Several years ago, circumstances beyond my control threw me into a dilemma. The person connected with me had very strong feelings on moving ahead. But I felt no peace taking the path they pursued. Time was ticking, and I had to give my decision. I knew what I wanted. But every time I thought about telling them, “no,” doubt assailed me. You’re wimping out. If you had faith you’d say yes.
At the time, I thought doubt was a nebulous feeling that sprang from uncertainty. But that experience showed me doubts sometimes have a diabolical side. As soon as I recognized the accusatory tone of my doubts, I was able to discern my Lord’s voice. I gave my no with perfect peace—even though I received push-back from my partner.
Paralyzing indecision may spring from the enemy’s taunts. Just like the devil gave King David the idea to take a census of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1-3) and Ananias and Sapphira the idea to lie about a gift they gave to the church (Acts 5:3-5), he also plants thoughts in our minds.
Jesus called the devil a liar (Jn. 8:44) and the thief that comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (Jn. 10:10). The Bible also says he’s a slanderer and accuser (Rev. 12:10). The better we know Jesus, the better we’re able to identify Satan’s influence.
Have you received emails from friends asking you to send cash to help them because they lost their passports? I have. Even though the emails came from my friends’ accounts, the messages didn’t sound like them. I spotted the hoax because I knew my friends. The better we know someone the less likely we are to be hoodwinked by an impersonation. The better we know Jesus, the quicker we’re able to identify Satan’s scams.
Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Below I use an acronym to contrast the devil’s darts from our Shepherd’s voice. Protect yourself by learning to recognize the message or intent hidden in your doubts.
Destructive: sent to steal, kill, and destroy (Jn. 10:10). They draw us away from God’s perfect will. They manipulate us into doubting the validity of our desires or reservations. You’ll offend your neighbor if you invite her to Bible study.
- Deliverer: Jesus’ words bring life and peace.
Accusing: condemning. These thoughts may begin with “if” as when the devil tempted Jesus. As Satan misused Scripture with Jesus, he may twist a verse with us (Matt. 4:1-11). When Scripture oppresses you or causes you to doubt your standing with God, recognize your enemy. If you were a good Christian, you’d…
- Advocate: While the Holy Spirit points out sin, Jesus never guilts, shames, or condemns us (Matt. 11:29; Rom. 8:1).
Rule-oriented: relying on standards for righteousness instead of on Jesus’s righteousness. They focus on the rules we must follow to prove ourselves. If we don’t obey them then our thoughts punish us. For example: Good Christians are self-sacrificing. If you say “no,” you’re a bad person.
- Righteousness: Jesus reminds us that our righteousness is found in Christ alone, not in our performance (Phil. 3:9).
Tempting: offering ways to meet our needs apart from God. People will respect you if… Or Hurry, you’ll miss out.”
- Tower of strength: Jesus infuses us with courage to stand alone, to wait, to please Him even if it means disappointing people, to be still and know.
Slanderous: maligning the character of God, other people, or yourself. God doesn’t care about you. Or, Your friend is so stubborn.
- Shield: Jesus reminds us He is with us and for us (Heb.13:5; Rom. 8:31-34). His Spirit empowers us with love and patience (Gal. 5:22-23).
When God showed me the nature of my doubts, I was able to say “no,” with confidence. The next time you’re faced with confusion, ask yourself, “Is this legitimate doubt or a diabolical dart?” Then follow your Shepherd with confidence.
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