Many are content to put confidence in their experiences and emotions. But faith does not come from our feelings, but from hearing God’s word. Feelings will mislead us when they are misinformed (Gen. 37:31-35). “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). Paul counseled Timothy to exercise his mind, contemplate his teachings, and receive understanding from the Lord. We are thankful that treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ and not ourselves (Col. 2:3). Wisdom and knowledge from Christ enriches our lives and leads us to heaven. Paul’s instruction to Timothy confirms the following: (1) We can understand God’s word (Eph. 3:3-4). Jesus taught this, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). (2) We must use our minds to understand God’s word. “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation” (Ps. 119:99). Faith comes from hearing God’s word, so Paul said to consider what he said (Rom. 10:17; 1 Cor. 14:37). Meditate on God’s word to increase in understanding God’s will (1 Tim. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:15). (3) Understanding God’s word leads people of faith to do God’s will. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (Ps. 119:34). (4) Understanding God’s truth leads people of faith to hate every false way. “Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104). Take time to read, learn, and meditate on God’s word, and “the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Pet. 1:2-4).
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:37–41, NKJV)
Christians can yield to the temptation to throw out sober-minded faithfulness at moments of uncertainty, difficulty and disagreement. Fear and doubt can motivate unwholesome and ungodly words and actions. We must exercise self-control in all things (1 Corinthians 9:25; Titus 2:1-8). The abiding presence of the Savior is a calming influence over the fear of uncertainty and the passion of over-heated emotions. Jesus is watching, and this should temper unwise and sinful words and deeds. The promises we have in Jesus soothe our souls, invigorate our hope and help us patiently endure moments of trial (Hebrews 6:13-20). Christ’s power overcomes the storms of life with peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). The assurance of peace we have in Christ frames and fashions faithful conduct in the midst of doubt.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (Acts 17:30, NKJV)
God’s commandment, that all people everywhere repent, necessarily implies the existence of a common standard by which to know the sins in one’s life. Additionally, His command implies that standard can be effectively used to bring about the repentance (change of heart) that pleases God. The inspired Scriptures are declared to be the standard of truth that identifies sin and righteously corrects it (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jno. 17:17). We cannot know our sin (what to repent of), much less know what form that repentance should take, without God’s standard of truth identifying our sin and showing us how to correct it. Our feelings cannot determine what is sin against God. The ancient world plunged into sin’s darkness because it rejected divine truth and relied on emotional, human wisdom for guidance (Eph. 4:17-19; Rom. 1:21-25). Let us be thankful that God’s commands include how to thoroughly equip ourselves for every good work. Then, let us obey Him in order to faithfully serve Him and be ready for the day of judgment (Acts 17:31).
12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. 13 Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief. (Proverbs 14:12–13, NKJV)
The futility of trusting one’s feelings as a reliable guide for knowing right from wrong and truth from error is witnessed by the facade that emotions often display. Laughter may in fact hide sorrow, so that while one expresses mirth outwardly, grief exists within. This teaches us not to rely on what feels right, for they can mislead us even as they can mislead others. In contrast to “letting your conscience be your guide,” Scripture says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105). Divine truth, not human emotions, determine the way that pleases God. We must “buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” by going to the word of God to know and practice the will of God (Prov. 23:23; Jas. 1:25).