Just Justice

Just Justice

Justice makes for great drama.  It is the centerpiece of many tv shows, movies, and books because the search for justice is epic and dramatic.  In the movie A Time to Kill a lawyer’s closing arguments are a truly enlightening thought about the dramatic difficulties of seeing and finding justice in our world.

In all this legal maneuvering something got lost.  That something is the truth.  It is incumbent upon us lawyers not to just talk about the truth but to actually seek it to find it, to live it. My teacher taught me that. 
What in us seeks truth?  Our minds or is it our hearts?  I tried to prove a black man could get a fair trial in the South that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. That’s not the truth.  The eyes of the law are human eyes yours and mine, and until we can see each other as equals justice is never going to be evenhanded.  It will only be a reflection of our own prejudices.  So until that day we have a duty under God to seek the truth not with our minds where fear and hate turn commonality into prejudice but with our hearts…

This is one of the most powerful cinematic scenes I have ever seen.  The lawyer went on to describe the horrors committed against a young black girl in graphic detail and concluded by asking the jury to imagine the girl was white.  Justice immediately looked different.

Whether we want to admit it or not justice is dramatic because it is difficult.  The difficulty of justice is often not the case, the situation, or the decision.  Often what makes justice difficult is us.  It is our own hearts, our own prejudices, our own thought patterns, or simply our own selfishness.

Justice is a topic the Christian must consider.  Justice is something a follower of Christ must be FOR.  Too often we as, the followers of Christ, are known for the things we are against and not the things we are for.  (We are currently addressing some of these issues in our current sermon series – FOR.)

We must always remember, however, that ultimately we, as the followers of Christ, are for the glory and Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These other issues are not ultimately what we are for; they are consequently what we are for.  Justice, Life, Family, and Freedom are not ultimately what we stand for; they are consequently what we stand for.  These are the consequences of the Gospel and salvation not the cause nor the substance of salvation.  Being for justice will not save a soul; but saved souls ought to be for justice.

Justice is not the Gospel; Jesus is.  When you speak justice but you fail to speak Jesus, you do not do Jesus, nor justice, justice.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  (Micah 6:8)

Micah was a farmer – as best we know.  He came from a place that only farmers came from because that was the only thing to do there – farm.  He had no particular power or position to speak to the people of God, yet God gave him a calling and clear message.  He spoke into the life of Israel at a time that they were guilty of grave injustices.  They were especially guilty of injustice toward, as Timothy Keller describes in his book Generous Justice, the quartet of the vulnerable – the widow, the orphan, the immigrant, and the poor.  It is in this situation that Micah speaks the words above.

If you want to do good then you need to DO justice, LOVE kindness, and walk HUMBLY with God.

Justice is something you believe in when it is something you act upon.  Justice is not sentiment nor nice thought.  Justice is action and work.  The word here from the Hebrew being used for justice means more than the righting of a wrong.  It means the doing of right toward the wronged (and the vulnerable).

Job defends himself as just not by saying I have not oppressed the widow and orphan, but I have done good toward them.  I have been just towards them.  Often in western thought we have a very short-sighted view of justice.  For us, when a wrong is punished justice is served.

I have been convicted of one crime in my life – criminal mischief.  My 4 friends and I that got busted pulling a stupid prank had to pay a collective of around $2000 in fines and fees.  The interesting issue to me is that we stole some decorations from yards and destroyed a few things owned by people in the process.  Those people – who we took property from and damaged the property of – did not get a dime.  Justice was served when we were punished; but we were not required to make anything right toward those we wronged.  Often this is how we see justice.  But justice is much more than that.

Ridding an injustice does not right an injustice.

The young child experiencing molestation does not receive justice simply because some adults find and out and make sure it stops.  That is not justice.  Justice is punishment of the perpetrator AND work to nurture the child physically, emotionally, and spiritually so they know are of value and worth.  This child needs to know that they worthy of justice.  When full justice is not brought they often grow up and struggle to see that they are worth justice and have full value.

When we as a nation ruled slavery illegal we ridded ourselves of a practice of terrible injustice but we did not make right the injustice suffered.  We simply stopped it from being continued.  When we gave to minorities equal rights and banned Jim Crow laws we ridded ourselves of many injustices but we did not make right those injustices.  Ridding an injustice is not righting an injustice.

And this is why justice is dramatic and difficult.

If we, as humans, are going to do justice we must LOVE kindness.  Jesus was capable of anger without sin, but we struggle with it.  When Jesus walked into the temple and courts of the Gentiles was being used as a marketplace but the court of the Jews was a place of worship, the discrimination infuriated him and drove people out with a whip saying, “you have made this a den of thieves.”  Jesus did this and did not sin.  We struggle to do that.

Doing justice requires loving kindness.  Justice is more than punishing wrong; it is also giving to the vulnerable and the wronged their rights and what is right.  This requires kindness as much as it requires justice.  This loving kindness is an unconditional view for good toward others.

We must understand that forgiveness is never an act of injustice.  It is never wrong for the one who has been wronged to forgive the one who has wronged them.  It is, however, injustice for someone to have the ability to hold someone accountable for their wrong actions taken from them.  It is always a good thing to forgive, but it is an unjust thing to force a false forgiveness by robbing someone of their right to hold account a wrong suffered.

Loving kindness creates the space for grace.  We all live in spaces for grace.  In every relationship.  Any person that you have a right relationship with after more than a few hours or days of knowing them is providing you a space for grace.  Why?  Because we all wrong one another – even if in little ways.  We live with a certain level of loving kindness towards others every day – unfortunately just not with everyone.

When we walk humbly with our God we have the capacity to do justice and love kindness.  God Himself is the source of such capacity.  It is by His Spirit that we learn to love our enemies and to bless those who curse us.  It is by the Spirit of God that we learn how to go the second mile and to speak truth in love.

Humility gives us the capacity to see injustice – including our own.  We will never bring justice to injustices we refuse to see, to causes we refuse to hear, or to people we refuse to value.

The justified are just.  We, the followers of Christ, have been justified by and in Christ.  This means we who were in wrong standing with God are now in right standing with God even though we had no capacity to make ourselves right.

When God made him who knew no sin to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21)– he brought justice in Christ on our behalf.  Jesus suffered – not our injustice.  Jesus suffered what was our just punishment for sin – but he did so much more than that.

Ye,s justification means that all of our sins have been put on Jesus; but it also means all of his righteousness has been put on us.  Jesus has been fully treated as if he fully did everything we have done wrong.  We, therefore, can now be treated as if we have fully done everything Jesus has done right.  We have the capacity and the command to do justice because justice has not been avoided nor abolished.  Justice has been fulfilled.

I encourage you to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.  But remember – ultimately the world does not need justice.  Ultimately our world needs Jesus.  Yet, if we are going to give the world Jesus – we need to give them justice.  Be wise though, your greatest injustice in the world could be giving the world justice without giving Jesus justice.  Give them Jesus for he is just.

A second blog will post tomorrow addressing how to view justice when you are the one that has suffered the injustice.  

The Encouragement Challenge

Discouragement happens.  It comes into all of our lives.  Discouragement steals our joy.  It robs us of peace.  Discouragement is not always defeat; but the fear of it.  The sense that things not only are not going well, but will not go well.

Discouragement is the loss or lack of confidence.  It is the losing of courage.  When confidence and courage are lost they can be very difficult to find.  For the Christ-follower, the idea of courage is closely related to that of faith.  Faith is something that leads us to do the extraordinary – like move mountains or walk on water or see people healed.  Faith is the courage to believe God – not in word but in deed.

Encouragement, unfortunately, does not happen often enough.  Did you know, follower of Jesus, that you are commanded to encourage?  “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  (Hebrews 3:13)

Yet, encouragement is something I believe is lacking too often from and in the life of the believer.  I wonder what would your church would look like a year from now if everyone in your church took seriously the command to encourage one another?  What would your marriage look like if you and your spouse became each other’s greatest encouragers?  How differently would your children live out their faith if you became their greatest encourager?

Encouragement, Biblically, is much more than a pat on the back and an “atta boy.”  Encouragement means to exhort – to give instructive encouragement.  We are called to speak the “truth in love” to one another to build one another up toward maturity in Christ.

What would happen if the believers around you began to speak courage into your life about doing anything and everything God gifted you and commanded you to do?  What would happen if you did this for others?

6 Tips for becoming an encourager:
1.  Say what you need to say.
When you feel lead to share something with someone, speak up.
2.  Say things with a right spirit.
Sarcasm has become an unfortunate enemy of encouragement.  Use it sparingly and wisely.
3.  Say things that are true.
You will never encourage faithfulness from a place of faithlessness.
4.  Encourage with what you encourage to.
Truth encourages truth.  Hope encourages hope.  Joy encourages joy.  You get the picture.
5.  Put your trust in God that is working in people, not just in the people.
Considering one another God’s workmanship helps us not give up on His work.
6.  Encouragement is best face to face.

Who needs you to encourage them today? Who do you need to speak some truth in love to today? Who needs you to show up in person today?

THE ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE –
Will you commit to a week of encouragement?  A month?  A year?
Here is the challenge – choose one person you will encourage this week.
If they need to be brought back to truth bring truth in love to them.
If they need faithfulness appreciated, appreciate them.
Be personal…Be specific…Be encouraging.
If you do it for one week, why not try a month?
If for a month, why not a year?
If a year, why not for life?

Eye Damage

Yesterday was a solar eclipse.  Experts put much time and effort into warning people about viewing the eclipse.  Yet, last night at 8:20 PM google saw a peak in the search for “my eyes hurt.”  People began seeking google to help the figure out if they had unwisely damaged their eyes.  Experts say it may take several days or up to a week before you would know if you damaged your eyes.  In the end, the only way to really know is to have an examination by an expert.  No matter how many times you google the question you will be unable to truly examine the health of your own eye.

Jesus taught us a pointed and practical truth about ourselves when he said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5

Currently, we are teaching on the Biblical command of encouragement.  Encouragement is the great privilege that followers of Christ have to “put courage into” others.  We have the command to speak life into others in the name of and in the power of the One who gives life – the Lord Jesus Christ.  Encouragement is a command – not a suggestion.  We are called to encourage one another.

The hard part about encouragement is that it requires truth speaking.  We are admonished in Scripture to “speak truth in love.”  Many excuse themselves from such commands in the idea “well, it’s the truth.”  And it is the truth, or at least, their version of it.  I believe one of the most important elements to be a truth speaker is being willing to be a truth hearer.  Not just a hearer, but a doer of the truth.  To hear how truth applies to you first before you ever have the audacity to speak how it applies to someone else.

According to the teachings of Jesus recorded Matthew 7, we are completely incapable of being used by the Lord to help a brother or sister deal with a problem in their life until we have been willing to deal with that problem in our own life. I do not believe this means we have completely overcome a sin or a struggle.  I believe these words mean that we must live in humble and open honesty about those issues.  We must be willing to deal with the truth of our own sin before God can use us to speak into someone else’s.

Often this passage is grossly and horribly misused to mean that you should never have opinion about right and wrong in another’s life.  No, Jesus teaches you – START WITH YOU.  As we experience God’s gracious work in our own lives we can be used by God to be a part of that work of grace in the lives of others.  These two realities work in cooperation not in opposition to each other.

If we are not careful we sell the love of God very short.  It can end up simply mean being nice and accepted towards people no matter wrong and sin.  We should be kind.  We should be able to accept others as they are, but if we think kindness and acceptance means that we should not speak truth into sin, then we dishonor everything about the death and resurrection of Christ and forfeit the very Gospel itself.  Love is not that easy.  God’s love was not that he said – you are all good.  He said “none of you are good” but there is “One who is good.”  The “One who is good” will himself take upon himself your bad (or unrighteousness) so that you can become good (or righteous).  That righteous is not of you, it is the righteousness of the Good One – Jesus Christ.  That is good news.  But it is news that you will never share if all you think you should do is accept everyone and everything as good.

Yet, we must always START WITH SELF.  Always.  If you do not, God cannot and will not use you in the life of others.  Be like Paul and never see anyone else as the chief of sinners.  For you, that must always be you.

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I want to share a very practical application of this spiritual reality that is currently needs to be heard in our country and culture.

The issue is racism.

Racism is sin.  Racism is real from all sides and all races – in some way from almost all people.  I am not only guilty of racism in my lifetime – both intentional and unintentional – I am also the recipient of racism in my life – both intentional and unintentional.

My call to the Christian is stop saying everyone needs to point out everything or nothing.  It is right for me – as a white man – to speak into white racism.  I am calling me out.  I am dealing with the speck in my eye and in our collective eye.  It is right for a denomination such as the Southern Baptist Convention – that is historically and predominantly white -to call out white nationalism and the alt-right.

This is us admitting and dealing with the speck in our eye.  If God is ever going to use any of us in this great work that should be the automatic result of the Gospel – that there is no race in Christ but that Christ is one and we are all one in Christ – then we have to start with self.

God has to start with you.  When you reject this what you reject is the very truth you need to deal with so that you can be changed by the Holy Spirit.  You are literally saying leaving my speck alone until you acknowledge the plank in others’ eyes.  I can’t do that and obey Jesus.  I would literally have to disobey the Lord to address this issue in that order and with that priority.

This summer the SBC wrote a wonderful resolution concerning racism.  In it they clearly state that all forms of racism are wrong and sin.  Then they call out what is the predominate form of in their own midst.  This sounds very much like what Jesus commanded of us.  It is dealing with this speck.

I realize that means that Christians of every race ought to call out racism in their midst (and some do), but guess what, until I have fully dealt within my own – that is not my job to do.  Now, the further I move into allowing God to fully change me and change His church the more we can be that voice.

If you are rejecting the call to face racism in your own race, be aware you have speck in your eye problem – no matter your race.  Allow God to convict you and change you – then see how he will use you to change others.

Pray for God to bring a unity that has never existed in this country.  Pray that God would start in the Church – the church of all races.  Pray that God would start in your church.  Pray that God would start in you – because you should never expect your church to become collectively what you are not becoming individually.

God move…and move me first.

Right, Wrong, and Wise

Right or Wrong?  Wouldn’t life be easier if everything were a simple “yes or no”?  Life’s choices would be easier if we right and wrong was always crystal clear.  That, however, is not how life works.

James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Even this verse, which gives a high standard for sin, opens up a discussion that can people can intelligently disagree about.  What does the phrase “knows the right thing” mean?  What are we liable for in our actions and what are we not?

This verse is not actually intended to be the Scriptures total definition of sin (right or wrong).  This passage intended to be a guide.  In other words, when you know the right thing – whether by clear instruction, wisdom given, or leading of the Spirit – and you do not do it, you sin.

Right and wrong are easier to define on certain issues.  Other issues require some thought, discussion, study, and consideration.  The main goal of this blog is to encourage you to seek that wisdom.  This Sunday I am preaching on the topic “who is wise?”  My key text will be Proverbs 14:8, 15.  The idea in this passage is that a wise person “consider his ways.”  The wise person does not just do, they consider.  They consider further than the fork in the road they stand at or the crossroads they find themselves considering.  They consider not just the decision at hand, but where it leads.  They consider their “way.”

The book of Proverbs is a must for a believer.  You need to read and re-read it.  You need to study it and memorize it.  Here is why.

Honoring the Lord requires more than simple right and wrong decisions, it requires wise decisions.

Wisdom is the ability to see beyond simple right and wrong and see better and best.  It is the ability to apply knowledge to a situation.  It is the capacity for a person to consider who they are and who someone else is and make a decision about a situation not based on a universally known right or wrong, but the ability to apply knowledge to a particular situation.

The Proverbs help us learn how to do this.  I hope to share some insight in how to use wisdom.

  1. You must want wisdom to have it. You need to love it and desire to learn it.  (Prov. 19:8)
  2. You must want what is beneficial not just what is permissible. (1 Cor. 10:23) Some applicable examples of this from Probers are the teachings on gluttony, laziness, or alcohol.  Wisdom calls you to consider more than what is wrong to consider what is wise. How does one apply the truth “beer is a brawler and wine a mocker” into your life?  Well you consider the benefit of the drink.  Do I really want to pour some liquid brawler or mocker in me right before I spend time with my spouse that I am already aggravated with?  NO.  Consider the way not just the wrong.  (Prov. 20:1)  Or how does one consider the idea that gluttony and being lazy go together in Scripture?  (Prov. 26:15)  If I have a lot of work to do this afternoon, should I go to the all you can eat Chinese buffet for lunch?  NO – not because of simple wrong, but because of wisdom. 
  3. You must want to honor others above have for yourself.  (Prov. 31:4-5) This is especially true for anyone who leads.  The King should not drink because he has too much responsibility and power to end up foolish.  It is not the right or wrong of the drink but the wisdom to not allow drink to have influence over great power or authority that must be considered.  Consider wisdom not just right and wrong.

I challenge you to become a student of wisdom in Scripture.  So many of life’s decisions are addressed in the wisdom writings.  You must, however, not read them for simple yes/no commands.  God is teaching you wise ways to decide right and wrong along your way.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.  Proverbs 4:7

Have you given up on the Gospel?

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

Do you believe that Jesus Christ will finish what He started in you?  Do you believe he will finish his work in others?  I mean truly finish it.

Salvation is not simply a rescue from eternal perishing – although it is that.   Salvation is the reality that we are “new creations.”  We know the Bible teaches that the “old is gone and the new has come.”

But, if we as followers of Christ are not careful, we actually give up on the Gospel.  We give up on the reality that the Gospel works.  We give up on Jesus actually changing us (and others).

I teach our church to “keep it real.”  This means to be authentic with one another.  If we are not careful though, being authentic can become an excuse to feel comfortable sharing one’s sin struggles not being challenged to seek victory over it in Christ.  “Keeping it real” is just as much about having people and a place that you can share with others the sin struggles in your life, as it is about being told by those same people that Jesus changes things.  Being authentic and real does not lower the standard of the Gospel, it empowers it.

David in Psalm 51 cries out to God to blot out his transgressions.  He begs God to renew in him a right spirit.  Does repentance look like this in your life?  Are you actually expecting God to change you?  Are you actually expecting the Gospel to have power in your life today?

What about others?  Have you begun excusing sin instead of expecting change?  We live in a culture where Christians are completely abandoning the moral teachings of the Bible when it comes to marriage, sexuality, gluttony, and other behaviors.  Christians often would rather celebrate someone’s happiness in their sin than proclaim the real changing power of Christ.

The Gospel does not change situations or standards…the Gospel changes sinners to saints.

We sell the Gospel short by saying grace means that God loves you like you and that you do not have to change.  When in all actuality it is the Gospel that changes you.  It is the power of God unto salvation.  I have grieved watching once faithful followers of Christ absolutely abandon the Gospel itself by choosing to placate to sin in their lives or the lives of others instead of holding to the finishing power of Christ.

I challenge you to read Psalm 51 and really dive into what repentance looks like.  Not only what it sounds like, but what it looks like after the act of repentance.  What should the penitent person expect to happen in their life and the lives of others?  David asked for the joy of his salvation to be returned.  He asked God to create a pure heart in him.  David came broken by his son but asking to be built again.  He expected God to build something better and different.  He expected to change.

Do you believe that Jesus changes people or that he leaves people like they are? Do you believe the Gospel means that no matter what sin pattern and behavior your life is currently trapped in, that if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord you can and will find deliverance and freedom?

I challenge you to stop giving up on the Gospel in your life and expect to change.  Stop quitting on your friends and loved ones by accepting their sin as a good thing and proclaim to them that God’s grace means Jesus changes people.  Quit pretending that you have somehow progressed in your thinking to understand the Gospel means God does not care about sin.

If you are celebrating sin instead of proclaiming the power of Christ…If you are backing down on Biblical standards instead of speaking salvation in the Savior…If you have come to grips with your weakness instead taken hold of his power to change you…you have given up on the Gospel.   You have bought into a sad Gospel substitute where grace is cheap, powerless, and empty.

The Gospel means God cared about sin so much he sent his son to die for it.  He raised him from the dead for it.  And he has sent the Spirit to now convict us of sin and righteousness in our lives.

Don’t give up on the Gospel.  Expect God to do what he said he would do and he said he would finish what he started in you and in others.

God has not given up…neither should we.

Great and Greatly

To Wise Up…Look Up!

This simple statement inspired by Proverbs 1:7 is the driving truth behind our summer series “Wise Up.”  We are preaching on Psalms and Proverbs all summer and we invite you to read through these two wisdom writings through this reading plan.

Psalm 96 teaches us some wonderfully wise truths about worship.

It is wise to praise what is praise-worthy.
Whether it is in our worship of the one True God or in our appreciation for one another praise that which is praise-worthy is simply wise.  The wise person speaks the praise of that which deserves to whom deserves it.

Psalm 96:4 makes this point abundantly clear.  “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.”

God is not great because he is greatly praised.  God is greatly praised because he is great.
The wise person greatly praises the Lord because it is simply the only right response to the greatness of God.  If there were no other reason than his greatness, we should still praise Him, but not only is he great, he is good.

This week there has been much online and on-air chatter about who is great.  The NBA Finals has sparked some odd and strange dialogue.  The defeat of Lebron James and his Cavaliers causes some to denounce his greatness as a player while others diminish the greatness of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson because they all play on a team together.  The conversation about who is the greatest players will simply continue and the opinions will grow in number.  Why?  None of these players have a greatness that separates them in every way from everything else.  God is so great he is different.  He is unique.  There is literally none like him.   Not even close.

Yet, I would say the wise sportscaster or social media commentator would be willing to acknowledge each player for their individual talents.  Truthfully, they are all great basketball players.  The wise man is willing to praise what is praise-worthy.

God simply desires what God deserves.
God desires, and therefore demands, our praise.  Why?  He deserves it.  He desires it because it is right and he wants you to be right with Him.  He desires this so much that he gave his one and only son that if you would believe in Him you would not perish but have eternal life.

Praise that is honors what is praise-worthy includes works and words.
Psalm 96:6 instructs us to “Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.”
This literally means give God glory and strength.  The issue is that God is already all-powerful and absolutely glorious.  He does not need your glory or your strength – but he deserves it.

We worship the Lord honorably when our worship with our words matches the worship with our works.  We serve the Lord with words by “declaring his glory among the nations” and “his marvelous work among all the peoples.”  We honor him with our words when we “tell of his salvation from day to day.”  (These are quotes from Psalm 96:1-3)

We give to him strength by serving him with all our of our life.  God rebukes His people in Isaiah by telling them you “honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.”  The heart that is truly for God leads to words from our mouths and works from our hands and lives that bring God the glory he deserves.

I have a challenge for you.

Greatly praise the God that is great.  Read the Psalms and Proverbs with us this summer.  Write a psalm and share it with us.  Serve the Lord with your hands and your heart.  Speak his truth to those far from him and sing his truth among those who love him.

Click this link to check out the sermon from Sunday on this passage.

 

Opportunities to Worship with Words –
Sundays 9 & 10:45 every Sunday.
Students grade 6-12 – Wednesdays at 6 PM.  (Although not tonight due to VBS)
Kids – VBS today and tomorrow at both campuses – Airline 9-11:30 AM / Prairieville 6-8:30

Opportunities to Worship with Work –
Geaux Day – June 24

When doubt comes…   

Doubt is unavoidable part of living a life of faith.  Faith is not the absence of doubt.  Faith is the reality of certainty.  Faith is being “sure of what you hope for and certain of what you have not seen.”  Many believers take the words sure and certain to mean that they should never have disquieting or uncomfortable thoughts or questions about what they believe.

Faith, however, is the choice of will to believe any when you have a question.  Faith is certainty in the one you believe in even when you struggle to see them in and from your life.  Doubt comes to us all.  I spoke plainly about that this past Sunday as I preached from Matthew 7. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” 

After my message Sunday I received a great question via email.  This follower of Christ boldly proclaimed their faith and their certainty in Christ, but then admitted that they still have doubts at times.  Their question, however, was the right one.  “What do I do when I doubt?”  Now that is a great question and one worth answering and worth sharing.

What do we do when we doubt?

#1.  Do not fake it till you make it. Faith is not fake…ever.  Don’t fake it – face it.  Bring your honest questions, doubt, or fears to God.  Share them with other believers who can help you find answers in God’s Word. 

#2.  Go to the Word “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

God’s word reveals more than thoughts, but intentions. Through his Word God can bring us to the right place in our hearts as we also discover the right truths with our heads.  They go together.  Often when we doubt we try to feed the head but ignore the heart of we try to jumpstart the heart but we ignore the head.  We need to learn truth and lean into the truth in seasons of doubt.

1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”  It does not say so that you may think or that you may hope – but that you may know.  These things have been written.  The Scriptures exist so we can live in certainty not doubt.

Fill your mind with truth.  Memorize Scriptures that declare the grace and effectiveness of God in salvation.

Here are a couple of good verses to memorize when dealing with doubts. Hebrews 7:25  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through                him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Romans 6:10-11  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives                to God.  Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

#3.  Learn more than your questions. Ask questions.  Seek out answers to those particular issues by asking season believers and reading intelligent and Scripture-honoring authors, but don’t just seek answers to your questions.  Seek the truth and the One who is True.  Some times we cause ourselves more questions if all we seek are specific answers.  We stop nurturing our personal growth and only seek to solve our current faith struggle.  That struggle is a part of a larger relationship with God.  Treat it as such.

#4.  Pray Spend personal time with God in prayer.  Do not stop doing the acts of faith when doubt clouds their significance.  You will not believe in the Lord more by ignoring him.  You will grow in your faith by pursuing him.

#5.  Repent I put this last because I want to spend the most time on it.  Doubt is never an isolated issue.  The majority of doubt is birthed out of disobedience.  Rarely do people struggle with doubt when they feel they are in a right relationship with the Lord.  Typically people who are struggling with doubt have experienced other spiritual issues in their lives.  Some times it is circumstances that are beyond their control, but the majority of doubt is birthed out a place of sin.  People living in rebellion against God are going to have a difficult time experiencing the peace found in the Spirit of the Lord.  You are asking God to make you feel comfort and peace and he is calling you back to Himself.  He has not rejected you.  He has not forgotten you – your name is still in the Book.  You simply are no longer in a position for his peace to reflect clearly upon you.

Repent.  Turn away from your sin. AND trust the goodness and grace of God.

Stop asking God for peace when you know He should bring conviction and restlessness into your life.  Sin will not condemn you again, but it will prevent you from experiencing the fullness of a right relationship with God – as it should.

#6.  Recognize spiritual warfare for what it is. The thief has come to kill and to steal and to destroy, but I have come that you might have life and that life to the full.  John 10:10

We have an adversary.  He is the accuser.  He is the prince of deception.  He wants you to live in doubt.  We face struggles that are not of flesh and blood but of spirits and principalities.  I do not encourage you to worry with what it is you face as much as I challenge you to call upon the One who has already faced every battle own your behalf…and won!

Satan’s greatest tool is doubt.  He asks the first question in the Bible, “Did not God say…”  His quest is to get you to say did not God.  Doubt is a distraction; not a death sentence.  Doubt cannot kill faith, but it can kill faithfulness.  When you feel doubt…fight.

One key weapon is this truth found in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  Take captive every thought with OBEDIENCE.  Do what you know is right even when you are not sure you feel like all is right.  Take captive the thoughts of doubt with actions of faith.

 

Doubt is something every believer faces.  Those who come out of such seasons stronger – face their doubts head on with the truth and in the power of the True One.