Doubt and Double-Mindedness
By Fred Pruitt
In the last few days more than one person has written me wondering if they were “double-minded.” I know that it has always been a “hot” issue, because in his letter James unequivocally states:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (Ja 1:5-8).
Everyone except Jesus has walked in double-mindedness and unbelief (and I’m certain He was sorely tempted with it!). Someone had to say it to me one day, and it penetrated. As James says about the double-minded man, “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”
Oooh, scary! Sounds awful, doesn’t it? It sounds like punishment.
What is this double-mindedness? There are two aspects of it. The first is its connection to the Romans 7 dilemma, and this is James’ lingo for that. The second is the “doubt vs. belief” aspect having to do with operating “faith.”
The Two “Minds” of Romans 7
So first, a double-minded person is nothing other than the same Romans 7 man we have talked about forever. The double-minded person cannot make up his mind whether he is spirit or flesh. He is the man who has come to this as a final conclusion: “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom 7:25b).
A large portion of believers are camped right there, believing Paul is describing a permanent condition – a “sin nature.” The liturgical church I used to be a part of has it written into the liturgy, so that before every communion service the whole congregation prays a Romans 7 prayer, confessing that “I don’t do the things I should, and do the things I should not” as our common state of daily living.
Unfortunately, the liturgy does not ask, as Paul asked in Romans 7, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Nope, that’s left out, along with the answer Paul received of “deliverance” by the Lord Jesus Christ and the further truth in Romans 8:2 and its daily life fulfillment as our operating reality in Romans 8:9 – “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” (Hint: Believe and confess it, and its reality will become clearer in your faith AND sight every day!)
But Paul is not saying that’s the best his life in Christ can ever be, as so many are taught to believe in our day. What utter nonsense! He is just talking about “how” we work. When we have a flesh consciousness or mindset (self-focus), we cannot do the things we would do to walk righteously. When we have a Spirit consciousness or mindset, then we see that “the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus HAS SET US FREE from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2).
To be double-minded is to be camped out in Rom 7:25b quoted above. Unfortunately we have been taught to believe that we are jumping around between those two mindsets all day every day, and we can never land for certain on one or the other, but if we had to bet, we’d probably say the flesh wins. To live a Spirit mindset, (Christ in me as me), we start out by taking it as fact that Romans 8:2 and 8:9 are personally true for us, AND, we have the “mind of Christ,” who CANNOT BE double-minded!
So for the double-minded to receive “nothing” isn’t punishment, but actually incredible positively tremendous news! The reason that “negative” statement is great news is because we have a solution to double-mindedness and unbelief, instead of just being left there forever with some sort of “sinful human nature,” “proclivity to sin,” or “fatal flaw,” from which we cannot escape. There is no solution to a “sin nature” or a “fatal flaw.”
(There is even a very popular English-language Bible version that takes the Greek word translated as “flesh” in just about every other version, and wrongly translates it as “sinful nature.” I’d throw that Bible out, because it is robbing the saints of their most important reality – their new identity in Christ, their total deliverance from “sin” and the power of the Spirit to walk in righteousness under no condemnation 24-7! One cannot find his “life hid with Christ in God,” (Col 3:3) as long as he believes he has a sinful nature. Likewise how could any of us “presume” to “come BOLDLY unto the throne of grace?” if we believe we are inherently sinful? Throw that Bible out! It gives birth to and encourages unbelief!)
When James pronounces that the double-minded man will not receive anything from the Lord, he is not talking about punishment for unbelief. It really isn’t that at all. It just means we are doing it incorrectly and getting the natural results of what we are doing. Is it punishment for a child to burn his finger on a stove he’s been warned not to touch? Did God up in heaven say, just as soon as he saw the child touch the stove, “I sentence you to pain”? No, the child got burned because excessive heat burns our skin. Good lesson, but not punishment. It is experience! And the lesson in that case works for life – do not touch hot things with your bare hands!
Doubt vs. Belief
What of the “doubt vs. belief” aspect of faith? Here is an analogy about “belief or believing” that might help.
If you take your clothes in to the dry-cleaner, he will give you a ticket and tell you perhaps, “We will have this ready for tomorrow afternoon.”
We reply, “Thank you, I’ll be by tomorrow afternoon to pick it up.”
That is a faith transaction, based on belief. The “belief” is that I take the dry-cleaner at his word, that the garments will be ready when he says. We don’t think about it maybe, but we have made a “choice” to believe what the dry-cleaner says, and we expect he will be true to his word. And the decision, or “choice to believe” is something we in effect do in our heart and validate with our mouth. We decide to believe it. We could decide NOT to believe what the dry-cleaner says, and not go the next day to pick them up, even though it may be sitting in their racks already waiting on us to come.
But if we believe it, then the next day we go back and pick up our clothes. Assuming our clothes are ready, our “faith” (that he would have them ready at the proper time) was consummated or fulfilled. We had the “fruit” of our faith – our clean garments!
It is the same simplicity in Christ. I take God at His Word (it is a “choice” to do that) and simply stand there in that faith and refuse to budge from the belief that God performs His promises, and that He performs His promises personally in “ME!” It might not be the next afternoon like at the dry-cleaner’s, but at some point the Spirit in us will confirm that in us by inner consciousness. It will become not a “concept” in which we believe, but a “knowing” by which we live.
It truly is a great simplicity, and because it is so simple, people miss it. They are looking for something with more pizazz, something more grandiose that will “wow” the crowd. No no no. This takes place in the silence of our hearts, and is spoken in simple words.
Now, regarding “doubting,” let’s look to the Words of Jesus in Mark 11: 22-24 –
“22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have [the] faith [of] in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
Now, we are quoting verse 24 all the time. It is one of the most important verses in scripture on the operation of faith. Jesus exhorts us when we pray, that we believe right then and there that we have received whatever we have asked, and we will have it.
So many of us, having been brought up in unbelief, either as a Christian or not, often point out that it says we will not receive if we doubt or “waver” as the KJV renders it back in the James passage. The problem is, doubt assails us all the time! The reason it so often “defeats” us, is because we confuse what really is “emotional/intellectual or “soul” doubt, with Spirit fact. In our HEARTS, which means our Spirit/spirit center, we are “fixed” in Him, and we live out of His Mind and HIS faith. That is where our choice to believe or not to believe originates, in our hearts.
I am telling you MY experience, and I believe this goes along with scripture. I would speak a “word of faith,” or pray for something and say I believed I had received it even though it had yet to show up in the visible, but then doubtful thoughts would show up. We think, “Oh no, I have doubted so I will not receive!”
But thank you Holy Spirit, Who always gives us the Good Word, Who showed me that my doubting thoughts and fears are not impediments as long as we realize they are only temptations, and we do not latch our faith onto them. Instead, it IS THOSE VERY DOUBTING THOUGHTS AND FEARS that keep us confessing the original faith Word we came to! As one in another place said, “Doubt is the food of faith!” So to “feel” doubtful or to “feel” intellectually that what we have spoken is ridiculous, is NORMAL, and meant to bring us once again into the BOLDNESS of FAITH!
As David wrote: “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” (Ps 57:7).
THAT is where WE live! Praise God!