Archive for the ‘Meditations’ Category

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Pearls before Swine: Using Discernment when Declaring the Word

July 22, 2012

 

One of the most enigmatic verses in the Sermon on the Mount has to be Matthew 7:6

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
(Matthew 7:6 ESV)

So what are we dealing with here? What does this verse mean?

Verses 1-5 are dealing with judgement and the extent to which followers of Christ should judge one another. These verses do no preclude all forms of judgement or discernment, rather they provide a timely and helpful admonition for those seeking to judge to deal and grapple with their own sin before they proceed to tackle the sin in other peoples lives. While Jesus is admonishing His disciples and by extension us to guard agains hasty and hypocritical judgments, He is by no means saying that we are not to exercise discernment in dealing with others. Verses 1-5 paint a picture of someone going to a brother and addressing sin in that brother’s life. There is some anticipation in these verses that the one confronted with his sin, if confronted in a un-hypocritical way, might have the speck in his eye removed. To put it another way, there is some anticipation that the brother confronted with his sin is agreeable to receiving correction. We learn from Jesus’ instruction from Matthew 18, that acknowledged sin in a brothers/sisters life is to be confronted openly and consistently with the aim of seeing the wayward brother turn and repent of sin and be restored to fellowship with his believing family. If that wayward “believer” refuses to repent, he is from then on to be treated as someone outside the family of God. But what of those around us who are not our brothers and sisters in Christ who are openly hostile to the gospel of God’s grace?

If the teaching in verses 1-5 serve as an example of how we are to avoid displaying hypocrisy in judgment. The parable in Matthew 7:6 serves as a example of how and to what extent Jesus’ disciples, and by extension us, are to avoid displaying futility in proclamation. “This passage gives us a balance for the teaching against judging. Discrimination is to be applied according to the attitude and receptivity of our hearers.”[1] In the Sermon, Jesus is equipping His disciples with the wisdom necessary to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven. He lays out the method by which one becomes blessed in the Kingdom 5:1-11; He describes how one lives and interprets the law in the Kingdom 5:12-6:34; And now He lays out the consequences of Kingdom living, the personal consequences and the eternal consequences 7:1-27. Here He tells his disciples that the precious truth of God’s word (what is Holy and the pearls) will not be received by all, and therefore should be proclaimed with discretion. This attitude is confirmed throughout this gospel (Matthew 10 for instance) and throughout the Bible. Proverbially it is consistent with proverbs like Prov. 9:8 and 29:1, and this attitude is exemplified by Paul’s reaction to the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews of Corinth… (Acts 18:1-6, see also Acts 13:44-51, 28:17-28; Ro 16:17-18). And also (Titus 3:10-11).

Jesus is clear, those who despise the word of God will perish and are not worthy to receive it, but to any who ask “it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and the one who seeks finds…” (Matt 7:7-8) In this Kingdom we are to live as salt and light, to live in such a way that others are prompted to question the hope we have displayed, and we must be prepared to give an answer. (1 Peter 3:15) God will always answer one who asks, seeks and knocks. However, concerning those who lack spiritual understanding (1Cor 2:14) the Word is but folly to be trampled; and we are encouraged to withhold, with discernment, the glory of God’s truth from those who would treat it with disdain.

So based on this verse can we simply write some people off and abandon them in their sin?

 

Well yes and no. “Jesus’ teaching demonstrated that the disciples were not to presume that any person would reject the gospel. They were to offer it to anyone. However, when the gospel was rejected, the disciples were to refocus their evangelistic efforts on others.”[1] Jesus displays this throughout the gospels. When individuals like the rich young ruler come to Him and ask Him about the gospel, He answers. When the young man rejects the gospel and leaves, Jesus does not chase him down and continue to offer the gospel, he lets him go. Likewise when Jesus is before Herod, He does not answer him when questioned about His ministry. Jesus spoke in parables so that those with ears would hear and those without hearing would remain in darkness. We must never “write people off” if writing people off means that we cease to love and pray for them. We are to continually love others and to pray with persistence that it be God’s will that the unrepentant repent and that the hard hearts be softened. For we all at some point stood against our king in hostility to His message, but His grace overcame our sinful will and changed our heart.

We constantly pray that His will be done in the lives of all we come across. But when we encounter those who refuse to listen to the gospel, and repudiate it and profane it treating the Gospel of glory like dirt; we must not continue on at that moment offering them what they do not want. We withhold what is holy and wait for a time when their hearts are softer and their ears are more open. John Hannah, a Scholar from DTS once said that we live out the great commission by loving our neighbor and waiting for the hand of God to strike their life; we love, we wait, and when God sees fit to soften their heart we are their with the message of His glorious Hope.

 

 

 


[1] Quarles, 295.

[1] Dockery and Garland, Seeking the Kingdom. 106.

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Judging Others: Hey You’ve Got Something in Your Eye…

July 21, 2012

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:3-5 ESV)

 

Fundamentally the log in our own eye should be replaced with the cross. We take that beam of sin, and relate it to the beams of the cross. When the cross is before us, and in our eyes all sin is given its proper perspective. When I say see the cross I mean come to Jesus, for the only way the plank is removed is if He removes it because of His great mercy and through His grace. At the foot of the cross of Christ, the single beam in our eye is replaced by two intersecting at God’s judgment and forgiveness.

 

John MacArthur has a helpful word on how we experience this forgiveness and mercy, and how the beam is removed:

 

“How do you remove the plank? How do you do that? I believe it’s a matter of confession of sin. Don’t you? I think first you have to look and see that it’s there. Verse 3, “consider not the plank in your own eye?” And the word “consider” there means to perceive in a meditative, prolonged way. It is used, for example, in Luke 12:27. “Consider the lilies.” In James 1:23, “as we behold our face in a glass.” It is a constant look, a look of understanding, a look of comprehension. And so he’s saying, “Take a good look. Don’t you see you’ve got a spiritual problem yourself? Don’t you see you’ve got an ungodly self-righteousness that makes you judgmental and critical of other people? Consider that.” Having considered it, you go to verse 5. “Cast it out.” And how do you do that? By confessing it to the Lord. I Corinthians 11:21, “If we judge ourselves, we won’t be judged.” Right? God’s not going to have to chasten the sin of self-righteousness if we deal with it. And so I bring my life fully to the judgment of God, and I ask Him to cleanse, to purify, to remove it.”

 

“And once I’ve done that, I can move on to verse 5, and “then shalt thou see clearly to cast the moat out of thy brother’s eye.” Listen, we’ve got to get the thing out of our brother’s eye, don’t we? We can’t let him go on in sin. That’s to hate him, Leviticus 19:17 says. We’ve got to get it out. But we’ve got to deal with, first, ourselves. Listen to how David put it. Psalm 51. “Create in me, oh, Lord, a,” what? “Clean heart.” Did you hear that? “Create in me, oh, Lord, a clean heart.” Now listen. “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted to thee.” But there’s no way to teach a transgressor the right way, and there’s no way to convert a sinner to God, until I have in my own life a clean heart.”[1]

 

So confession removes the plank, and compassion is the result once the plank is removed. We confess our sins at the cross of Christ, His compassion overwhelms our sin, heals our sight, and we in-turn act in compassion towards others; sparing judgement and proclaiming grace.


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The People’s Court: Judging Others vs. Matthew 7…

July 20, 2012

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)

No one can read the Sermon on the Mount without being prompted to question.  When we come to Matthew chapter 7, the questions inevitably abound; is Jesus saying we can never judge?  Can we ever judge others?

Yes, there are times in which it is permissible, even mandated that we judge or pass judgment on others. One can think of the process of Church discipline in Matthew 18, or the commendation that if a brother sins we are to rebuke him, and if he then repents we are to forgive. (Luke 17:3)  Also later in this chapter, Jesus’ clearly instructs the listener to discern (judge) false prophets and false disciples by their behavior. (7:15-23)   But this passage is not talking about mere judging righteously (Proverbs 31:9); this passage is dealing with hypocrisy and hypocritical judgment.  Jesus first addressed this theme earlier in the sermon, in Matthew 6:2, 5 and 16.  The grammatical construction of the negation “do not Judge” uses the negative “me” which “calls the hearers to cease an action already in progress.”[1]  This allows us to assume that Jesus was addressing a behavior already present within His disciples, “Jesus had observed a judgmental attitude among His disciples and He now urged [them] to abandon that outlook.”[2]

The notion here in this passage is to admonish against the judgmental self-righteousness that fails to reflect the experienced mercy of God.  We judge not, lest we be judged much like we show mercy, so that mercy will be shown to us.(Matthew 5:7)  Jesus is addressing the prevalent mindset of one who would pass judgement on others all the while oblivious to his own sin, perhaps the same sin he is condemning.  There is a consistent scriptural teaching regarding this tragic abuse and denial of mercy: i.e. Romans 2:3 “do you suppose, O man- you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself- that you will escape the judgement of God?”  Christians who have truly experienced God’s forgiveness and mercy are loath to focus on the transgressions of others, as they are rightly so overwhelmed by the weight of their own sin overcome at the cross.  “The story is intended to restrict hypocritical correction of others rather than to restrict all helpful correction.  Jesus calls for His followers to avoid prejudice, prejudgement, and stereotyping.”[3]

Another major question that arises out of this passage is what is the difference between confronting a brother in sin and wrongly judging others?

There are two important aspects of this teaching that we must emphasize:

First. It is important to remember, that in order to observe we need to be able to see in the first place.  This is integral to Jesus’ teaching in this passage, that we deal with our own spiritual blindness before we move on to addressing the need of others.  If you have a log or beam in your own eye you are blind, you can not see your own troubles let alone address the needs of others.  You would not want a blind optometrist performing eye surgery on you; likewise one blinded by their own sin is incapable and ill-suited to address sin in the life of others.  But praise be to God that we serve a Lord who gives sight to the blind and removes our afflictions.  Wh must first address our own sin with God before we move on to others.

Second.  In this passage, Jesus is addressing the hypocritical practice of judging others out of turn.  The observation in view in regards to observing a brother’s sin is completely different.  In this case, one who is well and sighted (having dealt with their own sin first) is tasked with shepherding the flock of God, or keeping another accountable.  When one claims to know Christ, but acts wholly inconsistent with that knowledge those with in the body are tasked with the responsibility of addressing that sin.  They observe and address the sin both for the brother’s soul and for the reputation of the body of believers as a whole.  The intent is not merely to point out flaws or to call someone out, judging them irrationally; the purpose of this observation and confrontation is to lead the brother to repentance and restoration.  If the brother repents, then he/she is to be forgiven and accepted with no malice back into the fold. (Mt 18, Gal 6:1, Col 3:12-15)

 

 


[1] Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the basics, 724.

[2] Quarles, Charles. Sermon on the Mount, 284.

[3] Dockery and Garland, Seeking the Kingdom, 104.

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Recognizing Resentment…

May 22, 2012

 

 

We have examined over the past several weeks the struggles of doubt, jealousy, anger and complacency.  Each one of those traits and struggles is fundamentally sourced in human pride and sinfulness.  And with each we have examined the individual ways and strategies to combat their ill-effects.  But what happens when those ill-effects linger?  What happens if we fail to combat anger with the love and mercy of God?  What effects occur when we fail to cast our eyes on Christ and overcome doubt?  What happens to our relationships when we fail to repent of our jealousy and rightly give glory to God for all He has given us and others? The answer to these questions is resentment.  Resentment is not a core condition, it is not a primary residence for feeling, rather resentment is the effect of the on-going presence of anger, jealousy, envy, doubt and pride.

Resentment is best described as being like rust.  We can drive over a bridge, or pass an old car and see the tell-tale signs of decay and destruction.  Rust weakens structures through the slow and deliberate reactionary process of decay.  But rust is not the primary cause of the weakness.  Rust is the after effect of a process called oxidation.  When iron metal is exposed to air (oxygen) and water the molecules begin to slowly decay.  The effect of this decay is rust.  If left untreated, rust will weaken the strongest structures and turn what was once dependable and sure into something that may appear strong but in fact is frail.  This is like resentment.  Resentment is a slow process, that begins with weaknesses inherent in the structure of our make up as sinful humans.  Without proper care and precaution, we harbor hatred and anger, un-forgiveness and jealousy and soon this creates resentment.  Slowly, perhaps in ways not obvious to others, we begin to corrode and decay, we become weak and ultimately unstable.

God has given us our emotions for His Glory; our memory for His Glory; our energy for His Glory, but resentment pollutes and perverts all of these gifts.  Resentment turns our emotions against us, as we take our eyes off of God and place them on others.  When we rightly place our gaze on God, we relate all occurrences to His mercy and grace; to the point that whenever something good happens to someone else we feel good and rejoice in what God has done for them.  But resentment occurs when we take our eyes off of God and look at other people, comparing our lives to theirs absent the perspective of God’s sovereignty.  We begin to be jealous of them, we’re envious and this slowly begins to produce within us resentment.

God has given us memory to recall His past glory and to shore up our future hope.  How glorious is one’s memory when it is rightly reflecting on what God has done.  But resentment molds our memories and steals our joy and hope.  Its like an overdeveloped photograph, you can see faint details of the event captured, but the overall picture of the past is overwhelmed by this tinge of haze that crowds out the details of the picture.  Resentment colors events and crowds out the good details of the past and overemphasizes the negative ones.  We can see this so clearly in the Exodus narrative.  The Israelites are delivered from 400 years of slavery and bondage and once in the wilderness slowly begin to resent, well, everything.  The resent God, feeling as though He delivered them out to die in the wilderness.  They resent Moses because He is the only one who has communion with God.  And their memories are polluted by this resentment to the point that they begin to wish for their old life in Egypt.  This is why so often in the Psalms and in the Prophets the writers admonish the people of Israel to remember the works of the Lord!  Remember His goodness, do not be caught up in resentment; this gives us hope when we remember His love and care for us.

God has given us Energy for His glory, and by energy I mean the desire to be active and work for God.  God has given each and every one of us a task, no matter where we are in life to proclaim the gospel! We are to have an outward direction to our energies as we “go into all the nations…” baptizing and teaching, proclaiming the “marvelous excellencies of the One who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:8)  But resentment redirects our energy.  Instead of pouring out, our energies are directed inward to ourselves.  We cease to be of any use for the kingdom as we spend so much time caught up in our own anger and envy of others.

Ultimately we may appear structurally sound, but if the sins of pride, jealousy, and anger have taken residence in our hearts, the rust of resentment begins to appear.  And if left un-addressed, overtime, it will eat away at us and we will become increasingly weak and less and less useful.

 

“Resentment is like you taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” (Anonymous)

 

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Depression’s Death: There is H.O.P.E.

May 17, 2012

 

Many of us, if not most of us, will at some point in our lives battle depression. And ‘battle’ is an apt term to describe dealing with depression, for it is as an insidious an enemy as exists for the Christian. Depression will at some point lay siege to your emotions and arrest your energy, so how can you prepare for the onslaught? I propose that you HOPE in God. This HOPE involves; Hearing the Word, Opening yourself to others, Praying, and Engaging in Service.

“Therefore preparing your minds for action, and being sober minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)

Hear the word. Put yourself in positions to hear the word of God, read it yourself, listen to sermons, go to church, listen to podcasts and the radio, God is communicating through His word so soak up as much as you can, knowing that His desire is for you to have life and life in abundance. The Bible is a record of those who have been afflicted, persecuted, abandoned, and fear-filled, and yet who have found unending hope in God and salvation through His Son. “Long for the pure spiritual milk of the work that by it you may grow up into salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (I Peter 2:2-3)

Open yourself to others. Satan’s goal is to isolate us from one another and from God. From the first sin in the garden man has been hiding from each other and from God, covering his sin and shame. But God comes to us, as He did to Adam and Eve, calling us from out of our hiding and seeking us out. He has given us the church to be His voice and His hands in our lives, to speak the promise of His hope, and the wisdom of His instruction. Open yourself up to others, so that they may share in your joys and your sufferings. (Gal 6:2) John Piper puts it this way: “This is exactly what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:4 where he speaks about comforting others with the comfort with which he had been comforted by God. God ordains that one person walk through a valley, find comfort in the valley, come out, turn around, go back to the beginning of that same valley, and help other people walk through it with the very comforts they discovered there.”

Pray. That’s right, go to God in prayer. In times of depression, Satan would have us cast our gaze inward, searching out the dark recesses of our troubled soul. But God, in His word, admonishes us to “lift up our eyes to the hills, from whence cometh our help” our help does not come from inside us, “our help comes from the Lord.” (Ps 121) and in times of trouble and fear, when we are depressed, we are commanded to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, than at the proper time He might exalt you; CASTING ALL YOUR ANXIETIES UPON HIM for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) We guard against depression by continually casting our anxieties upon God, so that they never get the opportunity to take hold in our hearts.

Engage in service. This may seem simple, but often depression comes when we have too much idle time, time to reflect on our problems and be overcome by them. This is related to complacency, in that we were created by God to work, and to do all things “heartily for Him rather than for men.” (Col 3:23) Often getting involved in serving others, serves to bolster our spirits by allowing us to grow in Christ-likeness. We also keep guard against idleness, if we are focused on others, then we will be less likely to obsess about ourselves.

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Overcoming Complacency…

May 2, 2012

How do we Struggle with Complacency?

Biblical complacency is the callous disregard for God in the face of His manifold provision and protection.  What follows complacency is the slow subtle separation from God.  When we fail to honor Him through obedience, and we mistake His provision for our practice; we take for granted God’s provision and crave our comfort over His presence.  Complacency distances us from God and is the natural result of pride.  Complacency captivates the comforted soul and whispers the age-old phrase, “did He really command that?”  “Do you really need Him?”  “you’re capable without Him…”  The serpent uttered a call to complacency, surrounded by God’s provision and protection what more could be needed, and yet Eve was not watchful, Adam was not obedient, and the result was judgment.

We struggle with complacency because we are constantly struggling with the prideful idolatry of self.  We want to be self-sufficient and take every opportunity to gloat in our abilities and our comforts.  We lose sight of the source of our protection.  When we experience blessing our natural tendency is to take the credit and give ourselves the glory.  Every time we fail to give glory to God and honor Him with praise, we are in essence praising ourselves.  As we distance ourselves from Him, we slowly become immune to His call and to His commandments.  Our glory begins to crowd out His command; the result is disobedience, idolatry, dis-regard for His provision, and distance from His heart.

To “get out of complacency” go through the D.O.O.R.

Delight yourself in the word of God.  (Psalm 1) A blessed man, one who meditates on the word day and night, is content and not easily moved.   He is not complacent, he regards God and whatever he does he prospers.

 Open yourself up for examination.  (2 Corinthians 13:5) “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test.”  One of the ways to avoid complacency in your faith is to work out your faith in fear and trembling, examine yourself to see whether or not you are really a Christian.  Those who are not saved will inevitably be resigned to a life of complacency.  But those who are indwelled by the spirit will thirst for the word of God. (1 Peter 2:1)

Offer confession of sin. Sometimes we become complacent because we are unwilling to deal with sin in our own lives.  When we fail to confess our sins we often feel uncomfortable pursuing God with all our heart.  Confess your sins and he is faithful to forgive, and cleanse you. (1 John 1:9)

Run the race set before you.  We are called to run not to stand still. (1 Cor 9:24-27)  We must run in such a way as to win the prize, we must constantly remember to run after God like our life depends on it, for after all, it does.

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The Dangers of Doubt…

April 10, 2012

“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.'”

-Matthew 14:22-31

Is doubt a sin?

Yes. Doubt is an expression of our weak belief and a manifestation of our lack of faith. David Wilkerson states, “of all the sins we can commit, doubt is the one most hated by God.” Doubt is not natural, it is a function of our fallen sinful state. We were created to trust God, rely on Him for everything, and cast our hope on Him. Doubt springs from pride and forgetfulness, it grows in isolation from God, and it ultimately will drive us to seek what we need from someone/thing other than God. Throughout the whole of Scripture God is constantly acting, displaying His command of events and history giving us examples of His care for us and reasons for us to trust Him. He displays Himself as sufficient to deliver the Israelites out of slavery, provide for them in the desert, and deliver them into the promised land. And at every turn and every opportunity the Israelites express doubt and fear and turn to idols for consolation. To be known as a prophet in the Old Testament was to be one who had faith in God and did not doubt. Prophets would call to Israelites mired in doubt and fear to return to God, and put their hope and trust in Him. God is utmost concerned that His Glory be displayed in the universe. We do not display His glory when we doubt.

That is the message behind Matthews passage in Chapter 14. The account of Jesus walking on the water is sandwiched between tremendous acts of faith and provision. Crowds are pursuing Jesus seeking healing from illnesses. When they hear that he is near, they all surround him by the thousands and he heals them, feeds them and send them on their way. These hordes of sick and wounded people had faith, they overcame their doubts and turned their eye and their hope upon Jesus and he saved them. Thousands believe, but Peter doubts. It is by the grace of almighty God through His Son Jesus Christ that He has mercy on Peter and has mercy on us. He comes to us amidst our doubt with one message, “it is I, be of good cheer, FEAR NOT.” (Fear Not! For behold I bring you good news of Great Joy that is for everyman Luke 2:9, “Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14:1) our doubt is overcome with one prayer, cried out in faith, “Lord, save me!” At which point, he is faithful to “stretch out His hand and catch us” and rescue us from drowning.

Why did Peter doubt?

Peter doubted because Peter was a sinner and was fearful. He did not understand yet who Jesus was and why it mattered. This is clear in the next major passage of the text and throughout the gospel of Matthew. Peter is constantly acting with a sort of schizophrenia. In this chapter, he calls out to Jesus as Lord, but sinks into the water because of doubt. In Chapter 16 he will confess Jesus as the son of God, but then will oppose Jesus’ prophesy about the cross. After saying that he would never deny Him, Peter denies Christ three times in Chapter 26. It is clear throughout that Peter had an idea of who Jesus was, but he never fully understood. Peter wanted to put Jesus into a mold. He ha a conception of who Jesus was and who He was supposed to be, his Jesus was the messiah who would lead the people of Israel in rebellion against the Romans; not the man who was to be crucified between two criminals. His Jesus was the king to be served, not the Servant who would wash the feet of His disciples. One would argue that it was not until after the resurrection that Peter, endowed with the Spirit of God, fully understood who Jesus was and why it mattered. As he preached at Pentecost the doubt and trembling is gone and is replaced with certainty and power. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know FOR CERTAIN that God has raised him from the dead– this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) He doubted because he was a doubter; but the resurrection of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit transformed his doubt into unwavering belief. So it is for us, as it was for him. Faith without doubt is able to move mountains; Faith with doubt will barley keep us afloat.

What causes us to doubt?

Doubt is rooted in our failure to accurately understand who God is. God properly apprehended removes doubt. There are really two kinds of doubt; Emotional doubt and intellectual doubt.

Emotional doubt is and can be experienced by believers and followers of Jesus. This is the doubt we see on display in Matthew 14. Peter’s doubt arose out of fear, “he saw the wind was boisterous and he was afraid.” God created us with emotions, and the ability to feel fear. Fear was a reflex meant for God alone. The beginning of Biblical wisdom is the fear of God. Jesus’ message in the gospels is that we are to believe in God and fear not; and if we are to fear then we should fear only God, “the one who has the power to cast both body and soul into hell.” When we fear God, we reflect an absence of doubt and a fullness of faith in Him. When we are motivated by fear for anything other than God, we allow doubt to take over. When this happens our only response should be one of repentance, and reorientation toward God, fixing our eyes on Him, from whence cometh our help.

Intellectual doubt is less common, and more dangerous than emotional doubt. Intellectual doubt is being faced with the command of God and failing to follow Him because of your own reasoned disbelief. It is not reaction out of fear, but rather the fruit of a proud heart. This doubt is the rich young ruler who approaches Jesus seeking everlasting life. He begins to reason with Christ as to the costs of discipleship, ultimately when faced with the choice of following Jesus or keeping his stuff, he doubted the truthfulness of Jesus’ command and left in despair. Intellectual doubt is Romans 1:21, “for though they knew God they failed to honor Him as God.” Intellectual doubters see God, are faced with Him, and reason that what they see cannot be true or affect their lives. When this happens absent repentance, the consequences are dire and permanent. The only hope for this doubter is a grace given radical understanding of who they are in relation to God. This removes pride and eliminates doubt in who God is and what He has said.

When is doubt deadly?

Doubt is deadly when it is uncontested and given in to. Doubt is no residence for the Christian, a Christian may visit from time to time, but he/she cannot stay. Jesus commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. There is no room for doubt in our pursuit of God. But doubt does happen. When doubt creeps in and begins to crowd out our view of God we begin to sink. Doubt leads to death when people choose to place their faith in any alternative other than God. Christ is our hope, He is calling out to us and when we have faith we can walk through the greatest storm; and even if we doubt, we must repent and cry out to the Lord, and He will be faithful to take hold of our hand and save us.