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Sunday, December 10, 2017 pm                                        Problems Index

 

PROBLEMS CHRISTIANS FACE
The Problem of Doubt

 

As we continue to examine various problems we face as Christians, tonight I want to address the subject of doubt. 

                We are living in a very doubtful world.  Everything about God and his word is called into question.  A part of this is the product of a society that has called taught us that we should question everything, especially authority.  And this comes with an education system, an entertainment industry and a government that have rejected the idea of a divine being greater than ourselves to whom we are accountable.  We are bombarded with information that questions who we are and why are we here.  Add to this the rampant immorality and worldliness around us, is it any wonder that from time to time we begin to question ourselves.

                Personally, many, if not most of us, struggle with doubts of some sort from time to time.  We may doubt ourselves (our ability to accomplish something, who we are, dwelling on our past failures), others (a lack of confidence), or even some spiritual fact (Who is God? Am I saved? Questions about uncertainties such as suffering, eternal punishment, and evil.  Or perhaps our faith is not what it ought to be.)  For whatever reason, we have doubts.  So what do we do about them?

 I.                     The Bible and doubts

a.       Peter doubted – Matthew 14:28-33.  Jesus walking on water invites Peter to join him after he asks.  Peter looks down and begins to sink.  Jesus asked him, “Why did you doubt?”

b.       Thomas doubted – John 20:24-29.  Perhaps the most prominent example of doubt.  He refused to believe that Jesus was raised unless he saw Him and touched his wounds.  The next Sunday he was able to.  Jesus said to him, “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 

c.        When you pray, ask in faith without doubting– James 1:5, 1 Timothy 2:8, I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

d.       Romans 14:22-23 – to act while doubting is sin.  Our actions must be with faith.

e.       From these passages it becomes clear that doubt is something we ought to be concerned about. 

 II.                   Dealing with our doubts

a.       Is doubt sinful?  Not an easy question to answer.  Is it a legitimate question for which you seek an answer, OR is it a cause to reject?  Is it persistent, or have you tried to deal with it?
Like so many other issues, it is HOW we deal with our doubts that determines who we are. 

Realize what doubt is.  It is not always a denial of our faith.  It is questioning something about our faith.  It is insufficient or weak faith. 
One source noted that doubt is a bridge that connects your current faith with perfect faith.

Doubt is not just intellectual, it is also spiritual.  It is a tool of Satan.  Genesis 3:3-5, the very first sin was a result of Satan lying to Eve.  When you look at what he said, did he plant a seed of doubt within her?  Ephesians 6:10-13, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.

b.       Deal with your doubt

                                                   i.      Do not ignore it, for that is sin.  Rarely does ignoring something make it go away. Resolve it!

                                                 ii.      Do not close your mind to an answer – Thomas, when told that Jesus was alive, refused to believe it until he had evidence.  However, he was there the next Sunday.  Willing to consider it.  AND, when Jesus appeared, He immediately believed – “My Lord and my God”.
One source said, Learn to doubt your doubts.  If you can doubt something, can you be wrong about what you are doubting?

                                                iii.      Be humble.  Many today let doubts excuse their ungodly behavior.  Skeptics and critics argue that because they don’t have a concrete answer for spiritual matters they have a right to reject the POSSIBLITY of a concrete answer. 
We must humbly acknowledge that don’t know everything.  In fact, there are things we may never know!  The secret things belong to God – Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 11:33-34 – who has known the mind of the Lord?

                                                iv.      Search for answers – diligently! 
Just because you don’t have an answer to something doesn’t mean there is not an answer.  Keep looking.  Romans 10:17 – faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
John 8:32 – the truth will set you free. 
Hebrews 4:12 – have faith in the word.

2 Timothy 2:15. – se keep studying!
Be willing to accept the answer when you find it.
But realize you may not get all the answer, especially the way you want them answered.  Be humble enough to accept that. 

                                                  v.      Pray about it.  It is ironic that even though there are passages that address doubting in our prayers, the answer includes prayer (cf. Mark 9:24, Lord I believe. Help my unbelief)

                                                vi.      If there is sin in your life, repent of it.  Often our doubts and questions come about because of sins we are struggling with and refuse or hesitate to deal with them.  
How many struggle with the condemnation of sinful behavior in the Bible because they try to explain it away?  No wonder they are living with doubts!
How many struggle with the concept of hell (eternal punishment) because they don’t want to change?

                                              vii.      Keep growing.  If doubts are a manifestation of weak faith, the way to overcome them is by strengthening your faith.  2 Peter 1:5-11 tells you how to do that.  You add to your faith…
In time, a strengthened faith (and wisdom and knowledge) will lead to less doubting and questions.

c.        Be patient with those who are in genuine doubt.  Do not create an environment where someone is afraid to ask questions.  Instead, be available to help them find the answers to their doubts.  1 Thessalonians 5:14. Hebrews 12:12 strengthen the feeble knees that hand down.

 

Doubt can do one of two things: It can devastate you OR it can make you and your faith stronger.  As with everything else, it depends upon what you do with it.  How is your faith?