Doubt is a part of human nature, it can often keep us safe and secure, but if we let it have too much control over our actions, then it can also keep us from a lot of good things too. I imagine that the majority of people who become Christians will have doubts at some point and time, but is it wrong, i.e. is it a sin to have doubts?
First, doubting is not the same as disbelief; although it could eventually lead to unbelief. Nor is it the same as faithlessness; though it does demonstrate a lack within one’s faith. Doubting refers to being uncertain about something, questioning it, being apprehensive about it, and therefore having an undecided opinion about it.
Doubting can happen when one is first learning and before one becomes a Christian, or when one is a babe in Christ. However, doubting is just as likely to happen to mature Christians as well, though probably about different subject matters. John the baptizer is a good example of this when he doubted whether Jesus was the “Coming One”. In Matthew 11:3, we find John at a particular moment in his life, a moment of doubt, when John was stuck in horrible circumstances; here he began to wonder whether Jesus was the Coming One or not. Prior to this moment, he had previously confessed concerning Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). He also gave his very own testimony after he had baptized Jesus, saying “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him” (John 1:32), and “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). John is remembered as a man of great faith and confidence, not his moment of doubt. Notice that Jesus went on to speak to the people about John immediately after his moment of doubt, saying “”What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” (Matthew 11:7). Jesus further says “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (vs. 11). So it might make the rest of us feel better to know that even a great man like John, who is characterized as one who is not shaken like a reed in the wind, had his moments of doubt as well.
Nevertheless, while inevitable in life, a state of doubt is not a state that we want to be in for very long. James described a Christian experiencing doubt in God as a “double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” James 1:8). The words double-minded and unstable should not be descriptive of a Christian. Therefore, while doubt does happen, even to the best of us (like John the baptizer), it is not something we allow to continue, especially when the scriptures provide the solution.
The scriptures hold the greatest solution for doubting; in fact, you could say that the scriptures themselves are the solution. As mentioned earlier, doubting demonstrates a particular lack within our faith. So, increase faith and we’ll get rid of doubting automatically. Paul told the Romans in chapter 10:17 “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is by the word of God that doubts are vanquished. A good example of this is the Bereans in Acts 17:11. The Bereans are on record as being “fair-minded” or “noble;” but why? Because, when they first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ they had ready ears and searched the scriptures daily to find out if the things taught in the gospel was according to the scriptures. Were the Bereans doubters? Sure they were! And rightly so! A fair-minded person doesn’t just accept a word as truth, and not without testing it. So again, the nobleness of the Bereans was in their search through the scriptures to test the truthfulness of the gospel that was preached unto them; a gospel that they remained unconvinced of while they searched the scriptures daily until they came to a conclusion. So then faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of God. Conquering doubt comes through listening to God speak, not through our own thoughts or the thoughts of others around us.
The Bereans were not wrong to be unconvinced of the gospel, nor are we wrong to have doubts ourselves, but we must study the scriptures to find the answers that will defeat our doubts. The Bereans considered it a matter of urgency and so should we. To continue in doubt with no eagerness to solve it is dangerous ground, keeping us in a state of double-mindedness and instability. The answers have already been provided by God in His Word, so we do not have an excuse to remain doubtful of the truth. The fair-minded will search the scriptures; the noble-minded will call upon the aid of mature Christians who have probably thought the same thoughts at an earlier time in their life, they can provide expedited insight into the scriptures.
Article by Tanner Campbell