Many people think that faith means being sure that something is true. For example, when Jesus says “whoever believes in me will live,” they think saving faith means being certain I believe that sentence is true. This is an incorrect assumption. According to Martin Luther,
In this matter of faith, often he who claims to believe does not at all believe; and on the other hand, he who doesn’t think he believes, but is in despair, has the greatest faith. This verse, “Whoever believes,” does not compel us to determine who has faith or not. For the verse does not say, “Whoever knows that he believes, but it says, “Whoever believes.” Who has it, has it.
Faith is not dependent on being certain about anything. Getting stuck on certainty is a trick of the enemy. What God wants is our trust. He wants our heart, not our head. As Luther puts it, “Faith is a sure trust and firm acceptance in the heart.” Faith in God does not depend on obtaining certainty. It depends on trusting! “Faith is a vital, deliberate trust in God’s grace.” It is a “daring confidence in God’s grace.” To trust in God is a gift of the spirit, but also a deliberate choice.
When struck by tormenting fears, we want to choose to trust in God. We want to have faith. This does not mean having certainty about anything. Are my hands clean enough? Did I hit someone with my car? Am I secretly a pervert? It doesn’t matter what the concern. It doesn’t even matter if you are not certain God is present. Give Him responsibility for the obsessional fear and leave it with him. Faith is a risk. But God not let us down. “I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’”