Dealing with doubt
Published: 21 April 2013 (GMT+10)
Doubt can be a hard thing to master. In today’s feedback, CMI’s Lita Cosner provides some biblical principles to help deal with doubt.
My name is Ryan, I’ve asked a few questions before mostly on trivial matters but this is going to be more specific and deeper.
First with my testimony, I was born and raised in a Christian home. I grew up hearing the Bible stories and always desired to live a godly life, I asked Jesus to be my Saviour and Lord probably 100 times while growing up, never sure if He granted my request. In January 2010, I came to an understanding knowledge of what Jesus Christ had done, that He alone had fully satisfied God’s wrath on the cross and that I believed that He died for my sins and I received the cross as God’s satisfactory work for my sins, knowing full well that He rose on the third day because He conquered sin I came to believe that this was the moment of my true conversion.
However over the past 2 years it seems I have been slipping into an increasingly terrifying spiral of doubt and unbelief. It started with the idea that I was going to go on the internet (youtube, specifically) and share the gospel with the unsaved world. well, my plan backfired and the world instead has increasingly been influencing my way of thinking in regard to Textual criticism, evolution, history, science, false Messiah’s (Horus, Mythra, other things on Zeitgeist), etc. I think you know what I’m talking about because I have read all sorts of articles on your website and have other creation magazines. I love your information! But when I try to commit my heart to trust the Lord more and repent of doubt I have all those old idea’s pulling me away. I believe Jesus died and rose again, but I feel like I’m not convinced enough. I am asking just now because I was just recently reading James 1 and it talks about a double-minded man being unstable in all his ways, and my study Bible renders this as an unsaved person, which I would be inclined to agree with.
If double-mindedness is what I am, how can I render my heart back in full conviction to the Lord and if it’s hopeless, then what good is apologetic’s if real true Christians never struggle with their faith?
I trust the Lord will provide you with the answers.
Thanks for writing in.
The first thing we have to establish is that salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It doesn’t depend on us—thank God! If it depended on us, it would never work (our inability to save ourselves is the entire reason Jesus had to come to save us). You say that you had a moment of true conversion—if that’s the case, then that had nothing to do with how ‘good’ you were at believing the right stuff; it’s completely the work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ. I think that should give us tremendous comfort, because if God cared enough about our eternal destiny to send His own Son to give Himself for us, and then for the Holy Spirit to give us a new heart and convert us, how can we think He won’t be faithful to keep us in the faith?
I think many Christians who have thought about their faith have experienced some measure of doubt for a season. The answer is not to create a division between ‘reality’ and ‘religion’—that will not work for the long-term, and it’s not necessary, in any case. I’m going to give you some advice that can help if you really want to be committed to Jesus. However, some create their own spiral of doubt because they don’t want to trust Jesus. I don’t know you, so it would be irresponsible for me to assume that you’re one or the other. If you want to continue spiraling in doubt, you will, and it will eventually lead to outright unbelief. But if you want to get back on firm footing in your faith, I suggest that these are a few steps to start:
- Are you in a Bible-believing church? If so, you need to talk to your pastor about these doubts. Can he answer your questions? If not, respectfully I think given your struggles you need to find a new church. The answers are out there, and in your particular case, it’s important that your spiritual leader be able to help you through this process.
- Completely stop your interactions with the YouTube sites that are causing you to doubt. Even those of us who are very experienced with dealing with God-haters can feel ‘beat-up’ when we have to deal with them on such a frequent basis. But it can really damage people who are less prepared to handle it.
- Instead, spend more time in Scripture and reading sound apologetics material that can help you answer the questions that you have (incidentally, your list of questions is easily answerable). Attend church very regularly. Personally, the only way I’m able to handle the onslaught of skeptical attacks is to spend more time in Scripture and in fellowship at church than I do dealing with God-haters. God gave us Scripture and the Church for a reason, and He never meant for us to practice our faith in isolation from them.
- Perhaps most importantly, sometimes one’s prayer life suffers when going through something like this. Don’t let that happen—keep praying.
You say that 3 years ago you came to an understanding of the Gospel and you believed in Jesus for salvation. If you still believe the Gospel is true, and that Jesus is your only hope for salvation, then you are saved regardless of other doubts. Don’t confuse doubt about secondary things with losing your salvation—hold onto the Gospel, and trust that the answers to your questions will be forthcoming as you prayerfully search for them. I hope that this is helpful.