Stubborn Belief

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Being stubborn about what you believe can be a good thing…if what you believe is the truth.

I realize there are many people today who question whether anything can truly be defined as truth. However, to say that there is no such thing as absolute truth is to admit that you’re absolutely sure something is true. It is a self-contradicting statement.

I understand why so many people struggle with knowing what is really true and what is not, and even why they land on the reasoning that each person can define truth for themselves. But when so many of the people who think this way also claim to believe in God, my understanding unravels.

In the sense of reasonably recognizing how two such incongruent realities can reside in the same heart, I am able to understand. But in the sense of acceptance, I am not. I suppose the reason for this has a lot to do with my own journey, as well as the countless people I know who have struggled through this same dilemma. I know where the lie against truth comes from, and I am passionate about helping people to not settle there.

I used to be stubborn in my beliefs in the wrong direction. I held fast to “truths” which were born out of my experience, but unrooted in any sense of healthy (or even normal) reality. When anyone attempted to challenge those beliefs, I defended them – even if and when they could be proven untrue. The reason for this was that I trusted in my own understanding, because I had learned that I couldn’t trust in anyone or anything else. I learned to let my broken self lead me, because that was all I had for so long.

When I finally decided to turn toward the God who was drawing my shattered heart to Himself, I had a lot to unlearn before I could encounter real truth. Most people think truth is a thing. But I’ve discovered that truth is a person. His Name is Jesus, the living Word of God. If you aren’t sure you can believe me, John 14:6 confirms it:

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

If this is true – and it is – then it also means that every word Jesus speaks is true. The challenge for me, then, became measuring my former truth against the actual truth of God, in every situation of my life. And what I realized was that my stubborn belief in the wrong direction was actually stubborn unbelief. Much of what I believed – what I had concluded based on my life experiences – directly opposed the truth(s) God was asking me to believe.

This, sadly, is where most people drop out of the race of faith. Unwilling to part with their familiar realities, they walk away from the truth and stay stuck in their cycles of hopelessness, despair, or distraction. I know, both because I’ve been there, and because I still see so many people choosing to live there every day.

So what’s the key to breaking the cycle of stubborn unbelief that keeps us disconnected from the life and the reality God created us to know? It’s simple:

Stubborn Belief: belief in the right direction.

How we get there is the part that requires courage and a little bit of – actually a lot bit of – grit mixed with grace.

See, when God says something is true (you can find all kinds of these statements in the Bible), we are always faced with a choice: believing God or believing what we have known to be true. The two are almost always diametrically opposed, which means one will have to submit to the other. The problem is that we are rarely up for such a fight, and so attempt to hold onto both at the same time.

As an example, I will use God’s command to Adam and Eve: “Don’t eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or you will die.” I don’t have to retell you the story because most humans know they ate the fruit anyway. But most humans are eating the same fruit Adam and Eve did because they don’t believe the truth that death follows a departure from God’s truth, His ways.

We can reason that Adam and Eve, in fact, didn’t die for many, many years afterward (Adam lived to be 930 years old, and had a HUGE family). But they were expelled from the Garden, sent away from the presence of God and cut off from relationship with Him. Ephesians 2:1-2 puts this in proper perspective:

“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.”

So Adam and Eve, as well as every human after them (including you and me), really did die as a result of sin, because being separated from God is equal to spiritual death. In this life, we may not feel or understand such a reality, but in eternity, we certainly will. This is why God sent Jesus, to reconnect us to the Father, so we could be brought back from spiritual death and given another opportunity for relationship with Him – now and forever.

Seems simple enough, until you get into truths like God is our healer. This becomes sticky when we face sickness, or pray for someone with cancer. When the situation doesn’t change, we usually conclude that it isn’t true that God heals. Some people may tell you they believe God heals, but they will continue to live in such a way that displays they don’t really believe it. I’ve been through this struggle, and I know I’m not the only one to wrestle with this truth.

Another example is the truth that God protects us. There are many Scriptures in the Bible which tell us this. So I have professed to believe this truth many times, and then encountered something that didn’t seem so protective. In those situations, I can reason, by my own understanding, that God’s Word is only partially true. And though I may not admit it out loud, that seed of doubt – that seed of my own experience and understanding will challenge God’s Word of truth every time I hear it.

The problem with this is that, after a while, those repressed seeds of unbelief will hinder my growth and my faith in God, and I will find myself living in opposition to His ways, even while I claimed to believe in Him. Thus the contradiction we exposed in the beginning of this blog. Such a life is in grave danger of being cut off from God, just as Adam and Eve were. 2 Timothy warns us that in the last days, many people will act religious  (claiming to believe in God and His truth), but will reject the power that could make them godly, and they will perish because of it.

That power which could make us godly is the truth. And we reject it whenever we choose to rely on and believe our own experience and understanding above God’s Word.

So how do we avoid this very human, very common, very subtle and deceptive trap? We turn stubborn unbelief into stubborn belief by choosing to confront it, and by choosing to camp there until we have received breakthrough.

It’s always easier to stay where we are – even in our beliefs – because it’s comfortable and familiar. There’s no risk involved (there is actually an eternal risk, but we are usually blind to that because of deception). Stubborn belief in the truth requires the risk of believing God even when it isn’t working for you. 

John had to believe that Jesus was the God who came release the prisoners, while he sat in prison and heard that Jesus was helping everyone but him. John was eventually beheaded, not getting to experience the freedom which truth promised. But John died still believing Jesus was the truth Who came to set people free. That’s stubborn belief.

Stubborn belief will tell the world that God is a healer even while their own body is suffering with sickness. Stubborn belief will give thanks to God for His protection even after catastrophe has taken everything. Stubborn belief will choose forgiveness even after unimaginable harm has been done. Stubborn belief will struggle through the pain walking through intense fires, still proclaiming that God is the deliverer – even when He doesn’t deliver them. The latter half of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is full of stories of people with stubborn faith. They are people who believed, despite what they did not see.

Why? What’s the benefit to such belief, if it is never validated or experienced in this life?

Truth is preserved. It is the truth, Jesus says, that will set us free. Free from what? Eternal death. And when truth is preserved – when the testimony of Jesus is preserved – the next generation has the opportunity to walk in freedom. The world still has a chance to be saved.

We don’t have to look far to see the state of our world today. Everyone is stuck in the reality of their own opinions. People staunchly defend their own personal “truths” to the detriment of themselves, and certainly our society. We’ve lost our moorings, because we’ve refused to believe in the truth which God sent to save us.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, you and I can break that cycle today! We can disconnect ourselves from the madness and focus all of our attention on the absolute truth of Jesus, and choose to stubbornly believe that He is the way we need to take.

If you’re struggling with fear, anxiety, hopelessness, despair, frustration, lack, or even anger, chances are you’re stubbornly believing something that isn’t rooted in truth. The solution is not easy, but it’s simple: Return to the Word of God, and ask Him to increase your faith in all that He says. Then challenge every thought that rises to contradict it. 

You will receive breakthrough. And you will possess the peace, joy and freedom which God has wrapped in His truth. This, my dear one, is a promise we can trust. Dare to believe God with me, starting now, will you?

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