Issues – Dealing With Doubt
Jeremiah in Lamentations 5v20-22 writes “Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.”
Living the Christian Life
When you became a Christian, you started an exciting journey in the Christian life. Success in the Christian life is not an accident, but rather it is a direct result of living in harmony with the basic principles of life set forth in the Bible. The Christian life is not a matter of expecting spiritual maturity to occur overnight. The Bible lays down standards and principles of living which we need to follow with God’s strength, if we are to continue living at peace with God, our fellow men, and ourselves. We need to know what God expects of us and what guidelines He has given us to achieve this quality of life. As we apply the principles and guidelines of Bible to our lives, we are transformed into the likeness of Christ – which is the journey we are on (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3v18).
Jesus said ‘I have come to bring them life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10). This is achieved as we allow Jesus Christ to live this life through us so that we start to think and respond like He does, to the people and circumstances around us. We need to learn how to see circumstances and people from God’s perspective, rather than reacting on the basis of feelings. When we respond to circumstances on the basis of our feelings that is when conflict, stress, tension and depression enter. When we respond to circumstances by looking from God’s perspective, it builds and shows a transformed character as we become more like Jesus.
When Doubt Sets In
However, it is a very rare person indeed who has not suffered some form of doubt, and asking questions similar to that of Jeremiah in the passage of Lamentations I read earlier. By doubt, I do not mean as in doubting God’s very existence, but rather doubting some aspect of the Christian life such as assurance of salvation, any of the other of God’s promises or doubting an attribute of God such as His innate sovereignty or His infinite goodness.
When your doubt arises concerning God’s assured promise of salvation of you; that usually occurs after engaging in wilful sin or having lost a spiritual battle. Doubting God’s sovereignty will usually occur after experiencing a great personal tragedy or of reading about an international disaster. When this occurs, it is important to have faith. Have faith in your knowledge of Scripture, and to trust in its authority as God’s Word. When we sin, not only do we forget who we are as His children, but we also doubt what God has said is true in the Bible. The Christian Disciple leans to believe and trust God regardless of circumstances however divergent the experience is or was.
Origins of Doubt
The originator of a lot of doubt in the life of a Christian Disciple is Satan, just as it was for Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3v1). Remember that Satan roams the earth like a devouring lion in order to stop Christian Disciples trusting in God and their testimony about God’s goodness (1 Peter 5v8).
Another source of doubt is the world we live in, with its own moral codes and perceived wisdom contrary to that of God expressed in the Bible. Whereas the Christian Disciple gains wisdom from God through having the indwelling Holy Spirit and reading the Bible, the world often has wisdom that is contrary. One only has to look at the perceived wisdom of atheistic scientific materialism countering the Christian arguments.
One final source of doubt, is the spiritual immaturity of the Christian Disciple. Doubting prayer works is often down to being double minded (James 1v8). Elsewhere Paul writes that doubt arises because of not knowing the basic doctrines of God (Ephesians 4v14). This source of doubt is only defeated through experience and having a maturing, disciplined life of obedience through prayer, studying the Bible and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform. In doing these things, the relationship between God and a Christian Disciple is nurtured and growing.
Confess – Confess your doubt as sin to God, and He will listen and cleanse you (1 John 1:9). If doubts persist, try talking to somebody whom you trust and confessed to them of your doubts, and they may well be able to help you (James 5v16).
Salvation – have assurance of salvation. Be assured and let your mind be controlled by the Holy Spirit, so that you are not led astray. Your salvation rests in nothing apart from God’s promises and Jesus’ righteousness! Test yourself as Paul exhorts in 2 Corinthians 13v5.
Righteousness – live a righteous life. Live the truth! When we started as a Christian Disciple, before God we were given the righteousness of Jesus! But that righteousness needs to be lived out in the lives of Christian Disciples. Living right helps overcome any doubts!
Faith – show total trust in God for your life. The faith we have is a defensive weapon against the mistruths the doubts that enter our minds. By maintaining our trust in God’s promises and God’s power, doubts are extinguished.
Bible – read and study God’s Word so as to know, understand and live truth. Our lives are to be controlled by truth as revealed in Bible. When we know truth so well, we can recognize the lies that we are told! The Word of God, the Bible, is there to be studied diligently so that by trusting in the Holy Spirit to lead and reveal it to us, we get to know God and His promises! We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus according to 2 Peter 3v18 and that is only achieved through studying the Bible! Then when we hear that nagging little voice that says “God didn’t say that”, we can say “Oh yes, He did!!”
Prayer – talk to God. This is how we are energized! Fighting doubt in our own power is useless! Ask Him to help you overcome your doubts, and He will help you! When we talk to God, we strengthen our relationship with Him! When we ask other Christian Disciples to pray for us, the Church unity is strengthened! When we see God answer prayer, our faith is matured and doubts are easily cast aside.
For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. Read Hebrews 6v1-9. What does this tell me of the link between maturity overcoming doubt?
Q2. Read 2 Corinthians 13v5. What comfort can I gain from knowing I have salvation as a means to overcome doubt?
Q3. Read 1 John 4v1-3. How can “testing the spirits” help me overcome any lingering doubts?