Friday, February 10, 2012

Dealing With Doubt Part 4: know who you’re dealing with

This morning's post is Part 4 of a 5-part series on Doubt. You can find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by clicking on the highlighted links. Next week we'll wrap up the series. Thanks for reading along with me!

Remember the old SNL skits with the church lady? How she’d cock her head to one side with a smug, tight-lipped smile and say, “Now who made you say that, huh? Was it . . . Satan?” Her voice would rise up a little as she drew out the word to make everyone laugh.

But it was always an uncomfortable laugh. Because, really, deep down, we all know that talking about Satan is uncomfortable and . . . I don’t know . . . maybe even a little unseemly?

We hesitate to pin too much on the bad guy—it makes us sound a little too “religious” or hyper-spiritual. And so we laugh about it.

I’m not here to laugh today, because I think that sometimes dealing with our doubts can truly become a “church lady” moment when we recognize who we’re dealing with.

Now, before I go too much further, I want to say two things. First, as I mentioned in my first post on doubt, I am no theologian. I know several good ones, and I’m sure they could set us all straight on this topic right away. What I’m attempting to do here is just use my experiences to help others who may be doubting.

Second, I do not believe that all doubt comes from Satan. Sometimes our faith is at a weak place, and we do a pretty good job of planting those thoughts into our own minds. I’m not one of those people who sees Satan standing on every street corner, just waiting to pounce on me. But I am aware. Let’s leave it at that.

What I do believe is that, if we are in Christ, we have an enemy who would like nothing better than to see us falter in our faith. The kind of enemy who delights in telling us lies and who is happier still when we believe them. An enemy who tries to discredit, even destroy, the work of God whenever he can, even if that work is our very soul.

So it follows, doesn’t it, that if we are in Christ and growing toward godliness and holiness, that Satan would do whatever he could to trip us up. At least this has been my experience. The times when I’ve been seeking God wholeheartedly, or when I’ve been serving Him the most, are times when I’ve begun to ask myself questions.

Is this all worth it?

Why am I working so hard at this? For what?

Does God really even notice me or my efforts for His kingdom?

Is He really there?

Is God really who He says He is?

Am I really saved?

These are the types of questions Satan tried to get Jesus to ask when he tempted Him in the wilderness. Questions that would doubt God’s goodness or His work in our lives. Questions that would doubt God’s validity as Savior and Redeemer.

Again, I want to emphasize that, according to Grudem’s Systematic Theology (my helper today) “Not all evil and sin if from Satan, . . . but some is” (420). Which brings me to my point: we have to be discerning. When we are in a period of doubt, we have to remember that the evil one wants more than ever to topple our faith. It would bring him so much success if we decided that this faith thing really isn’t worth it, gave up, and walked away.

So be discerning. Understand who’s voice you’re hearing—whether it’s the voice of the enemy or your own voice—and, either way, choose to not listen.

And be strong.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 
I Corinthians 16:13

Next week we’ll talk about the voice we should be listening to, and it’s a good, good voice.

Your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.

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  1. I love what you said regarding "discernment". You hit the nail on the head. And who gives the believer this discernment? The Holy Spirit and the reason why our dependence upon God for daily living is so critical to our spiritual lives.

    I think Satan is much more active than we can imagine.Ii also believe our own sinful hearts are much more wicked than we would like to think (My husband just wrote an entire book on how evil our hearts are!).

    When we pray for discernment, the Holy Spirit will sort it all out for us and give us the power to overcome anything either Satan or our hearts will throw our way.

    Thanks for sharing this! Awesome post full of mature wisdom.

  2. Thank you for this. I am not one to blame Satan for every flat tire and bad hair day, and I think because of that, I tend to downplay the actual spiritual attacks when they are happening.

    Last night and this morning, all hell broke loose in my house. People were yelling and crying and leaving the house angry.

    As I sat in tears, in total defeat, struggling with thoughts of failure, I sensed God telling me to fight this with spiritual weapons. I am in the midst of working on some ministry-related things, and it's so important that I don't get sidetracked with all of this nonsense.

    So, I e-mailed a few ladies who I knew would pray for me, and they did.

    Within minutes, one of them sent me something from her daily devo (coincidentally (?) her actual devo for today), talking about spiritual attacks. And she quoted some of the exact scriptures God was bringing to my mind.

    Then I read your post.

    I would love to pretend Satanic attacks are over-rated. But the word does say that he walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

    I know for a fact who my enemy is today. And it's not my family.


  3. That's beautiful, Sandy. You hang in there, my friend.

  4. Shelly, you are so on the money with discernment! One of the scriptures I go back to in the darker times is 2 Cor 10:3-5.

    "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

    When doubt creeps in - it can be so sneaky!! - I try to call it for what it is. And I look at my 'standing stones' (you know those big piles of rocks that the people of Israel heaped up after God did something major?) and remind myself that the One who brought me through THAT is enough for the here & now. Plus, I think back to God's call. It was very clear, very certain, very specific. And when life is so tough, there is a weird comfort in knowing that not only is this purposeful on God's part, but He CHOSE us. Specifically US. Sometimes I'm not so thrilled, but that's the 'taking every thought captive' part. And I come through it stronger, and better able to handle it the next time. Cuz there's always a next time. Part of my morning time with God is praying a covering prayer, and putting on the armor. Satan is nothing if not persistent. But my biggest hope is that I perservere through it all to the point that when I get out of bed in the morning, Satan & his gang think 'Crap, she's up."