Pray for a greater revelation of what you have been forgiven and you will be merciful.
Then ask for a greater understanding of his love towards you. You will know you are beginning to apply Grace when, as you perceive some darkness in yourself your thankfulness for God’s love increases.
The limiting factor is the knowledge of God’s love and acceptance he has towards us.
You are the one that Jesus loves.
Thank you. You have a blessed new year.
I liked this article, but I also go through this doubt. It’s just that this is one of the battles from the world, and like you, my brain works pretty similarly.
Fortunately, doubt CAN NOT keep me from Jesus. In fact, in Mark 9:24, the father believed in spite of doubt, and it still worked out. If we are born again, we are on the winning side!
Finally, a good tip is to find a small group that comforts and guides you. Keep on fightin’ the battle of doubt!
I’ve been richly blessed and lifted by your teachings.So simple and refreshing.Now,that’s what the good news is all about!
I was prayed for two weeks ago and told I was healed. I have hurt every day, but have been praying, laying hands, commanding pain to go. I am really struggling between the desire to be healed/believe I was healed and feeling delusional. It’s been an ostracizing time from friends, Christian and Atheist, because I’m on both sides of the fence. I haven’t fasted since my friend’s dad died of cancer despite his faith and lots of prayer. I’ll try it for this. Thanks for writing.
I do not disagree with anything you said, but I am wondering why you say that Matt 17:20 (oligopistos-3640 In Strong’s) and Mark 9:24 (apistia-570 In Strong’s) are the same word translated differently. I am not a scholar but just looked it up in the Greek on the Bible Hub app. They do not appear to be the same word in Greek. “Apistia” being the negated form of “pistos,” so apistia is without faith/unbelief and oligopistos is little amount of faith. It does seem as though they could mean the same thing, but why then 2 different words used in the Greek? They could be similar I am not schooled in this, but it makes it difficult when you say they are the same word translated differently
(Note that some translations interpret “unbelief” as “little faith.” So Jesus’ answer in verse 20 begins, “Because of your little faith.” But this is a poor translation that makes Jesus sound like He’s contradicting Himself. The Greek word for unbelief (apistia) in the passage above is the same word used by the boy’s father when he says, “help my unbelief.”)
Strong’s also says “3640 (oligópistos) occurs five times in the NT, each time with Jesus rebuking the problem of failing to hear His voice.” This seems very significant and purposeful. Any further thoughts?
By the way, I am VERY THANKFUL for this blog and your insight into the Word and Grace! I reference it often as I come up against seeming inconsistencies in what I’ve been taught about grace and what the truth is to straighten my thinking out. THANK YOU!
Paul I have loved all of your posts but articles like these really hurt people. God doesn’t bless us based on ourselves. I believe He works miracles but they are called miracles for a reason. Articles like this cause loving, kind, believing Christians with illnesses to put the blame on themselves for not believing hard enough or fasting enough. Your words have always freed my soul and brought joy but this is one of your teachings that make my insides sick. Your causing flesh trips. People are going to now start fasting and straining muscles in effort to believe harder because the failure is on them. Im thankful God can heal and im even more thankful His blessings don’t depend on how hard Im working. It sounds somewhat prideful to be telling people you see healing because you believe better than they do.
Right isn’t it the faith of Jesus. You have the faith. This post is not saying you need more faith. It’s saying faith already comes to us through grace. Do you see it yet?
It’s starving unbelief. Unhiching the negating going in the opposite direction unbelief.
This makes perfect sense to me. Joseph Prince claims Jesus was talking about himself with “He who believes all things”, which applies as Him being the example. We are not Jesus though, who had perfect faith. Living in this world were seeing is believing we stumble.
It’s not God’s time to heal #StuffJesusNeverSaid
Paul, I think E2R is the most God breathed website there is. I don’t know how else to say it man. You testify to truth after truth, that sets the captives free. Thank you brother!
“How do you deal with unbelief? Starve it!” Indeed! The devil, who Jesus identified as our enemy, has a vested interest in preventing us from realizing our potential. In Christ, our ability to drive back the darkness and claim territory in the name of Jesus is like a flamethrower to dry grass. Darkness simply cannot stand up against the Light. Our authority in Christ is magnificently greater than any authority Satan and his forces have. So, what’s the father of lies’ big plan to preserve his grasp on humanity? Lie, lie, and lie some more… fill our minds with whatever it takes to keep the truth just out of range of what we are able to believe. We must realize that most of our beliefs are based on lies designed by our enemy to keep us from discovering (and living from) our true place in the eyes, heart, and grace of our Father, God. Let that sink in. Victory need not be bought, or earned. It is not a matter of high level education. It is not out of your reach in any way whatsoever. It is simply a mere belief away. Jesus has made this to be so. Our Father is that awesome! With so great a salvation as this, anything you can think of that is feeding your unbelief – starve it to death. Turn off the flow into your mind.
Thank you, Jason.
Wow! Eye opening~
Thank God for this useful post!
Hi. This was an amazingly insightful look at this passage. Thank you. What I would like to know is how to starve the unbelief? My mind is like a runaway train and I constantly have to watch what I think. If I have a thought that is negative, I say ‘I take you captive to the obedience of Christ!’ It does not work as then I am flooded by more such thoughts, in an endless stream.
Unbelief always seems to have such overwhelming evidence.
How do I practically starve the unbelief?
Focusing on the negative thought rarely helps. Far better to focus on Jesus and fill our minds and mouths with gratitude and praise to him. Let me give you an example. When my children are away from home, my natural response is to worry and that leads to faithless praying. “God watch over them.” This is not a good way to pray. Far better to thank and praise him for what he has promised to do. “Thank you, Father, that you are watching over my children.” The temptation to revert from faith to unbelief is a battle, but it’s a battle you can win.
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Jesus—The One Who Always Believes
Mark 9:23 has been traditionally taught to mean that you can have your miracle if YOU can believe. If you can’t believe, then Jesus isn’t going to give you your miracle.
But if you study the Greek structure of the verse, it’s actually saying, “Can you believe that all things are possible to him [Jesus] who is always believing?”
That makes a world of difference! It’s not about how well or how much you can believe, but WHO you believe. Jesus is the only one whose faith is always constant and never wavers. His faith never fails! And if you can believe that all things are possible for Jesus who never doubts, never wavers, then you are on your way to receiving your miracle!
Can it be that the verse was talking about HOW all things are possible to HIM (Jesus)?? What do you think?
This points to the faith of christ. But where is he? Our personal beliefs matter. I’m leaning on and relying on and trusting in his grace.
Love this! It’s about time, I have felt this way about faith and “unfaith” all my life, but this puts everything in a context I can agree with. Many blessings. Let’s go move a few mountains.
Thank you Paul. Absolutely fabulous! I agree, we have the faith of Jesus and when we are faithless, He remains faithful!
Question: Does the person I am praying for have to be a believer in order to receive?
I think it certainly helps if they are open to receiving than if they are actively rejecting what God offers. But how much faith did Lazarus have?
I started thinking the same….not one person was a born-again christian and He healed everyone that asked, or asked on someone’s behalf! Thank you!
I’m kinda mad I came across this post just now, but hey, better sooner than later. (It was in the “More in Escape to Reality” part of the WordPress.com Reader as I was reading your newest post, “Is Job a Type of Jesus?”)
I basically binge-watched — or listened to/read — Andrew Wommack’s teachings, but I still could not understand the connection between believing, faith, doubt, unbelief, and God’s Kingdom. This post has helped me to unravel that. It answered the specific question of how prayer and fasting helps me increase my faith — in reality, it’s to punch natural unbelief in the face. Oh God, do I have so much of that. But I’m not discouraged. In short, it’s highly clarifying. So thank you for this post.
Paul I agree on 95% of what you say and I love this post. However can I disagree on the fasting. I have seen two ways of looking at Matt 17 and Mark regarding fasting. The word was not in the Greek in Mark 9. It was in Matt 17. Some think Matt 17 added it in the Greek and some think it was ommitted in the Greek in Mark 9. I believe we need to fast (not eat) from errors, lies, negativity, fear, etc. But to tell people they have the FAITH of Jesus by grace and then say we need to fast to receive results is works. Weak and sick need not to starve their bodies to chagne their wrong ideas, but starve the ideas yes. Maybe fast from relgion and tv. I never say results from fasting except getting pats on the back and head aches. No I think it is a relationship (prayer not religious but talking to the Lord) and the faith that is given to us by grace that can move mountains. Although the 1st and 2nd century church made fasting a big deal, I do not see it as Grace to have to do anything to receive what God already wants to give. If fasting doesn’t move God or the devil but me, what else to I need to clean up in my mind before I am worthy of Grace? Do not tell hurting people to fast, the need to change their diet to good nutritious truth and not feed on any errors that delve into works. God accepts us as we are.
Fredic, I agree with 100% of what you said here. Faith is the thing, not fasting. Fasting impresses God not one iota. I would only add this: all things are lawful, not all things are beneficial. If fasting is beneficial, then there are benefits to fasting. (Obviously.) If fasting helps, do it. If fasting causes you to fall from grace into works, don’t.
Thank you! This is great. Now I know what to do with unbelief. Tell it what Gods word says.
Casting out a deaf and dumb spirit was one of the 4 messianic miracles that was believed only the messiah could perform. That is why the disciples were in unbelief and couldn’t cast out the spirit.
This is a Messianic belief, but not one found in scripture. Jesus told the disciples to cleanse lepers and cast out demons and they did (Matt. 10:8, Mark 3:15).
That is the reason. Yes, it was based on a wrong belief for sure. But that is the reason for their unbelief. The disciples simply weren’t putting two and two together as they were raised to believe only the messiah could perform these particular miracles. This is also why Jesus delayed on seeing Lazarus as it was wrongly believed, again, that a person could not be raised from the dead after three days. Believe what you will. 😉
All of that being said Jesus still healed the boy despite the Father & disciples obvious unbelief. Jesus was the only one believing in that moment as the word believing is in the present active participle. This would’ve been a great opportunity for Jesus to turn someone away because of unbelief. Of course none of us can truly imagine Jesus turning someone away. But I have personally been healed of several serious things while having symptoms of doubt & unbelief as I’ve been trusting God solely for my health for the past 8 years. Actually some of the most amazing instant healings I’ve experience were not when I should have based on all the things you hear from various teachers. This would include at time:
1. Being furious with God and literally screaming at Him
2. Being completely absorbed with what my 5 senses were telling me
Should I have experienced healing? Not according to Wommack. But yet I did to my amazement. And God is no respecter of persons. Now I’m not proud of these moments at all. Just being honest. Pain and agony tends to bring out the worst in a person. But I’m simply stating these things were not hindrances to me receiving healing. And it’s all about the results at the end of the day. Cheers.
Amen to what you are saying Chuck,I understand- and this is Gods grace in action even David cried out to God how long Lord will this oppression last(obviously not a literal translation) Psalm 13 it’s not about our faith and witness as it is imperfect it is about Christs faith and witness the Lord knows even as believers we have doubts galore therefore if it were up to us and our faith we would not experience/ receive anything so it’s by His grace alone that gets the “job” blessing done.It’s ok for us to doubt and cry out to Him for yes He wants us to be real with Him so that He can help us even in the doubts and especially during “ confusing” times when things “seem” to get worse not better !!