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DOUBT AND UNBELIEF
A. Introduction: When Jesus Christ was on earth, He would speak to things -- demons, diseases, storms, fig trees -- and those things would respond to His command. Matt 8:1-34
1. Jesus did not do these things as God. Phil 2:6-8; Matt 8:27
a. He did them as a man united with God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit. John 6:57; Acts 10:38
b. He did them as a man authorized to speak the Father's words and do the Father's works by the power of the Father. John 14:10,11
2. While on earth, Jesus said some amazing things about the works He did.
a. Jesus said that His followers could do these kinds of things, too. John 14:12
b. He authorized us to speak His words and do the works He did in His name. Matt 28:17-20;
c. And, Jesus personally guaranteed that He would back us when we speak His word to do His works in His name. John 14:13,14
3. It is in connection with the works He did that Jesus talked about mountain moving faith.
Matt 21:17-22; Mark 11:22,23
a. Jesus gave us these wonderful statements about what faith can do.
b. We have been examining why these verses don't seen to work for most of us like Jesus said they would.
4. Mountain moving, fig tree killing faith is very specific. It is the faith by which God operates and the faith by which Jesus operated when He was on earth.
a. Mark 11:22--Have faith in God, in the Greek, is literally “Have the faith of God”.
b. God speaks and expects what He says to come to pass. Gen 1:3; Isa 55:11
c. This kind of faith speaks and believes that what it says shall come to pass. Mark 11:23
1. That is how Jesus killed the fig tree, cast out devils, and healed people. Mark 11:14;
2. That is how we do the same works Jesus did when He was here on earth.
5. In order for you to operate in mountain moving, fig tree killing faith, there are some things you must know.
a. You must know that you are authorized to speak in the name of Jesus and do the works He did.
b. You must know what you are authorized to speak to and change.
c. You must know that God backs His word and will bring visible results in your case.
6. When we say “You must know”, we mean you must be fully persuaded and completely convinced. That will only happen if you take time to think through and meditate on these truths from God's word.
7. When Jesus made these wonderful statements about mountain moving, fig tree killing faith, in each case, He said we must not doubt. Matt 21:21; Mark 11:23
a. When it did not work for the disciples, Jesus said it was because of their doubt and unbelief.
b. In the rest of this lesson, we want to specifically focus on the issue of doubt and unbelief -- what it is and how to get rid of it.
B. Let's examine some situations where Jesus said that unbelief was involved and see what insight we can gain from these incidents.
1. Matt 14:23-33--The disciples were in a boat in the midst of a rough sea, when Jesus come toward them, walking on the water. Peter asked to walk on the water, too, and Jesus authorized him to do so.
a. v29,30--Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus. But, when he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. It was no longer working for him.
b. v31--Jesus saved Peter, but asked Peter why he doubted. The very question suggests Peter had a choice. He did not have to doubt.
1. By asking Peter why he doubted, Jesus was asking him: Why did you let what you see cause you to doubt my word?
2. The word doubt used here means to stand in two ways, implying uncertainty as to which way to take.
c. Peter had two different ways to take in this situation -- both with very different consequences.
1. He could choose what sight told him -- you can't walk on water.
2. Or, he could choose what Jesus told him -- you can walk on water.
e. Peter rejected God's word because of the testimony of his senses. Jesus called what Peter did doubt.
2. Matt 17:14-21--Jesus' disciples tried to cast out a devil but were unable to do so. Jesus said it was because of their unbelief.
a. Remember, they had been authorized to cast out devils. Matt 10:1
b. v20--Notice, in His explanation, Jesus contrasted faith and unbelief. The two are opposites.
1. II Cor 5:7--Faith and sight are contrasted in this verse. They are opposites.
2. John 20:27--Jesus said that walking by sight is unbelief.
c. In this situation, the disciples let what they could see move them and they let what they saw determine what they believed. That is the same thing as unbelief. Mark 9:20,26
d. To base your actions on what you see when it contradicts God's word is unbelief.
3. Doubt and unbelief don't mean you believe nothing.
a. Even when you are in doubt and unbelief, you are believing something.
b. You are believing that what you see and feel is more reliable than what God says.
c. Unbelief rejects the word of God because of the testimony of the senses.
C. Abraham is held up to us as an example of one whose faith we are to follow.
1. He is one who believed what God said without seeing (without sense evidence), and eventually, he saw results.
a. God told Abraham he was going to be a father when Abraham was too old to be a father and everything he could see said it would not happen.
b. In his situation, Abraham could look at what sense knowledge told him or he could look at what God said. He chose to look at what God said.
c. Abraham faced a choice -- to be strong in faith or weak in faith. Rom 4:19-21
2. Weak faith considers what it sees and staggers at the promise of God through unbelief.
a. Weak faith puts what it sees about what God says.
b. Weak faith staggers or wavers between two opinions (what it sees and what God says).
c. Weak faith is actually unbelief. Weak faith puts stock in what it sees even though what it sees contradicts God's word.
3. Strong faith doesn't consider what it sees as a reason to doubt God.
a. Strong faith doesn't waver between two opinions -- God's word and sense evidence.
b. Strong faith is settled on the word of God. It gives glory to God before it sees any change.
c. Strong faith is fully persuaded that God will make His word good -- do what He promised.
4. To doubt means to stagger or waver between two things -- what you see and what God says.
a. James 1:6--Only it must be in faith that he asks, with no wavering --no hesitating, no doubting. For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea, that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. (Amp)
b. James 1:8--[For being as he is] a man of two minds -- hesitating, dubious, irresolute -- [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything (he thinks, feels, decides). (Amp)
D. The opposite of staggering and wavering before the promise of God is professing His word and holding fast to His word.
1. In most situations of life, there are three witnesses, three voices, speaking.
a. The testimony of God's word, the testimony of your senses, and your own testimony.
b. When we add our testimony to God's testimony despite what we see and feel -- we overcome.
c. When we add our testimony to the witness of our senses, we sink, just like Peter did.
2. Doubt and unbelief reject the testimony of God's word because of the testimony of the senses.
a. To doubt in your heart means to put what you see and feel above what God says. Mark 11:23
b. To believe in your heart means to put what God says above what you see or fee.
c. When your heart and your mouth agree, then you see results. Rom 10:9,10
3. Heb 11:11--Sarah, Abraham's wife, had a baby because she judged God who promised faithful.
a. Abraham was fully persuaded that God would do what He said He'd do.
b. Faith is not moved by what it sees because it understands that God will make His word good.
4. We boldly declare about ourselves and our situation what God says.
a. Heb 10:23--Then, we hold fast to saying the same thing God says because God is faithful.
b. God will make His word good in our case.
E. The man who lives and walks by faith in God's word requires no evidence from the senses. He has his proof that the issue is settled -- God's word.
1. In reality, none of this is a problem of faith -- it is a matter of the integrity of the word of God.
a. In God reliable? Does He lie? Can we depend on Him to do what He says, to make His word good in our case?
b. What God says is. What God says will become. If He did not want it to be, He would not have said it.
2. What would you do if you could see with your eyes what God says in His word? Praise and thank Him for it!
a. Praise and thank Him before you see and you will see.
b. Faith is independent of sense knowledge. Faith does not accept sense evidence as a reason to doubt God.
3. Hold fast to your profession of faith in God and His word. Heb 4:14; 10:23
a. That doesn't mean confess it 1,000 times to make it happen. If God says it is so, it is already so.
If God says something will be, it is as good as done -- regardless of what you do or don't say.
b. It means you've said that you believe God's word. Hold fast to His word when sense knowledge challenges it.
c. Hold fast = keep in memory (I Cor 15:1,2). II Cor 10:5
4. Once again, this all boils down to the integrity of the word of God.
a. It comes down to meditating on these things until the reality of them dawns on you and dominates you, until you are as convinced of what God says as you are that two plus two is four.
b. To doubt is to waver between what you see and what God says -- the seen and the unseen.
c. The cure for doubt is meditation in God's word. Sarah judge Him faithful who had promised.
Meditation in God's word will build your confidence in His faithfulness. Ps 9:10; Josh 1:8
5. God's word is true despite what you see or feel and if you side in with His word, God will change what you see and feel.
a. From God's point of view, Peter could walk on water even when he was sinking.
b. From God's point of view, from the moment Jesus spoke to the fig tree it was a dead tree.
c. From God's point of view, from the moment He spoke to Abraham, Abraham was a father.
6. It really isn't your great faith. It's God's faithfulness to keep His word, to fulfill His word, and you confidence in Him and His word.
a. But, you have to be fully persuaded -- so much so that what you see and feel doesn't move you at all. In other words, you don't doubt what God says.
b. Take the time to mediate on these truths until they dominate you. You can grow to the point where you doubt now, where you do not waver or stagger.
c. Then, you'll see mountains move and fig trees die. You'll see demons leave and diseases depart.