Tony Evans — The Power of Unbelief
All of us have traveled across bridges. When we travel across a bridge, it typically means that two bodies have been separated by a challenge.
There's either a waterway, a lake, or a river that has to be crossed, that we can't drive across, so they construct a bridge. Or, perhaps, there's one mountain range to another range, one large hill to another hill separated by a valley, a low spot that you can't drive across, or it's too big, so they construct a bridge.
This bridge is designed to take you from where you are to where you are trying to go. You're trying to get from here to there, so they make a construct, they construct a bridge that you can cross over from where you are to where you need to be. There is a bridge that God has constructed for everyone to move from the natural to the supernatural. He has given you a bridge.
You do not have to stay stuck where you are. You can literally move from where you are, the natural, into the supernatural, but you gotta cross the bridge. The bridge that God has constructed for you to move from the natural to the supernatural is the bridge called faith. It is the only bridge that he has constructed, so if you don't use that bridge, you don't cross over.
No matter how bad you wanna cross over, no matter how much you need to cross over, without the faith bridge you cannot move from the natural into the supernatural. Now that we have constructed the bridge, it's time to cross over, 'cause you can have a bridge that folk don't use.
But a bridge unused becomes a useless bridge to those who need it most, and trust me what many of us need, either in our lives or in the lives of folk we know, demands the supernatural, and the reason you know it demands the supernatural is the natural hasn't fixed it. The natural hasn't changed it, reversed it, tweaked it. It hasn't done anything substantial with it, and so it's time to cross over, but there's only one bridge. That's the faith bridge.
Now, what you need to know is the power of unbelief, 'cause faith, if it's the only bridge and you don't have it, unbelief will keep you stuck where you are. Unbelief is so powerful. We read in chapter 13 that Jesus limited what he would do because of unbelief.
Unbelief is so powerful, it will stop God's work in your life. Unbelief is so powerful, it will keep God at a distance. Unbelief is so powerful that you can spend the rest of your life stuck where you are and never cross over to see the supernatural.
So, here we are. We're gonna start off with a story, story here in chapter 17. We have a father whose son is crazy. This boy crazy. He's called a loony tune. He's called a lunatic. He's mentally unstable. He's off. Not only that, but he's ill. It says he's lunatic and he's ill, so he's got mental problems, and he's got physical problems. He's physically impaired. This boy had something wrong with him, and we have somebody in his life who cared: his father.
Natural for a father to care about his son. His father cared that he had a suicidal, very sick, epileptic son, who was mentally off in some way, who needed to be delivered, and everybody in here either has something from which they need to be delivered or know someone who has something for which they need help that the natural can't fix. So, what does daddy do?
Verse 16, "I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him." The first verse of chapter 10 of Matthew says, "Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness."
He then goes and tells Jesus, "I went to the folk you told me to go to, I went to the folk you authorized me to go to, and your people couldn't help me." He brings the boy to Jesus. Stay with me here. When he brings the boy to Jesus, Jesus said in verse 17, "'Bring him here to me.' Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out and the boy was cured at once."
Now, notice what Jesus says before he says, "Bring the boy to me." "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?" Doesn't it sound like Jesus is saying, "Y'all getting on my nerves"? Huh? Okay, why? Why is Jesus upset?
He says, "You are a generation that have upset me because, watch this, you are unbelieving, and your unbelief has made you perverted. Wow, faithlessness leads to perversion.
"Your unbelief has perverted your thinking, it has perverted how you operate, it has perverted how you look at me, and you're making me have to go through the same stuff over and over and over and over again," because faithlessness leads to perversion. He says, "You are perverted, the generation is perverted. Bring him to me."
Now, it says when he brings the boy to Jesus, Jesus speaks to the demon, and the boy is cured at once. Hmm, interesting. The boy has got a mental problem, he's got a physical problem, he's got medical issues, he's got all this, but behind all this is a demon.
If you don't see the demon and you don't understand the demon, then you're just gonna be dealing with mental problems and physical problems and circumstances. Jesus went to the source 'cause the source of his problem was spiritual.
The mental problems, the physical problems, the jumping in the fire and jumping in the water was fruit of another root, but if you aren't spiritual enough to see it, or if you're spiritual enough to see it but not spiritual enough to address it, then what you do is stay crazy.
Now, let me take a step back. Every problem doesn't exist because there is a spiritual negative reason. In other words, you can have a headache just 'cause something is wrong physically. It's not a demon. We've got the problem that we don't bother to go deeper to find out if it is deeper.
We become satisfied with the surface, which fundamentally, as you'll see in a moment, is unbelief. Here is where some of you will see it supernaturally, where as we go through this process, this far, it says when Jesus spoke to the demon, the demon came out at once. Here is when you know you've hit the supernatural.
When you've been dealing with stuff for years, you get your faith life right, and it disappears overnight, 'cause, see, that's the supernatural. You know that's not natural 'cause you've been dealing with this addiction, you've been dealing with this problem, you've been dealing with this mindset, you've been dealing with the circumstance, and you've tried this and tried that and tried this and tried that and tried this and that.
It hasn't worked, and all of a sudden you get--you cross this bridge of faith and, bam, God comes out of nowhere and takes away what was owning you for an extended period of time. t says when Jesus showed up, he sucked that thing up. Because it was spiritual, and Jesus addressed it spiritually, it got addressed quickly. It didn't take forever, okay? So, Jesus cures the boy.
Oh, now it gets interesting, because verse 19, "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately." "We tried. Not like we didn't try. We tried, and it didn't work."
I bet you right now there are some folks under the sound of my voice, and your phrase is, "I'm trying. I'm trying. I'm trying. I've been trying for years. I'm trying. I go to church. I read my Bible. I'm trying."
In fact, there are some folk here who in your private conversation with Jesus are saying, "It doesn't work. It doesn't work. This religious thing, this Christian thing, it doesn't work." That's what the disciples are saying. "It's not working. I'm not getting victory. I'm not being delivered. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not. It's not working, and I tried."
They tried. It wasn't working, and they wanna know why. So, they wanna know why, so Jesus answers their question, verse 20, "He said to them, 'Because of the littleness of your faith.'"
"The reason you failed was the power of unbelief. Your faith was so tiny that you didn't cross the bridge into the supernatural that you just saw me do, because your faith was missing."
So, what's the point? Your faith will determine your experience or lack thereof of the supernatural. He didn't say there was no faith. That's interesting. He said, "Your faith was too small. Your faith was," watch this, "insufficient for the problem."
You had enough faith to go to church, you had enough faith to be religious, you may even had enough faith to pick up your Bible, but what you had and what you needed didn't match.
Now, he tells them the problem. Their problem is our problem, 'cause it's a generational problem, he says. He didn't do many miracles because of their unbelief, chapter thirteen says. Now, he now wants to teach them, so I'm going to try in this verse to explain a phenomenal principle of us entering into the supernatural.
He says, "I say to you," he's talking to the disciples, we're his disciples, "if you have faith the size of 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."
He says you need mustard-seed faith to deal with mountain-size problems. Mountains in the Bible are immoveable circumstances, things you can't change. They're too big. In order to move a mountain, he says you need a mustard.
Watch this. Stay with me. You got this huge problem, this huge addiction, this huge crisis, this huge issue. It's big. It's been there for years. You've tried everything you know. It won't budge. What looks like it's budging in minutes still doesn't budge. He said what's missing is mustard, a mustard-seed faith, little seed. You complain, "I have a little faith," but the little seed can move a big mountain. "I'm a little confused."
Let me tell you a little something about that mustard seed. Inside that seed, when planted, is a -foot mustard tree. See, the seed is tiny, watch this, but the life inside of it is big.
You with me? It's a small seed with big life, or I could use something else: an acorn. An acorn is an oak waiting to happen. See how big oak trees get? And all of that is in that acorn, so what made their faith little was the lack of life inside of it, okay?
It was a life issue, not a size issue, 'cause this--a mustard seed was used to refer to the smallest kind of seed you could ever have, and you see how small it is. The issue was living faith versus lifeless faith, so what makes your faith small is the absence of spiritual life inside of it. If it's void of spiritual life, James calls it dead faith. It's a faith without life.
Our problem is a lack of life, so we come up with big things, big programs, big activities, big expectations with no life, so it won't grow. It won't grow. See, if something doesn't have life, it can't grow. He says if you have a mustard seed kind of faith that is alive, pulsating with life, even though it's tiny, what you will see this thing produce will blow your mind, 'cause it's full of life.
So, it's the nature of the faith that produces the power of the supernatural. Jesus says it will move mountains and what looks like something that can't be fixed, he says when you've got mustard seed, a living faith, you will tell the mountain what it must do. You will not simply recite what it can do. You will say--please notice something else. You will have a conversation with the problem.
Notice who he's talking to. He's not talking to other Christians, not talking to other disciples, not talking to other people. "You will say to this mountain--" The mountain is the obstacle. The mountain is the problem. You and the mountain are gonna have a conversation, and you're gonna say, "Addiction," you're gonna say, "situation," you're gonna speak to it, and it must back off.
Why must it back off? Because of the life you confronted it with. You confronted it with living faith and the cement was not able to handle the growth of the life. Wouldn't it be something supernatural if you could speak to your stuff, and your stuff would move?
He says it has to do with faith, but it has to do with the living nature of the faith. And so, he tells them that this is the basis of seeing what appears to be impossible, of course, within the will of God, become possible, but this is not the kind of faith most Christians have.
Okay, when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have crossed over from death to life, from hell to heaven. You had a supernatural experience because you were given eternal life. That was a supernatural act when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior.
The problem is that the faith we use to get saved, that took us to a supernatural location in heaven, in our eternal destiny, we skip when it comes to living in history. So, many of us are gonna have to wait till we get to heaven to see heaven, because we did not live by faith on Earth so that heaven could visit us.
Accepting Christ takes you to heaven. Living by faith brings heaven to you. So, the problem today is that there are too many unbelieving believers, people who are believers, but they live unbelievingly.
Now, he says, in closing, "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." But this kind. What kind? He's talking about a certain kind of kind, 'cause he says "this kind." He's talking about a kind where demons are behind it.
In other words, this is deep. This is not ordinary. This is--this thing goes deep. So, when aspirin can't fix it, you better go to the doctor. When you realize that your will can't fix it, that the folk you know can't fix it, that the other Christians you're hanging out with can't fix it, that means this thing is so deep spiritually that you must dig deeper spiritually.
"This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting." What he was saying to them, "Guys, this boy's problem was so spiritually deep, you should have gone deeper spiritually. What y'all were doing was not going deeper spiritually," and that's what most Christians run from.
"I don't wanna do that. I don't wanna go deeper in fasting and prayer. I don't wanna go deeper in getting--wrestling with God. I don't wanna go deeper."
If that thing been with you for years, and you can't control it, and it controls you, you better go deeper 'cause there may be a demon keeping that up on you, and you don't handle demons by wishing them away.
You don't handle demons by taking pills. You handle demons by going deeper with God, because only God can handle errant angels. He says you gotta go deeper. If you own a bus, and your bus gets stuck in a hole, and you're trying to get the bus out of the hole, and you got ten guys there, other guys on the bus, and they're big, strong guys, too.
"We're in this ditch, guys. Let's get off and let's push the bus out of the hole." You're in a hole, and ten guys are pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing, and it won't move. But you're trying, you're trying, you're tying, and these guys are built, they're strong, they're weightlifters, and you're pushing, but the hole is too deep.
But you're sweating, and you're doing everything you can, and you say, "I gotta get out of this hole. I gotta get out of this hole. I gotta get somebody else out of this hole, all these people on this bus in this hole."
And let me suggest something. If you find out that Clark Kent is on the bus, you discover a man named Clark Kent is on the bus, that should change your strategy, 'cause you're in a hole. You're trying to push out of the hole, but somebody says, "Kent is on the bus." You spend more time with Kent than you do trying to push it because Kent has the power.
You see, the reason why Kent has the power is he ain't from here. Kent is from a place called Krypton. He's from a place out there, but as Clark Kent he lives down here possessing the power from up there.
And when he unbuttons and takes off his shirt and unhooks his tie, and you see that big S on his chest, now it is clear the power you need for the hole you're in is really in the person you just talked to. So, you don't have to kill yourself to get out of the hole when the power from the supernatural person can push you out without breaking a sweat.
The disciples broke a sweat, was not able to solve the problem 'cause they missed Jesus. The reason why the man got the problem solved is he skipped the weightlifters and went straight to Jesus, and Jesus fixed overnight what the sweating disciples were not able to push out of the hole.
So, when it's that deep, you go deeper spiritually, which means you need to know somebody, have somebody who knows how to go there, take you there, and lift you out of there.