8 Warning Signs of a Double-Minded Christian

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“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:6-8 NIV)

James was straightforward about living our faith. It’s paramount to believe and accept Christ as our Savior, and part of our purpose to proclaim the Gospel; but if the motions of our daily lives don’t reflect the Truth we believe in, James warned of hypocrisy. Double-mindedness is one of the first things he addresses. “James is not saying our prayers will only be answered if we have perfect faith that never entertains any kind of doubt,” the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible explains,” He condemns the believer who is trying to serve two masters at the same time.” Jesus warned that we cannot serve both God and man (Matthew 6:24). 

Let's take a look at what it means to be a double-minded believer and the warning signs of this type of Christian.

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  • woman thinking

    What does it Mean to be Double-Minded?


    “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)

    Double-minded can simply mean to be undecided. The process of making decisions isn’t a sin. A permanent state of indecision is. We make many decisions, every day. Faith-based decisions obey God’s word, which exists to protect our hearts and help us thrive in His will for our lives.

    The necessary sacrifice to obey God’s truth sometimes fights against what we feel like doing. We fail to trust what God has waiting for us on the other side of obedience. We’re all guilty of “phoning a friend” before we consult the Creator of the Universe on what to do or how to make a decision. This is double-mindedness. Wavering too long may lead to hypocrisy.

    Doubt, as James recorded, fuels double-mindedness. “To call into question the truth of; to be uncertain; to lack confidence; distrust; to consider unlikely.” These are all definitions of doubt — as is fear. Christians are to be united with Christ, being like-minded. We cannot have minds like Christ and serve the world simultaneously. Dan Delzell wrote for the Christian Post, “a double-minded life will circumvent much of the good the Holy Spirit wants to work in you and through you.”

    Now let's take a look at 8 warning signs of a double-minded Christian.

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  • woman looking confused thinking

    8 Warning Signs of Double-Mindedness


    1. Content of Our Prayers

    “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NIV)

    Prayer is our lifeline to God. Jesus died to make a way for us to approach our Father in Heaven by atoning for our sins with His death on the cross. When we pray to God, using this lifeline, do we really believe we are heard? It’s possible to fall into a rhythm of praying half-heartedly, not believing God hears our prayers and can—and sometimes does—answer them directly. Doubt, in our daily prayers, lends to double-mindedness.

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  • man looking skeptically at woman

    2.  Self-Centered Motives


    “Do nothing out of selfish gain or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others over yourselves, not looking to your own self interests, but each of you to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

    The human heart defaults easily to manipulating and selfish intentions. Following Christ requires humble hearts, seeking to serve others. We can run our plans and actions through the filter of Paul’s words to the Philippians, and prayerfully ask God to expose areas of selfish motives in our lives. It’s not always obvious, especially when our plans align with what the world encourages as acceptable behavior.

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  • two men walking talking in suits

    3. Our Speech


    “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:23-24)

    Double-mindedness says one thing and does another. The Bible is clear about our need to watch our tongues, not just eliminating “bad words,” but talking in a way that makes people feel bad! Our words are powerful, and can either reflect our love of Christ or pull the rug out from underneath us.

    Gossip, criticism, even negative self-talk and condemnation are not a reflection of who God says we are, nor does this kind of speech reflect His purpose for our lives. It’s never the action alone or a specific set of vocabulary God is concerned about, rather the heart behind our choices in words. God knows our hearts, and the underlying intention of the things we choose to say.

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  • 4. The Company We Keep (or Don’t Keep)

    4. The Company We Keep (or Don’t Keep)


    “For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.” (Galatians 2:12 NIV)

    Ancient Biblical times saw cliques and prejudices, too. Discrimination, ostracizing others—all of the injustices we still battle today. In the verses above, Peter was embarrassed to be sitting with the Gentiles when the Jews showed up. The company we keep, or choose not to keep, says a lot about the status of our double-mindedness. God places people in our lives purposefully. We exist in our families and communities to look around and love all those within our reach.

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  • 5. Disobedience

    5. Disobedience


    “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV)

    Double-minded Christians love the Lord. It’s frightening to think we can love Him with all of our hearts, but not reflect an iota of it in the way we live our lives. Heartbreaking to think when we are pulled to any shred of double-mindedness we are not loving God the way we want to, intend to, or were made to. To love God is to obey God. Not in a legalistic fashion, but in a heartfelt way that trusts His will in our lives completely.

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  • 6. We Don’t Do What We Say

    6. We Don’t Do What We Say


    “You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” (James 2:20 NIV)

    James is passionate about our obedience to the Lord, but not in a legalistic, rule-following, check-list to be loved kind of way. God looks at our hearts. He wants us to wholeheartedly obey Him, because we recognize His love for us and desire for it to be reciprocal.

    That being said, faith without deeds is useless. When we love God, know Jesus and follow faithfully (not perfectly), the evidential deeds (obedient way we love the people placed in our lives) become part of our everyday lives.

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  • 7. Our Priorities (or Lack of)

    7. Our Priorities (or Lack of)


    “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5 NIV)

    God has made it clear throughout Scripture, that He comes first. Trying to live without placing God first is like walking around with our underwear on outside of our pants. Something would clearly be off. For Christ followers, it may not be as obvious as the underpants example, but the parallel to how we are to be living our lives is serious.

    How can we be prepared to walk out into the world without letting God prepare our hearts each day? Putting Him first is literally putting Him first. Reverting our thoughts to Him in prayer and seeking Him in His word each day.

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  • 8.  Impatience

    8.  Impatience


    “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

    It’s hard to express our trust in God when we’re losing our patience. We lose our patience with the people in our lives, and in situations God has asked us to wait. Patience is a virtue we are supposed to be watering in our lives. Patience with ourselves, so we don’t fall into a legalistic view of our faith, and pretend to be people we’re not, even to God Himself. He loves us, as we are, messed up and broken. He asks us to be faithful, and patient, as He daily sanctifies our hearts.

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  • woman peaceful eyes closed hands on heart

    How Can Christians Guard Their Hearts from Double-Mindedness?


    “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. ” (John 15:4 NIV)

    Double-mindedness can affect several different areas of our lives. Our thoughts spill into our conscious minds unmitigated, but through the power of God living in every believer we have the ability to filter them for Truth. The NASB translation of 2 Corinthians 10:5 says "destroying speculations,” meaning decisions based on the free will God designed us with.

    Destroying, in the original Greek text, means to demolish with great force. To tear down the lies in our minds, we must abide in Christ. The Holy Spirit, in us because of Jesus, helps us to decipher truth from lies. As we abide in Christ, we grow to love and understand God more. Our hearts slowly and steadily change to mirror His, and we get to know our Father in Heaven personally. John Piper explains, “Trust him as your all-satisfying treasure and look to him for the help to become (as much as possible in this life) who you truly are in Christ.”

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    What Happens When We’re Caught Being “Double-Minded?”


    “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)

    It’s easy to fall into the pressure cooker of sin and temptation. Jesus doesn’t expect perfection, He died for us because of our lack thereof. We can’t avoid sin, but we can humble ourselves before God and others to ask forgiveness.

    Repentance is the way we show we are sorry. The effort to learn and grow is as important as the words, “I’m sorry.” We can easily slip back into double-mindedness if we aren’t willing to walk through a change of heart. We can come near to God when we have sinned. Jesus paved the way. When we come to Him with our missteps and sinful ways, He is faithful to forgive us, guide us, and grow us. This is how we move from double-minded faith to mature faith.

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  • woman hands pray

    A Prayer to Guard Our Hearts from Double-Mindedness


    Father,

    Guard our hearts from double-mindedness. We want more of You, God. More of Jesus. We yield full control of our minds to You, today, God. Search our hearts, renew our souls, cleanse us of our sins, and re-wire our toxic thinking.

    Father, remind us, when we are feeling guilty for our sins, Jesus died to free and release us from shame. By the power of Your Holy Spirit do a work in us so great we refresh those around us. Replace any of our fake exterior the with trust, patience, and complete submission of our hearts, minds, and lives to Your very capable hands.

    God, we love You. You created us ingeniously. Every heart calls out for Your presence, and we pray not to be separated from You for one minute. Bless all those who remain separated from You, Father, to know Jesus, accept Him, and live free.

    In Jesus’ Powerful Name we pray,

    Amen.

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    Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,”  is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University, but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.