Is Doubting God A Sin?

Definition of doubt:

  1. To lack confidence in
  2. To consider unlikely
  3. To be uncertain

Many of you have commented lately that you are wrestling with feelings of doubt and discouragement in the area of faith. Some of youmention doubt casually as if it's a companion you've always known. Others ofyou seem practically panicked when doubts hit you as if your faith has alwaysbeen rock solid and your doubts about God have caught you off guard. We're going to be talking about doubt all week on the blog.It's an important subject, and one that requires us to look through thebiblical framework rather than our emotions. One of the most importantquestions to consider when it comes to doubt is, "Is doubt a sin?" Let's seehow God's Word answers that question. We get a clue about God's attitude toward doubt when we takea look at how He responded to doubters during His time on earth. Pay closeattention to these passages. Notice how Jesus consistently responds tofollowers struggling with doubt.

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Matt. 14:28–31).

God didn't let Peter drown simply because he had a moment ofdoubt. He reached down, pulled him up, and then called him out for his weakfaith. Jesus didn't specifically label Peter's doubt a sin here, so does thatmean that doubting is okay with Him? Let's keep reading. In Luke 24:36–39, Jesus appeared to His disciples after theResurrection. Were they wrestling with doubt? You betcha! Even though He hadpromised them He would rise again, they doubted the promise and had a hard timeaccepting the truth even when He stood right in front of them. Check it out:

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

He didn't yell atthem for doubting. He didn't stomp out and take His resurrected body elsewhere.Instead He took the time to help them see why they could be confident that Hewas who He said He was and that He had done exactly what He promised to do.Check out verses 40–43:

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Do you think Jesuswas really hungry? I doubt it. But He knew what was in the heartsof His followers. He knew they were doubting that He was really there in theflesh, so He ate some fish. He tenderly took the time to give them reasons todoubt Him less and trust Him more. We will look at afew more encounters that Jesus had with doubters tomorrow. But for now, I thinkit's important to note that Jesus didn't equate doubt with sin. That doesn'tmean He likes it. He called the doubters out in theses passages. But if you arehaving feelings of doubt, you can feel safe running toward Jesus for answersinstead of away from Him because you think He will be disappointed in you. And you don't haveto have all of your doubts eliminated before God can use you.

In Matthew28:16–19, Jesus is with 11 of His disciples. Verse 17 tells us that some ofthem doubted He was the real deal. He certainly knew their doubt, and yet Heproceeded to give them the Great Commission. If we look at how Jesus responded to doubt, we see that He never says, "Resolve your doubts before you do whatI'm asking you to do." Instead He gives the disciples permission to take theirdoubts with them as they go. He makes us the same offer. Here's one more passage that helps us understand God's attitude toward doubt.

Jude 1:22 simply says,
"Be merciful to those who doubt."

How does the Bible command us to respond to doubt in other's hearts? With mercy. We can beconfident that God will respond to our doubt in the same way. If you're a doubter, I hope you are encouraged that God's shoulders are big enough to handle your questions. Having doubts is not a sin. But allowing those doubts to hinder your walk with Christ isn't the answer. And using doubts as an excuse to break God's commands is never okay. 

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.