The Deadliness of Discouragement

Over one million adults were saved from the judgment of God by the blood of the passover lamb. These same ones were also saved from the enemy by the power of God at the Red Sea. Yet only two of these million plus adults ever entered the Promised Land. Why didn’t the great majority go in?

Was the root reason shameful immorality? Was it stealing from others? Was it something as horrible as cold blooded murder? Did it involve fundamental false doctrine concerning the ten commandments? Was the reason because of a powerful attack by a pagan enemy? The surprising truth, as recorded in Scripture, was their minds simply became discouraged. This in turn caused their faith to fail. And this deadly discouragement was produced by their very own brethren—and by only ten of them!

The twelve spies for the children of Israel viewed what God had ordained and promised by His Word. Ten of the twelve reported back to the million plus adult Israelites a good bit of truth, but in a negative spirit. The negative attitude of the ten men literally broke the mind-spirit of hundreds of thousands of their brethren.

The ten reported that the Canaanites were giants, their cities great, and their walls high. (Deut. 1:28) While this was all true, the ten used this ‘truth’ in a critical way so as to convince the congregation that going in would produce defeat rather than blessing. Truth mixed with the negative spirit of faultfinding subtly conveyed the idea that doing it God’s way would be a foolish choice.

Thus, the people looked at the negative circumstances rather than the Word of God. Their reason for not going in was "our brethren have discouraged our heart." (Deut. 1:28)

The Hebrew word discourage means "to break, neutralize and make of none effect." The mind destroying sin of discouragement that kept so many out of the land was why Moses later protested so forcefully when the tribes of Gad and Reuben wanted to remain on the east side of the Jordan. (Num. 32:9) He realized that their not helping the other ten tribes with the warfare would "discourage...the hearts of the children of Israel." (32:7) From experience Moses knew that faithlessness, disobedience and defeat follow closely behind discouragement.

This is also why in Deut. 20:1-8 Moses ordered the new generation of Israelites to send home any brethren who would be fainthearted as they faced the rigors of warfare. The reason given for this strong action was that this negative attitude would be contagious and infect the minds of others with discouragement, and thereby render them ineffective. Moses knew that discouraged minds are as deadly as the enemy’s sword.

How many of God’s children in the Church have become discouraged by negative attitudes toward the promises of God by their own brethren? How many assemblies have been divided by a few who paint a negative picture (with truth in it) and thus have turned the hearts of many from fully obeying the truth of the Word in exchange for "successful" traditions of men?

While not ignoring problems and biblical solutions, beware and guard your mind against discouraging reports and negative spirits. They can eventually affect your mind and then your actions.

Faith believes the promises of God in His Word and endures even during difficult circumstances. When God's Word commands something - patience accepts the situation without giving God a deadline to remove it.

In these days when many would discourage the assemblies in their practice of New Testament truths, let us press on in obedience, being encouraged by the words of the Lord to the church in Philadelphia — "Thou hast a little strength, and …thou hast kept the word of my patience." (Rev. 3:8-10)