Poisonous Unbelief

March 4, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

In John 8 we see some of the sharpest clashes between Jesus and the religious leaders of the Jews. The Jews take offense at what Jesus is offering and claiming about himself. Jesus does not mince words when he says, “You are of your father the devil” (v. 44). The Jews come back and accuse Jesus of being a Samaritan and having a demon (v. 48). 

How could the Jews respond with so much vile bitterness against Jesus? In this chapter alone, Jesus offers the light of life (v. 12), freedom from the bondage to sin (v. 32), and eternal life (v. 51). Such gloriously good promises! And yet, the chapter ends with the Jews picking up stones to kill Jesus. 

I believe John portrays the Jews as he does in his gospel because he wants to warn his readers. The warning is this: Unbelief is poisonous. To the extent that we do not trust in Jesus for who he is and what he offers, our hearts, minds, and lives are poisoned by unbelief. We see this on display in John’s gospel. 

Unbelief fuels insecurity. The insecurity of the Jewish leaders builds throughout the gospel. Jesus’ claims and promises threaten their false sense of security. They believed they obeyed God’s commands perfectly. They believed they had a special relationship with God due to their lineage to Abraham. They believed they could identify the Messiah. Jesus confronted each of their false beliefs by stating one must be “born again” to see the kingdom of heaven and one must abide in his word to be set free from sin. Their insecurity is on display in John 11:48, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” So, they plot to kill Jesus. 

When we do not rest in Jesus alone for our security, insecurity grows. Out of insecurity comes all sorts of ugliness: jealousy, bitterness, malice, etc. Anyone, or anything, that threatens our false sense of security (apart from Christ) must be attacked. This is why the Jews attack Jesus. If they would have only believed in Jesus, they would have come to see that Jesus was no threat to their security, but the actual true source of security. 

No one believes in Jesus perfectly; therefore, no one is perfectly secure. That is the nature of being a saint and sinner at the same time. As we fight the good fight of faith, striving to trust in Jesus more and more, we need to be exposed to how poisonous our unbelief can be. We attack people just like the Jewish leaders attack Jesus. The remedy is Jesus. That is the aim of John’s Gospel. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is not only an entrance ticket to eternal life, it also is the ongoing means of growing as a follower of Christ.



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