To rightly identify the distinction between professed faith and true saving faith letís examine Scriptureís use of unbelief. To draw a narrow line, look at the extremes on both sides so you can see where the dividing line is. By looking at unbelief we can see where true saving faith lies. Then examine your faith to see how much unbelief is in your faith. That will help you sort out true saving faith and unbelief. Now we need to understand exactly what unbelief is.
Unbelief is much more than just an error in judgment or a failure to assent unto the truth. Unbelief is a rebellious and violent principle of opposition to God. When we look at the meanings of the ordinary sounding words in the original, we find rich, new meanings.
In the Scriptures the words disobedience and "obeyed not" come from the same Greek words as unbelief and believed not. The words unbelief and disobedience are synonyms throughout Scripture. They are exactly the same word in the original Greek. We cannot rightfully say we have saving faith while living in unbelief. It is a contradiction.
If we change the word unbelief to disobedience, we still have the same contradiction. TIT 1:16 says:
"They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being
abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."
We cannot rightly say we have saving faith if we are living in disobedience. 1Peter 2:7 says:
"Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner."
You cannot separate unbelief and disobedience because they are synonymous. Obedience and faith are also synonymous.
Take Adamís sin for example; that was more than a mere negative failing to believe Godís clear command. "For as by one manís disobedience many were made sinners," ROM 5:19. That tells us it was Adamís unbelief that was a damning sin, and it brought about the fall.
Nor was Adam deceived by Satanís heinous lie! "Adam was not deceived," 1TI 2:14. Adamís sin was slighting Godís smallest command, determined to have his own way. It was self-will, the very essence of sin. This must be broken if we want to have saving faith. This was the very first act of unbelief in our human nature.
Unbelief is a damning sin; see what we read of the Israelites in Hebrew 3:18-19:
"And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?"
[Believed not comes from the same Greek word as obeyed not.] So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
May we question whether or not the Israelites had faith? They had faith enough to follow Moses out of Egypt, to go through the Red Sea, but their disobedience condemned them. After they had seen all of these wonders, they still would not obey.
Now see how Moses admonished them for their unbelief in DEU 1:25- 26, "And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God." Do you see the sin of unbelief? They refused to obey.
Unbelief is much more than a spiritual struggle to question whether one has the true work of grace or not. That is a trial of faith, but it has nothing to do with unbelief, which is a gross sin. It is a self will that has not been broken, a determination to have your own way and sit in the seat of God.
This shows the meaning their unbelief, they were self willed, rebellious, defiant and disobedient. So you see it is a contradiction to claim saving faith and walk in our own self will.
Unbelief is also directly connected with hatred as we see in John 15:24-25:
"If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause."
Unbelief is associated with hatred because the conscience condemns them, so they hate. Have you ever tried to identify a sin for a believer? Did they accept it in love, or did they turn on you as if you were their worst enemy? They donít want their conscience to condemn them. Unbelievers, i.e., the counterfeit believers hated Christ because He told them the truth.
The actions of unbelievers speak louder than words. John 5:40-42 says:
"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you." The Lord Jesus Christ squarely pinpointed the distinction between faith and unbelief; it is love. They could not have saving faith with their will totally dissolved in the will of God without a motive of love. Amen.
Excerpt from sermon #201, Faith or Saving Faith
by Ralph Bouma of Gospel