Can Feelings Be Trusted?
As a new Christian I was a sensitive, creative type and was extremely driven by my emotions. For this reason, I couldn’t grasp how something could be true if it didn’t feel true. As you can imagine, this made it very difficult to believe God.
During confusing times, my mentor always shared truth from God’s Word with me. She told me that God loved me and that He was guiding me. But, because the truth didn’t feel true and I let my emotions rule me, I didn’t experience the peace that believing God’s truth brings. What misery!
Perhaps you have read 2 Corinthians 5:7 which says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Walking by faith and not by sight means not giving emotions the freedom to rule our lives. Instead, we let God’s truth determine how we respond to life.
A few years ago I came across a great book that revealed how my emotions led me to doubt God’s love and guidance even after I became a follower of Christ.
In his book Roll Away the Stone, Dutch Sheets shows the difference between our souls—which are made up of mind, will, and emotions and is called the psuche in the Greek New Testament— and the spirit (pnuema).
Sheets writes, “When you are born again, your spirit is instantly renewed, but it’s a different story with the soul.”
Our spirits become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), and are made complete in Him the minute that we come to Christ (Colossians 2:10). But our souls (mind, will, and emotions) are still driven by worldly ideas, rebellion against God’s truth, and seduction by the Enemy’s lies. When I live by my feelings, I’m being driven by my unredeemed soul rather than by God’s truth. Feelings can’t be trusted, because they can be very deceptive. A wise person lives by faith and by what God says, not by what they feel. Granted, this doesn’t mean that we’re unfeeling, but our feelings are governed by truth. Our faith overcomes our feelings.
In his book The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, C. S. Lewis writes, “Feelings come and go, and when they come, good use can be made of them: they cannot be our regular spiritual diet.” Those who let feeling rule the day will, as I did, find themselves in a spiritual ditch.
A Living Example
I once read a story online about a young woman who walked away from faith in Christ because she didn’t see an instant transformation in her life as she believed should happen based on 2 Corinthians 5:17, which she felt would prove that she was saved. She thought that her mind, will, and emotions should be instantly transformed.
I’ve prayed, begged, and done everything I know to do for God to miraculously intervene in all areas of my life, but it seems as though I’ve been on some sort of self-improvement course relying solely on my strength and resources. Where is God? I’m still sick and bound by some things I can in no way overcome without divine intervention. I had been hoping that by the power of the Holy Spirit I’d be made whole, but I’ve gone full circle to no avail.
Because she misunderstood that the transformation of the mind, will, and emotions is not always instantaneous, she walked away from God. It’s critical to remember that the transformation of the soul generally happens over time as we’re exposed to God’s truth (Romans 12:2). This is why it’s critical not to let our emotions rule us. We need to read the Bible, get to know God’s love, listen for His voice, and connect to His heart. Spending time alone with Christ and accepting His truth is transforming. And remember: Believing—not just knowing—God’s truth is what gives our lives stability.
Will you believe God in spite of how you feel?
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