Don The Armour

September 25, 2023

All doubting is evil in its nature, yet some doubting, though evil in itself, doth evidence some grace that is good to be in the person so doubting; as smoke proves some fire.

William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour


This quote touches on an uncomfortable subject that most Christians have dealt with at some point: doubt.

Sometimes, we wonder if our faith can possibly be genuine when we find so much doubt in ourselves. William Gurnall addresses this fear and describes two different types of doubt: that which comes from weak faith and that which comes from unbelief.

But how do we tell which type of doubt we’re suffering? We must pray fervently about this, but Gurnall provides four characteristics of doubt that come from true faith to help us discern if that’s what ours is.


The doubt of a true believer comes with much shame and sorrow of the spirit. Gurnall asks:

Will unbelief mourn for unbelief?

The answer is no. Without a drop of faith to begin with, why would you mourn its loss?


The doubts of a sincere believer are accompanied by a strong desire to find or recover the things being doubted. He might be afraid that he’s not truly in Christ, but he wants Christ more than life itself.

The scriptures can reassure us that this desire for Christ is a sign of faith:

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious (1 Peter 2:7)

We most fear losing the things we most love. Gurnall illustrates this with a metaphor:

The wife, because she loves her husband dearly, fears when he is abroad she shall never see him more… her love torments her without any just cause, when her husband is all the while well and on his way home

As the wife wouldn’t worry for her husband if she didn’t truly love him, we wouldn’t worry about our faith if we didn’t love Christ.


A truly believing soul will be eager to investigate how he might get what he fears he doesn’t have. He searches the scriptures and his heart for a resolution to his questions and won’t rest until he finds one.

This is what David did in Psalm 77 when he was troubled:

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. (Ps. 77:6)

Gurnall says:

He dares no more sit down contented in that unresolved condition, than one who thinks he smells fire in his house dares settle himself to sleep


The true believer’s heart still wants to cleave to Christ even amid his doubt.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (Mat. 14:30)

Even as Peter’s faith was failing him and he began sinking, he still lifted a prayer to Jesus to save him.

Only the Holy Spirit can bring peace to your conscience about your standing with Christ. However, we need to realize that, as humans, we are all susceptible to doubt. Even some of the greatest saints in scripture, like David and Peter, are shown to experience doubt.

If you find yourself in a season of doubt, hopefully examining yourself for these four characteristics can help you to discern the sincerity of your faith.