Do You Really Believe that God Exists?
MOST of earth’s population profess belief in God. Do you? If so, you may consider the question (“Do you really believe that God exists?”) as directed to others. Perhaps you call to mind Psalm 14:1: “The senseless one has said in his heart: ‘There is no Jehovah,’” and apply it to atheists and agnostics. But could this verse include more than such persons?
It definitely does. The Hebrew word for “senseless one” indicates moral, not intellectual, deficiency. This psalm, therefore, is not talking primarily about those who openly say, “There is no God,” but, rather, about those who deny God ‘in their heart.’ That is, they do not submit to his rule over their lives. They imply that he lacks power or concern.
They are much like persons who refuse to acknowledge the authority of a court. The court exists. But they ignore its jurisdiction over them. Therefore, to say “I believe that God exists” has real meaning only if one accepts God’s Word, his authority in one’s life. Do you?
Is God so real to you, for example, that his law affects your morals—even when you are not being watched by other humans? Many people will engage in stealing or sexual immorality if given the opportunity. To confirm this, researchers recently left a car in a middle-class New York city neighborhood and made it appear abandoned. What happened? Time magazine reports:
“Within ten minutes, their vehicle received its first visitors. The researchers’ log reads, in chilling ellipsis: ‘Family of three drive by, stop. All leave car. Well-dressed mother with Saks Fifth Avenue [department store] shopping bag stands by car on sidewalk keeping watch. Boy, about eight years old, stays by father throughout, observing and helping. Father, dressed in neat sport shirt, slacks and windbreaker, inspects car, opens trunk, rummages through; opens own car trunk full of tools, removes hacksaw, cuts for one minute. Lifts battery out and puts it in his trunk. Lifts entire radiator out, places it on back floor of his car. Family drives off.’ . . . The whole operation took only seven minutes.”—February 28, 1969, page 65.
Do such persons really believe that God exists? True, they may live in a nation that claims to be Christian. But do they really believe that God stands behind his Word, which says: “You must not steal”? Obviously not.—Rom. 13:9.
But true Christians are different. Even when out of others’ sight, belief that God is real restrains them from wrongdoing. They have a healthy fear of God. And there is the assurance that God is ‘always watching.’ (Heb. 4:13) But, most importantly, their love of God as a Person, and an appreciation of all that he has done, prompts a desire to please him. A Christian knows that “this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.”—1 John 5:3; 4:19.
A genuine belief in God also aids one to maintain Christian neutrality. At school or one’s place of employment, away from other Christians, one might feel pressured to take part in a ceremony that would identify one as “part of the world.” Yet Jesus said that his disciples would be “no part of the world.” (John 17:16) In such situations the Christian has a fine example in Moses.
Moses appeared repeatedly before Pharaoh and asked for God’s people to be released from Egypt. Pharaoh was a haughty man who claimed to be a god. Surrounding him was an impressive court of advisers, guards, slaves and priests. Was Moses frightened into neglecting his commission? The Bible says he was “not fearing the anger of the king.” Why not?
Because Moses “continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” The way Jehovah had dealt with Moses and other godly people gave “evident demonstration” of God’s reality. Thus, in faith, Moses focused wholehearted attention on Jehovah. Moses had no fear of even the world’s mightiest man! Is God that real to you?—Heb. 11:1, 27; Neh. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:17.
Further, if a person’s belief in God’s existence is genuine, his attitude toward life will be favorably affected. How is this?
He accepts what God says in his Word about why conditions in the present wicked system of things are as they are. If social inequality, sickness or poverty enters his life he does not disavow God. If death strikes a dear one, he is not completely overcome with grief. He knows why these things appear.
He believes what God says about the nearness of ‘a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness will dwell.’ So the Christian finds reason for joy, bearing up under his personal trials. This even has a “good effect on the countenance.”—Prov. 15:13; 1 Thess. 4:13; 2 Pet. 3:13.
What a contrast such a person is from those who lack godly hope! To illustrate this difference, consider what V. M. Martin says about the effects of the philosophy of “Existentialism” on its adherents:
“There is little if any attempt made by these existentialists to argue against the traditional proofs for the existence of God; atheism is simply taken for granted. . . . Such atheism could explain the morbid gloom, the heightening anxiety, and the sheer absurdity of life that one often finds in existentialism . . . The absence of God makes death an absolute, an absolute that is regarded by some as an absurd stupidity, by others as a ludicrous monstrosity. . . . [There is] an extreme emphasis on the dark side of human existence. Frustration, annoyance, and sorrows are part of all human living, but existentialism seems centered on them. There is very little joy and gladness in existentialist literature.”
Does your outlook on life, your disposition, indicate that you really believe that God exists?
The time is near when Jehovah will forcibly impress his reality on all men in what the Bible calls the “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:21) How will the “great tribulation” affect you? That depends on what you do now. Jehovah’s witnesses invite you to study the Bible with them free of charge. Learn the hope they have. Come to a better appreciation of what it really means to say ‘I believe that God exists.’