Doubting, Hesitating, Wavering, Double-Minded…

This is a subsidiary post to Against Faith.  (For files on faith itself, see Faith.)

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synonyms:  divided, division, double
antonyms:  resolute, single, steadfast, undivided, united

(Content from the post “Faith Is Not Doubt” has been moved to, and incorporated with, this post.)

Doubting, hesitating, wavering, double-mindedness – all these things (as well as their cognates, synonyms, and paraphrases) are contrary to faith.  They are not partners with faith, but rather antagonists to it.  These things cannot coexist with faith because they are antithetical to it – just as light cannot coexist with darkness.  One displaces the other.  The Bible never speaks favorably about doubting, hesitating, wavering, or being double-minded.  They are all considered spiritual pathologies.

I should add that while the Bible does not speak favorably of hesitating, it does commend waiting on the Lord.  That is quite different from hesitating between two clear choices (1 Kings 18:21).

Because faith is righteous, these things are not.  Whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

This list of verses will demonstrate what I am saying.

Matthew 6:24  –  Trying to serve two masters makes you “double-minded” – and therefore unable to adequately serve either.

Matthew 14:23-33  –  Matthew 14:31 indicates that the entrance of doubt marked the end of Peter’s supernatural experience.

Matthew 21:24-27  –  This passage (Mark 11:29-33 and Luke 20:1-8 offer similar accounts) demonstrates how a double-minded person thinks – and the sort of thing that prompts him to think that way.  Jesus asked, “The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?”  Notice the response of the religious leaders:

“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.”  And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.”

Thus double-minded thinking leads to agnosticism.  Note that the agnosticism results not from an inability to know but rather from an unwillingness to know – not willing to experience either consequence of the choice.  Such a way of thinking is completely unhelpful in the cultivation of faith.  In fact, it is toxic to faith.

Matthew 28:16, 17  –  “they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful

Mark 11:23  –  “does not doubt in his heart, but believes”

Mark 11:29-33  –  This passage is parallel to Matthew 21:24-27 above and Luke 20:1-8 below.  See note on Matthew 21:24-27.

Luke 9:51  –  “He resolutely set His face to”  –  There’s no doubt in that!

Luke 9:62  –  Reminiscent of Lot’s wife in Luke 17:32 below.

Luke 17:32  –  Compare with Genesis 19:16 below which refers to Lot.

Luke 20:1-8  –  This passage is parallel to Matthew 241:24-27 and Mark 11:29-33, both above.  See note on Matthew 21:24-27.

John 18:38  –  How could Pilate decide what was true if he didn’t even have conviction that there was such a thing as truth?

Acts 7:42-43 (quoting Amos 5:25-27 below)  –  “IT WAS NOT TO ME…YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG…”  –  The God of Israel was jealous with a godly jealousy (2 Corinthians 11:3); He demanded exclusive worship just as husbands and wives seek exclusive devotion from each other.

Acts 27:11  –  Will we be more persuaded by the apostles and the prophets than we are by those who have a worldview contrary to theirs?

Romans 4:20  –  “he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith”

Romans 14:5  –  “…Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”  –  By contrast, some people are partially convinced in their own minds.

Romans 14:22  –  “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves”  –  In other words, “happy is he who is not double-minded.”
Romans 14:23  –  “But he who doubts is condemned”  –  Therefore, we see that whatever is “of doubt” cannot be “of faith.”

“doubts” = “not from faith”

2 Corinthians 1:17, 18, 19  –  Paul was not “vacillating” – that is, he was not being double-minded.  Again, his word was “was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.”

Colossians 2:5  –  “the stability of your faith in Christ”

2 Timothy 3:7  –  Always deliberating and never concluding, always comparing and never choosing, always contemplating and never deciding.

James 1:6-8  –  “faith without any doubting,” “a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”
James 1:6 KJV  –  “ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed”  –  Faith Does Not Waver

James 4:8  –  “…Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

2 Peter 3:16  –  “the untaught and unstable distort”

Jude 1:20, 22  –  Note that you are to be “building yourselves up on your most holy faith” while you “have mercy on some, who are doubting”


Genesis 19:16  –  “But he [i.e. Lot] hesitated.”  –  Compare with Luke 17:32 above which refers to Lot’s wife.

Deuteronomy 28:66  –  “your life shall hang in doubt before you”

Joshua 24:15  –  “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether…”

1 Kings 18:21  –  A marginal note in the NASB says that “hesitate between two opinions” literally would read “limp on the two divided opinions.”
1 Kings 18:21 ESV
1 Kings 18:21 KJV

Compare 1 Kings 18:21 to 2 Kings 7:3, 4 below and to John 5:5, 6).

2 Kings 7:3, 4  –  “Why do we sit here until we die?”  –  That is, why do we dwell in hesitation?

1 Chronicles 12:33  –  “an undivided heart”

2 Chronicles 16:9  –  “whose heart is completely His”

Psalm 12:2  –  “They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.”

Psalm 86:11  –  “Unite my heart to fear Your name”

Psalm 119:113  –  “I hate those who are double-minded

Isaiah 33:6  –  “He will be the stability of your times”

Isaiah 50:7  –  “I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed”

Joel 3:14  –  The “valley of decision” becomes for many people the “valley of indecision.”

Amos 5:25-27  –  See note on Acts 7:42-43 above.  Also consider that God favors purity and opposes impurity, mixture, and equivocation.  Leaven can have a negative or positive connotation, but in this context it would surely be negative – as it was with the Pharisees (Luke 12:1).  God’s fundamental objection through Moses is that Israel’s worship was not pure – they sought to mix their devotion to multiple gods.  Thus they were being impure and equivocal.

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