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of Bible Study Notes
"Asking for Wisdom Without Doubting"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
April 9, 2003
Often, when it comes to making the choice of whether or not to follow
God's wise plan for solving their problem, many people throw up their
hands in frustration and exclaim, "I've tried doing what the Bible says,
but it just doesn't work. I've tried praying. I've tried trusting God.
I've 'turning it over to Jesus'. I've tried 'loving my enemies'. I've
tried asking God to give me the strength to do the right thing. I've tried;
and it just doesn't work!"
It simply isn't true that God's ways don't work. God's ways always
work. So what's the problem? To put it bluntly, it's that we too often
believe, at the most fundamental level, that God's way isn't truly the best.
We too often believe that God's wisdom is just as valid as the world's way
of solving our problems -- or maybe even "second best" to the world's way.
"Maybe God's way of solving this problem is the way to go," we reason deep
in our hearts; "but then, maybe it isn't. If God would just show me what He
wants me to do in this difficult situation I'm in, I can take a look at it
and consider it. Maybe I'll decide to do what He says. But God's way isn't
the 'only' way. In fact, sometimes His way is a rather difficult one. I'm
not ready to commit to it yet. I'm just not sure what I'm going to do; and
I want to keep my options open."
If we were to ask God for wisdom in such a frame of mind, we would be
doing so in an insincere manner, because we wouldn't really be intending to
follow it. We would just sort of playing with the information.
Much of our battle in the Christian life is won or lost right here.
God's wisdom for living -- even in the midst of our trials -- is very much
available to us, if we'll only ask Him for it. And His way will always
prove, in the end, to have been the best way for us. But we must do as
James says. We must "ask in faith without any doubting". If we want God's
wisdom for living, then we'd better ask with a sincere trust that God's way
is best. James tells us here ...
I. THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND IN WHICH TO ASK FOR WISDOM ...
"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting ..." (v.
A. What does James mean by "faith"?
1. He could mean asking "in the faith"; that is, as a Christian. But
this seems assumed already. He does, after all, call them "brothers"
2. He could also mean asking "in an attitude of expectancy"; that
is, trusting God to truly answer (Heb. 11:6). But again, verse 5 seems
to suggest that they already have this expectancy.
3. He could also mean, "If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God for
it; but in asking, let such a person be sure that they ask with a firm
confidence in the reliability of God's wisdom - that God's ways truly
are best". This, in the context of these words, seems the most likely
way to understand "faith".
B. We can understand what James means by faith by his other qualifying
phrase, "without any doubting". The word James uses doesn't just mean
"weakness in faith". Rather, it means "to separate" or "sever"; and in this
particular sense, it's the idea of "making distinctions and differences
between things". James uses the same word in 2:4. The King James
translates it well: "wavering". When we ask God for wisdom, we're not to
have any reservations that God's way is truly the best.
II. WHY WE MUST ASK IN THIS FRAME OF MIND ...
"... for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven
and tossed by the wind" (v. 6b).
A. Such a person is as unpredictable as the surf of the sea (Eph. 4:14);
which is really a sign of spiritual immaturity.
B. Such a person is also "double minded" - or, as the word James uses
really means - "two souled". This state of being is a sin to be repented
of (James 4:4).
C. Such a person is "unstable in all his ways" (v. 8). This is a
condition that Jesus describes as "foolish" (Matthew 7:24-27).
III. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE DON'T ASK IN THIS FRAME OF MIND ...
"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" (vvds. 7-8).
When we ask God for wisdom, but at the same time doubt that His wisdom is
best, we are saying in effect that we don't trust Him. We have no right to
expect Him to respond to such a qualified request (Mark 6:5-6; Matthew
* * * * * * * * * *
Check yourself out on these things:
- Have you been experiencing a fundamental instability in your life;
feeling like you just don't have it together?
- Have you been finding yourself to be of two minds; willing, on the
one hand, to know what God wants you to do in a particular situation;
but unwilling, on the other, to follow through with obedience to it?
- Have you been finding that you start out strong in doing what God
wants you to do; but ending up off track -- as if the least little inconvenience
or difficulty is enough to make you throw in the towel?
- Have you found that you ask for God's wisdom for your life, but you
don't seem to get an answer? Or that, when you do get the answer, you
get discouraged by it and say, in frustration, that it probably won't
If this is where you are, then it's up to you to do something about it.
According to James 4:7-8, what must we do in such a case?