Faith and Three Types of Doubt
Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble,
but He keeps his distance from the proud.
(Psalm 138:6, NIV)
I was seven years old when I first discovered all the participants in my family who made Santa Claus successful. My older brother took me to my parents closet, pulled back the hangers, and revealed the Intellivision, basketball and other toys. It was the first time in my life I remember feeling skeptical about other things.
Do you remember the first time you saw The Wizard of Oz? I do, and I was so bummed that the grand master was a little old man behind the curtain. I felt duped and I didn’t like it. I still enjoyed the movie several times, but I will never forget the disappointment in learning that the power behind the story was a facade.
Jump forward with me to my twenties when I discovered for the first time how the Bible came into existence, how the church was formed, how man received the Word of God, and how much human touch was involved in the stories of faith that I believed to be from God. I really struggled very deeply with faith, trust, security, and a sense of reliable hope. I simply didn’t know how to process doubt and faith.
3 Types of Doubt
Not all doubt is the same. Here are three types of doubt:
- Intellectual Doubt: This is the result of uncertainty related to the truthfulness of the faith, historical facts and consistency of the data we have for our basis of faith. If you have ever tried to reason with your mind how something is possible and were unable to make it all connect or make sense, then you may have had some intellectual doubt. This doubt exists at the level of reasoning and probability.
- Emotional Doubt: This is when one’s emotions wage war with one’s reason and intellect. Have your emotions ever risen up and waged an all out assault on your reasoning? A study by Gary Habermas revealed that when it comes to individual doubts, 69% of the doubt people experience is emotional doubt. People feel insecure, angry, anxious, and even depressed, and project these emotions onto the reliability of God and the truth of Christ. They approach faith with an emotional doubt against hope. Emotional doubt is when anxiety, skepticism, paranoia and fear continually sabotage things you may cognitively know to be true.
- Spiritual Doubt: Your God-given ability to imagine and relate intuitively is deeply spiritual. Spiritual Doubt is when your imaginations and personal intuition is set on imagining the worst without hope. Spiritual doubt is the fuel of all other doubt. Spiritual doubt is the result of having nothing inside of you pointing you toward any level of desirable outcome or future.
How to Change Your World
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12, NLT).
God’s dream for your life is fulfilled when you walk by faith in the midst of heart-sickening doubt, pain and uncertainty.
Faith is not the absence of doubt; faith is the action you take by choice and by God’s power in the midst of all doubt. As you move forward regardless of what you see, feel or even deeply experience you are going to encounter faith that is real.
One thing I can assure you, God will always reward those who diligently seek him even in the midst of tremendous storms of all kinds of doubt.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. . . whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1, 6, ESV).
Today, open up your heart and walk by faith regardless of what you feel. Praise even without feeling gratitude. Worship even without feeling holy enough. Make the decision that you will see God’s dream fulfilled and you will walk by faith today.
Nothing keeps a person from changing their world for good like doubt. Doubt paralyzes people, silences their lips and robs them of their passion. Have you ever been in a season of doubt? How did it affect your life and how did you get out of it?
What is the role of faith in you fulfilling God’s dream for your life? How does “walking by faith” look for you right now?
If 69% of doubt is emotional doubt, then what emotions creep in and attack what you sense God leading you to do in your life?
Lord Jesus, you honor faith that presses through in the midst of doubt and uncertainty. Empower me to walk by faith and speak by faith. Remove the language of doubt from my heart. Heal me of everything that drives my fear and anxiety. Fill me with your divine confidence and courage. Fill me with vision today to live by faith fully assured in my whole being of your love and your presence. Today, Lord, I receive your gift of faith and ask you for greater measures for your glory. In Your Name, Amen
- WALK IT OUT – Nothing in this world will change all three levels of doubt like walking by faith will. Read the word. Memorize the Word and be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Feed yourself and walk it out. Don’t ignore your doubts, just confess them and replace them with the truth of God’s Word and act out the word.
- GET IN A GROUP – explore the opportunities to connect with other people in an Anchor Group at www.myanchorchurch.com/groups. You will grow and you will help others grow in their faith.
- GROWTH TRACK – register today for Step 1, 2 or 3 in the Growth Track at www.myanchorchurch.com/growthtrack. Then tell someone about what is happening in your journey to Know God.