Doubt vs Unbelief
In our spiritual journey, doubt is not necessarily the absence of faith but rather a questioning of faith. It isn’t innately destructive, but rather it can be an integral part of our journey toward spiritual growth and maturity. However, if doubt becomes a catalyst leading us away from God, it risks becoming a sin.
It’s crucial to understand that doubt is distinct from unbelief, and as a result, we can take steps to overcome it.
Doubt vs Unbelief: Clarifying the Difference
To manage this, it’s vital to distinguish it from unbelief. While both may seem similar, they originate from different places.
- Doubt is questioning what you believe. It’s a struggle faced by believers when they say, “I can’t believe, I need more proof.” It springs from an honest, troubled mind and a broken heart, constantly seeking light amidst darkness.
- Unbelief is a determined refusal to believe, an act of will. Unbelievers remain content with darkness, often declaring, “I wouldn’t believe, despite the evidence.”
It’s important to remember that Jesus extends His hand to doubters, aiding them in their search for truth. But He shows little tolerance for unbelief—a stubborn, willful refusal to accept the light of God’s love and truth.
Often, this uncertainty arose when their expectations did not align with their experiences. Even so, they didn’t let it consume them but learned to conquer it, strengthening their faith.
Overcoming Doubt: Five-Steps
If you find yourself wrestling with this, take heart in the fact that you’re not alone. Doubt is common, and fortunately, we have guidance from the scriptures on how to deal with it. Here are five strategies to think about:
- Stay Connected: Do not miss the opportunity to commune with fellow believers. Isolation can increase doubt, as seen when Thomas, Jesus’ disciple, missed a meeting with the other disciples, leading to increased doubt (John 20:24-25).
- Remember God’s Works: During times of doubt, we often focus on what isn’t happening rather than recalling what God has done. By reminding ourselves of God’s past deeds, we can stoke the fires of our faith and dispel these emotions.
- Recall Jesus’ Love: Just as Jesus showed Thomas the scars that sin had left on Him, and Thomas’s doubts vanished (John 20:27), we should also remember His love for us. His stripes heal our sickness; His scars bring hope and vanquish our doubts.
- Call Upon Jesus: Peter, when doubting on the sea, called upon Jesus and was saved (Matthew 14:30). John the Baptist, when doubting, asked Jesus for help (Matthew 11:2-4). The demon-possessed boy’s Father asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief (Matthew 9:24). Similarly, we should call upon Jesus during these times. He doesn’t mind if we doubt as long as we look for answers in Him.
- Speak God’s Word Against The Devil: The first couple in the Garden of Eden were tempted by doubt but failed to rebuke the devil (Genesis 3:1-6). In contrast, Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness, fought the devil by declaring God’s Word (Matthew 4:1-11). We should follow His example and use the Word of God as our shield against doubt.
By discerning the difference between and remembering these practical strategies, you can navigate through doubt and become stronger, firmly grounded in your faith in God.
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