Doubt is a real thing. It creeps into the back of our hearts when we least expect it. We might shrug it off for a while, but like a cancer, if it stays, it may implant into our lives.
I don’t think that many churches know what to do with doubt. I have been in some Christian circles that prides itself on being open to doubts. “It’s okay to question,” they say. The problem is, they don’t tend to want to land anywhere with those questions.
Other churches may not provide an atmosphere to express troubled thoughts. In effort to “build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), they focus on positive things, giving the impression that ‘negative things’ are wrong.
Neither of these examples show us how to biblically deal with our doubts.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
- Colossians 2 : 6-8
Paul is not naive enough to think that, after becoming a believer, everything will be perfect and that there will be no struggle. Actually, he knows that Christians will face doubt and insecurity in their faith.
In many of Paul's writings, including Colossians, he gives us tools to nurture and protect our faith as well as warnings of potential cancers.
Protect Faith by...
- Walking in that faith. Walking requires forward motion. While it is only God who saves, not by anything we do (Ephesians 2:9), we are called to pursue our faith.
- Being rooted in Christ. Like a tree planted right next to the water (Psalm 1:3), my source of life does not come from the surface, where drought and hardship can instantly hinder my growth. I allow His Spirit to work in my heart, convict me of sin, and transform me to be more like Him (Romans 12:2).
- Being built up in Him. Wherever this term is used in Scripture, it refers to other people. For example, in Romans 15:2, Paul says, "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." He also mentions in Colossians 2:2 that believers should ‘unite in love’ with one another. This is yet another example of how we are commanded to be in a Bible-believing and teaching church.
- Being established in the faith, just as you were taught. Although I may have grown up in the church and am in a family of believers, I must pursue faith for myself.
- Abounding in thanksgiving. As we saw from Paul's example, giving thanks to God is the key. It acknowledges God’s authority and reminds us that He is the main character of the story.
Protect Faith from...
- philosophy. Philosophy pursues questions, yet does not tend to settle toward definitive answers. The Bible is full of definite answers. Jesus is God. He rules over all. Through His death and resurrection, He paid the penalty of our sins. He forgives. It is only by Him that we are saved (See Colossians 2:9-15). It is okay to have questions. It is not okay to NOT find answers.
- empty deceit of...
- human tradition. This warning goes hand in hand with the challenge to “be established in the faith, just as you were taught.” As John 1:13 points out, I am not saved because my parents are, but rather because the Holy Spirit has worked in my own heart. Clinging to tradition cannot save. Only Jesus saves.
- elemental spirits of the world. It has always been in fashion to be ‘spiritual’. However, anything that is not pointing us to Christ is not of truth.
As we end today, I want to share The Message version of Colossians 2 : 6-8. While not the strongest translation of the Bible, I appreciate the modern vernacular to further explain these truths.
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ.
Now, heeding Paul’s advice does not mean that we will never have questions or doubt. However, rooting ourselves deeply in our Lord and remembering the Gospel of Jesus, will allow our faith to withstand any blows that may come our way.
See you in the Round,
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.