Summary: There’s a SPIRITUAL VIRUS that has been going around Christian circles for centuries, and it’s CALLED DOUBT. And if you haven’t caught it yet, you probably will.
The Virus of Doubt
Do you remember a few months ago when the flu was going around? This was an epidemic that hit just about everyone.
Well, there’s a SPIRITUAL VIRUS that has been going around Christian circles for centuries, and it’s CALLED DOUBT. And if you haven’t caught it yet, you probably will.
In fact, we could divide this room into three groups. The first group would be those who have doubted. The second group would be those who haven’t doubted yet, but who will. And the third group would be those who are brain dead.
What I mean by that if you’re a thinking person at all -- if you seriously contemplate your faith and what it means to follow Jesus Christ -- the chances are that every once in a while you’re going to come down with some questions, some issues, some uncertainties, some doubts. And, by the way, that’s not just a Christian experience; doubt is a human experience
that’s common across the board. Even atheists doubt their position from time to time.
So the question isn’t, "Will you catch the virus of doubt?" You probably will. The big question is, "How can you prevent that virus from turning into a terminal disease that ultimately kills your faith?"
You see, that’s a very real risk if doubt is left untreated. I mean, just because doubt is common doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. It can be serious if you just let it spread out of control.
The problem is that some Christians leave their doubt untreated because they don’t want to admit they have it. They erroneously think that to be a real Christian, you must have absolute certainty about everything regarding the faith, and so they’re afraid to admit it when doubt starts eating away at them.
In fact, I mentioned doubt not long ago and after-wards a woman said to me: "I was so glad to hear you say that doubt is common because I thought I was the only one. I was afraid to admit I had questions. Everybody seems to have such a strong faith around here; I didn’t want them to think I was some kind of wimp."
Have you ever felt that way -- that you’re unusual because you have questions or doubts? Well, you’re not. So it’s okay to come clean -- are you infected with doubt even tonight? You can admit it; you’re among friends.
Maybe you doubt that God has really forgiven you. Or you wonder whether the Bible really is the Word of God. Or you question why God lets people suffer. Or you’ve been praying for help with a struggle in your life, but so far there has been silence, and you’re wondering whether anybody’s at home in heaven, or there is, whether He really cares.
Maybe you have questions about how God created the world or how He’ll end it. Or you’ve said to yourself, "I think I’ve become a Christian, but sometimes I’m not sure. Maybe I wasn’t sincere enough when I prayed."
If those kind of issues bother you, you’ve chosen the right service to attend, because today we’re going to deal with doubt by accomplishing three objectives:
• First, we’re going to put the virus of doubt under the microscope to see what it really looks like.
• Then we’re going to diagnose how doubt infects us and what makes the virus grow inside us.
• And finally we’re going to look at some practical ways to get nursed back to spiritual health after a bout with doubt.
In other words, what is doubt, what causes it, and how should we deal with it?
So, first, let’s put the doubt virus under the microscope. What do we see? Well, for one thing, when we look closely at doubt, we expose some misconceptions about it. In fact, there are three things you may think doubt is, but it isn’t.
First, you may think doubt is the opposite of faith, but it isn’t. The opposite of faith is unbelief, and that’s a very important distinction. What is unbelief? Well, generally in the Bible, unbelief refers to a willful refusal to believe, or it refers to a deliberate decision to disobey God.
But that’s not what doubt is. To doubt is to be indecisive or ambivalent over an issue. It’s where you’re hung up between certainty and uncertainty. You haven’t come down squarely on the side of disbelief; you’re up in the air over something. You’ve got questions or concerns about some facet of your faith.
In fact, listen to this: you can have a strong faith and still have some doubts. You really can. You can be heaven-bound and still express some uncertainty over certain theological issues. You can be a full-fledged Christian without having to feel like every single question of life has been absolutely settled. In fact, it has been said that struggling with God over the issues of life doesn’t show a lack of faith -- that is faith. You can see that in the Psalms. So your doubts don’t necessarily mean you don’t have faith.