Doubt, Doubts

* Satan raises doubt within us

The serpent, Satan, tempted Eve by getting her to doubt God’s goodness.  He implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish for not wanting Eve to share his knowledge of good and evil.  Satan made Eve forget all that God had given her and, instead, focus on the one thing she couldn’t have.  We fall into trouble, too, when we dwell on the few things we don’t have rather than on the countless things God has given us.  The next time you are feeling sorry for yourself and what you don’t have, consider all you do have and thank God.  Then your doubts won’t lead you into sin. (NLT)

Genesis 3:1-6 – Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made, “Really?” he asked the woman.  “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him.  “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.  God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.”

“You won’t die!” the serpent hissed.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it.  You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced.  The fruit looked so fresh and delicious, and it would make her so wise!  So she ate some of the fruit.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her.  Then he ate it, too.

* Doubt causes us to forfeit peace with God

After repeated promises, a visit by two angels, and the appearance of the Lord himself, Sarah finally cried out with surprise and joy at the birth of her son.  Because of her doubt, worry, and fear, she had forfeited the peace she could have felt in God’s wonderful promise to her.  The way to bring peace to a troubled heart is to focus on God’s promises.  Trust him to do what he says. (NLT)

Genesis 21:7 – For who would have dreamed that I would ever have a baby?  Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”

* Don’t doubt God’s ability to help

Moses had witnessed God’s power in spectacular miracles, yet at this time he questioned God’s ability to feed the wandering Israelites.  If Moses doubted God’s power, how much easier it is for us to do the same.  But completely depending upon God is essential, regardless of our level of spiritual maturity.  When we begin to rely on our own understanding, we are in danger of ignoring God’s assessment of the situation.  By remembering his past works and his present power, we can be sure that we are not cutting off his potential help. (NLT)

Numbers 11:21-22 – But Moses said, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you promise them meat for a whole month!  Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them?  Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?”

* Momentary doubt vs. lack of trust

In chapter 22, Eliphaz had tried to condemn Job by identifying some secret sin that he may have committed.  Here Job declares his confidence in his integrity and God’s justice.  We are always likely to have hidden sin in our lives, sin we don’t even know about because God’s standards are so high and our performance is so imperfect.  If we are true believers, however, all our sins are forgiven because of what Christ did on the cross in our behalf.  The Bible also teaches that even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts.  His forgiveness and cleansing are sufficient; they overrule our nagging doubts.  The Holy Spirit in us is our proof that we are forgiven in God’s eyes even though we may feel guilty.  If we, like Job, are truly seeking God, we can stand up to others’ accusations as well as our own nagging doubts.  If God has forgiven and accepted us, we are forgiven indeed. (NLT)

Job 23:10 – But he knows where I am going.  And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent.

* People often try to protect themselves from their fears by putting their faith in something they do or have: good deeds, skill or intelligence, money or possessions.  But only God can save us from the one thing that we really need to fear—eternal condemnation.  We believe in God by recognizing the insufficiency of our own efforts to find salvation and by asking him to do his work in us.  When Jesus talks about unbelievers, he means those who reject or ignore him completely, not those who have momentary doubts. (NLT)

John 3:18 – [Jesus said] “There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him.  But those who do not trust in him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.”

* Doubt about God

All God’s words are true and trustworthy.  The Bible is reliable because, unlike people, God does not lie, forget, change his words, or leave his promises unfulfilled.  We can trust the Bible because it contains the words of a holy, trustworthy, and unchangeable God. (NLT)

Psalm 33:4 – For the word of the Lord holds true, and everything he does is worthy of our trust.

* Zechariah an example of obedience despite doubts

Zechariah, a Jewish priest, was told before anyone else that God was setting in motion his own visit to earth.  Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were known for their personal holiness.  They were well suited to doing a special work for God.  But they shared the pain of not having children, and in Jewish culture this was considered not having God’s blessing.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were old, and they had stopped even asking for children.

One day while on duty at the Temple in Jerusalem, Zechariah received an unexpected blessing.  He was chosen to be the priest who would enter the Holy Place to offer incense to God for the people.  Suddenly, much to his surprise and terror, he found himself face to face with an angel.  The angel’s message was too good to be true!  But the news of the coming Savior was eclipsed by doubts about his own ability to father the child the angel promised him.  His age spoke more loudly than God’s promise.  As a result, God prevented Zechariah from speaking until the promise became a reality.

The record of the prayer in Luke 1 is our last glimpse of Zechariah.  Like so many of God’s most faithful servants, he passed quietly from the scene once his part was done.  He becomes our hero for those times when we doubt God and yet are willing to obey.  We gain hope from Zechariah’s story that God can do great things through anyone who is available to him. (NLT)

Luke 1:6-7 – Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.  They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old.

* Doubt demonstrates a human perspective only

When told he would have a son, Zechariah doubted the angel’s word.  From Zechariah’s human perspective, his doubts were understandable—but with God, anything is possible.   Although Zechariah and Elizabeth were past the age of childbearing, God gave them a child.  It is easy to doubt or misunderstand what God wants to do in our life.  Even God’s people sometimes make the mistake of trusting their own reason, intellect, or experience rather than God.  When you are tempted to think that one of God’s promise is impossible, remember his work throughout history.  God’s power is not confined by narrow perspective or bound by human limitations.  Trust him completely. (NLT)

Luke 1:18 – Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know this will happen?  I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

* Doubt makes us vulnerable to temptation

Satan may tempt us to doubt Christ’s true identity.  He knows that once we begin to question whether or not Jesus is God, it’s far easier to get us to do what he wants.  Times of questioning can help us sort out our beliefs and strengthen our faith, but those times can also be dangerous.  If you are dealing with doubt, be aware that you are especially vulnerable to temptation.  Even as you search for answers, protect yourself by meditating on the unshakable truths of God’s Word. (NLT)

Luke 4:3 – Then the Devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.”

* How Jesus helped John’s doubts

As John sat in prison, he began to have some doubts about whether Jesus really was the Messiah.  If John’s purpose was to prepare people for the coming Messiah, and if Jesus really was that Messiah, then why was John in prison when he could have been preaching to the crowds, preparing their hearts?

Jesus answered John’s doubts by pointing to Jesus’ acts of healing the blind, lame, and deaf, curing the lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the Good News to the poor.  With so much evidence, Jesus’ identity was obvious.  If you sometimes doubt your salvation, the forgiveness of your sins, or God’s work in your life, look at the evidence in Scripture and the changes in your life.  When you doubt, don’t turn away from Christ; turn to him. (NLT)

Matthew 11:4-6 – Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him about what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  And tell him: ‘God blesses those who are not offended by me.’”

* Admitting doubts helps resolve them

John was confused because the reports he received about Jesus were unexpected and incomplete.  John’s doubts were natural, and Jesus didn’t rebuke him for them.  Instead, Jesus responded in a way that John would understand.  Jesus explained that he had accomplished what the Messiah was supposed to accomplish.  God can handle our doubts, and he welcomes our questions.  Do you have questions about Jesus—about who he is or what he expects of you?  Admit them to yourself and to God, and begin looking for answers.  Only as you face your doubts honestly can you begin to resolve them. (NLT)

Luke 7:18-23 – The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing.  So John called for two of his disciples, and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”

At that very time, he cured many people of their various diseases, and he cast out evil spirits and restored sight to the blind.  Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  And tell him, ‘God blesses those who are not offended by me.’”

* Believing despite having doubts

Once again Jesus predicted his death, but more important, he told of his resurrection.  Unfortunately, the disciples heard only the first part of Jesus’ words and became discouraged.  They couldn’t understand why Jesus wanted to go back to Jerusalem, where he would walk right into trouble.

The disciples didn’t fully comprehend the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection until Pentecost.  We shouldn’t get upset at ourselves for being unable to understand everything about Jesus.  After all, the disciples spent three years with him, saw his miracles, heard his words, and still had difficulty understanding.  Despite their questions, and doubts, however, they believed.  We should do no less. (NLT)

Matthew 17:22-23 – One day after they had returned to Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed.  He will be killed, but three days later he will be raised from the dead.”  And the disciples’ hearts were filled with grief.

* When you doubt Jesus’ help

How could the disciples experience so many of Jesus’ miracles and yet be so slow to comprehend who he was?  They had already seen Jesus feed over 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, yet here they doubted whether he could feed another large group.

Sometimes we are also slow to catch on.  Although Christ has brought us through trials and temptations in the past, we don’t believe that he will do so in the future.  Is your heart too closed to take in all that God can do for you?  Don’t be like the disciples.  Remember what Christ has done, and have faith that he will do it again. (NLT)

Mark 8:17-18 – Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “Why are you so worried about having no food?  Won’t you ever learn or understand?  Are your hearts too hard to take it in?  ‘You have eyes—can’t you see?  You have ears—can’t you hear?’  Don’t you remember anything at all?”

* Using doubts positively

Thomas, so often remembered as “Doubting Thomas,” deserves to be respected for his faith.  He was a doubter, but his doubts had a purpose—he wanted to know the truth.  Thomas did not idolize his doubts; he gladly believed when given reasons to do so.  He expressed his doubts fully and had them answered completely.  Doubting was only his way of responding, not his way of life.

Although our glimpses of Thomas are brief, his character comes through with consistency.  He struggled to be faithful to what he knew, despite what he felt.  At one point, when it was plain to everyone that Jesus’ life was in danger, only Thomas put into words what most were feeling, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”  He didn’t hesitate to follow Jesus.

We don’t know why Thomas was absent the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection, but he was reluctant to believe their witness to Christ’s resurrection.  Not even 10 friends could change his mind!

We can doubt without having to live a doubting way of life.  Doubt encourages rethinking.  Its purpose is more to sharpen the mind than to change it.  Doubt can be used to pose the question, get an answer, and push for a decision.  But doubt was never meant to be a permanent condition.  Doubt is one foot lifted, poised to step forward or backward.  There is no motion until the foot comes down.

When you experience doubt, take encouragement from Thomas.  He didn’t stay in his doubt but allowed Jesus to bring him to belief.  Take encouragement also from the fact that countless other followers of Christ have struggled with doubts.  The answers God gave them may help you, too.  Don’t settle into doubts, but move on from them to decision and belief.  Find another believer with whom you can share your doubts.  Silent doubts rarely find answers. (NLT)

* Jesus’ reaction to Thomas’s doubts

Jesus wasn’t hard on Thomas for his doubts.  Despite his skepticism, Thomas was still loyal to the believers and to Jesus himself.  Some people need to doubt before they believe.  If doubt leads to questions, questions lead to answers, and the answers are accepted, then doubt has done good work.  It is when doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes a life-style that doubt harms faith.  When you doubt, don’t stop there.  Let your doubt deepen your faith as you continue to search for the answer. (NLT)

John 20:25-28 – They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them.  The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them.  He said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands.  Put your hand into the wound in my side.  Don’t be faithless any longer.  Believe!”  “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

* How wisdom eases doubt

If you have ever seen the constant rolling of huge waves at sea, you know how restless they are—subject to the forces of wind, gravity, and tide.  Doubt leaves a person as unsettled as the restless waves.  If you want to stop being tossed about, rely on God to show you what is best for you.  Ask him for wisdom, and trust that he will give it to you.  Then your decisions will be sure and solid. (NLT)

James 1:6-8 – But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  They can’t make up their minds.  They waver back and forth in everything they do.

May you find comfort, encouragement, guidance, hope, inspiration, love, and peace – May you also find answers to your question(s) through the Scriptures that address every situation you face, and help with your problems: ; ;;

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