Skepticism and the Supernatural
I often find myself discussing supernatural experiences with my friends. Because some have a hard time talking publicly about the more unusual experiences they have, we’ve created private groups to discuss the more unusual stories.
The opinions we have and the roles we play in the discussions are predictable. Based on our experiences, we respond differently to testimonies of the supernatural. Some of us share testimonies with regularity while others act as a sort of jury. Some accept the testimonies without question, while others scrutinize them a bit more.
Some won’t accept every testimony as valid because their standard of evidence is higher. They’re more likely to offer objections or ask others to be cautious when considering these testimonies. They take a more skeptical view of the supernatural, partly because they hate being tricked into believing something that isn’t true. Their major concern is deception.
Jesus warned His disciples not to be deceived. Wisdom demands that we exercise caution where the supernatural is concerned. But if we view the supernatural with too much skepticism, we run the risk of refusing to believe in the things that God is legitimately doing. Worse—we run the risk of attributing the works of God to Satan.
I have a friend who plays the role of the skeptic when we discuss healing miracles. It’s not that she doesn’t believe that God heals. She knows He does. Her skepticism is borne out of negative experiences from her past. When she was young, she was involved with a group of people who claimed to be healing the sick, but their claims turned out to be fraudulent. Being fooled has caused her to be cautious when evaluating claims of healing.
I’ve prayed for her on numerous occasions. The first time was for the healing of Lyme’s disease, which she’d had for many years. Six months after praying for her, I sent a private message asking how she’d been feeling since we prayed. She’d forgotten she even had Lyme’s because her symptoms had completely disappeared.
I was happy to hear the news, which to me, seemed like a testimony of healing. I asked if I could share her story with others who had Lyme’s to encourage them. To my surprise, she said she didn’t want me to tell anyone. She wasn’t sure if she was healed and didn’t want to claim that she was if she still had the disease.
I asked how she could still have the disease if she’d been symptom-free for six months and suggested she probably was healed. She wasn’t convinced and asked if we could wait another six months and see what happened. Six months later, she still had no symptoms but she still wasn’t convinced she was healed, and not wanting to give a false testimony, she asked me not to tell anyone.
In the time since then, she’s had other illnesses and injuries, which I’ve prayed for. She’s received prayer from others as well, but her symptoms haven’t changed. I believe my friend’s view of healing has impacted her ability to receive healing for herself.
Her experiences have planted so many doubts in her mind, that she’s unable to believe she could be healed, regardless of the evidence. Since she was never able to accept the fact that she was healed of Lyme’s, she’s never been able to show gratitude to God or tell others about it. I suspect that she’s been unable to receive any further healing because she hasn’t accepted her first healing yet.
Skepticism is an understandable response when you’ve been deceived repeatedly. No one wants to be tricked into believing false reports. Common sense tells us that if a testimony seems fishy, it should be investigated further. But there’s a subtle difference between using discernment to sort out the true from the false and having the attitude of skepticism.
Discernment is a tool that we pull out when it’s needed. A discerning heart is not one that is always looking for deception or darkness. It is a heart that looks for light, life, love, and truth in all things. It recognizes them by their spiritual signatures and distinguishes between them and darkness, deception, or death.
Skepticism is a mind permanently biased against something. It’s a pervasive attitude of doubt or opposition. Whenever a particular subject is discussed, the mind begins building opposing arguments based on previous experiences and strongly held beliefs. It prevents us from objectively evaluating a subject or discerning by the Spirit, the presence of light, life, love, or truth.
When you reserve the right to call yourself a skeptic, you pay a high price for the privilege. The upside to skepticism is not being fooled. The downside is rejecting that which is truly of God. The skeptic may be fooled less often than their gullible friends, but just as often, they’re the ones who cannot bring themselves to believe the miraculous thing God has done.
You can either be a skeptic or you can witness miracles, but you cannot do both. Skepticism is the very thing that prevents the power of God from manifesting in our lives. The kingdom of God is given to those who manage to hold onto their child-like faith, despite having been deceived. Having child-like faith may put us at risk of being fooled, but that is the price we pay for seeing the power of God manifest.
“Faith is being absolutely sure of what you hope for and unconditionally certain of what you don’t see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Love this. <3
Thanks for checking in my friend. Let’s Skype some time this week.
I have found that when or if I start doubting, it usually stems from a past hurt that I haven’t been healed of and therefore haven’t extended forgiveness for yet. The thing is, with me, my whole live I’ve been someone who is easily influenced…….good, bad or ugly. And since I know this about myself I am very careful of the influences that I subject myself to.
Before I even came to know the Lord, I knew there were certain things I could and could not do because of the negative effect they would have on me. It’s kind of like I’m a person who’s ‘in for a penny, is in for a pound’, if you know that expression. I will totally commit to something and see it through to the end. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing unless it’s a bad thing I have committed to.
When I believe something, I believe it…..whole hog. (pardon the expression). When I came into the Kingdom, I believed it all. I started my walk with the Lord in a healing ministry (which makes me believe God’s got a great since of humor!). There was no room for doubt in my mind, much less my life about healing, signs and wonders. I saw and experienced too much.
On the other hand, I also saw many many people who had been hurt by the church, or whatever from their past and that hurt had effectively stunted their maturity. Healing and forgiveness was always the answer or light that needed to shine on that wound to move on or grow, as it were. Oftentimes it happened and the person would go on and do great and mighty things for God. (Greatness in God’s perspective, not man’s) Other times, people wouldn’t get healed because their ‘hurt’ had become part of their identity. They really thought it was who they were.
All this is to say………….God has given me a gift of faith and if you need some impartation or testimonies, say the word! LOL (He also included a tad of boldness too)
You have a faith that is rare. I was thinking maybe I should add you to a few of our discussion groups.
excellent observations, sometimes we lose the blessing by doing something we feel is the correct thing to do or be. so many people like to be “skeptics” and focus so much on the antics of the evil one that they unwittingly give all the power to him and instead of not being deceived end up being deceived. i tend to think that if a sign or wonder brings glory to God and works to further the kingdom then its not of the evil one, to me having discernment beats skepticism every time. the evidence of the fruit reveals the tree that its borne from.oh well that’s my take on it briefly.i could say more, i grew up being negative, a pessimist, skeptic because it was easier to be that way , but it was a depressing existence, now i am 180 degrees out from that and starting to see what life can be and how awesome the future will be and no returning to the old for me.
I think skepticism and unbelief are pretty much the same.
If to Believe means to be persuaded, then skepticism would make one unpersuadeable.
When Jesus appeared to Thomas after His resurrection and offered His wounds for Thomas’ inspection, He reproved Thomas saying, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
God seems to delight in persuading us of His goodness. But I suppose we blind ourselves to it when we’re not persuadeable.
Sometimes it seems we think that we have to create this status of perfect belief of our own effort. Perhaps its better to allow God to do the persuading and just be willing to receive it from Him.
Great insights PM, thank you for sharing this.
Last year I was healed of a permanent injury to my right leg from when I was hit by a car while crossing the street at age 20. This injury was debilitating, but the muscle in my right leg was “crushed” so to speak. I had never even thought of asking the Lord to heal me because it really didn’t cause me much trouble, but one day after taking my daughter up for healing prayer, she & I went to sit back down & I felt the Spirit say, “Go ask for your leg to be healed.” I remember thinking, “Wow, I’d never thought of that!” Hahah! I went up to the front & was telling the person about my leg and subconsciously I reached down to rub the area on my thigh that was injured…I stopped in mid-sentence when I realized that I had already been healed! She didn’t even have to pray for me! The mass in my thigh was totally gone & didn’t hurt with pressure applied at all!
All this said, I still struggled with the fact that God would deem me worthy of healing. For months I had to keep keep telling myself that of course He would heal me, He loves me, I am the apple of His eye. Finally I no longer struggle with my lack of confidence regarding this healing and can revel in the brilliance of my God and His ways. If He says it, it is true, I feel it all the way into the marrow of my bones.
Thanks for sharing your testimony, Cyntnia. I miss our conversations. I need to get back on Facebook again.
Don’t be in a hurry…in due time. 🙂
Hi Mr. Praying Medic. I have lyme and you dont know how much I needed to hear this. I sent you a private email and I hope you received it!
There’s an amazing recent testimony in global awakening w Randy C of a young woman healed of lyme. The lie of the enemy told by docs and experiences and repeated treatment failure is that “there’s no cure”… Is like a Goliath and is an epidemic like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (all cousins). Hope u can add that testimony to your awesome artillery of truth and God’s faithfulness. I love you site and what you stand for!
Hey tanah, I did see that! I watched it twice (that Randy clark testimony)… and I received it for myself… I saw him twice in person and he is awesome!