Does Your Doubt Dishonor God?
Stammering, stumbling, crawling faith — for one’s entire life — is not the depiction of saving faith in the New Testament.
Faith that saves is characterized as being increasingly stable, steadfast, and unshakable, never shifting from the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1:23). It endures until the end (Hebrews 3:14). It grows strong enough to shield us from Satan’s attacks (Ephesians 6:16; 1 Peter 5:9). It keeps us in the love of God (Jude 20–21). It matures to bear fruit (James 2:18). It gains us victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).
Although different seasons can make us wobblier than others, the swaying legs of spiritual infancy is not to be perpetual (Hebrews 5:11–13). Jesus often rebuked the disciples for their little faith. Doubting God makes us wind-tossed and double-minded (James 1:5–8). “Weak faith” in Romans does not make allowance for doubting God or his gospel, but is about a misinformed conscience on matters of Christian liberty (Romans 14:1).
Stable and steadfast is the standard. The Holy Spirit in us never protects or encourages doubt. Standing firm in the faith is our calling (1 Corinthians 16:13). Imitation of Abraham’s eventual maturity is the goal: “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20–21).
And where weakness does exist, true faith humbly cries, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) — not meaning: Sustain my unbelief, or preserve it, or excuse it, or coddle it. Help my unbelief. Diminish it. Overcome it. Turn my unbelief into faith!
Being content with doubt, suspicion, and weak faith is, as Luther says, the highest form of contempt we can muster against God.
There is no way in which we can show greater contempt for a man than to regard him as false and wicked and to be suspicious of him, as we do when we do not trust him. . . . What greater rebellion against God, what greater wickedness, what greater contempt of God is there than not believing his promise? For what is this but to make God a liar or to doubt that he is truthful? — that is, to ascribe truthfulness to one’s self but lying and vanity to God?
It is tragic to return distrust and suspicion to the God of steadfast love and truth. We slander him when we refuse to trust him. The Father of truth is not the father of lies. The God of love is not the God of cruelty. The Son who hung on a cross for sinners is not to be regarded as a deceiver.
All truthfulness, justice, righteousness, and beauty belong to Jesus Christ. He has never lied, and never erred. “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), the radiance of his glory (Hebrews 1:3). He has never once failed any of his children, nor dealt in any inequity with any creature on the planet.
Survey the condemned in the deepest pits of hell, and not one will have any just complaint against him. Ask the martyrs in heaven, and none will think of anything but praise for him. Who can accuse him of wrong? His disciples couldn’t. His enemies couldn’t. Satan can’t. His Father didn’t. But after all of heaven stands silent, should the groans and complaints of professing Christians stand ready to accuse him?
Heed that bruised reed, William Cowper, as he encourages us all,
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
When doubt comes — and come it will — whispering that God isn’t true, the Bible isn’t reliable, and Jesus’s blood isn’t enough, do not make peace with such lies. Do not embrace them. Do not boast about them. Instead, confess them and cling more tightly to the Savior, crying, “I believe; help my unbelief!”