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Dealing with Doubt, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 6, 2023 12:00 am

Dealing with Doubt, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 6, 2023 12:00 am

The difference between a weak believer and a strong believer isn’t that one doubts and the other doesn’t; it’s that the strong believer is strengthened through doubt while the weak believer is crippled by it.

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Doubt says God doesn't care. Doubt says God isn't interested. Doubt says God isn't listening. Counter it with the truth that we are his, we're called his special possession. 1 Peter 2. He has invited us to cast all our care on him.

Why? Because he cares for us. So counter the flaming missiles of doubt and its deceptions with the flaming truths of Christ's own word. Have you ever felt that something must be wrong with your faith because you were experiencing doubt? Stephen wants you to understand that the difference between a weak believer and a strong believer isn't that one has doubts and the other doesn't. The difference is that the strong believer has learned how to be strengthened through doubt while the weak believer is crippled by it. We want you to be strong in your faith and God's given you what you need to counter any doubts you might have. So we go to God's word today with this message that Stephen's called Dealing with Doubt. The French philosopher Montaigne once said that if all our inner thoughts were made public every one of us would deserve to be hanged at least 10 times in our lifetime.

I think he's conservative. In fact your conscience never runs out of material to condemn you, does it? And when Satan will bring doubt he simply collaborates with your conscience and says I have something that can condemn you. The truth is a Christian's sensitive conscience can easily condemn them.

God uses it in a good way. But in the bad way it brings you to believe that maybe you're not even a Christian. So notice how John wants you to counteract that.

Don't go that far. Look at verse 20. Remember this when your conscience condemns you or your heart condemns you.

Look at what he says. God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. Here's the counterattack. God already knew. Satan will fire this flaming arrow at you through your conscience which offers up something true about you. So he's already dealt with admitting and confessing and repenting by the way. Face it.

But the enemy tries to go too far. He's got his own agenda. He's going to use your conscience to bring you doubt that you even belong to him because of something you've done. At that point counteract with well God already knew that.

He already knows. When he saved me he already knew the worst about me. When he saved me as a 17 year old he knew the sin I would commit as a 55 year old.

When he's had my birthday I can now get free lemonade at Chick-fil-A. What a consolation. God knew that. He knows the last sin I'll commit. And when Satan says oh okay look you've confessed that but I'm going to bring that up again and again because that certainly takes everything off the table. Now you can say God is omniscient. He already knew.

Takes the wind right out of the enemy's sails. God is omniscient. Think about that. Has it ever occurred to you that God has never learned anything? He's always known everything. No gossip can inform him.

Nobody can dig up any dirt on you that removes your standing. With Christ no action on your part can surprise him. He knows what you're planning to do tomorrow. He knows where you were last week. He knows what you're thinking right now. He knows your past, your present and your future. The omniscience of God is both convicting because you understand you can't hide anything from God.

But in this context it's reassuring. John says God already knows. That's greater than anything your conscience can bring up.

So use that as a counter-attack. John is not suggesting here that God minimizes our sin or downplays our sinful hearts. John doesn't write here in whatever way your conscience condemns you don't pay any attention to it. You know it doesn't know what it's talking about.

No. The solution to battling this particular characteristic of death though is not to diminish our depravity or downplay our sins. The solution is to admit and confess and then remember this amazingly encouraging counter-attack that God already knew.

The worst of me. He canceled out the debt of my transgressions. The New Testament says. He was nailed and in his body he carried the entirety of my sin.

Peter writes. So your future is not and will never be in jeopardy for Christ, your Savior, has forgiven everything he already knew you would need to be forgiven of when you came to him by faith in Christ. Here's the truth about doubt. Doubt will fixate on your personal deficiencies.

And if you allow it, it'll remind you it'll never run out of material. Secondly, doubt feeds your spiritual uncertainties. Doubt says look the last thing you can expect is for God to be actually listening to your prayers. Isn't that rather arrogant? Besides he he's seen what you did this week and you've had an inconsistent week and surely you ought to clean things up a bit or get a little more disciplined and then approach him.

I mean look at the week you've had. John effectively says that whenever the believer deals with issues of conscience he's already dealt with sin over and over again. Recognizing that we're known by God through Christ already on forgiven ground.

Uncertainty then is exchanged for this kind of confidence to approach him. Look at verse 21. Beloved if if our heart.

You could add in the margin of your text there then it's his idea. If our heart then does not condemn us. In other words we've dealt with it. We have confidence before God. Literally we have confidence in the face of God. In the presence of God we can come boldly before the very throne of God. Hebrews 4 16. You don't run from God because you're undeserving. You run to God because Christ is deserving and you are in Christ. He has accepted you in the beloved. By means of Christ's atoning sacrifice and Satan is going to come along and say okay well you know you dealt with. You know all that stuff but God. He's not interested in seeing you especially after yesterday. Or this morning.

The counter-attack is this. God is always accessible to me. He is always inviting me.

He is always available to me. Now it might help to remind you of the meaning of the word translated confidence here. In this text verse 21. You will have confidence before God the word translated confidence already appeared in chapter 2 and verse 28 where John wrote that we can be confident.

At the appearing of Jesus Christ and. And I brought out the fact that how many of us would go here. I'm so confident you know. Now that's not the idea that original word. It has the idea of open speech.

It was used originally for transparency. And you as a believer can be prepared for the coming of Christ with transparency. You can. And that's a wonderful goal to have.

Full disclosure. So this confidence to approach God isn't some kind of bold bravado. I have enough you know on my good list here so that I could come to him in prayer. I've got a consistent Sunday school record for the for the last year. I got a perfect driving record for the last two weeks. I've had a really good week.

I haven't skipped devotions and I've been nice. And now I can go to God. That's the enemy. Talking. The idea of confidence is transparency before God.

You live. Openly. Confessing. Communing.

You're invited at any time. John is effectively saying you deal with the issues of conscience and instead of hiding from God you open your heart to God. He does inspect and purify and then you find your confidence growing as your honesty grows before him.

Doubts about his love diminish. The attack of Satan that breeds doubt is that you don't deserve to talk to God. The counter-attack is God already knows everything about me. And in Christ then I am always invited into his presence. I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrased this verse that fits perfectly. I believe with the correct understanding of John's intention he writes, For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

Once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God. It's well written. Now let me address one other issue about this particular flaming arrow of uncertainty. Because the devil often adds one little twist here.

It goes something like this. Maybe you've heard it. I'm sure you have.

Okay. You're all confessed up. You know you're in fellowship with God. Your conscience isn't condemning you at the moment.

Well then go ahead and pray. But have you noticed you don't get what you ask for? So he's obviously not listening.

Why should he? You ever heard that? I sure have. Verse 22. Whatever we ask, we receive from him. Now note, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.

Now let me clear this up. At first glance to the English reader this looks like prayer is a religious bargain we make with God, doesn't it? We do what he wants and he gives us whatever we want.

And the more I do what he wants, the nicer the car, the better the grade, the better my health. That's prosperity theology. If that's true, our motive for living for Christ can become self-serving, if not downright greedy. God becomes sort of a cosmic candy store clerk. He gives all the sweet things to those that follow the rules and not so sweet things to those Christians who don't. Well if you compare this text with other passages on prayer you discover that in a growing relationship with Christ our dreams, our desires, our prayer requests, as one author put it, take on a God shape.

They begin to conform to the image of his nature, the image of his will, and not our own. You know what the problem is with our prayer requests? Our prayer requests.

What are we asking for? Are we really asking for things that mirror the commandments of God, that mirror the pleasure of God for our lives? When we do, John says God will answer every one of those. In fact if you turn this verse around you get closer to an English understanding of John's intention which reads, if we effectively desire to keep his commandments and do the things that please him, whatever we ask will be given to us. In other words, whenever we ask for something that matches up with his commandments and his good pleasure as we discern it and discover it, it will be granted. Praying then for the believer in the battle isn't a matter of knowing how to get our will done. It's a matter of coming to know God well enough to get his will done. And so every time you pray, it isn't a cop-out. I've been told that.

It's actually mirroring the example of Christ. You end your requests. You go to him in this spirit and with this subservient and submissive attitude, not my will, but what? Thine be done.

That gets answered every single time. In fact it's wonderfully illustrated in a Puritan prayer prayed some 200 years ago that went like this, May the matter of my prayer be always wise, humble, submissive, obedient, scriptural, Christ-like, and give me unwavering faith then that supplications are never in vain, that I obtain, though not my petitions, I shall have larger, richer answers surpassing all that I could ask or think. The truth is our vision is limited, isn't it? Our prayers are often self-centered. We're creatures of comfort. We believe that we have certain rights.

We're bound to time. We have poor memories, mine worse than yours, and events occur that we would have never prayed for, but they come from God and we discover they are actually what we truly needed, even suffering and hardship as it draws us to him, and we are conformed just a little more into the image of his Son, and we discover the truth of what Charles Spurgeon once preached in the late 1800s, which is a phrase that I often think of in love, that we are truly at our spiritual best when we are shipwrecked on the island of God's sovereignty. Doubt says God doesn't care. Doubt says God isn't interested. Doubt says God isn't listening. We counter that with the fact that God knows when anyone's sparrow falls, Matthew 10. We counter that with God cares enough to even know the number of the hairs on our head, which changed after you showered this morning.

He's up to date. For some of us, it's really easy too, isn't it? Counter it with the truth that we are his, we're called his special possession, 1 Peter 2. He has invited us to cast all our care on him.

Why? Because he cares for us. So counter the flaming missiles of doubt and its deceptions with the flaming truths of Christ's own Word. A shield of faith in the spoken Word of God revealed to us in his Word.

One more dangerous characteristic of doubt. Doubt forgets the gospel's simplicity. He writes in verse 23, this is the commandment that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and then, you could add again to capture the sense of this tense in the verb, and then love one another just as he commanded us. This is the simplicity of the gospel. Believe in the name of God's Son, Jesus Christ. The word believe is in the aorist tense referring to a once for all past tense transaction.

It's a moment in time when you understand the gospel and you place your faith in the crosswork of Christ alone. You're not saved every day, you were saved one day. Just like your marriage. You were married on a certain day. You don't get married every day. You live in light of that marriage. You don't become a Christian every day. You live in light of the fact that you became a Christian. But the command next in this text to love one another is in the present tense.

You do that every day. It's part of the battle. It's part of the continuing demonstration of a new life in Jesus Christ. So John isn't telling you to love people so you can become a Christian.

That would be a work of salvation. He's telling you to love people because you want to act like a Christian, and that's how Christians ought to act in the family. In other words, you can't do things to become a Christian, but you can do things that are becoming to a Christian. So John writes here about the simplicity of the gospel that the religions around the world would make terribly complex.

Here it is, let's break it down. Believe, we've already talked about that, in the name, in John's mind in the first century, this was a belief in everything that name represented. The words and works of Christ, you believe it all. Believe in the name of his son, God's son. That's belief in his deity, equal with the Father. Believe in the name of his son, Jesus, Jesus, the counterpart is the Hebrew name Joshua, Redeemer, Savior. So believing in Jesus is believing in him as your Savior, your Savior. Believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, Christos, the anointed one, he is the final anointed prophet, he is the last anointed high priest, he is the last and soon coming king. More than likely, New Testament scholars believe it, and I don't have any reason to disbelieve it, that that phrase, believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, represented one of the earliest Christian confessions of faith.

This was the earliest doctrinal statement. You can't get any simpler than that. Loaded with meaning, remarkably simple, salvation is effectively bowing to and embracing all that Jesus is. And what does doubt want to do? Doubt wants to say that's way too simple.

We've got to add stuff to this kettle of soup. We've got to throw in works, merits, favors, rituals, pilgrimages, ceremonies, penance, whatever. Doubt wants to formulate a cost and have you pay up because there's no such thing as a free lunch, there certainly isn't anything like a free heaven.

So we've got to make it cost something to the individual and so then comes complexities added in. Things that you do, things that you watch, things that you follow in order to be saved, and you've got to get it right. And maybe at the very end, maybe you might get in. But did you pay your dues? Imagine you've been invited to a banquet in the White House by the President of the United States. You're seated at a table that is filled with the choicest foods. Grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, pinto beans for some of you, collards for a few of you. Everything has been extravagantly prepared so you can have this wonderful banquet and enjoyable evening.

At the end of the visit, the President himself goes to the front door to greet all the guests who are leaving and when it's your turn, you walk up as he extends his hand and you shake his hand and when you do, you slip a dime into his hand and you say, you whisper, Mr. President, thank you for that wonderful banquet. I wanted to help pay for it. You'd be arrested. You'd be shot right there, I'm pretty sure of it. Can you imagine that? A dime.

Think about it. By the incredible cost to our Savior who gave his life, the precious blood that he shed on our behalf, we've been offered forgiveness and salvation and a residence in the Father's house of gold and a throne where we will co-reign with Christ during the kingdom. And look, God, I want to give you a dime. I want to give you something that I've done. I had a little water applied to my life. I joined a church. I've got some good deeds.

You've got to be kidding. Anything you try to add to salvation is like pressing a dime into the nail pierced hand of Jesus Christ. The counter attack to doubting the simplicity of the gospel is provided here. And it's this, that God is already satisfied with his son Jesus who paid the price. He's already satisfied. He accepts what he has done for you. The service of God's holy demands have been satisfied in the sacrifice of the Son of God. So what he's effectively telling us in the simplicity of the gospel is that God the Father is eternally satisfied with Jesus.

You accept Jesus and God is satisfied with you. Doubt says, can that possibly be true? Unbelief says, no, it is not true.

There's the difference. Doubt says, I'm struggling with the light of this truth. Unbelief says, leave me alone in the dark.

Faith answers, yes, it is all forever true. Doubt fixates on personal deficiencies. Counter attack it today, this week, with the truth that God already knows.

Everything about you. Doubt feeds spiritual uncertainties. Counter attack it with the truth that God is always accessible. Doubt forgets the gospel's simplicity.

Counter attack it with the truth that God is already satisfied with Jesus. Perhaps you know, as you've sat there, that you're in the darkness of unbelief and you want to walk in the light of the truth of Christ. You're not quite sure you're invited to come and make certain that this word believe is in the aorist tense.

It is a past tense event. As a believer, perhaps you have resonated with the truth of what John has brought to our attention and the condemnation of a conscience that Satan takes too far. Would you thank him right where you stand that God already knew everything about you when you came to the cross? Thank him that he is always available and accessible to you.

Thank him that he is already satisfied with his Son, Jesus. I'm so glad you were able to hear this message today called, Dealing with Doubt. Since doubt is something that we all experience from time to time, it's important that you know how to respond biblically when it comes. I think it would be good for you to have access to this message so that you can refer to it the next time doubt creeps into your heart. It's posted on our website, which is wisdomonline.org. Once you get there, you can download Stephen's manuscript. Of course, you could also listen to the message again from the website, but if you'd like the printed manuscript of this message, Dealing with Doubt, it's available on our website free of charge. The manuscript for all Stephen's messages are available free of charge, but this might be the one that you want to download or print off so that it's easy to refer to it again. Maybe you have a friend who's experiencing doubt and you'd like to share it with your friend.

Please do that. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible lessons, we also have a magazine that we publish. Stephen deals with a different topic each month and helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life.

For example, some past topics have included such things as how to forge friendships, what can we know about angels, demons, and the spirit world, how can we have a biblically based marriage, what is church discipline all about and church restoration and how should it be used, and much more. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain rooted and grounded in God's Word every day. We call the magazine Heart to Heart.

We use it to show our appreciation to all of our wisdom partners. We also send three issues of Heart to Heart magazine as a gift to everyone who asks. We'd like to send it to you if you haven't seen it yet.

You can sign up for it on our website. Go to wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. That's wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. If you have a comment, a question, or would like more information, you can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdomonline.org. If you come across a passage that's confusing or you encounter a teaching that you need to have clarified, Stephen would like to help you.

In fact, you might enjoy going online and looking at what other people have asked and reading those answers. It might be that someone had the same Bible question that you have. But any time you have a question regarding the Bible or the Christian faith, send that question to info at wisdomonline.org. Once Stephen has answered it, we'll add it to the collection. Of course, you can use that email address if you have a question or comment about our ministry as well. Join us again next time as Stephen brings you more wisdom for the heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-06 15:36:08 / 2023-01-06 15:46:00 / 10

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