Why do people believe what they believe? If it is as Paul says in Romans 10:17, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” then it must follow that we believe any given thing because of what we have heard and learned from whatever source we have encountered.
We may be ill informed or even lied to as in the case of the sons of Jacob having lied to their father about the supposed death of Joseph by a wild animal (Gen. 37:18-36). Jacob believed no less strongly about the alleged death of his son Joseph than if he had seen his son’s body for himself.
We may be zealous for a system of belief that is outdated and superseded by another system as was Saul of Tarsus. He could honestly state he had acted in good conscience in the dogged and murderous persecution and assault on the church (Acts 7:58; 22:15; 23:1; 24:16; 26:9-11). It may even be the case that we have distorted the belief system on our own and are acting accordingly (John 5:36-39).
What then is the solution to this problem? The first step would be a willingness to seek truth (Matt. 6:33; Acts 17:11). We must be willing and honest in wanting to do right, then when we find truth, we will make it ours (Matt. 11:28-30; 13:8, 23, 44- 46).
The next reasonable step would be a serious effort to verify that which we have learned or of that which we have become aware (Acts 15:1-21; 17:11; Gal. 1:6-12). Our standard is God’s Word taken in context (John 12:48). Some subjects may be more difficult than others to discern the correct position in which to believe, but believing that God’s Word is knowable and understandable ought to be motivation enough to seek answers (1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 1:1-7).
Third, it is the case that we can put what we learn into action (Phlp. 4:8; 1 Pet. 1:13-16). God has given us a law which can be known (John 8:31- 32), obeyed (Heb. 5:8-9, and followed (1 Cor. 11:1; Phlp. 3:17; Heb. 13:7). Simple belief, however, is insufficient (John 1:12; Mark 16:16). Humble, obedient action is what God requires (1 Pet. 1:22; Acts 22:16).
Biblical belief is based upon factual knowledge and then sound reasoning. The right sort of action flows from a heart that humbles itself before the Lord (Matt. 12:33-37; Jas. 4:7, 17). When we have the right mind, our heart is under spiritual control (Rom. 8:1-2, 12-14; Col. 3:5ff).
Once I have the facts in hand, studied them in a satisfactory manner and drawn the correct conclusions, I will possess the correct beliefs to ensure my faithful walk in the light (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Col. 1:5; 2 Pet. 1:3- 11).