God has been trying to get my attention lately to do some research in this particular area of being influenced by our feelings when making decisions. I have until recently become lazy and not done the research but since our God is such a good God He continues to pester me until I listen : ) Well, this last chapter in our bible study was about this exact issue so I decided it was time to pick up the pencil and paper and do my research.
The questions I have been having are relating to the negative influence of our emotions and feelings on the decisions we make. There are a number of times when I don’t do something because I don’t feel like it and I won’t do it until I do feel like it (perfect example is what I already described above, I didn’t feel like doing research so I simply didn’t do it). This can seriously interfere with our obedience to God’s Word if we only choose to be obedient when we feel like it. This was putting an overall negative characteristic to my feelings and leaving me in a place of not trusting them for anything.
I began wondering what was behind the saying “I felt led to…” What does that mean? Is it valid? I know the Scripture that talks about “the heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9 so we can’t trust our heart because it could be deceptive. But there have been a number of times in my life when I know God led me to do a certain thing and if I didn’t do it I would be walking in disobedience to Him (leading this online bible study, homeschooling Amelia, etc.). I could easily say “I felt led to start this bible study” and I know it was stronger than a feeling but how can I validate and separate that from being a “feeling” vs. actually being led by the Holy Spirit? I found myself very confused. I found this great article during my research and here are some wonderful tidbits from it. To read the full article just click here.
- we cannot flee from our feelings; therefore, we must deal with them… the management of the emotions is critical to the spiritual life
- emotions do not authenticate truth… emotions, however, do authenticate our understanding of the truth
- in the Bible, truth is supposed to strike the life with positive emotional force. truth without effect is an unknown within scripture
- in some senses the Holy Spirit is the emotionally rich member of the Trinity insofar as he is the primary agent of personal interaction with us as human beings
- it is the Spirit who directly influences our inner life… [the Spirit] conforms those who have trusted Christ to the character of Christ. Such character has a richly emotional component
- Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
- the mature believer in Christ is identified by his or her ability to respond to the prompting of the Spirit. This prompting might be emotional inclinations and insights. Over time the believer learns the ability to surrender calmly and expectantly to these impressions
- we cannot be spiritually mature without a ministry to our own emotional life … setting one’s mind on things above [Colossians 3:1-2] becomes the first step in the process of controlling one’s emotions
He also has a section where he explains what we have to do to gain and maintain spiritual health:
- recognize or differentiate what is going on within our emotional life and in the management of our appetites (Galatians 5:16-25)
- we reckon on how God views us; we control our imagination
- we have to set our minds on our relationships above by controlling our thinking (Colossians 3:1-3 and Romans 8:5-10)
- by reckoning we relate to God personally instead of to our appetites (Romans 6:11-12)
- by reckoning we control our memories (Philippians 4:8-9)
- as a result, we experience the primary emotions (the Fruit of the Spirit)
What I learned from this article and many of the other Scriptures I did not list here but are in the full article helped me to see the correlation of our feelings and our emotional life to the role of the Holy Spirit. In the verse that talks about the heart being deceitful implying it can lead us to make decisions from information that may have led us in the wrong direction, it is important for us to renew our minds and set our minds on the things above so that our heart and emotions are influenced by the truth of God’s Word and not other erroneous factors (our flesh, the society, etc.). This is the key truth that solves my debate. I can feel led to do something if my feelings are not being influenced by negative factors. Those feelings if they can be authenticated by God’s Word and His character and the level of my maturity as a believer when it comes to my sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading can indeed be just the Spirit leading me. Everything seems to always point back to the importance of knowing God’s Word inside and out. The more we know God’s Word and God’s character and keep that at the center of our lives then the less our hearts will deceive us and we will be led by God and the influence of His Spirit within us.
All information above was found from this article: The Holy Spirit and Our Emotions by, David Eckman