Overconfidence and Doubt

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Romans 14:22-23


I.          Several correspondence that I have had contained similar questions:

             A.         A woman who engaged in acts in the past that she knew were wrong said, “I have asked God for forgiveness and am trying to further my relationship with him, but I don't feel I deserve to be cleansed.”

             B.         A young man who engaged in sinful acts said, “My big problem is I don't want to go to hell, for crying out loud! I want to search for God, find God, and follow all of His commandments. I want to do what He asks because I'm scared of Him, and I do love him. I don't want to go to Hell! Will He forgive me if I start doing what He asks, seek him, and repent? Please, I'm scarred!”

             C.         A teenage girl wrote, “I have accepted Jesus Christ and have given my life to him and accepted his death as a payment for my sins. Isn't that the way to get into heaven? I have prayed for forgiveness for my homosexuality so will I go to heaven? I have had sleepless nights over this. I mean, if I was born this way why should he not let me go to heaven? I want to go too! I don't want to suffer forever.”

             D.         A teenage boy wrote, “I had a thought go passed my head, making me think I was gay or bisexual and I know I'm not. But it seemed to be because I thought of myself being a girl and ... yeah ... anyway, too deep. Well, I'm trying to block all of those thoughts. Will God forgive me? I need to know because I know He hates homosexuals, but I know I'm not a homosexual; I've just been though stuff. Never touched a guy, though I had thoughts. Please, I know maybe you don't understand fully, but I don't want be a sinner. I need help. I don't want go to hell.”

             E.         In yet another note from a teenage boy, “So you're for sure God will forgive me? Because I want to feel safe. I guess I've been hanging out with myself a lot and have became a low life ever since my girlfriend went back home.”

             F.         All of these came within a few days of each other.

                          1.          So how was your week?

                          2.          The closeness of these notes got me thinking about their similar traits.

                          3.          Each person had realized they were in the wrong and started making changes in their lives. Some better than others, but changes none the less.

                          4.          But they are each fearful that it won’t be enough. They are scared and don’t know which way to move.

II.         Confidence in God

             A.         The example of Paul

                          1.          A young man named Saul was extremely zealous for God. When a new religion came on the scene, Saul was at the fore-front to see that is was opposed. - Acts 8:1-3

                          2.          It took a vision from Jesus to get Saul to reexamine his faith - Acts 22:3-11

                                       a.          God send Ananias to Saul to teach him the truth

                                       b.          It is the way God chose, to have people learn the truth from other people - I Corinthians 1:21

                                       c.          Saul was invited to wash away his sins - Acts 22:16

                          3.          But that forgiveness didn’t wash away Saul’s, now known as Paul’s, memory of what he did - I Timothy 1:12-15

                          4.          Despite his past, Paul had confidence - II Timothy 1:12

             B.         Paul was amazed that such a vile sinner as he was saved, but he had full confidence in God that he was saved.

                          1.          Not because he had confidence in himself>

                          2.          But because he had confidence in God and the certainty of God’s promises

             C.         As Paul told Timothy - II Timothy 1:7

III.        But there is danger is overconfidence - Romans 14:22

             A.         We can have faith and confidence in things that do not come from God.

             B.         The key to confidence is knowing we are doing what God asked of us - I John 3:21-22

             C.         Conducting ourselves according to the grace of God - II Corinthians 1:12

             D.         Striving to give no offense to God or man - Acts 24:16

             E.         The problem is that we can do things without checking to see if God approves

                          1.          Israel wanted to conquer Canaan after God said “No.” - Deuteronomy 1:41-42

                          2.          Joshua’s first attack at Ai, never knowing that God was opposed - Joshua 7:1-5

             F.         It is no different when people just know God will accept the things they came up with, though they never consulted His Word - Matthew 7:22-23

             G.         “Happy is the man who is not condemned in what he approves.”

IV.       The subtle snare of doubt - Romans 14:23

             A.         Think back to those we mentioned at the beginning.

                          1.          Though they were attempting to make changes in their lives, doubt settled in.

                          2.          It is not hard to understand. I’ve taken tests, and though I would say that I knew the material well, I would be plagued with doubts about whether my grade was good enough until I saw the actual results.

                          3.          We don’t get direct feedback from God. God tells us what He expects from us, and we might see that we are doing it, but until that final result comes in ...

             B.         Doubt is a subtle weapon of Satan

                          1.          He’s used it from the beginning - Genesis 3:1-5

                                       a.          He got Eve questioning what she heard and what she knew

             C.         Doubt makes us unstable - James 1:5-8

                          1.          Thus we are vulnerable to attack

                          2.          We can fall - II Peter 3:17

             D.         Doubt means we lack faith - Matthew 14:26-31

                          1.          Peter was doing well, until he opened the door of doubt

             E.         We need to recognize the danger of doubting - Mark 9:17-24

V.         Be steadfast - I Corinthians 15:58

             A.         Not stubborn or stiff-necked, but acting according to knowledge.

             B.         Knowing what we have learned and from whom we have learned - II Timothy 3:14

             C.         It is not blind overconfidence but a knowledgeable trust in our Master

             D.         Don’t let doubts take you down, be confident that God knows and means what He says.

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