Summary: We know Thomas as "the Doubter," but he had great faith.
When I watch movies, I find myself asking, "Is that a good guy or a bad guy?" You see, Hollywood generally portrays its characters as either good guys or bad guys, and you have to understand which character is which if you’re going to understand the story line. The good guys always wear white hats, shoot straight and always tell the truth. Bad guys always wear black, never shoot straight, lie through their teeth, and they never have a single redeeming feature. In Hollywood, most everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy.
But that’s not the way things are in real life. We still have the good and the bad, but most folks are a mixture of the two. Even the best of people have feet of clay; even the worst of people have an occasional good quality.
Even our Christian lives are lived in a struggle between these two sides of our nature. There is the one side that calls us to follow God, to have fellowship with Him, and to obey His commandments. The Bible calls this side of our nature "the spirit." But there is another side of us that seeks to rebel against God and his commands; the Bible calls this side of us "the flesh." We’re often a battlefield where the flesh and the spirit fight for supremacy.
And if you think that sounds like an overly dramatic statement, then listen to Paul in Romans 7. It’s a passage that can be a little bit confusing (especially in the King James Version), so I’ve decided to read from the New Century Version: "We know that the law is spiritual, but I am not spiritual since sin rules me as if I were its slave. I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate....Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me -- I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful. I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them. I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do....In my mind, I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body, which makes war against the law that my mind accepts. That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and it makes me its prisoner." (Romans 7:14-15,18-19,22-23).
Paul very eloquently captures the essence of the Christian struggle -- it’s a struggle between right and wrong, between strength and weakness, between the flesh and the spirit. And the good that our spiritual nature wants to do very often is counterbalanced by the evil that our flesh insists on doing. That struggle goes on constantly. Our spiritual growth and maturity as Christians doesn’t stop the struggle; it only increases the number of victories that we win.
One of the problems that we face in this struggle, though, is that we sometimes think that we’re the only ones who feel that way. We look around at other people, other Christians, and we may see no signs of such a battle going on in their lives. We feel so intensely that battle between flesh and spirit raging within us, but we don’t see that struggle in anyone else. Everyone else seems to have it all together spiritually.