by Pastor Chad Wiles
How does that make you feel?
I would argue that this is maybe the most frequent question we are asked in our lifetime. If we are sad, if we are happy, If we have a joyful life event, or if we are faced with tragedy we think about how it makes us feel. We examine our feelings the most because they are the receptors that God has given us to worship him and experience the wonderful creation that He created.
Most of the time our mood or how we feel dictates how we approach our day and how we respond to others. For example, I am not a morning person. For whatever reason it takes me a little while to feel clear headed and ready to start the day. Unfortunately, I have used my lack of energy in the morning as an excuse for not engaging my children in the way that they need me to. I have used it as an excuse for being rude or reserved with my wife in the morning. I have skipped many times of study in God’s word early in the morning, (which is the best time to really be alone). Although I usually make up time with God later in the day I find myself rushed and wishing I would have just gotten up. No matter what I do I just don’t feel like getting up in the mornings.
Let’s ask the question: Do my feelings matter when it comes to choosing what’s right? According to common logic (worldly) we would all say yes. My gut and/or feelings are telling me it’s okay to sleep in. I feel tired… it’s what I need… we are all made differently and it’s just the way I am. Feelings-based logic lends itself to individualism. How I feel is what is most important regardless of any objective truth or how my actions would impact others. I just need to focus on taking care of me.
But according to God’s word, our feelings should be the last metric we use to make decisions. Jeremiah 17:9 warns us that the heart is deceitful above all things. Our feelings reveal what we are believing. And without God’s word as an objective truth filter, our feelings will definitely lead us astray. Feelings are the fruit of our thoughts and beliefs. So how should we interact with our feelings?
Feelings should always be examined against the truth of God’s word!
Examining Our Beliefs:
Let’s look at Galatians 5:16-17: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
- The Gospel is the Key to Understanding our Feelings
Without the gospel we are unable to understand our feelings correctly or fight against our flesh fully. Ephesians 2:1-3 makes it clear that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. The way that we are able to have victory and freedom from our sinful flesh is through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ to make us a new creation through faith. A major aspect of our salvation is that God himself, The Holy Spirit, comes to live inside of our hearts, helping us to see and understand the word of God in a way that changes us.
Ephesians 1:13-14: In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
2. The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Live Like Christ
Walking by the Spirit means that we directly oppose gratifying our fleshly desires. One of the major ways that we know and understand how to walk by the Spirit is understanding and meditating on the word of God. The Holy Spirit is never going to lead us to believe or choose anything that goes against God’s word because that would mean He would disagree with Himself.
1 Corinthians 2:6-13: Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
3. A Renewed Mind Produces New Fruit
As we examine our feelings we need to ask some essential questions that will help us to discover whether they are a result of our flesh or if they are of God. Let’s use my example of “not being a morning person” and workshop through some basic heart questions.
a. What am I wanting?
Honestly, I want to stay comfortable. I want more time to myself. I don’t want to engage with my family yet. I don’t want to sit down and focus on God; I just want to sleep more.
b. What am I desiring?
I desire comfort and I want to be able to do what I want to do no matter what responsibilities say I should do. I want other people to serve me and work around my schedule.
c. What am I believing?
I am believing in those moments that I am the most important person in the world. I’m seeking to be served and not serve God and others.
d. What does God’s word say?
There are many passages that would speak to my selfishness so I will just look at one for the sake of this article.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
God’s word tells me that He is God and I am not. My heart should love God more than I love my comfort, my sleep, or my time. My first priority is spending time with Him and serving others with the word of God, starting with my family. This means that I must deny myself, (fleshly desires) and obey God (walk by the Spirit). That means that I go to bed at a decent time so that I can get up and spend time in the Word and engage with my family. It means that I pray with my wife and kids for the day and encourage them with what I am learning in God’s word for myself.
God promises to those who walk in the Spirit, feelings and emotions of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, (Gal. 5:22-23).
What are your feelings revealing about what you believe?