The Dangerous Dilemma of Doubting

This post is part 6 in the "Believe & Behave" series. 

Read: 1 Kings 13

A couple sat in our living room not long ago and told us about the events that led to a crisis in their marriage. The husband acknowledged that he had not given his wife the attention she deserved. The wife on the other hand, told us about how a man at work had been giving her lots of attention. It wasn’t long until they engaged in growing deception and eventually meeting at a secret rendezvous. When her affair was made public, she became surprisingly repentant. But her husband was skeptical. He couldn’t believe she would betray him the way she did. As time went on, he drifted into anger and indifference.

When we asked them if they wanted to keep the marriage together, the wife said that she did. But the husband wanted no part of it. We talked as a foursome for several weeks, until the husband announced that he was pursuing a divorce.

When I shared with him from Scripture that God wanted them to reconcile, the man became hardened. I shared Biblical truths about “forgiving one another, even as Christ has forgiven you.” I reminded him that there was a need to take the “log out of his own eye before removing specks in his wife’s eye.” (NOTE – this was not a statement that minimized her sin in any way. It was an invitation to look at his own sins and shortcomings.) He shook his head and eventually stopped meeting. Two months later the marriage was dissolved.

I don’t know God’s will for everyone, but I am very convinced that the Heavenly Father wanted this couple to reconcile. Yes, it would have been a long haul, but it was doable. The big barrier in the relationship was not that the husband had difficulty trusting his wife. He had a bigger problem in trusting God’s revealed will for him.

We have all been in the same place at one time or another. I don’t know about the specific nature of God’s will when it comes to specific purchases or vocational pursuits. But I do believe that God speaks. And I believe that God speaks to us primarily through His written word. Unfortunately many people hear God’s voice in the Scriptures, but they doubt what He is saying. And it isn’t long until doubt leads to outright disobedience. That is why we need to carefully ponder the teaching in 1 Kings 13.

There are several things you will want to observe in this passage.

  • You will want to notice that God spoke to King Jeroboam and told him that if he obeyed God’s commandments, God would give him a lasting dynasty (cf. 1 Kings 11:38-39).  However, Jeroboam doubted God and disobeyed by establishing a false religion in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  He did so out of fear (cf. 1 Kings 12:25-30)!
  • Later on, a prophet went to Bethel and prophesied that the altar would be split in two and desecrated.  Jeroboam tried to have the prophet arrested, but when he pointed in the direction of the man giving the prophecy, the king’s hand withered.  Jeroboam pleaded for mercy and asked for his hand to be restored, and it was (cf. 1 Kings 13:1-7).  You would think that after such dramatic events, that Jeroboam would return and obey God. But he didn’t. The chapter ends with the king returning to his idolatry and the certainty of ultimate destruction (cf. 1 Kings 13:33-34 & 2 Kings 23:12-17).
  • You will want to make one other observation from 1 Kings 13. There is a story within the story.  The very prophet who announced condemnation on the king ended up being deceived as well.  At first it seemed like he was a victim of another man’s evil.  But we know from Deuteronomy 13:1-5 that God gave clear guidelines as to how to validate a prophecy.  The prophet from Judah should have known these guidelines. But he doubted, and his doubt led to disobeying the assignment God had given to him to carry out.  

So what's the point?

1 Kings 13 is more than an interesting story. It’s a WARNING. 

It is a warning to everyone who hears God’s Word preached and taught. It is a warning to everyone caught in the throws of temptation.  It is a warning for God’s people in every generation.

You can doubt and disobey, but God's Word always comes with consequences!

We can obey what God says and experience His blessing.  Or we can disobey God and experience His discipline.

What fears and temptations are you facing right now? 
What is God specifically telling you to believe?  

I don’t know God’s will for that career move you might be considering. And I don’t know if you should make or refuse to make a specific purchase. But there is one thing that I know for certain.

Whatever God says is ALWAYS…true! 

He has given you everything in the Scriptures that you need to live this side of heaven (cf. 2 Peter 1:3). So read and meditate on His Word.  And be sure to do whatever He asks.

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