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The Doubtful

 

And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. (Deut 28:66-67)

 

The phrase “hang in doubt” is what caught my attention when I last read through this portion of Scripture. It is remarkable how much influence the KJV of the Holy Bible has on the English language – the sayings, the catch-phrases, the vernacular. And much of that influence is still felt today, even in the USA.

 

As I considered this phrase, I began to see the terrible condition of the world of men, amongst whom we live. Though they may not know it or acknowledge it, their very lives hang in doubt, even now. Or, even though they may acknowledge this terrible condition, the lost man will do nothing to change his terrible fate – yea, he is powerless to do anything about his condition. The world of men will only wander on, lost, dying, and alone, and bound to the awful sin which has corrupted us all. There is no hope for man, except in Jesus Christ. All who will reject Him or ignore Him are bound to live the life of “The Doubtful.” Their lives will be in doubt. Their successes will be in doubt. Their happiness will be in doubt. And peace will not be found in this world. Instead, the doubtful will live in dread and fear.

 

However, I want you to know that there is another manner of life to be lived on this earth – there is another condition which is found in this world – and that is the life and the condition of those who will trust in Jesus Christ, and who will be obedient unto God and His Word. The Scriptures, and our own experiences, reveal to us that the ones who will commit the keeping of their souls unto God, will find peace and contentment in this life. Though the world may ridicule the Christian, and though the world may reject God and His Son; still, this is the only hope for mankind, and Jesus Christ is the only respite and relief from the doubt that so utterly afflicts this world of men. The faithful saints of the Lord, love and trust in God, and their lives show forth the qualities of the true believer.

 

Let’s move on to consider the state of affairs amongst men, and the doubt and fear which reign supreme in the lives of natural men.

 

The Terrible Condition of the Unsaved

 

 The unsaved and unregenerate in this world do not have much to look forward to. They are unsafe. They fear the day. They fear the night. There is no certainty or assurance in their miserable lives. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isa 33:14) When they consider what awaits them – when they consider the uncertainty of tomorrow (or even the uncertainty of tonight) – they can’t help but be concerned, worried, or even frightened.

 

When you look at the condition of the unsaved from a Heavenly perspective, we understand that each of the unsaved is in a desperate place. They are teetering on the brink of destruction. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. (Prov 4:19) If the next breath is their last in this world, they will expire and descend into Hell. What a terrible fate to have hanging over each of them, and yet they are willfully oblivious, purposely ignorant, and deliberately blind to the fact that destruction awaits them.

 

In the case of the wicked and the unsaved, the lives that they live seem very tenuous in this mortal realm. They live their lives in an uncertain way – the next day, and their own success or survival is in doubt. Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling? As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work: So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day. My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope. (Job 7:1-6) If a just man such as Job – who felt himself to be afflicted of God – could demonstrate a fear of the coming day, and the dread of the night, then how much more should the wicked be afraid?

 

If the wicked will admit it, the fragile state of their very existence, leads them to wonder what the next moment holds – or, at least, what the next day, the next week, the next month, or the next year, may hold for them. When they examine the shaky condition of their lives, questions and doubts abound. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. (Isa 59:9-14)

 

I believe that it is the duty of the saved and the duty of those who are the ministers of Christ, to remind the world of the wicked of the delicate or tenuous manner of their existence. Perhaps, the Lord will use the preaching of the Word, or the proclamation of the Gospel, to cause some to consider the fact that condemnation hovers over them, and damnation awaits them, if they do not repent of their sins, and trust in Jesus Christ. The matter of the fate of the soul of a man is not something to trifle with! This is not a matter that should be ignored, or put on the back burner. None of us – the wicked included – are promised tomorrow. If the life that we have is so fragile, shouldn’t the souls of men who have not repented, begin to tremble and cast themselves upon the mercy and grace of God?

 

The Frightful Condition of the Disobedient

 

We have considered the condition of the unsaved. Now, let’s move on to consider the frightful condition of the disobedient. As we consider the disobedient, I believe that we are mainly talking about the unsaved – but, I suppose that the saved are also sometimes caught in disobedience? The disobedient man may wonder, “What will God do next?” Based on the disobedience of the man, there is significant doubt as to whether he can trust in, or count on, the kindness and the favor of God. In the morning the disobedient will ask, “Will I make it to the evening?” In the evening the same disobedient man will wonder, “Will I survive until the morning?” The disobedient will hope that, perhaps, the evening will bring them peace, when they have found none in the morning. In the evening, the disobedient will desire that the morning will come, in the hopes that it will be better for them than has been the evening.

 

Especially in the case of the saved, but disobedient; or the one who has a knowledge of God, but does not know Jesus Christ as his Saviour; the question might be asked “What can I do to return to God's favor?” In the life of such a disobedient man, there will exist a constant dread or doubt as to whether he might be soon judged by God. Or, a fear that God may remove His protection and His providence from him. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1Thess 5:1-3)

 

It is a frightful and a worrisome thing to live every day wondering, “Will God judge me next?” The world, in some cases, will give into this despair, and will indulge in wickedness. And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts. (Isa 22:12-14) The world of the wicked will seek to drown their conscience in sin, and seek to overwhelm their knowledge and fear of God with a total indulgence in the wickedness and sin of the world. But, in the end, men will be judged. The world of men will occasionally realize this in a fashion that causes them to temper their wickedness. But, for the most part, the world rushes headlong towards destruction – disobedient unto the very end.

 

It is a weariness and it is a constant worry that afflicts those who know God, but who are disobedient unto Him: “Will my works and my efforts be all in vain?” Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1Cor 3:12-15) If it is a saved man, who finds himself caught up in sin and disobedience unto God and His Word, there will be a question and an uncertainty about him, which will be evident to those around him who also know the Lord. I wonder, will his works endure, which he has done? Or, will the disobedient attitude of such a one, result in the undoing of all that he has done, and a lack of rewards for his deeds that were performed while he lived in disobedience?

 

The uncertain and fearful disobedient servant of God, may ask, “Will I be judged or chastised in this life, because of my disobedience?” The Writer to the Hebrews spoke of such disobedience this way: Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Heb 10:23-27) Open disobedience unto God is a willful sin, that may bring trouble to the disobedient, even in this life. There should be a certain amount of fear and trepidation in the life of one who has come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour, and yet has lived a life of disobedience. The disobedience may be something noticeable to all – such as forsaking the attendance in the House of God, like is mentioned in the passage we have just read. Or, the disobedience may be in some form of sin, which a man or woman desires to indulge in – knowing full well, that the Lord would not have it so, and the Word of God does not permit that sin. Or, the disobedience could be something less noticeable, such as a failure in diligence, a laziness in service, a laxness in study, an absence of prayer, or any other sin or omission. In any of these cases, the child of God who is aware of this disobedience, ought to fear God, and expect some sort of chastisement in this life – his life may be full of doubt, not knowing where, when, or how the chastisement may appear. The God we serve demands service, and He demands obedience. He will not settle for less. Is it not far better for each of us, if we will only forsake our own desire in favor of the service of God, and turn from our disobedience unto willing service in the Church of God?

 

The Blessed Condition of the Faithful

 

Up till now, we have noticed the condition of those who do not know or love God. These are in the terrible condition of being unsaved, and without Christ in this world. We have also noticed those who are disobedient unto God. These know, in their hearts, that there is a God; many are still unsaved, and they live in rebellion and disobedience, though they have a head knowledge of God, and have been made to know something of His goodness and longsuffering. Many others are actually saved, and yet they will ignore the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and they will occasionally (or even often) live in disobedience to the Will of God, and the precepts of the Holy Scriptures. Now, in conclusion, we want to consider the blessed and wonderful condition of those who know and love the Lord God, and who are living lives which are manifesting their knowledge and love for God. These are the ones who are both faithful and loving towards the Lord God Who has saved them. These are the ones who are thankful for the salvation provided for them, and who seek to serve God in obedience. These are the ones who desire to abound in the grace of God in this life. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Prov 4:18)

 

I suppose that this is the category which you and I desire to belong to. I have a sincere desire in my heart to be faithful to my faithful Saviour Who has saved me. I have a fervent desire in my heart to be obedient to my God, and to His Word – the God and the Gospel of my salvation. Those who are faithful unto God, will find that the fears and the doubts of this world will become insignificant. We are the ones who can (and will) obtain peace in this life – we will overcome doubt.

 

And yet, I know that many others are more faithful than I, and many others display more obedience than do I. However, I hope to grow in the faith which the Lord God has granted unto me. I hope, desire, and strive to be more of what the Lord God expects of me, and more of what His Word requires of me. Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Ps 119:165) In doing so, I believe that my life on this earth will improve, and the glories of the salvation which God has provided for me will be greatly enhanced. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

 

What a wonderful thing it is, to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and to be faithful unto Him and His Word! Fear and doubt are swallowed up in faith and love. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2Tim 1:7) Instead of fear and worry, we find peace in the day. There is no dread or distress as we start a new day, wondering what terrors or evils await us, when we know that God is on our side, and there is nothing that men or devils can do to tear us from the grip of God Almighty! Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. (1John 4:17-19)

 

Instead of doubt and trembling, we find peace in the night. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (Ps 139:12) There is no hurry or rush to get through the night and seek the safety of the morning, when God is with us in the night! Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Josh 1:9)

 

We don’t have to fear this life, nor the obstacles which may confront us, nor the evils which may oppose us. The life that we now live can be a life of peace and contentment, if only we will be faithful unto our God. And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 4:39-40)

 

And, finally, I want to remind each of us today that there is no fear of death, when we love our God, and trust in Him as we should. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Cor 15:55-57)  The world lives in fear and in doubt of the monster, death. The world lives in dread of the unknown perils of death. However, Jesus Christ has conquered death on behalf of all of those who know Him. We can find peace, even in death, if we trust in Him and are full of faith in Him.

 

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