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11/28/2016 -- Is Doubt a Sin?

Many people have questions.  Some people ask them.  Some who are quick to voice questions often speak for many others who have the questions but for one reason or another do not ask them.  One person in our fellowship stands out for asking questions.  I told Kathy Dunn that if she would submit some of these questions from time to time, I would answer them and put them on the church blog.  Yesterday she passed along to me the following:

“Is it a sin to worry the Lord will not show me his grace but rather punish me at the time of my death despite the fact that I have repented?  If I am worrying, does that mean I am doubting our Lord’s words?”

Thanks, Kathy, for the question.  It is an important one, one that reflects a situation involving a bit of complexity.  Where concepts are complex, there abides the possibility of confusion.  I hope to bring some clarity here.

From the outset I must be direct.  To disbelieve the word of God is clearly sin against God.  To believe that God will not keep his word and his promise is a head-on dispute with God himself.  The Bible says that God cannot lie (see Numbers 23:19 and Titus 1:2).  If you embrace worry and anxiety because you disbelieve God, then you are not trusting him.  That is sin.  It is opposed to faith.

But the situation you are describing is complex.  It is complicated by the nature of the Christ-follower’s constitution as a sinful human being who has been born again.  We are freed from the power of indwelling sin, but we still experience the persuasive influence of it.  Among its persuasive influences is the temptation to doubt.  Experiencing doubt is universal.  It is often experienced as temptation.  As a temptation, doubt comes from the flesh.  The voice of the flesh whispers to the mind.  It says things like these: “You are not good enough.  God will not keep his word.  You are not going to heaven but to hell.  Everything always turns out badly for you.  This thing of salvation is going to be the same.”

Experiencing these kind of thoughts is natural even for the strongest of the disciples of Jesus.  Galatians 5:17 says that “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to one another” (English Standard Version).  The flesh and the Spirit are operative in the life of every believer.  Therefore, an internal conflict exists.  The Spirit of God speaks through the word of God.  The flesh speaks as well.  It speaks in opposition to the Spirit.  The Spirit says that if we believe in Jesus Christ, God will save us eternally.  Our present hope in Jesus will be fully and certainly met with God’s grace for all eternity.  It is all based upon the work of Jesus Christ.  The flesh is going to speak in opposition to the Spirit every waking moment.  For that reason it is important to respond to your question by pointing out that to experience doubts within your mind as the whisperings of the flesh is not sin.  It is what we would expect the flesh to do.  Sin occurs, however, if you embrace the fleshly temptation.  When you knit yourself to the worry and doubt of the flesh and you own it, then it is definitely sin.

Now, the way to deal with the temptation to worry is to remember the promises of God and hold them as true.  It is sinful to listen to the whisperings of the flesh and be brought to spiritual paralysis and anxiety by disbelief.  But it is victory to repudiate the whisperings of the flesh with the affirmation of God’s word.

--Pastor Ross Layne