A Double-Minded Man

James taught us to ask God for wisdom.  James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  In his teaching, James instructs us to ask for wisdom in faith.  I believe that this instruction about praying in faith for wisdom applies to all of our prayers.  All of our prayers should be prayed in faith.  The things that we ask for in our prayers should be according to His will.  1 John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  If we ask for things for our own pleasure, we will not receive our request.  James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

James not only teaches us about praying in faith, but he also teaches us about doubting.  “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  If you have ever been to an ocean beach, you have seen how waves wash up upon the beach and then recede.  Or if you have been out on the ocean when it is windy, the wind causes waves with their peaks and valleys; a small boat goes up and down as it rides the waves.  In the same way, a person who doubts is like the waves on a beach that goes back and forth or like a small boat which goes up and down on the waves.  Sometimes the person believes God’s promises and that God will answer his prayer and at other times he doubts or doesn’t believe that God will answer him.  He goes up and down.  Part of the time he believes and part of the time he does not.  James calls such an individual a double-minded man and says that he is unstable in all his ways.  He also says that such a man should not suppose to receive anything from the Lord.

Abraham is our example of an individual who believed and didn’t doubt.  God promised him that he would be the father of many nations when he was old and didn’t have the promised son.  Romans 4:18-25 (Abraham) “Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’  Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”  Abraham was fully convinced that what God had promised He was able to perform even though, from a worldly standpoint, it was nearly impossible.  He didn’t doubt.  And so Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness.  He is our example to have strong faith and not doubt.  When you have such faith, God will also count you righteous.

You can be double-minded about other things.  Consider being spiritually minded and also carnally minded.  The apostle Paul described this conflict in Romans 7:18-20 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”  Paul gave additional instruction on this subject in Galatians 5:16-17 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” I believe that within each of us as Christians there is this battle of wanting to please God and also wanting to please ourselves.  In this way we can be double-minded.

Seek to have a pure heart and not to be double-minded.  Jesus taught in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  We should seek to have a pure life and a pure heart.

I encourage you to have stronger faith and not doubt.  Ask God to strengthen your faith.  Seek to purify your heart and not to be double-minded.