Summary: I’m sure we’ve all used the phrase, “I doubt it” or, “I have my doubts”. To doubt something is to challenge its authenticity. Having doubts is normal when something is questionable or unproven. However, having doubts about God is not okay and is something
“BOUTS WITH DOUBTS”
INTRODUCTION: I’m sure we’ve all used the phrase, “I doubt it” or, “I have my doubts”. To doubt something is to challenge its authenticity. It means I’m finding it very difficult to believe. It signifies skepticism or uncertainty; our suspicion over the unlikelihood of something being possible or true. To have doubt signifies a lack of faith and trust in something or someone. Having doubts is normal when something is questionable or unproven. If we believed everything that anyone told us we would not be wise. Like if I was in the checkout line and the tabloid in front of me said that Elvis was spotted in a Denny’s in California my reaction should be, ‘I doubt it’. Doubt is okay in some areas. However, having doubts about God is not okay and is something we need to rid ourselves of so that our relationship with him can be rooted in trust.
1) What’s the problem with doubt?
• Doubt=instability. James 1:2-8. The word doubt comes from the same root as the word double. To doubt means to be double-minded. A double-minded man is a person drawn in two opposite directions. Because of his lack of sincerity, he sways between belief and disbelief, sometimes thinking that God will help him and at other times giving up all hope in Him. There’s a difference between believing that God can and believing that he will. I can believe God can do something, but I leave it up to him. It might not be his will. This is different. What James is talking about is the person who is just praying but not believing God has the power to actually accomplish what he’s asking. I’m praying for wisdom but since I’m divided in my mind between the world and God then I’m not thinking God is the true source of wisdom and therefore my doubt signifies my unbelief. It’s like if I go into something thinking I’m going to fail then I set myself up to fail because of my doubt. Therefore, if I pray without believing then I shouldn’t think I will receive anything because I’m double-minded and unstable; a doubter.
• Doubt is debilitating. Matt. 17:14-21. Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus sent out his disciples giving them the power to drive out evil spirits and heal disease and sickness. So why couldn’t they do here what Jesus has given them the power to do earlier? Because of their doubt, their lack of faith. Someone once said, “Doubters invert the metaphor and insist that they need faith as big as a mountain in order to move a mustard seed.” We have the power to move spiritual mountains but our lack of faith, our doubts, bind that power. We can do amazing things through God’s power if we believe and don’t doubt. But, if we have doubt, we will not be able to exercise the power that is in us thus leaving ourselves weak and hindered. Remember when Jesus walked on water and Peter wanted to come to him and Jesus told him to come on? Peter got out of the boat and he was walking on water! But when Peter noticed the wind and the waves he began to sink. Peter started to sink because of his bout with doubt. He lost the ability to do the miraculous because of his doubt. Jesus said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Doubt means I have a lack of faith and a lack of faith will debilitate me. Jesus wants us to understand the significance of doubt and how it debilitates us.
• Doubt keeps us from receiving blessings. In Numbers 13&14, we read about Joshua and Caleb’s report of the land that God had promised to the Israelites. God had told them that the land was theirs but when the report came back that there were huge people living there who were very powerful the people got scared. Caleb tried to dispel their doubts by saying they could certainly take possession of the land. But his faith did not remove the doubts of the rest. Instead of trusting in God they wanted to choose another leader and go back to Egypt, their land of slavery! Joshua and Caleb tried to persuade them again by saying, “don’t be afraid; we can do this. The Lord is with us, don’t rebel against him”. But they still wouldn’t listen. In fact, they wanted to kill them! Then God spoke up and said, “How long will these people refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” As a result of their unbelief, God kept them from entering the promised-land. They were kept from the blessings of the land of milk and honey and made to wander in the desert because they chose to doubt rather than believe. When we doubt God’s power or ability to provide we deprive ourselves of the blessings he has waiting for us. When we doubt God and resort to our way of doing things we shortchange ourselves and end up frustrated and unfulfilled. Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” Doubt deprives us of blessings.