Quoting Hebrews 11:6: “Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”
So question: Why is it impossible to please God without faith? Probably the most obvious would be that if you don’t have faith in God, you wouldn’t even try to please him in the first place. This situation reminded me of a 20/20 TV show segment I watched recently about an American soldier who lost track of his twin children for over 40 years. (Part 1, Part 2) His greatest fear was that his children would have concluded that he abandoned them. Indeed, that was what they thought. In truth, he ran against one legal battle after another trying to reconnect.
The reason this story drives home the truth of Hebrews 11:6 is that the children had lost faith, hope, belief that their father cared. There was no relationship. In fact, the son was surprised that his father was even still alive. So the logical conclusion would be: “Why bother, my father doesn’t care and likely is dead.” Likewise, today some feel that “God is dead” and/or that he doesn’t care. With such feelings, obviously even those that might want to know God if he existed, are left with no desire to check out the truth of the matter.
But Paul was writing to believers which puts a bit of a different spin on that matter. Lack of faith, even momentary, displays a lack of appreciation, a lack of trust and confidence, for all that God has done and has demonstrated himself to be. We humans are indeed “weak” in a spiritual sense. We constantly need to be fortified, encouraged. Jesus was known of citing this issue when addressing even his closest followers with the words “you of little faith.”
Consider how this might happen to one who claims to believe in God. All mankind, both believers and non-believers, have the same challenges and issues in life. We are all imperfect. So large upsets and unexpected circumstances can momentarily knock us down (in a spiritual sense). In a literal sense, when we fall down, our first inclination is to get right back on our feet, look around, and hope no one saw. But in a spiritual sense, for some odd reason, we don’t react the same way. After getting knocked down or stumbling over an obstacle, some react by just lying there on the ground.
The Bible therefore reminds believers to get back up. I read recently that falling is not the measure of “a man.” It is what he does after the fall that truly demonstrates manly (adult) qualities IF he makes every immediate effort to stand up again.
But there is yet one more thing to remember. When a parent is teaching a child to ride a two-wheel bike, the child needs confidence not only in their own ability, which the parent constantly encourages, but also that the parent is there to rescue them if something happens. The parent may not be able to stop a fall, but they WILL rescue their child – bandaging the wounds, consoling the child. The same is true of God. He may not stop a spiritual fall, but he has assured us through examples in scripture that should be enough that we never lose faith. Coming back to the child on the bike, what if, even with all the love the parent gives the child, the child still acts like the parent doesn’t really love them or claims he doesn’t trust the parent. Obviously that would both disappoint and frustrate the parent. In that context then, “without faith it is impossible to please God well.” We can disappoint and hurt him. But Paul’s words at Hebrews 11:6 weren’t intended to be discouraging. Reading all of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12, we see that he is trying to motivate his readers to appreciation that God does exist, does care, and can and will help us.