"Theism Versus Atheism"
"The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God" (Psalm 14:1a).
David's resounding indictment of those who profess unbelief causes us - rightly - to think of openly espousing atheists. However, a thorough reading of Psalm 14 reveals that the Psalmist's words actually apply to the entire human race.
"They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:1b-3).
The default position of the human heart apart from Christ is simply and sadly, "There is no God" (or, at the very least, "there is no God as the Bible defines Him"). Of course, some unbelievers have an intellectual belief in the Lord. However, such belief unaccompanied by conviction of the heart does not approach the Biblical definition of genuine faith. In fact, head belief without heart faith can actually lead the unsuspecting down a slippery slope into eternal condemnation. One might be closer to the kingdom of Heaven as an avowed atheist than as a theist who mistakenly perceives his mental assent to suffice for saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In real terms, the blind theist does not really believe in the God who actually exists. He is "gone aside… become filthy," and dwells among the company of "none that doeth good."
Again, until we trusted in the Lord Jesus of the Scriptures, we were included in this company of unbelief. David declares all to be atheists until we become genuine theists. Only the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts to convince, convict, and convert can save us from our default denial of the living and true God. Interestingly, however, even after we believe, our flesh can still tempt us to live in a tacit atheism. What believer would deny that we still sometimes think, speak, act, and relate as if our Lord does not exist? We must accept this reality about our flesh, namely, that it "lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17). At the heart of such diversion lies the rejection of God and His truth in a manner similar to our pre-conversion unbelief. We still have saving faith, of course, but nevertheless sometimes act according to the old foolishness of "there is no God."
Christians must recognize the default atheism of heart in unbelievers, and the fleshly remnant of such darkness in our humanity inherited from Adam. Thereby we can help others, while also fighting our internal battles of spirit and flesh. We do well to tell the non-Christian who feels or expresses interest in God that it is the Lord seeking him rather than he seeking the Lord. Left to ourselves before salvation, none of us would have the slightest interest in the Lord Jesus. Redemption involves the Son of man seeking us rather than our looking for Him (John 6:44; Luke 19:10). As Christians, we also find strength in recognizing our weakness, namely, the atheistic inclination of our flesh. This awareness prepares us to do battle with the contrary thoughts, emotions, inclinations, and actions of the earthly humanity we inherited from Adam. The Apostle Paul called us to "mortify (put to death) your members which are upon the earth" (Colossians 3:5). As we trust and submit unto God through the Holy Spirit, we kill the fleshly atheistic tendencies that would control us. The process must be repeated many times during our present lives because that which Paul termed a "law of sin" will reside in our flesh until we go to be with our Lord (Romans 7:22-25; Romans 8:23). That law, left unchecked, will always - always - lead us to live in some manner as if the true and living God does not exist. Thus, we "fight the good fight of faith," the good fight of theism versus atheism not only against the unbelief of the world, but against the unbelief of our flesh (I Timothy 6:12).
"Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
Weekly Memory Verse
"The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."