Αnd have mercy on some, who are doubting” (Jud 22 NASB).
It is surprising how many notable figures in the Bible had doubts. Abraham and Sarah initially doubted God’s promise that they would have a child in their old age. Moses doubted that he was really the man to lead Israel; and after he died, so did his successor, Joshua. Gideon doubted that he could defeat the enemy with his small band of men. Mary and Martha doubted that the Savior could raise their dead brother. Many others struggled as well with doubts.
Many famous Christians through the years have battled doubts, including C.H. Spurgeon, Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis.
In the KJV translation of Jude verse 22 (“and of some have compassion, making a difference”), we may completely miss what the apostle is teaching. The fact that he is really teaching that some Christians truly have doubts (see NASB above), and that others can be a help to them and must show compassion to them, should be reassuring to such believers. This is confirmed by many other translations.
This is how the Lord Jesus treated two of the more famous “doubters.” Thomas refused to believe the other disciples who told him that they had seen the risen Savior. It was a week later that, even while voicing his doubts to the Lord Jesus, he had a life-changing revelation. The Lord gently showed him the wounds of Calvary – and Thomas’ doubts were over.
John the Baptist was also treated tenderly. The last of the Old Testament prophets, he was the forerunner of the Messiah and pointed Him out as the Lamb of God. But soon, after standing for righteousness, he found himself in prison, facing death and doubting the very Messiah he had declared. Jesus kindly sent His disciples to the prison to reassure John. How? The OT Scriptures he knew so well had been perfectly fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. His doubts were hushed by the truth of God’s Word.
Doubts arise in the human mind. They may occur in those with tender consciences, those with overactive minds, those given to imagination, those who have a tendency to overthink, or those who spend a lot of time in self-introspection. One of the first cures for doubts is to anchor the mind in God’s Word, as this is directly mentioned in several passages (memorize 2Co 10:5; Php 4:6-8; Isa 26:3-4).
In many cases, the believer does not doubt God or His Word. The doubts are centered around personal faith. Did I believe the right way? Did I believe enough? Could it really be that simple? The more time believers spend second-guessing their own faith, the more miserable they will become. Instead, understand that the faith required for God’s salvation is a simple one – the Bible calls it “child-like.” Salvation is not based on any degree of faith; it is based on the promises of God and the finished work of the Lord Jesus. It is actually more an understanding – it all comes back to the simplest of truths: “I was a guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me.” That is all any Christian has, and all that is needed.
Another common cause of doubts is testing our own faith against our failures. If you do this, read Romans chapter 7. Here, the Apostle Paul struggles in wretched misery, battling by himself the old sinful nature that is still present in every believer. He states it is a daily struggle. But in the next chapter, he shows how victory is obtained: by living one’s life under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. These two chapters should be read every day by any who are struggling with doubts. Understand this: no matter how great a failure you may occasionally think you are, this is not a surprise to your Heavenly Father. Eternities ago, He knew all about you, loved you with an everlasting love, and chose to reveal His Son in you. You have never disappointed Him, nor will you ever, since He knows the past, present and future. You may disappoint yourself, but this does not change your standing with Him nor your salvation.
Satan is the universal expert in messing with minds. His mind led to his downfall – he only sinned with his thoughts. He knows how to induce people to doubt. He did this expertly with Eve, and she fell. He blinds the minds of the unsaved (2Co 4:3-4). And he will affect your mind if you let him. This is why it has been stated that “the mind is the Devil’s playground.” Three times he tested Jesus to try to get Him to fall. Three times Jesus resisted him successfully with the use of God’s Word. Satan hates it when you fill your mind with the “words of truth” (Pro 22: 21) because he knows God’s Word is more powerful than anything he can throw your way. Do not give Satan “a foothold” into your mind (Eph 4:27). Scripture is the antidote for the fallacies of liberal philosophy and secular humanism.
“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2Co 5:7). We need no faith for that which is naturally seen. But it is also wrong to base our faith on feelings; this stumbles many believers. Many days we just don’t “feel saved.” Discouragements, depression, difficulties and distress all affect us emotionally, and when we are “down,” doubts can easily come. When this occurs, go to the Rock. The poet has said, “Often on the Rock I tremble, faint of heart, and weak of knee; but the mighty Rock of Ages never trembles under me.” Never trust your feelings. Instead, go back and rest on the promises of the Word of God. He never fails, and He always keeps every one of His promises.
Not hiding Scripture in your heart is a root cause of doubts. Better knowledge of God’s Word builds stronger faith. God lamented through Hosea that His people “were destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” This is a great problem today – biblically illiterate Christians. We have many Bibles, but how well do we know them? How much time do we really devote to getting to know God better through His Word?
The old hymn reminds us that we are “standing on the promises of God.” When you doubt, go to His promises and rest there. Finally, when doubts assail your faith, realize that you are giving more importance to the doubt than to the object of your faith. Instead, when you doubt, trust God, go back to His Word and doubt your doubts!