Excerpts from a sermon by John Piper entitled Battling the Unbelief of Anxiety located here: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibr … _Anxiety/.
Today’s text (Matthew 6:25-34) illustrates this with a specific evil condition of heart, namely, anxiety.
Stop for a moment and think how many different sinful actions and attitudes come from anxiety. Anxiety about finances can give rise to coveting and greed and hoarding and stealing. Anxiety about succeeding at some task can make you irritable and abrupt and surly. Anxiety about relationships can make you withdrawn and indifferent and uncaring about other people. Anxiety about how someone will respond to you can make you cover over the truth and lie about things. So if anxiety could be conquered, a lot of sins would be overcome.
But what is the root of anxiety? And how can it be severed? To answer that we go to our text in Matthew 6. Four times in this text Jesus says that we should not be anxious.
1. Verse 25: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.”
2. Verse 27: “And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?”
3. Verse 31: “Therefore do not be anxious.”
4. Verse 34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow.”
The verse that makes the root of anxiety explicit is verse 30: “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothes you, O men of little faith?” In other words Jesus says that the root of anxiety is lack of faith in our heavenly Father. As unbelief gets the upper hand in our hearts, one of the results is anxiety.
So when Hebrews says, “Take heed lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief,” it includes this meaning: “Take heed lest there be in you an ANXIOUS heart of unbelief.” Anxiety is one of the evil conditions of the heart that comes from unbelief. Much anxiety, Jesus says, comes from little faith. …
To the One Who Struggles Daily with Anxiety
So my response to the person who has to deal with feelings of anxiety every day is to say: that’s more or less normal. The issue is how you deal with them.
And the answer to that is: you deal with anxieties by battling unbelief. And you battle unbelief by meditating on God’s Word and asking for the help of his Spirit. The windshield wipers are the promises of God that clear away the mud of unbelief. And the windshield washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit.
Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit the wipers of the Word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief. Both are necessary—the Spirit and the Word. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of his Spirit. And as the windshield clears so we can see the welfare that God plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), our belief grows strong and the swerving of anxiety smoothes out.
Anxieties We May Face
(with practical examples for combating them with Scriptural truths)
When I am anxious about some risky new venture or meeting, I battle unbelief with the promise: “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will help you, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise, “So shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not come back to me empty but accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and “As your days so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).
When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, “If God is for us who can be against us!” (Romans 8:31).
When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise that “tribulation works patience, and patience approvedness, and approvedness hope, and hope does not make us ashamed” (Romans 5:3–5).
When I am anxious about getting old, I battle unbelief with the promise, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).
When I am anxious about dying, I battle unbelief with the promise that “none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself; if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose again: that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9–11).
When I am anxious that I may make shipwreck of faith and fall away from God, I battle unbelief with the promise, “He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “He who calls you is faithful. He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). “He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).