Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:16).
Doubts are like stones thrown onto our path. Small doubts may just make us pay attention to our footing. Large doubts can become spiritual IEDs.
The person who never has any doubts is at great risk. We dare not believe everything we read on the Internet. We scoff at ads that promise: “Lose 50 pounds in 10 days!” Doubt makes us re-examine and re-evaluate. That is good. Doubt has kept many a person from making a mistake. Sometimes doubt has saved lives. Not every announcement of: “All clear!” is factual.
We simply cannot accept every person’s word as gospel truth—unless, of course, it is actually the word of the gospel!
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Was Jesus truly the Son of God and Savior of the world? One disciple who was not there on Easter doubted this—until he was invited to put his hand into the risen Savior’s wounds. This earned him the title “Doubting Thomas.” That should have been the end of all doubts. But it wasn’t.
Easter cleared their path of any doubt that could explode in the face of the disciples and shred their faith to pieces. So where did these doubts come from that St. Matthew talks about, that showed up weeks later?
The Bible gives a clear answer: An Enemy did this! The Enemy always works this way. Clear away doubt about God on one day and expect that the Enemy will re-plant doubt by the next day—maybe even later the same day.
He has done this from the beginning. He planted a deadly doubt in Eden. It was hidden in the words: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” And Eve snagged the tripwire! Satan then grinned as Adam came to her side—and stepped on the pressure plate of his own deadly doubt. Neither would have survived the blast to their faith if God had not come to their rescue.
Satan has continued the tactic of planting doubt in the Believer’s path for a simple reason: it works!
But now we are wise to him, aren’t we? We know where he likes to plant the threats to our faith. We have learned how he can disguise a deadly danger by placing it into something that attracts us, or with someone we trust.
We now watch for the telltale signs of this danger, don’t we? We scan the roadway of our life with the devil-detector: the Word of God.
We heed the God-given alarm deep inside of us: our conscience. We listen when others on our spiritual team call out warnings. We know the danger is real.
Only the holy God can see every danger to our spiritual life, and only he can defend us when doubt would kill our faith. Better than Kevlar, tougher than foot-thick armor, our God is there to protect.
And what if some doubts return? Does that mean we have lost our faith? Does that disqualify us from serving our Lord?
Not necessarily! Such doubts are simply temptations that can be overcome—as all temptations should be.
Immediately after revealing that some of the disciples doubted, Jesus issued his famous orders:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Those people overcame their doubts. So can we.
A father once told Jesus: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
That should be our prayer, too.
Lord Jesus, Satan keeps setting traps to kill our faith. Protect us from that. Destroy the doubts that would destroy our gift of salvation. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military