As we start this week’s post let’s get a couple things out of the way so we can clearly speak about why we doubt.
This blog post is part 56 of the series Seven Invisible Barriers to Spiritual Growth
FIrst, everybody has doubts. Every single person in this world has doubts. I listen to a lot of podcasts by some very successful entrepreneurs. I want to learn all about this world of blogging, website design, and email marketing because I want to make Experiencing His Victory the best it can be and reach as many people possible with the message of healing and deliverance.
Many of these well-known people share openly the struggles and doubts that they have about things in their lives. Some struggle with what they call the “Imposter Syndrome.” The idea behind it is that they feel at any moment they are going to lose their success because people are going to find out who they really are. Once that takes place people will abandon them by the droves because they are a fake.
Second, I want to approach the area of doubt from a Christian perspective. That means I am talking to those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior and who are seeking to live a life that honors the Lord.
The reason this is important is because God has given us all things. Listen to the impressive list of things that the Bible says is true of you and me:
- You are born again to a living hope
- You are spiritually alive through the power of the Holy Spirit
- You are a new creature in Christ
- Your sins are forgiven
- You are reconciled to God
- You are a child of God
- You are dead to sin and alive to God
- You are seated with Christ in the heavenly places
- You have everything you need for life and godliness
- You have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ
In other words, God has made available to you everything that you need through faith in Christ and the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. Yet we still struggle with doubt.
I want to point out three reasons that you may struggle with doubt in the hopes that it will help you recognize any of these traits in your life and seek to ferret them out through a conscious choice of faith.
You Think Doubt is Sin
One struggle you may have with doubt is thinking that doubt is sin. I don’t think it is. I think it falls into a similar category to temptation. Being tempted is not a sin but can lead to sin. Struggling with doubt is not a sin but it can lead to sin.
I’m bringing up the idea of temptation because I have Biblical proof that being tempted is not a sin or sinful in any way. It is a natural part of life on this planet. He is why I know temptation is not a sin:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrew 4:15)
What more proof do you need? Temptation is not a sin. Did you see how it was the Holy Spirit who directed Jesus into the wilderness for the specific purpose of being tempted by the devil? The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way that we are but without sin.
Adam and Eve were tempted and chose to sin. Jesus was tempted and chose not to sin.
I think the same principle holds true with doubts. Doubts are thoughts that arise in our minds. There is nothing inherently evil in them. They are thoughts that tempt us to believe something other than what God has said.
The truth is that we can struggle with doubts and choose to sin or struggle with doubts and choose not to sin. The doubts themselves are not sin.
Unbelief, on the other hand, is sin. Unbelief is the willful choice to not believe something that the Lord has said. Unbelief is the opposite of faith and is the fruit of a sinful heart that turns away from the living God. it is a rejection of what God has said.
Why is it important to understand that thoughts of doubt are not sin? Because you can waste so much of your time and energy focused on how bad you are for having these thoughts and repenting to the Lord for something that is not sin.
Instead of dealing with the doubt and making a choice to believe God’s word, your whole attention is on yourself and how terrible a Christian you are. When a doubt rises in your mind, rise up and confront it by the word of God.
This is a perfect place to remind you of what the word of God says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
When doubts arise, it is not time to retreat and beat yourself up for having the thought. It’s time for you to rise up in the power of the Lord and take that doubt captive to the obedience of Christ.
You Place More Faith in What You Can See
Whether good or bad, in Western culture we are raised to believe in what we can see and measure. Prove it to me and unless I can see it I won’t believe it are keywords in our vocabularies. But you can’t put God in a test tube and prove He exists.
Science will never prove there is a God. Science will never be able to produce the DNA of God. We have to believe in something we cannot see with our own eyes or touch with our own hands. We call it faith.
Some describe faith to be a “leap into the dark.” They portray it as a blind act of trust not based on scientific truth. But what they fail to see is that we have evidence all around us if we care to look.
Romans 1:20 says:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
God reveals Himself through what He created. Paul says that His eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen, but people have chosen to ignore that and turn away from the truth. Verse nineteen even tells us that God made it evident to all men.
Sometimes it is easy for us to struggle with doubt because many of the things that God promises go against what we are currently seeing or experiencing with our five senses. We are looking for physical evidence or proof before we believe when God is asking us to believe and he will change the situation.
One great illustration is Abraham. At age seventy-five God told him that his descendants would as numerous as the dust of the earth or the stars in the sky. He is now ninety-nine years old and God says this time next year you will have a child through Sarah, your wife, now eighty-nine years old.
Abraham could have looked at the facts of the situation and refused to believe God. He may easily have thought, God are you crazy? Don't you know how old we are? It’s too late.
That’s not what happened though. Romans 4:19-21 states:
19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
This is what I love about this story. Abraham looked at both his and Sarah’s bodies and knew that without God the situation was hopeless. But he had a promise from God that could only be accomplished by God. He chose to believe what he could not see over what he could see.
It was not a leap of faith in the dark. It was a conscious decision to put his faith in what God said. He believed the promise despite the things he could scientifically prove.
When doubt arises in your heart in a situation, you don’t have to deny reality. You can accept it one hundred percent as what it is without God. The key point is that you do not remain looking at the situation but look to the promises of God and receive what God has for you through faith.
You Believe God’s Promises
This may be the toughest thing in dealing with doubt. I know it is for me. It is when you believe what God says but you are not experiencing it. You are trusting God for breakthrough, but it doesn’t seem to come.
You are believing God for the salvation of a family member and they are living in a totally opposite way. You believe God heals and pray for a sick person and they die. Like Abraham, you are believing God for a child and you are not pregnant yet.
The list could go on and on. The thing that you are experiencing is not what God has promised. You are believing and nothing seems to be happening.
The tendency when this happens is to accept what you are experiencing and settle for what you have. You stop believing that God will do it. I want to encourage you to do the opposite.
I want to encourage you to keep trusting in God. If God has promised you, He will do it. It will probably not happen in the timeframe you have in mind, but keep trusting. Keep pressing into the Lord by faith to receive His promises.
I have found that many times over the years that I did not have a clear understanding of what God was promising me. I put my own expectations upon the promise of God and expected something that He didn’t promise.
A good example might be Abraham. God never told Abraham when He would give him a child. Abraham could have assumed that he would see a child in nine or ten months and been greatly disappointed when it did not happen. He would have thought that God did not keep His promise and been wrong.
My encouragement to you is to go back to the Lord and ask Him to tell you afresh His promise. Maybe He will speak the old promise and reveal some new information. Ask Him if you heard and understood the promise clearly.
If the promise remains, I want to encourage you to press into the promise of God. Believe Him with your whole heart. Because you have not experienced the promise yet, does not mean that it not on its way.
I am not sure who the artist of the cartoon is, but I agree that a picture speaks a thousand words. How many times have we come close to seeing the promises of God only to give up and settle for what we are experiencing? You may be closer than you think. So keep digging.
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