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”.

Faith Factor 12 – Double Delight

We saw in Faith Factor 3 that our faith “pleases” God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Therefore only faith pleases God. That sets up a situation where faith becomes the “Double Delight”, and so that is my theme in this lesson.

Faith Pleases God

We know that faith pleases God, and we saw in lesson 4 that it is “Only Faith” that does the job. When you choose to put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, God is pleased. When you step out in faith and rely on God, God is pleased.

When you do anything without faith being part of it, God is not pleased.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

In fact, if you are not engaging faith you are in sin!

“And he that doubts is damned if he eat, because he eats not in faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

No wonder, then, that Christians must have a complete lifestyle of faith; living by faith, because only faith pleases God.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Faith Not Results

We have a tendency to evaluate faith based on the “results” it produces. If we hear of someone who believed God for great things and those things came to pass we ascribe them as possessing “great faith”. Yet if another person steps out to believe God for great things and those things do not come to pass we see the person as foolish, irresponsible and lacking in faith.

Now, that tendency which humans fall into so easily is against what God thinks. God’s ways are higher than ours and we should always be ready to give up our natural thinking, since it will likely be far below God’s best.

Hebrews 11, the chapter listing the Heroes of Faith, not only lists people who achieved great exploits, but also those who seem to fail miserably. The early verses speak of Noah, the patriarchs and Moses. Then the list includes great achievers such as Samson and David. Great exploits are listed.

However, before the chapter ends mention is made, with equal respect, to people who suffered terribly and new saw some great breakthrough.

“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” Hebrews 11:36,37

Celebrating Faith

We are ready to celebrate results, but God celebrates faith. It is “faith” that delights God, not might, money, muscle or mission accomplished.

God was delighted with those who were tortured or cut in two. God did not see them as ‘losers’ who couldn’t get the victory, but as ‘winners’ who brought delight to Him, by their faith.

And that’s a real turn-around for many Christians. Some of the people we look down on as having failed in their faith venture are included in God’s list of modern-day faith heroes. Some of those who made newspaper headlines and whose names have been mocked for their failed attempt to achieve for God are actually celebrated in heaven, while we have not yet made an impression there.

Did Moses Fail?

I always saw Moses fleeing from Egypt as a real loser. I have heard preachers heap scorn on Moses for trying to help the Israelites in his human strength and then falling flat on his face. Moses’ flight from Egypt is seen as a symbol of failed humanity.

Moses killed an Egyptian, but was then rejected by an Israelite who was fighting with his brother. As a result Moses feared and Moses fled.

“And he said, Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.” Exodus 2:14-15

That sure looks like “failure” to me. And that’s how I always thought of it, not noticing what Hebrews 11 said about it, until many years later, despite reading it several times.

Moses the Faith Hero

Moses is not only listed among the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11, he is specifically commended for the very act of running away. What looks like failure from human perspective turns out to be a delight to God, from God’s perspective.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:24-27

If Moses can look like a failure to human eyes and yet be recorded in Heaven as a hero, then how many other people who we think of as failures have brought delight to God’s heart?

Faith Brings Delight

Our faith, and only our faith, brings delight to God. We don’t have to win or get the breakthrough to have pleased God. It is the faith, not the outcome, that is important.

God looks at the heart, not the record books. When God sees faith in the heart God is delighted. The person may stumble and fall, fail at their attempt, make a mess, offend others who despise their actions and failure, or whatever, but God will still be delighted with the faith that was in their heart.

I talked with a stranger on a plane many years ago who turned out to be the son of a pastor who stepped out to achieve something for God. The venture failed and the man was so shamed and attacked that he left the ministry. The son felt a need to apologise for his father’s actions. But I wonder if God might see that man’s venture entirely differently to how the newspapers saw it.

A Second Delight

We know that our faith brings a delight to God.

So where is the second delight? How do I come up with a “Double Delight”?

When you reach into God’s Storehouse of Grace and apprehend anything that God has for you in there, including, as Paul did, apprehending that for which you were apprehended (Philippians 3:12), God is delighted. So, what about another level of delight?

Daddy’s Delight

The second delight is the delight of God’s Father heart in giving good things to His children.

Parents enjoy blessing their children and God is no different. God gives good gifts to His children. He will give them better things than earthly fathers give to their children.

Look for the ideas of “father” and “pleasure” in this statement made by Jesus Christ …

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Wow! God gets a great delight out of giving things to His children!

And look here at an Old Testament statement about the delight God gets in giving…

“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” Psalm 35:27

King David was confident that God enjoyed blessing His children.

God is delighted to give.

Double or Nothing

Every time you reach into God’s Storehouse of Grace to take hold of what God has already prepared for you and placed in there, you have to use faith. That faith pleases God. It brings Him delight.

But at the same time you are receiving from Him, as His child, the very things He is delighted to give you as your Heavenly Father.

When you ask in faith for what God is delighted to give, there is Double Delight. God enjoys your act of faith and God enjoys being able to give you what He always wanted you to have.

Delightful Faith

Let me recap the Double Delight, so you can see how delightful faith is to God.

God is delighted to give.

When we ask in faith God is also delighted.

So when we ask in faith for what God is delighted to give, there is Double Delight.

You can put two smiles on God’s face at the same time!

So, let’s do it!