God had promised to take the Israelites to a new country for themselves after their years of slavery in Egypt. But most of them never got there – why? Because their minds were full of unbelief and they died on the way. They were unwilling to trust and obey the God who had promised them so much.
Belief is when a person takes God at His word. This is the reasonable thing to do, because God cannot lie and will never mislead anyone. Unbelief is when a person decides not to take God at His word, not to rely on His promises. It is not that you cannot believe, but rather you will not believe, for this is a decision you have to make for yourself – to be willing to believe.
Disbelief is not the same as unbelief. When you find something totally surprising, you might stare at it in disbelief – but you know it is real and true, however unexpected it is. Unbelief is when you are faced with something you know is real and trustworthy and you do not want to act upon it.
The word “disbelief” does not occur in the Bible, but the words “unbelief” and “unbeliever” appear quite a few times. We find an example in Matthew 13:58: the Lord Jesus “did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. The people of Nazareth had seen and heard Him, they had plenty evidence of who He was, but they refused to believe in Him and therefore missed out on so much blessing. Then, at the end of the New Testament, in Revelation 21:8, we read that the “unbelieving” (along with all types of guilty sinners) will be shut out of heaven and banished to the lake of fire. That is the ultimate and eternal result of unbelief, of refusing to accept what God has promised.
Make sure that it is not said of you that you could not enter in because of unbelief.