John the Baptist and His Doubt

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).

Numerous Christians since the time of John the Baptist have experienced doubt regarding their understanding of Christ, their relationship to Him, what the Scriptures tells us, and how we are to apply the instructions therein to our lives. John didn’t doubt the truthfulness of the Scriptures when he asked this question. What he was really asking Jesus for was some guidance and assurance as to how he was interpreting and applying Biblical truth. While in jail facing death, in a time in history that stood between the closing of the OT and the opening of the NT, many things seemed uncertain and John knew that he could trust Jesus for answers.

man thinking moody portrait, sitting at autumn park, selective focus

So it can be in our lives. There are many situations in our lives which can appear unclear and uncertain and they call for further explanation. In those instances what are we to do?

1) Confess & Repent – Go to God in all humility recognizing that doubt is the absence of trust. If you are able to identify the source or your doubt confess and repent of it. If you are only able to identify the doubt ask God to forgive you for doubting Him and ask that the Holy Spirit would convict you of the source of your doubt so that you can put it off and put on trust.

An example of this in my life related to money. Although I wouldn’t admit it at the time there was a point in my life where I found my security in money and not in God. During a time of financial hardship I scrambled like crazy to keep hold of what money I had, and as I lost more and more of it I became fearful. Fearful that God wouldn’t actually care for me or my family; that our needs for food and shelter would not be met; that I was the exception to what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:25-34. At just the right time I was convicted of this idolatry, and led to confess and repent of my sins which led to a dramatic change in my spiritual condition. And yes, God has provided for us each and every day.

2) Sincerely Inquire – Ask God to help you understand what the next step you should take is. Don’t ask Him to share His entire plan with you (Prov 25:2, Deut 29:29). Share with Him what your will is, but be prepared to humbly submit to His (Luke 22:42), understanding that He is working all things together for your good according to His purpose (Rom 8:28, Ps 57:2).

3) Rely on the Scriptures – The Bible is the source for understanding God, who He is, and what he wants us to do. The Bible is God’s spoken word (2 Tim 3:16), it is alive, active and sharp (Heb 4:12), and it has been written for our instruction, endurance, and encouragement (Rom 15:4).

John MacArthur writes, “John the Baptist was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11); so when believers are confused, they can take comfort that even John was perplexed for a time. But John’s doubt derived from weakness, not sin, and the only remedy for similar doubt by us is sincere inquiry, prayerful confession, and reliance on Scripture for reassurance.”

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2016 Michael Martin


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