Unbelief is believing something contrary to God’s Word – which is the highest truth. We don’t have to try to hard to do this because the world conditions us with unbelief from an early age. C.H. Spurgeon said that right believing produces right living. This is a saying that Joseph Prince, amongst others, have continued to uphold. Right living is a fruit – not a root – of God’s blessing and favour upon our lives. The New Testament does not demand right living from us, but says that we ought to walk in love. The Bible says it is impossible to please God without faith. I think most modern Bible Teachers, especially those who are inclined towards Word of Faith or the grace message, will tell you that our thinking is very important and it is what ultimately determines how we feel and what we experience in our life.
I can't help but feel that the whole concept of unbelief goes beyond simply believing that Jesus died to set us free. The Greek verb translated "to believe" means "to trust". We fail to trust God in so many ways. I believe this is because of the years of conditioning that our minds go through when we experience negative circumstances and life does not go the way we want it to.
When we become Christians, we often have accumulated mental and emotional garbage that simply gets in the way of God. Galatians 5:17 says that the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. The Holy Spirit has to contend with all sorts of subconscious, self-protection mechanisms we have built-up over the years; tendencies that we are often not even consciously aware of: people-pleasing, self-pity, guilt, blaming and judging other people and so on. This is the unbelief, the inability to trust in God, that we have to deal with as Christians.
In her books on the unredeemed nature, the Bible teacher and author, Liberty Savard, talks about layers that the soul creates in order to protect itself. This is the soul’s bottom line defence system and includes self-control, self-reliance, self-protection, self-centredness, self-defence. When we view the negative behaviour of the soul in connection with the term layers of protection then we can begin to understand the “whys” of our wrong thinking and wrong behaviour. It is obvious that it is this accumulation of wrong beliefs, or unbelief that gives rise to a sinful disposition. Sin is the inevitable response to unbelief: sin being the nature of man without intimate relationship with God. This intimate relationship demands unconditional surrender to God.
Andrew Wommack has a teaching available on the subject of unbelief. Andrew taught that unbelief and faith can actually co-exist. He used the example of the disciples when they couldn’t cast the demon out of a boy who was possessed in Matthew 17:14-21. Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 17:20 that they could not cast it out because of their unbelief. But in same verse, verse 20, Jesus also tells the disciples that they could achieve the impossible if they just had faith like a mustard seed (a mustard seed is tiny). So a lack of faith was not the issue – it was their unbelief. The faith that they did have was corrupted by the unbelief.
Andrew Wommack also provided the analogy of a horse that was tied to a wagon pulling it in one direction, but at the same time, another horse was tied to the other side of the wagon, and therefore, the wagon could not move. If you have both faith and unbelief at the same time - nothing can happen for you because your unbelief cancels out the faith.
If you read the Bible, you'll see that the people who received miracles just accepted that God was able to bless them and they received their blessing. All that was required was that they believe. These people didn't read a whole bookcase of books on faith; they didn't travail in prayer for hours every day - with fasting, they didn’t attend mega-churches, watch Christian T.V. and they didn't give large offerings to the church. They just believed and received.