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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Dealing With Doubt

We can doubt without living a doubting way of life.  Doubt encourages rethinking.  It's purpose is to more to sharpen the mind than to change it.  Doubt can be used to pose the question(s), get answers, and even to push for a decision.  But doubt was never meant to be a permanent condition

The thing about doubt is that it must be expressed in order for it to be addressed.  Silent doubts rarely - if ever - get answered or resolved.  The just fester and nurture clouds of fear, distrust, and so on.  In fact, lingering doubt, when not addressed, has an incredible power to kill vision, choke off passion, and suffocate energy.  Moreover, the greater the doubt, and the longer it's left unaddressed - the more likely it is to cause lasting damage.

We all know the story of "doubting Thomas," as told in John 20:19-31.  It's the term given to the disciple who questioned the resurrected Jesus.  He wasn't sure it was Jesus and openly expressed his doubt.  Jesus encouraged him to touch His tortured body.  Jesus let Thomas feel the hole from the spikes that had nailed Him to the cross.  He had Thomas place his hands on Jesus side where He'd been pierced with the sword to make sure that He was actually dead on that cross.  Most preachers like to take us to that particular example as an indication that God welcomes our doubts. 

But there is a great danger in the character of doubt.  It is the risk that doubt will become unbelief - which is a great sin.  Unbelief looks at the truth and doesn't question it.  Rather unbelief rejects the truth.  There is a big difference.  And the risk is inherent in every human being who is too lazy to address their doubts. 

Consider, for example, what might have been the outcome if our friend Thomas (in above paragraph) had not expressed his doubts to Jesus.  He would have not been given the opportunity to actually touch Jesus' tortured body and feel for himself the scars it had suffered.  More than likely, he would have gone on to not believe.  And what would he have not believed?  That Jesus was actually risen from the dead!  And most theologians point to Jesus' resurrection from the dead as the greatest proof that Jesus is who He said He is ... God.

The Bible has much to say about unbelief, and I'll address that another day.  But we can be clear today on two things.  First, not believing God's truths is definitely a sin.  It matters not that the unbelief lacks evidence or experience (proof) to convince it otherwise.  Those who have access to God's truth and fail to believe it are guilty of sin.  This is explained quite simply in John 3:18, 5:38.  (But there are many other Scripture references in both the Old and New Testaments that define unbelief as sin.)

The second thing we can be clear on is the fact that un-addressed doubts are the fastest road to unbelief.  So we can take our doubts and honor God with them ... but expressing them and allowing the evidence of truth to overcome them.  Or we can be lazy with our doubts, hiding them in the dark corners of our minds ... where the evidence of truth never goes. 

Said differently, it is not a sin to have doubts.  But not expressing those doubts or confronting them is most likely to allow them to mature into unbelief.  And that, my friends is the sin. 

So, what doubts do you have and what are you doing with your doubts these days?

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