“Why are you so fearful? how is it that you have no faith?” Mark 4:40
The habitual, or even the occasional, doubtful apprehension indulged in of his interest in Christ will tend materially to the enfeebling and decay of a believer’s faith; no cause can be more certain in its effects than this. If it be true that the exercise of faith develops its strength, it is equally true that the perpetual indulgence of doubtful apprehensions of pardon and acceptance must necessarily eat as a canker-worm at the root of faith.
Every misgiving felt, every doubt cherished, every fear yielded to, every dark providence brooded over, tends to unhinge the soul from God, and dims its near and loving view of Jesus. To doubt the love, the wisdom, and the faithfulness of God, to doubt the perfection of the work of Christ, to doubt the operation of the Spirit on the heart, what can tend more to the weakening and decay of this precious and costly grace?
Every time the soul sinks under the pressure of a doubt of its interest in Christ, the effect must be a weakening of the soul’s view of the glory, perfection, and all-sufficiency of Christ’s work. But imperfectly may the doubting Christian be aware what dishonor is done to Jesus, what reflection is cast upon His great work, by every unbelieving fear he cherishes.
It is a secret wounding of Jesus, however the soul might shrink from such an inference; it is a lowering, an undervaluing of Christ’s obedience and death- that glorious work of salvation with which the Father has declared Himself well pleased- that work with which divine justice has confessed itself satisfied- that work, on the basis of which every poor, convinced sinner is saved, and on the ground of which millions of redeemed and glorified spirits are now basking around the throne- that work, we say, is dishonored, undervalued, and slighted by every doubt and fear secretly harbored or openly expressed by a child of God. The moment a believer looks at his unworthiness more than at the righteousness of Christ- supposes that there is not a sufficiency of merit in Jesus to supply the absence of all merit in himself before God- what is it but a setting up his sinfulness and unworthiness above the infinite worth, fulness, and sufficiency of Christ’s atonement and righteousness?
There is much spurious humility among many of the dear saints of God. It is thought by some, that to be always doubting one’s pardon and acceptance is the evidence of a humble spirit. It is, allow us to say, the mark of the very opposite of a lowly and humble mind. That is true humility that credits the testimony of God- that believes because He has spoken it- that rests in the blood and righteousness and all-sufficiency of Jesus, because He has declared that “whoever believes in Him shall be saved.”
This is genuine lowliness- the blessed product of the Eternal Spirit. To go to Jesus just as I am, a poor, lost, helpless sinner- to go without previous preparation- to go glorying in my weakness, infirmity, and poverty, that the free grace, and sovereign pleasure, and infinite merit of Christ might be seen in my full pardon, justification, and eternal glory.
There is more of unmortified pride, of self-righteousness, of that principle that would make God a debtor to the creature, in the refusal of a soul fully to accept of Jesus, than is suspected. There is more real, profound humility in a simple, believing venture upon Christ, as a ruined sinner, taking Him as all its righteousness, all its pardon, all its glory, than it is possible for any mortal mind to fathom.
Doubt is ever the offspring of pride, humility is ever the handmaid of faith.