Doubt might be defined as uncertainty regarding God or our relation to Him. Questions arise in many forms, including factual or philosophical issues, as- surance, suffering, or unanswered prayer.
Doubt may be divided into three general areas. Factual doubt usually raises issues regarding the truth of Christianity. Emotional doubt chiefly concerns our moods and feelings, often posing questions pertaining to assurance of salvation. Volitional doubt is a category that ranges from weak faith to a lack of motivation to follow the Lord.
Few subjects are characterized by more misunderstandings than this one. Con- trary to popular opinion, doubt is not always sin. Neither is it necessarily the op- posite of faith nor the product of weak faith. It is experienced by many believers in Scripture, such as Abraham, Job, David, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist. And almost all believers, as well as unbelievers, experience doubt at times. As strange as it seems, doubt can produce positive results, and many doubters are very much in love with the Lord.
Emotional doubt is the most common as well as the most painful variety. Fre- quently, these doubters repeatedly wonder whether they are saved, while exhibiting signs of their obvious love for the Lord. They often tell themselves that what they most desire is just beyond their grasp—hence their pain. Here the chief issue is not what is being said but the distraught moods in the background. The remedy is to treat the latter.
Many passages in Scripture command us to address our unruly emotions (see Ps 37:7-8; 39:2; 42:5-6,11; 55:4-8,16-17,22; 56:3-4; 94:19). Often we must move from our perspective to God’s and replace our uncertain feelings with trust in Him.
For instance, in Philippians 4:6-9, Paul tells us to replace our anxieties with prayer and thanksgiving. The apostle promises peace for those who do so (vv. 6-7). Then he commands us to explicitly change our worrisome thoughts to God’s truth (v. 8) and to model ourselves after his pattern, again promising the result of peace (v. 9).
The key is to change how we think and behave. Simply diverting attention from our worries can provide temporary relief. The best response, every single time a doubt arises, is to weed out and correct the improper thought by concentrating on God’s truth rather than on our shaky beliefs.
Want more? Check out the Apologetics Study Bible on page 1614 or visit ApologeticsBible.com.