Matthew 11:2, 3
We all have doubts from time to time. Doubt
itself is not sinful or wrong; in fact, doubt can often
be the catalyst for spiritual growth. Our doubts
tend to fall into three categories.
First, there are intellectual doubts. These are
doubts most often raised by those outside the
Christian faith. Is the Bible the Word of God? Is
Jesus the Son of God? Did He really rise from the
Second, there are spiritual doubts. These
tend to be the doubts of those inside the church.
Am I really a Christian? Have I truly believed? Why
is it so hard to pray? Why do I still feel guilty?
Third, there are circumstantial doubts. This is
the largest category because it encompasses all
the “whys” of life. Why did my child die? Why did
my marriage break up? Why can’t I find a spouse?
Why did my friend betray me?
These are the questions we meet at the intersection
of biblical faith and the pain of living in
a fallen world.
I. THE NATURE OF DOUBT
As we approach this topic, we need to understand several things up front:
A. Many people think doubt is the opposite of faith, but it isn’t. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. Unbelief refers to a willful refusal to believe, while doubt refers to inner uncertainty.
B. Many people think doubt is unforgivable, but it isn’t. God doesn’t condemn us when we question Him. Both Job and David repeatedly questioned God, but they were not condemned. God is big enough to handle all our doubts and all our questions.
C. Many people think that struggling with God
indicates a lack of faith, but that’s not true. Struggling
with God is a sure sign that we truly have
faith. If we never struggle, our faith will never grow.
To get a biblical perspective, let’s focus on
one man who doubted the way Jesus dealt with
II. THE DOUBT OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Confused and frustrated by his imprisonment,
John sent messengers to Jesus with a very pertinent
question: “Are you the one who was to come,
or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:2, 3).
John knew who Jesus was (John 1:29, 34).
How could a man who was so certain about Jesus
now harbor such doubt?
It is no wonder that John, languishing in
prison and not knowing if or when he would be reeased, began to doubt. At least he knew enough
to ask the right question: “Are you the one sent
from heaven, or is there someone else who will
be our Savior? Are you really the promised Messiah?”
The answer our Lord gives is very instructive.
He does not rebuke John or put him down.
He simply gives John the evidence he needs to
regain his faith. “Go back,” Jesus says to the
messengers, “and tell John what you have seen.”
Then He lists six evidences:
• The blind see.
• The lame walk.
• The lepers are cured.
• The deaf hear.
• The dead are brought back to life.
• The poor have the gospel preached to
Jesus essentially says, “Go back and tell
John that in my name, the hurting people of the
world are being totally transformed.” It’s as if Jesus
is saying, “John may doubt Me, but I don’t
doubt him. He’s still my man. He’s still on my
team. I still believe in him.” Jesus knew that underneath
John’s doubts was genuine faith. Jesus
was saying, “John the Baptist is still my man,
doubts and all.” What an incredible reality!
III. TODAY’S DOUBTERS
Above the front door of every church in the
world, we should erect a two-word sign: “Doubters
Welcome.” This should be the church’s message.
If you have doubts, come inside. If you
have questions, come inside. If you are uncertain,
come inside. If you are a skeptic, come inside. If
you are searching for truth, come inside.
Doubt does have its uses. Deep doubt is often
the prelude to an even deeper faith.
IV. FOUR WAYS TO MOVE FROM DOUBT
Doubt is not sinful, but it can be dangerous,
and it can lead to sin. It can also spur enormous
spiritual growth. It’s what you do with your doubt
that matters. Here are four suggestions about how
to handle doubt.
A. Admit your doubts and ask for help. That’s what John the Baptist did. God is not fragile. He can handle your doubts, your fears, your worries, and your unanswered questions. He’s a big God. He runs the universe without any help. Your doubts won’t upset Him. Tell Him your doubts. Cry out and ask for His help. And don’t fight the battle alone. Go to a Christian friend, a pastor, an elder, a deacon, a deaconess—anyone with a strong faith and godly insight. Ask this person to walk with you as you face your doubts honestly.
B. Act on your faith, not your doubts. That’s what Noah did when he built the ark. That’s what Abraham did when he left Ur of the Chaldees and when he was told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. That’s what Moses did when he marched through the Red Sea on dry ground. That’s what David did when he faced Goliath. That’s what Joshua did when he marched around Jericho. That’s what Daniel did when he was thrown into the lion’s den. That’s what Nehemiah did when he rebuilt the wall.
Do you think these great heroes of faith had their doubts? Of course they did. They didn’t know in advance how everything was going to turn out, but they took a deep breath, decided to trust God, and acted on their faith instead of their doubt. If you will do the same thing, your faith will continually grow stronger.
C. Doubt your doubts, not your faith. This simply means that you should not cast away your faith simply because you are in the valley of darkness. All of us walk into that valley from time to time; in fact, some of us spend a great deal of time there. But when you find yourself in that valley where all is uncertain, and you are sorely tempted to give in to your doubts, fears, and worries, remember these two words: Keep walking. Just keep walking—moving forward in faith.
D. Keep going back to what you know to be
true. For me, this is the most important point. After
considering the sufferings of this life and the
perils and tribulations of following Christ, Paul
triumphantly concludes Romans 8 by declaring,
“For I am persuaded.” And he declares that nothing
in all the universe can separate us from the
love of God. In 2 Timothy 1:12, he says, “I know
whom I have believed.”
God never turns an honest doubter away.
Never. Come to Him with your doubts, your
skepticism, your unbelief, your hard questions,
and your uncertainties. He welcomes your hardest
questions. Doubt is not a sin. It’s what you
do with your doubt that makes all the difference.
Don’t let your doubts keep you from Jesus. Come
to Him just as you are—and bring your doubts
with you. He will not turn you away.