Does the devil care whether we have faith?
Satan tempts us to act independent of God, to establish our minds as the absolute determiner of truth, rather than relying upon God’s Word to guide us to His truth as the foundation of our faith. He tempts us to test God’s Word by our minds, rather than testing our minds by God’s Word. To doubt God’s Word is the means by which Satan hopes to lead us to stray from God.
The devil was in the Garden of Eden tempting Adam and Eve to trust their own judgment rather than the Word of God.
Israel had the same choice to make at Kadesh-barnea (see Num. 13): Would they rely upon the Word of God and move forward with the conquest of Canaan, or would they rely on the testimony of the 10 unfaithful spies? The cities were walled, they said; there were giants in the land, their weapons were of superb design and plentiful, the passes to their cities were well fortified. Who are we, by contrast, with no armaments, no trained army, no strategists, no power to accomplish the task safely?
The people chose to doubt God’s Word and place their faith in their own human analysis of the situation. Only Caleb and Joshua urged faith in the Word of God to provide the power necessary to gain the victory.
In addition to the faith chapter, Hebrews also contains the doubt chapter. Hebrews 3 recalls the sin of Kadesh-barnea. Paul admonishes us not to harden our hearts against the Word of God. He pleads, “Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness” (Heb. 3:8).
By contrast, Hebrews 11 points to faith in God’s Word itself as the foundation of our hope. By faith we understand that the worlds were created by the Word of God. By faith Abraham left his native land and was willing to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. By faith Israel passed through the Red Sea, and the walls of Jericho were flattened. By faith the mouths of lions were shut.
Faith is not a human creation, nor is it founded upon human creativity, genius, philosophy, or empirical analysis. It is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8) that comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:16; Gal. 3:2, 5). It comes by the power of the Word of God rather than the philosophy of the Greeks or the empiricism of the Jews (1 Cor. 1:17–2:16). Ellen White wrote: “No man can create faith. The Spirit operating upon and enlightening the human mind, creates faith in God. In the Scriptures faith is stated to be the gift of God, powerful unto salvation, enlightening the hearts of those who search for truth as for hidden treasure” (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, vol. 7, p. 940).
She wrote about Abraham’s faith: “‘By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went’ (Heb. 11:8, KJV). Abraham’s unquestioning obedience is one of the most striking evidences of faith to be found in all the Bible. To him, faith was ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (verse 1, KJV). Relying upon the divine promise, without the least outward assurance of its fulfillment, he abandoned home and kindred and native land, and went forth, he knew not whither, to follow where God should lead” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 126).
Satan’s definition of faith asserts a humanistic foundation, whereas biblical faith is grounded in the power of the Word of God. The two systems are distinct; there is no compromise between them. One is based upon the Word of God, the other is not.
Any attempt to synthesize the two is like attempting to play golf and soccer on the same field at the same time. Whose ball will we use, whose rules will determine the game, who will umpire the game? The golfer can invite the soccer player to join him, and vice versa, but there is no compromise between them.
Whose team will we join? Let it be God’s!
E. Edward Zinke is senior advisor to the Adventist Review. This article was published February 23, 2012.