Testing Your Troubles and where they came from

Are you troubled by anxieties, doubts, despair, being offended with others and similar inner struggles?

Many people fight with such things and do not stop to test those troubles using the standard that Jesus taught them.

As I assist people working through faith challenges I notice in them, and in myself as well, that trials stretch us and show up our inner vulnerabilities.  Under pressure we are all much more likely to be troubled, titchy, touchy and trantrummy (I made that word up so I’d have another ‘t’ word).

So, under pressure we are able to test our troubles and get insights into what is going on inside us.

Inner Struggle

When you step out in faith in God two things will be tested inside you.  Your faith will be tested, to see if it is genuine or just a sentimental notion or some attempt to manipulate God.  And your “flesh” will also be tested.

Your flesh is your natural self that existed before God brought salvation to your heart and life.  When you become a Christian your spirit man comes alive, eager and willing to love and trust God and to relate with God as God’s child.

However, your natural “flesh” self is also still alive within you, with all its selfishness, jealousies, pride, lust and self-reliance.  And the inner struggle within you is your ‘natural flesh self’ resisting the spirit man within you.

This is not some psychological notion, but a truth revealed in the Holy Bible, by the great Christian leader Paul, writing to the Christians in Galatia, in Asia Minor, nearly 2,000 years ago.

“The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you choose.” Galatians 5:17

Rebellious Flesh

Your natural man is a real stinker.  I don’t say to offend, since we all have natural flesh inside us.  But the Bible tells us that our natural man is rebellious against God and is a barrier to our walking with God.  Note these words of Paul written to the Christians at Rome, nearly 2,000 years ago.

“They that are fleshly pay attention to the things of the flesh; but they that focus on the Spirit attend to the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded (following our natural fleshly ideas) is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal (natural) mind is hostile against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So those that live out of their natural flesh perspective cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8

When Paul said the natural mind is hostile to God and can’t submit to God’s law the original Greek wording suggests a soldier who simply refuses to follow orders.  When he is told to wheel right he wheels left.  When he is told to run he stands still.  That’s the picture of your rebellious, stroppy flesh man inside you, intent on resisting God.

That Voice in Your Head

When you move to step out in faith you will likely find your head filling with voices and thoughts that tell you not to do it, or to be careful, and so on.  Those thoughts are likely the rebellious voice of your flesh.

The thoughts are your own thoughts, coming from a part of you that refuses to submit to God.

Your mind will come up with a million excuses, doubts, insecurities, sound reasons for not rushing ahead, reminders of past failures, feelings of offence toward God or others, and so on.

You may even be tempted to think you are hearing the voice of wisdom and wise caution.  You may well feel great relief when you decide not to step out in faith.  But that could still be the voice of your rebellious flesh in your head.

Testing the Voice

So, if your head is full of doubts, concerns, aroused feelings, disquiet, despair or whatever, you need a mechanism to test the voice to see if it is God giving you caution and protection or whether it is just the voice of your flesh rebelling against what God wants you to do and what your spirit man on the inside wants to do in faith toward God.

Would you like to have a ready test on hand for those times?

I can give you a test that comes from the highest authority. This is a test that was given to us by Jesus Christ Himself.

Check the Fruit

The test is to check the “fruit” of the voice inside you.  Jesus told us that we will know what we are dealing with when we look at the fruit.

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits you will know them.”  Matthew 7:16-20

What is the fruit of the voices inside your head that try to stop you stepping out in faith?  Is it the fruit of the Spirit of God?  We are told what that fruit is and it is good fruit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

Practical Example

To give you a practical application think of someone prompted to forgive a relative.  The relative had offended them and they now feel impressed to forgive and show that forgiveness by giving the relative some needed financial assistance.

At first the Christian is excited by the idea.  It is a bold and daring thing to do and consistent with some Bible verse or message they heard preached.

A while later, however, they are filled with concerns.  An inner battle is going on.

The range of cautioning thoughts could include: “They don’t deserve it”; “They may completely misunderstand what I am doing”; “This could stir up strife between us”; “I really don’t have the money spare at the moment”; “When I think about what they did to me they will never deserve my forgiveness”; “Other people don’t have to do something like this”; “God is so unfair to expect me to do something this ridiculous”; “My family won’t approve”; “Doing this will make me look so arrogant and I don’t want to be rejected”; “I’ve had thoughts like this before but how do I know this is really God leading me?”; “I always get caught in this kind of anxiety. Why doesn’t God speak more clearly to me? Being a Christian is just too hard”; “I’m just a lousy Christian because I shouldn’t be having this inner struggle”.

It is not uncommon for people to end up in some kind of mental tangle with doubts, misgivings, anxiety and so on.

Applying the Test

So let’s apply Jesus’ ‘Fruit’ Test to this situation.

The person first felt prompted to do something daring; in line with a Bible truth.  Their faith was stirred and their heart responded.

But then they became caught up in a quagmire of cautioning thoughts.  How can they know which thoughts deserve their attention?

We already know that those thoughts can come from their spirit man or from their flesh.  And we also know that the natural flesh thinking is antagonistic to faith in God.  And we know that listening to the Spirit will bring the “fruit of the Spirit” which includes love, joy, peace and faith.

Armed with that information we can then ask, “What is the fruit that comes from the thoughts swirling in your head?”

Do those thoughts prompt doubt, fear, offence, condemnation, insecurity, misgiving, uncertainty, agitation, anxiety, or similar fruit?  If so, then we know it is not the voice of the Spirit, but the voice of the flesh.

If those thoughts prompt joy and peace and arouse faith, then we know it is the voice of the Spirit, not the flesh.

I Will Believe

My encouragement to you is to “choose to believe”.  If you sense a prompting to be bold in faith realise it is your spirit man that produces the fruit of faith.

If your heart and mind then fill with misgivings, doubts, anxieties, fears and the like, take note of the fruit.

Some thoughts keep invading your mind, but they always produce bad fruit.  So why do you keep entertaining them?  Every time you give room to those thoughts you end up in fear, insecurity, doubt, anxiety, offence, shame, misgivings, etc.  There is no joy and peace and no faith.

If a robber steals money out of your hand, would you offer him more?  If you invest money in a fund that crashes would you invest more in that fund?  If you give in to your flesh and your flesh robs you of joy, peace and faith, why would you give in to your flesh again?

The Apostle Paul put in the terms of “You don’t owe anything to your flesh, because your flesh never paid out on any investment you made to it!  Giving in to your flesh kills you!”

“Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you will die: but if you through the Spirit do kill the deeds of the body, you will live.”  Romans 8:12,13

Only Believe

“Only Believe.”  “Why do you doubt?”  “Do not give in to unbelief.”  “Hold on to your confidence.”

The counsel of Christ and the Bible is to choose to believe.  It may be a tough decision to make while so many stormy thoughts are raging in your head.  But check out the fruit of those thoughts.

Those thoughts rob you or joy, peace and faith.  They are thoughts that do not come from God.  They are thoughts from your flesh, which is at war with God.

So choose to believe and to destroy doubt.  Hold on to your confidence in God.  When you do that you will triumph over your own flesh and you will please God, because only faith can please Him.

It’s not about whether you win or not, but whether you stood in faith.  Faith pleases God.  Whether you get the victory you believe for or end up in the fiery furnace or the lion’s den, God is pleased.  And your spirit man has won out over your flesh.

And your inner troubles have been conquered.

So test your troubles and give them what they deserve.

Faith and Doubt A Lesson by Ps Chris Field

My recent Doubt Dungeon post led to further thoughts about how doubt blocks faith.  So here is a fresh analogy for the place of faith and doubt in our lives.

I pointed out in Doubt Dungeon that doubt blocks our will.  When we have doubts we are afraid to engage our will to make a choice, since we might be making the wrong choice.

So doubt is a terrible force to allow into your life as it destroys your capacity to make choices and move forward.

Biblical Insight

The Bible speaks about how doubt disables our will, so this is not some mere psychological observation, but a principle that we need to be aware of.  When you have doubts about the choice to make you “halt”.  You are blocked from moving forward.  The ancient Hebrew word used for halt speaks of dancing from one foot to the other, unable to step forward.

“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long will you halt between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” 1Kings 18:21

Having doubts leads you to struggle between two opinions, so you become “double minded”.  And that makes you unstable.  You cannot make clear, effective decisions that you will stick to.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8

The Springboard

To give practical form to how doubt and faith work in your life I suggest the idea of a Faith Springboard.  Imagine you have a springboard, similar to those used in athletics to launch a person forward.

Faith is a Springboard that launches you forward in the things you are believing for.  With faith you connect with God and receive His blessings.  God is pleased when you use faith.

However, your faith springboard must be plugged in.  While normal springboards don’t need any power source, your faith springboard needs to be plugged into something.  It needs to be plugged into your Will.

Unless you “choose” to believe, your belief machine (springboard) sits idle and gathers dust.  No matter how many times you look at it or talk about it, your faith will not work until you activate it with your will, by choosing to believe.

So, to get the picture clear, you have a springboard of faith that will catapult you forward in the things of God, but your must activate it with your will, by making a choice to believe.

Faith is choosing to believe.  Faith and the will need to work together.  It is “you” who believes God, with your will.

Abraham Believed God

The most famous man of faith in human history is Abraham, who believed what God promised him.  God told Abraham he would have a son by his wife Sarah.  Abraham and Sarah were already too old to be parents, but Abraham made a choice to believe God.

We know from the New Testament that faith is the only thing that pleases God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that God exists, and that God rewards those who diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

When Abraham chose to believe God, God was pleased and God blessed him.

“For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3

Abraham believed God.  He didn’t get carried away in some emotional high, but he chose, with his will, to trust and rely on what God told him.  When Abraham chose to activate faith, by his will choosing to believe God, God credited Abraham with righteousness.

And that is the model for salvation in every generation since then.  We are not made right with God by anything we do, except the choice of our will to believe what God says.  Since Christ’s sacrifice for us 2,000 years ago, we must choose to believe in Christ as our saviour.  Then we are forgiven and made a child of God.

Just as Abraham had to use his will to choose to believe God, we also must use our will to choose to believe God.

Enter Doubt

When doubt comes into the picture it has the effect of pulling the plug on our will.  Faith needs our will to make the choice to believe.  Doubt pulls the plug, so our will is no longer connected to our faith.

When we ‘doubt’ we suddenly have a dead springboard.  It doesn’t work any more.  That’s not because doubt is greater than faith, but because doubt disconnects our will.  When we won’t “choose to believe” our faith lies dormant.

Faith in God is still the most powerful force we can activate.  But it cannot help us until and unless we make a personal choice to believe.  Doubt frightens us off making that choice, and so our faith sits like a broken down machine, unable to do for us what it is designed to do.

Activate Faith

We all need to activate our faith.  We need to choose to believe in God and to trust God’s Word.

If you activate your faith you can keep on springing forward in the things of God.  If you let doubt disable your will, faith will be of no effect to you.

Faith is a choice, not a feeling or some emotional state you get into after hearing a positive message.  It is a choice made in the cold light of day, that you will believe God to be God and believe His Word to be true.  Those who get swept along could easily be swept away, but those who activate their faith, by a choice to believe, squashing their doubts and stepping onto the springboard of faith, will be able to enter into the salvation and blessing God has for them.

So, the lesson is “Choose to Believe”.

The Doubt Dungeon

Are you trapped in the Dungeon of Doubt? If you are, do you know how to get out?

I trust that these thoughts help you escape from the slavery to doubts.

Some people latch on to all the doubts that come their way while others have no problem believing or maintaining confidence. Which of those types best describes you?

Discover Your Doubts

If the media comes out with new evidence to disprove God, or to cause doubts about the Bible and Christianity, how do you normally react?

Do you become fascinated by that new information? Do you feel ashamed of your own faith in God? Does such news intimidate you?

Or do you shrug it off, knowing that in time all the uproar will subside and the new claims prove to be empty?

If you are easily impacted by other people’s doubts or new reasons to question God and the Bible, then you are in danger of the Doubt Dungeon.  If you are resilient against each new supposedly scientific finding that mocks Christianity then you are free of the doubts that trap many others.

Your Big Question

If you could talk with an angel, or get an audience with God, what is the big question you want answered?

Is the question that dominates your thinking a doubt?  Do you need God to give you reassurance that He is real or that His Word is true?

If your underlying question is not about the truth and reality of God and His Word, then you are probably past the Doubt Dungeon.

As a minister I get hit with questions from people all the time.  They seem to think I can resolve their doubts or they may even see me as a target to fire at, as if they are having a shot at God Himself.

So I get to hear many of the questions people have and I find that most of the questions are from the Doubt Dungeon.  People often get trapped in the gloom of doubt and despair and want someone to help them out.

Popular Doubts

It seems some people are bedevilled by doubt and have become slave to every new popular doubt in the marketplace.

I have seen doubts come and go.  The pop paperback “Chariots of the Gods” once proclaimed that life came from outer space, and not from God.  Findings of a localised flood in Mesopotamia were used to deny the global flood of the Bible.  Findings of ancient Babylonian tablets with accounts similar to Bible events suggested that the Bible was a mere human story collection.  The idea that writing developed late in human history suggested that “Chinese Whispers” type word of mouth transmission perverted the Bible history.

Of course the most profound source of doubts that attack the Bible is awarded to the theory of evolution.  For over a century pseudo-science has mocked the Bible account of creation, based on a choice to believe that evolution is real.

Spiritual Doubts

What many people don’t realise is that doubt is a spiritual weapon assigned to attack them.

The most powerful thing any man or woman can do is choose to believe God.  That’s called “faith” and it is not possible to be rescued by God without it.  Faith is the only thing that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).

So doubt has the purpose of destroying faith.

Faith is a “choice to believe”, an act of the will.  The purpose of doubt is to block someone making that choice.  If you think you have good reason to doubt a choice you will not make it.

But once you entertain the doubt and shut down your will from choosing to believe you end up in a dungeon of doubt.  Your will has been disabled by something as unworthy as uncertainty.  Now your will is hobbled and won’t be strong again until you use it like a muscle to throw off the doubts.

However, once you have accepted the doubts, deactivated your will and killed your ability to exercise faith, you are in a dungeon.  The rest of your life may be spent in the unhappy gloom of that dungeon.

Addicted to Doubt

Once in the Dungeon of Doubt people become highly susceptible to any and all new doubts.  When a new theory or claim comes out to challenge God or the Bible, those in the dungeon prick up their ears.  But they can’t properly assess the new, addictive doubt, because they have already shut down the will.  They have already deactivated their choice to believe.

They will look at the new evidence without any capacity to resist it.  The doubt will swamp them, confirming their past doubts and leaving them in the unhappy sense that something is not right, but they can’t quite work out what to do about it.

That’s why you can meet people who have all the doubts lined up in their heads.  Rather than only having one or two pieces, they seem to have the whole matching set.  These are the doubt addicts, digging their own dungeon of doubt deeper and deeper.

Destroying Doubt

Doubt can be destroyed in moments.  There is no reason to stay in the dungeon of doubt.

All it takes is a “choice to believe”.  Faith is very powerful.  It overcomes all the forces in the world, including doubt.  So when you use faith you are able to destroy the whole dungeon.

“Whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” 1John 5:4

As long as you entertain doubts you deactivate your will.  Doubt forces you to not make a decision, because you can’t be sure it is right.  So doubt will never lead you forward.  It will always disempower you and lock you in its dungeon.

But when you make a choice to believe, doubt is destroyed.  Your will comes into action and you can make a positive stand that will take you forward.

The saying goes that it is better to make a wrong decision than not to decide at all.  That concept illuminates what I am saying, that doubt disables your will.  If you make a choice and it proves to be the wrong one, you can then change your choice.  But if you don’t make a choice at all, you are stuck in the mud of inertia.  Your life is locked in prison.

Evidence Not Needed

It’s not about the evidence! In our cynical, intellectualised world we are told not to believe in things unless they are proven.  But that’s absolutely ridiculous!

You can’t prove you’re in love.  But you believe you are.  You can’t prove you’re right.  But you believe you are.  And you move ahead confidently based on those beliefs.

Most of the big decisions you will make in your life have nothing to do with scientific evidence and “proof”.  They are not about the evidence.  Those big decisions are mostly based on your gut feeling, your emotions, your preferences and, ultimately, your CHOICES.

So stop being intimidated by the doubts that demand a scientific answer.  Make a choice to believe what God says in His Word the Bible.

And notice that once you embrace the doubts you live with, you experience a certain internal sense of being dislocated.  That’s because you are denying something your gut tells you is true.  When you “choose to believe” you are resolving those internal frustrations.  I have seen that many times over.

Get a Life

If you are trapped in the Dungeon of Doubt you don’t have a life.  Your will has been shut down.  You will be incapable of moving forward until you make a choice to believe.

So get a life!  Get your foot out of the trap.  Reactivate your right to believe.

And if you are hesitant, remember that a choice is never final.  You can change your mind tomorrow.  It’s not a crime to do so.  You can spend years enjoying one kind of food and then change your preferences.  It’s as easy as that.

There is no need to be trapped in a dungeon of doubt and inertia.  There is no need to shut down your life and lock it in a dungeon.

I urge you to make a positive choice right now.  Choose to believe that God is God and that the Bible is God’s Word. Realise that there will always be unanswered questions in life and that you need to get on with life rather than lock it away in the vain hope of ever understanding everything.

Ask God to be real to you and step into the wonder of being His child, in active relationship with Him.  Please get out of the dungeon of doubt right now.