Faith & Doubt Part One

By Vince Finnegan

Matthew 17:14-20 - Mustard seed is the smallest object that the disciples would have known about. Christ was not emphasizing that someone needed great faith, rather a very small amount of faith.

Matthew 8:13; 9:2, 22, 28, 29; 15:28   All of the thousands Jesus healed had one thing in common they had faith in Jesus the healer.

Matthew 14:28-31 - Peter doubted because he took his eyes off Christ and focused on the storm.  Mark 8:33   Peter’s emotions (rather than accepting Jesus’ words) hindered his faith. Matthew 26:69ff   Focus on the negative situation, rather than the words of his Lord, caused fear.

Matthew 21:18-22   Doubt undermines faith.

James 1:6-8   But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,  8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Using Roger Sapp’s book, Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt, we will look at the common doubts that prevent people from receiving their healing and or ministering healing to others. Because doubts are often very subtle, they are seldom identified initially as doubts. These subtle doubts are often built right into what we understand or misunderstand about God. The healing ministry in the church has been inconsistent, unreliable, and unpredictable, primarily due to unresolved doubts.

We should ask ourselves the question – “Why do you think you are not being healed?” The answer may reveal a doubt you have regarding healing. Common responses to that question are: “It is not God’s will”, “sickness is the consequence of my sin”, “God’s timing”, “God has a special purpose”, or “I lack faith”. All of these thoughts may be doubts that prevent the power of God from manifesting.

We can understand God’s will by viewing Jesus’ actions and words, for he always did the will of the Father. John 4:34; 5:19, 30; 6:38; 14:10; and Hebrews 1:2-3

DOUBT - “It is not God’s will to heal all who are sick or injured. Not everyone gets healed, and I am one of those who does not.”

Jesus’ ministry does not support the idea that healing varies with individuals. We have viewed the records in the Gospels where Jesus healed everyone who came to him, without exception.

Matthew 8:16   When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.

Matthew 12:15   But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all,

Luke 6:17-19   Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon,

 18 who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured.           And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all

Acts 5:16   Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.

Jesus never turned anyone away. The only time he rejected someone was the Canaanite woman with the daughter who was sick. Because of her persistence, he healed the girl. Jesus at that time thought his ministry was exclusive to Israel, but God showed him differently. Look at Luke 6 again.

Luke 17:12-19 - He healed all who came to him in faith without consideration of their past or future activity.

Whether it was one person, a small group, or a multitude, Christ heals all who come to him. The will of the Father is clear in this matter: the Father wishes all to receive healing. The only ones who are not healed are those who did not come to Christ because of unbelief and doubt.

Warren Sapp – “When someone meets the conditions, then in every case, Christ treats them the same. If one person can be healed, then all can be healed who meet the same conditions. No one can legitimately state that they met the conditions for healing and were not healed. When they do, they are revealing a shadow of doubt. Statements like these doubt the faithfulness of Christ in every situation. The statement also reveals that they are not apt to change their approach and continue seeking. They are failing to take the responsibility for learning more until they receive. There is something still lacking in their understanding, or they would be healed. This is not bad news but good news. They can still be healed. They must turn their attention to humbly seeking Christ for adjustment rather than doubting His faithfulness and justifying their failure. They must deal with their doubts and let their faith in Christ arise. They must move beyond a shadow of a doubt by beholding Christ, the True Light that enlightens every man and women.”

 DOUBT - “God’s has a benevolent purpose for my affliction.”

Some believe that God allows affliction so we can learn something of greater importance. His timing is not now, not until we gain this mysterious unknown.

Romans 8:28 - This does not say God causes all things to happen, but no matter what happens, He can bring some good as we depend on Him.

James 1:3-13 - God does not tempt people with evil.

Of the thousands of records about Jesus’ healing and delivering people, there is not one when he says, “Not now, God has a greater lesson for you to learn still.” Every time someone came with faith, he immediately responded and healed them. This nonbiblical thinking is offered as a reason for why a person does not get healed, while the correct biblical reasoning should focus on faith and not on doubt.

DOUBT -My sin is the cause of my sickness, and as such, God does not want to heal me.”

OT Scriptures provide the underpinning for this doubt.   Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 7:11-15; 28:18-28, 58-62

An Indisputable connection is made with obedience impacting health and disobedience causing sickness and affliction. In the least common denominator, all sickness, disease, and afflictions are connected to sin. We all have physical weaknesses we are born with because we are descendants of Adam. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.   (Romans 6:23).

Repentance from sin and faith in Christ will break any curse of sickness.

Galatians 3:13   Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.

1 John 1:9   If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesians 2:1-5   It is by God’s grace and mercy a person is saved, including healing and deliverance. You do not deserve to be saved, nor could you ever be good enough for salvation, including healing. So, if your doubt is “I do not deserve to be healed because I am a sinner”, you are 100% right!

Matthew 9:27-31   People understood the connection with the Messiah, mercy, and healing, so must we. The phrase “Son of David” refers to the Messiah. OT prophecy reveals that the Messiah would have mercy on the afflicted and heal them (Isaiah 49:10, 13, 15).

In the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 to explain his ministry:

Luke 4:18-19   "The spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of Yahweh."

Apparently, people in Jesus’ day were expecting the Messiah, the Son of David, to come with mercy to heal. The two blind men said “Have mercy, Son of David”. The Canaanite woman with the daughter who was “cruelly demon-possessed” came to Jesus and said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.” The man with a demonized son came to him saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill.” This father understood the connection between mercy and healing. Jesus had mercy and healed the boy. Two more blind men received mercy and healing.

Matthew 20:30-34 - The four Gospels have many other incidents of afflicted people asking for mercy and receiving healing or deliverance from demons. The important point to embrace is all healing is due to God’s mercy. No one earns it or deserves it. Healing is not a reward for doing good or being holy. Look at Ephesians 2:1-5. What is required to receive redemption and salvation? Are you saved because you are a good boy or girl? No. In the same way with healing and deliverance, the only requirement is faith. Jesus healed thousands of people and never demanded sinlessness or any requirement other than faith.

Just as God wants all people to be saved, so He wants all to be healed. He is a merciful, compassionate, loving, kind God and Father. Jesus always did God’s will which is why he was merciful to all who came to him. Today, Jesus is our merciful and faithful high priest (Hebrews 2:17).

The punishment for the repented sinner was placed upon Jesus on the cross.

DOUBT -My healing is all according to God’s timing. My healing is in God’s hands, not mine.”

In the same way that we do not have to wait for the forgiveness of sins, we do not have to wait for healing. We received forgiveness when we heard the good news and believed. We received when we decided, not when God decided. Healing is the same. When we believe in Christ the Healer without doubt, we will be healed in the same fashion as when we believed in Christ as Savior and were saved.

Healing is available to all when and where they believe in Christ the Healer. It did not matter how long they were ill or injured. It did not matter why they were sick or injured. Logically, the timing for healing is always when you are sick or injured. Christ never postponed dealing with a healing problem. The power of God was always present when faith was present.

Sapp wrote:  “We receive according to our faith. We receive what we are able to believe for and no more or less. This is not bad news. It is actually good news. It is always possible when we receive a little from God to build upon that and receive more. When we receive something from God, it does experientially reveal His willingness to do it all. Half a healing reveals God’s desire to do it all. This should encourage us to receive everything that we need. It should lead us beyond a shadow of doubt.”

DOUBT ─ “I lack the faith to be healed. I don’t have enough faith.”

Matthew 21:19-21 - Christ attributes his capacity to do this miracle and all miracles to faith and tells them explicitly that they can do the very same thing if they have faith. Additionally, Christ tells them the one thing that will prevent them from accomplishing these things. They must believe and not doubt.

Cursing the fig tree and casting mountains into the sea reveal that the will of God is much wider, more diverse, and much more flexible than many of us believe. The fig tree’s withering and Christ’s statements here strongly tell us that God is much more willing to do the miraculous than we may expect. Perhaps, unbelieving mental and unscriptural doctrinal limitations to the will of God are why many Christians do not do the miraculous on a regular basis. We may doubt God’s willingness. We are waiting for God to reveal His will, His purpose, and His timing. Conversely, God is waiting for us. He is much more willing than we believe.

Western civilization is inundated with human rationalism--the belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief. Scientific rationalism is the practice or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief. It postulates that nothing should be accepted as knowledge until it is proven as true and is consistently verified to be so. Faith, on the other hand, is the acceptance of claims where no evidence exists. However, all our true faith is based upon the Creator’s words.

Hebrews 11:1   Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Matthew 17:19-20 - The littleness of their faith was the problem, not God’s unwillingness nor God’s greater purpose or timing, etc. The father came looking for Jesus who was not there, nor were Peter, John, and James (the three top men). The child’s bizarre behavior, the tension of the scribes and crowd, all may have caused the apostles to doubt. Whatever the reason, they did not have the faith to do what was necessary. The good news was they could humbly admit to needing to understand more and to grow in their faith in Christ.

Jesus said in the context of the boy’s healing “…and nothing shall be impossible to you”. Jesus’ example and teaching show us that the Father is always willing to deliver and heal the sick, the injured, and the demonized. In the earlier passage, Christ also said that everything you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. This sounds much like nothing shall be impossible to you. Again, sorting out our doubts and dealing with them is essential to having a consistent flow of power in healing and miracles.

Impatience, frustration, criticism of self or God are all counterproductive. Remember what happened to Peter when he lost focus on his Lord’s words.

1 Timothy 1:13 - Ignorance causes unbelief, while the word of Christ causes faith.

Romans 10:17 - Christ’s example and words show us that the Father is always willing to deliver and heal the sick, the injured, and the demonized.

Romans 12:1-3 - We were given a measure of faith. Jesus is our example. He had no pride or confidence in himself, rather faith in God.

Galatians 5:22    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

1 Corinthians 12:7-12

DOUBT - “Unclear Conscience, Guilt, and Shame”

1 John 3:21-23   Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

 23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

If our heart condemns us, we will not have confidence before God.

Some are unable to receive healing or effectively minister to others until they resolve their feelings of guilt and shame. We may hold a consciousness or, worse, a subconscious feeling of unworthiness due to sinful behavior. Thereby, we harbor doubt of God’s willingness to help us. God is not withholding anything from us, but our doubt due to guilt and shame hinders our faith.

The supernatural often is experienced by new believers because they do not know the Scriptures enough to feel guilty. Sadly, the more mature with greater biblical knowledge are deceived into feelings of guilt and shame, causing doubt that hinders their faith.

Three reasons for our unclear conscience to consider are: 1) our evil lifestyle before Christianity still haunts us; 2) sins we currently commit wear down our confidence; and 3) the subconscious influence of the ascetic religious background causes us to believe we should suffer due to our flesh.

The Apostle Paul’s mindfulness regarding this subject is evident in his writings. He talked about his conscience when addressing the council in Acts 23:1 and before Felix in Acts 24:16. He said to Felix, “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” To Timothy he wrote, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy1:5). Paul encouraged Timothy to maintain a pure conscience and to instruct the elders that they must have a pure conscience (1 Timothy 1:19 and 3:9).

Our evil lifestyle before Christianity still haunts us

Paul was humble and never forgetful about the evil that was his before he accepted Christ. Jesus came to Paul while he was on his way to commit atrocities against the followers of Christ. His recollection of his past continually helped him to embrace God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. He did not allow his past to diminish faith, rather to enhance it.

Current sins wear down our confidence

The Lord’s prayer informs us that the temptation to sin is a daily struggle and that forgiveness is readily available if we ask and are forgiving to others. Romans 7, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 4 set forth the constant fight that is ours between our sin nature and new nature. God is not surprised that we sin, nor does He hold it over our head. Rather, He made provision for us to receive forgiveness and cleansing so we can have a clear conscious.

  8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.   (1 John 1:8-10)

The devil is called the temper, deceiver, and accuser. His system of evil is to encourage us to sin then entice us to feel guilt and shame so that we have doubt in relationship with God and the supernatural realm. After we confess our sins, we can immediately accept forgiveness based upon scriptural truth or battle acceptance based upon our feelings. The choice is ours, not God’s, for He promises to forgive and cleanse.

For those of us who struggle with habitual sin such as overeating, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, lust, and so on, maintaining a pure conscience is more difficult. Right here, right now, we should decide to seek the supernatural intervention of our Lord to free us from this oppression that hinders our relationship with God and our faith. Do whatever has to be done to stop.

The religious effect of asceticism may influence us subconsciously. 

Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics typically adopt a frugal lifestyle by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures. They also spend time fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters.

Asceticism has been historically observed in many religious traditions including BuddhismJainismHinduismIslam, Catholicism, Christianity, and Judaism. Elijah and John the Baptist maintained a godly ascetic lifestyle. In the times of Jesus, there were three major religious groups the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes. The latter were immersed in asceticism. Their priests practiced celibacy. It is believed the Essenes were responsible for the Dead Sea scrolls.

The church fathers, OrigenJeromeIgnatiusJohn Chrysostom, and Augustine, lived in highly ascetic environments.  The well-known Francis of Assisi and his followers practiced extreme acts of asceticism. The clergy of the largest religions today hold to varying degrees of asceticism. The Roman Catholic monks, priests, and nuns hold to vows of celibacy and poverty. The clergy are often viewed as the most spiritual in each religious group. The unspoken impression congregants gain is that denial of pleasures in the avoidance of sins is extremely arduous, undesirable, and impossible for the common man. Asceticism did seem to aid some to gain a greater spiritual life. However, these disciplines warped into the belief that suffering was the way to a spiritual lifestyle. Instead of believing that Christ suffered for our sins so that we need not suffer, his suffering became the lifestyle to mimic.

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

 20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations--

 21 "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch"

 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)--according to human precepts and teachings?

 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.   (Colossians 2:18-23 ESV)

Colossians 3:1-4 - Extreme asceticism contributed greatly to the elimination of the supernatural in Christianity. It promoted the opposite of Jesus’ stated ministry recorded in Luke 4:18, captivity rather than freedom, blindness replaced sight, and oppression freedom.

Roman Catholic churches have front and center Jesus still on the cross, and on the walls are the fictious 14 stations of the cross thereby placing images of suffering central rather than faith, hope, and love. Instead of Christ resurrected, ascended, and empowering disciples with holy spirit, sin consciousness is communicated. Many Christians that emerge from these ascetic religions are very sin-conscious and prone to guilt and shame that encourage doubt and fear.

The wrong doctrine regarding purgatory tempts people to sin-consciousness. This Roman Catholic tradition was invented in the late 11th century. Purgatory is supposedly a physical place that people may enter after death. It purports that the living can help those whose purification from their sins is not yet completed by offering intercessory prayers and indulgences. With the purchase of indulgences, the suffering one can receive remission of part or all of the purgatorial punishment. Once the sins are paid off, the person can then enter heaven.  The indulgences offered are financial gifts and or purchasing mass cards, liturgical vestments, pews, and so on. This nonbiblical tradition generated great financial gain for the church and teaches people they must pay for their own sins thereby nullifying the cross of Christ.

Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:24-25 - Jesus made a connection between forgiveness of sins and healing.

DOUBT ─ Fear of presumption

Presumption is an attitude or conduct dictated by probability. Assumption is a thing taken as true or certain without proof. The doubt is of having too much faith going beyond what God wants or instructs. However, this concern is never discussed in the Scripture. The opposite seems to be the concern. The religious leaders, inspired by the accuser, constantly criticized Jesus as being presumptuous regarding the Mosaic Law or the traditions. However, he always proved them wrong. We have already repeatedly noted God’s will for His people to live by the supernatural.

Today, there are fearful and foolish teachers that condemn those who manifest the spirit saying the miracles were for Jesus and his disciples and not for the church today. They are to be ignored and prayed for that they gain spiritual wisdom and boldness.

There is a place where concerns about presumption might have an application in healing ministry. Occasionally, some overzealous people will put their life at risk when they are seeking healing. We should highly encourage anyone with a life-threatening condition to continue medical care until they have a verified healing. We do not want to follow the devil’s temptation that he used on Jesus to throw himself off the temple to prove he was the Son of God.

Taking a risk with your health does not constitute faith. Desperate risk-taking will never compel God to do anything. He has already done what is necessary by sending His Son at Calvary. Taking a serious risk with your health may only be the devil using misunderstanding, impatience, and fear to drive you to a foolish test of God.

Some fail to be healed because they place noble motives as the reason God should heal them, rather than just believing the will of God is for all to be healed by faith in Jesus the Healer. Some think “I want to be healed for the glory of God” or “I want to be healed so that I can raise my children in Christ” or “I want to be healed because it will help others to come to Christ.” The only incentive for healing or deliverance with Jesus was that the person was afflicted and had faith in Jesus to heal.

DOUBT ─ The lack of gifts and anointing doubt

“I don’t have the gift of healing or miracles; therefore, I cannot expect to see much happen in this realm.” “The apostles and disciples then were gifted, but today things are different.” The NT encourages us to desire and seek for spiritual gifts and not to refrain.

But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.   (1 Corinthians 12:31)

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.   (1 Corinthians 14:1)

2 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.   (1 Corinthians 14:12)

1 Corinthians 12:4-12

Healing and miracles and other gifts are given by a loving God to help people. He works through believers who want to lovingly serve others.

Luke 4:18   Jesus is the anointed one. “Christ” means anointed one. Due to wrong teaching about special anointing, some claim they are not anointed, so they cannot do miracles

Jesus is the anointed one, and he lives in all his followers to do his will with us.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ [anointed one], he does not belong to Him.   (Rom 8:9)

"I have been crucified with Christ [anointed one]; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;   (Gal 2:20)

to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.   (Col 1:27)

Christ, the anointed one, lives in you. He was anointed to: "the spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord."

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