How much confidence do I need in God?
I have another question I’d like to ask concerning some scripture I’ve been recently pondering and trying to understand.
“But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:17-19 KJV).
The ASV renders verse 18, “... but to them that were disobedient?”
It seems to me that the Lord is telling us that they ended up being disobedient because they didn’t believe? Am I looking at that correctly?
If I am looking at that correctly, then it begs a question about unbelief. Obviously, they knew good and well that God had brought them out of Egypt and had provided for them, and all the things they had seen so unbelief seems to be more of a lack of trust in God. It certainly can’t be a general lack of belief in the existence of God. It seems to me that they must have lacked a belief in the fact that God wanted what was best for them or general disbelief that He was going to do for them what He said he was going to do for them. Thus they were disobedient and wanted to do their own thing.
I guess I’m saying that I’m leaning toward a thought here that the unbelief was a general lack of trust in the goodness of God or a lack of trust in that He would indeed keep His word. I may be off here and wanted to know how you see this.
When I examine my own life. I believe that much of my disobedience and tendency to keep falling down with sin was possibly driven by disbelief that I could achieve a life that would get me to heaven -- a life that would be pleasing unto God. Of course, I acknowledge that a lot of it was just yielding to temptation. But I feel like a firmer belief would have led back to a stronger resolve not to sin. And when I say "belief" that is not saying any lack of faith in the existence of God or who He is. Just doubt that it could be done. Like people are going to make it to heaven but it just wasn’t possible for me. I see that as being the exact opposite of Joshua and Caleb’s attitude which allowed them to enter Cannan's land. They knew! It’s all tough. I get really embarrassed sharing thoughts like this. I am absolutely trying really hard at this point in my life. But having OCD is such a task when I know that my faith has to be like Joshua and Caleb.
I feel like my OCD is keeping me from having the confidence that I must have (like Joshua and Caleb). I so want to go be with the Lord. I have hung tough on resisting those past sins. I am learning more and more about how I need to be living my life. I spend almost every day thinking about God. I know a lot of that is because of my obsessions as well. I really spend a lot of time trying to evangelize and look for opportunities to share the plan of salvation with people I come in contact with. Sometimes my confidence will feel unshakable and my life is at peace. Then other times some unwanted thought will pop into my head and shake me up. And with OCD it is so hard to fight those thoughts off once they pop in. It really shakes a man's confidence. I then feel like I have to ruminate on these things for hours and explain to myself why I believe what I believe. I feel like I have to convince myself all over and gain my confidence back. It is like an endless cycle. I want to be just like Joshua and Caleb or like David. I don’t want to be like some kind of a little coward.
I know this is long and drawn out. Sorry about that. I feel like I must be the weakest Christian on the planet. OCD is tough and then being a bit analytical on top of that makes it kind of tough at times.
Your conclusion is correct. Disobedience and unbelief are two sides of the same coin. See:
- Disobedience and Unbelief
- Why is apeitheo in John 3:36 translated “not obey” in some versions and “not believe” in others?
In defining "faith," the writer of Hebrews said, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). There are two basic aspects of faith: A belief in the existence of God and a trust that God rewards those who seek Him. Thus, you are correct. The Israelites did not have problems believing that God existed, but they did struggle in trusting that God would fulfill His promises and care for them. Take a look at the sermon What Is Faith?
Remember that being a Christian is a process of growth (I Peter 2:2). You mentioned David; yet, some of the psalms written by David speak about his moments of doubt (Psalms 10:1; 13:1-4; 22:1-2). He always came back to the point that God is faithful, but that didn't stop the questions from arising at times. I would not be surprised to learn that Joshua also struggled. Just count how many times God told him to be strong and courageous. There is a reason God was reminding him.
What your OCD is doing is causing you to judge yourself too strictly. Yes, we all must improve but we won't all be perfect. What I note is that despite your moments of doubt, like David, you eventually come back to the fact that despite your qualms, God is worthy of your trust.
Thanks again as always. I'm not sure exactly how best to express the proper gratitude for you taking the time to help me and others. I know the congregation there at La Vista is certainly strong. If I lived near, I would be very happy to attend there.
I know we don’t know each other, but I hope you don’t think less of me with all that I have shared with you. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I will be flying high with confidence for a couple of weeks. Then I’ll get down for a couple of weeks. I have confidence in God. The problem is with me. When I am feeling confident I’m on top of the world. Then these unwanted thoughts enter in that are converse to me. Then I feel like I must talk myself through everything again and again. It’s pretty exhausting.
I have made so many mistakes in my life because of my own lust, desire, lack of belief in the past. But I’ve come to understand that nothing matters without the Lord. I love my wife, my children, my parents, so many things that God has blessed me with. But I understand that without God none of them can fill the void. My desire and focus are on pleasing the Lord now and I hope that never changes.
Admittedly though it is very tough with OCD. It’s constantly throwing up unwanted thoughts that try to tear me down. It just makes things tough. Do you have any suggestions on this stuff? I know doubt is very dangerous. And this OCD is basically a doubting disease. I sometimes think it’s something we sufferers have trained our minds into.
Another sufferer of OCD describes it as a strong desire to avoid all risks. It is not so much that you are looking for confidence as that you are striving for absolute certainty. Since we are imperfect people in an imperfect world, that level of certainty doesn't come.
We don't always see the full picture in the Bible. We are told what people do but rarely are we told what the person was thinking. We admire the boldness and courage of David, but it isn't until you read the Psalms do you realize that David had his doubts and fears. What made David stand out is that he went on to do what was right despite his doubts and fears. Courage is not the lack of fear. It is continuing on in the face of fears.
Confidence and trust are similar. Being confident in God is not about never having questions or concerns. It is about putting your full trust in what God said despite the doubts wandering through your thoughts. Therefore, stop telling yourself that doubt and fears mean you are less of a Christian. Everyone has doubts and fears. What you need to focus on is doing what is right despite your internal qualms.
A second thing is that most OCD sufferers are caught up focusing on past mistakes. The past is over and done with. You can't change it. Focus on what you are doing today with a mind toward where you want to go in the future. "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).