Conquering Doubts and Unbelief
This most recent season of my life as a Christian has been one marked with periods of doubt, uncertainty, wavering and confusion. There have even been some worldly desires and pursuits that have subtly begun to encumber my walk as a Christian. Relevantly, one of the teachings contained in the parable of the sower tell us that “…the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful”(Matthew 13:22). Furthermore, James candidly tells believers, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”(James 4:4). It is abundantly clear that we cannot be friends with both God and the world. Believers who try to live for the world will drive themselves insane and they will be extremely miserable people. As someone who is apart of the royal priesthood of believers who has been saved and set apart for God’s holy work, I am reminded of the essential need for holding uncompromisingly to the Gospel Message originally preached.
A Christian is Never Stagnate in Their Faith
As I have learned academically and practically, it is impossible to remain stagnate within our journeys of faith. We are either growing in godliness or we are growing further from God; there is simply no middle-ground. Such double-mindedness is spoken about in the James 1:6-8 where God instructs,
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”
On a personal note, this passage is quite an accurate reflection for the way in which my life as a Christian has looked in recent days. Tragically, we do not truly recognize the degree to which we depend on God until we begin to feel the spiritual-disconnect from His arms as His Spirit convicts us. Doubt in and of itself is not evil, it is when these doubts go unchecked and fester into unbelief that there is a serious problem. “Being unstable in all of one’s ways” is no small statement to make, therefore it is wise for us all to heed the wide-sweeping implications of what James is saying. After all, every decision we make will affect the trajectory for the eternity of the believer.
Doubt’s Spiritual Death-Grip
If you remember from Genesis 3, it was the devil who craftily decided to utilize doubts as his spiritual weapon of choice to assault Eve, then Adam in the Garden of Eden. Surely, what worked then to help cause the fall of creation still works just as well today. One of the most potent spiritual assaults against Christians is when they are tempted to doubt the very core of what they believe. In Ephesians 6, Paul instructs believers to put on the full armour of God reminding us that our battle is “not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). We are then instructed, “in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”(Eph 6:16–17). The other elements of the armour of God are identified in Ephesians 6:10-18, but I believe that the secret to success to combating doubts is found here in verses 16 and 17.
Weapon of Defence 1: Shield of Faith
Faith and doubt are directly opposed to one another. Paul of all people knew this very well. This is precisely why he instructs for believers to “take up the shield of faith” in order that we may defend ourselves against “the flaming darts of the evil one”. As long as believers live in this fallen, sin-bent world where the devil is the prince of the air, these flaming darts will continually try to attack us. It is not a matter of when, but more a matter of how we will respond when they do. You may be wondering how this looks in a practical sense. Because “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ(Romans 10:17), we take up the shield of faith by renewing our minds through the Word of God. In a like manner, we are told in Ephesians 6:17 that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.
Weapon of Defence 2: Helmet of Salvation
In addition, as our minds are being renewed in Christ through reading God’s Word, we are then capable of more easily keeping on the helmet of salvation. Have you ever noticed that the majority of the doubts are aimed at dismantling the assurance of salvation we already have? The enemy is very manipulative and he knows that by getting us to doubt our foundation as Christians, he then can temporarily gain the upper hand. When the believer doubts the core of who they are in Christ, the door is swung open for the enemy to make his move. Therefore, it is imperative that as believers we hold fast to our identity in Christ by exposing ourselves daily to the saving Gospel Message. We are in a spiritual battleground and the only way by which we can gain victory is by equipping ourselves with the armour of God.
One of the reasons why I believe that God allows us to undergo seasons of doubts is to test the authenticity of our faith. The purpose behind any doubts should be ultimately be to draw us closer to God. Rather than allowing these doubts to fester and form a foothold for vulnerability to temptation, God has intended for us to doubt our doubts. As we lean and trust in God more deeply, the sanctifying work of His Spirit will produce a fuller dependency on Him.
God’s Means of Grace Through His Unfailing Love
What continues to baffle me is how far the depths of God’s mercy extend and how amazingly faithful He continues to be towards all of us despite our failings. As Christians, I do not think that we will ever fully comprehend the magnitude of God’s love until we see Him face-to-face in the New Earth. We are so forgetful and we often fail to access the various means of grace which God has extended to us as believers(myself included). Christian community is vital towards holding one another accountable and spurring one another on this faith walk. It is also particularly beneficial to overcoming doubts when we accompany ourselves with like-minded believers. As we fellowship with other believers, we are learning how to grow in godliness and also how to be children of light while remaining unstained by the world.
It is my prayer and hope that we all adapt the mindset of the father in the book of Mark who, “…cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24) as he witnessed the miraculous healing of his son.
God, we too have been redeemed and made whole, but the temptation is to default to our fleshly nature and ignorantly believe otherwise. Help us to doubt our doubts and to cling closely to You who never will forsake us! In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.