Sunday March 23, 2008 -
DOUBTS CAUSED BY A LACK OF COMMITMENT
Take note in this series of the different forms doubt can take in the Christian’s heart. This is one of the things that makes doubt so difficult to deal with. It is like a virus with many different strains. Last week we looked at doubts caused by inadequate foundations. These are intellectual doubts. They locate themselves in the mind. This is why Peter says we must always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have in us (1 Peter 3:15). Remember, if you cannot give a why for your faith, you will never be able to give a why not to your doubts.
This week we look at doubts of a different nature. We’re looking at doubts that spring, not from a lack of understanding, but from a lack of commitment. This is a far more common form of doubt, and one that is far more devastating.
1) TO UNDERSTAND THESE DOUBTS WE FIRST NEED TO CLEARLY DEFINE THE NATURE OF GENUINE NEW TESTAMENT FAITH
Dead religion simply chooses Christ. Faithful discipleship chooses commitment to the consequences of choosing Christ. Faith can’t be inherited. Faith always demands personal choice. Faith is obedience to the truth understood - 1 Peter 1:22 - “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart....”
Knowing the truth isn’t all that’s needed to develop faith. Knowing the truth merely makes room for genuine faith. Choosing to live by the consequences of that truth is living faith because you come to prove the power of the truth in the whole of your life.
2) WHEN THIS COMMITMENT TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR BELIEFS IS LACKING, DOUBTS FROM A LACK OF COMMITMENT WILL HOLLOW OUT THE BELIEVER’S EXPERIENCE OF GOD
Usually this type of doubt doesn’t scream out for immediate attention. But some of the emerging symptoms are:
a) A growing sense of unreality in the relationship with God - Beliefs are still held in the mind, but the heart slowly empties. Doubts grow, not because we don’t know the truth, but because we become indifferent to it. The life isn’t engaged with the faith professed. The whole endeavor seems shallow, phoney and powerless.
b) Soon a sense of guilt sweeps over the soul - We see other Christians with a deep, genuine experience with God. Why don’t we possess the same thing?
c) The final stage of this doubt will be unbelief - Not because the content of the faith wasn’t true and real. This is where this type of doubt is really the most dishonest. Because the person doesn’t want to put the blame where it really lies (lack of commitment to the Christian life) he will turn his back on the faith itself. But the problem never really was with the factual truth or validity of the faith. The problem was a lack of commitment to the consequences of the faith professed.
3) FAITH IS BEST SHARPENED WHEN WE FACE THE CHALLENGE TO MAKE OUR CONVICTIONS OUR OWN
Joshua 24:15 - “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Daniel 3:16-18 - “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
2 Timothy 1:12 - “....But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
We need to re-educate our casual minds with these ideas. No conviction is truly your own until you are prepared to stand against the whole world to maintain it.
Here are some of the main challenges to strong personal convictions:
a) The challenge of relativism - Relativism isn’t the same as open-mindedness. Open-mindedness says, “I will look at all the options before I make up my mind.” Relativism says, “All the choices are morally equal and valid. Choose any one you want.”
b) The challenge of “group-think” - Nothing tests the reality of your personal convictions like your response to the pressure of the group not to live by them.
John 5:44 - “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
c) The increasing hardening of society’s attitude toward distinctly Christian convictions - Because we are forced by Biblical revelation to believe in absolute sin, and we live in a world committed to sinning, we will be viewed as intolerant whenever we practice Biblical commitment to truth.
4) AS WE CHOOSE NOW, SO WE WILL BE THEN
You don’t become something different in the future than what you are choosing in the present. Faith isn’t defined just by what you believe. Faith is defined by how you choose to live by the consequences of your beliefs. Future destiny is shaped by present choices: Revelation 22:11 - “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy."