Psalm 78:22, “Because they believed not God, and they trusted not in His salvation.”
It is helpful for you to read the whole chapter to really get the full effect of what’s going on in this verse.
Believing is a word tossed around to and fro, but in a nutshell it is how one thinks about something or someone. It is how one pictures something to be, or understands something to be with or without evidence. This may sound somewhat confusing so let me illustrate.
When you sit in a chair you believe it is strong enough to hold you up, even without examining the chair. When you go out to eat you don’t usually wonder if you are about to eat poison or you would never put it in your mouth. You believe it will fill you.
Israel believed NOT God! If you read the entire chapter you’ll see that they forgot the covenant, refused to walk in His law, and forgot His works and wonders. Can someone say trouble? They forgot and refused all that they needed to nurture their belief, therefore it went by the way side, and caused unbelief. When they forgot the covenant they gave up their relationship commitment, when they refused His law they gave up the rules that helped to protect them and govern that relationship. And when they forgot his works and wonders, they even forgot to recognize the miraculous memories of seeing God’s power displayed before their very eyes. This is a great formula for disaster, or as it were practical atheism.
Many say, “seeing is believing”, perhaps to an extent. But, seeing miracles obviously doesn’t necessarily produce faithful followers of the Lord, no matter if you saw the Red Seas split and walked by dry land.
And atheist by definition is one that does not believe in God. Psalm 14:1 reads, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God“. But in practical atheism one could say the believer has said by his actions and decisions there is no God. Yes many times Christians by the way they live, much like the children of Israel, live as though God was not real. If character is what you do when no one is looking then practical atheism is treating God as if He were a fairy tale or a figment of one’s imagination, during a time when you are looking to be selfish and get away with something God would not have you to do. Let me again illustrate:
Perhaps when you were younger you snuck an ungodly movie or TV because no one was watching you. But when mom walked into the room the movie or TV show went off or to another channel with your finger frantically on the remote control. It was OK when no one was watching, but the moment you were discovered, or about to be it became unacceptable. Why, because of practical atheism, God saw you watching it the whole time, but when someone with flesh on entered the room, the conviction of God moved in and suddenly God was real again. You became a believer again in God’s truth and holiness. Every time we live as a practical atheist we try and make God out to be a liar. King David in Psalm 139 said, …You are acquainted with ALL my ways…where can I go from your spirit or where can I flee from your presence…? Adam, the first practical atheist, found this out in Genesis. He sinned acting as if God were not around. And when God said “Adam where are you,” He wasn’t asking for Adam’s physical location either. Rather He was asking for his spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational whereabouts. “Adam where are you in your head, in your decision”, is a more accurate way to look at it.
In the end, Israel’s desire led to death through pestilence. And when we go after our desires in place of God, poison enters our spirit causing spiritual death. God’s desires for you to pursue Him, in life, liberty and the pursuit of righteousness.
How are you living? Who keeps you accountable?