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).
11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage (2 Kings 5:11–12, NKJV).
God’s prophet, Elisha, told the leprous Syrian commander to dip seven times in the Jordan River to be healed (2 Kings 5:9-10). He was furious, enraged at what he must have viewed as an insult. Why do we get upset and enraged when God’s word says we are to believe and do something to receive God’s blessing? Like Naaman, we are tempted to think what we feel is best. But by doing so, we fail to put our faith in the Lord, trust His word, and follow His will. Our ways seem right to us, but they do not lead to God and eternal life (Prov. 14:12; Jer. 10:23; John 14:6). Instead of turning away from God in a rage, why not simply do what He says? Put your faith in the Lord today instead of yourself. That was the advice Naaman’s servants gave him. He had the good sense to change his mind (repent), trust the prophet’s words, go to the Jordan, and do as he was told. Naaman was healed by God’s power when he trusted and obeyed God’s word (2 Kings 5:13-14). When we want God’s salvation from sin’s blight, we will trust and obey His word instead of our feelings (Luke 6:46; Matt. 7:21; Rom. 10:17).
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, NKJV)
Christians are to be filled with the Spirit, not intoxicated with alcohol. But, what does that mean? Does it mean having a warm feeling in the heart, confident in feeling that we please God? No, since “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). Since the Scriptures do not assign our feelings to the Holy Spirit, neither can we. Does it mean claiming some miracle at work in our lives? No, since the purpose of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit has been accomplished. Plus, how those gifts were received is no longer possible (1 Cor. 13:8-10; Acts 8:14-17). To “be filled with the Spirit” is a commandment, therefore, we choose whether or not the Spirit will fill us. Paul’s parallel statement in Colossians 3:16 says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” persuading us to conclude we keep this command by imbibing of the Spirit’s word which He communicated to us by the apostles and prophets of Jesus (Jno. 16:8, 12-13; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; Eph. 3:5). Instead of filling your body with spirits that rob you of soberness, sound judgment, and honorable conduct, fill your soul with the holy directives of revealed truth. In this way, by being filled with the Spirit you will dwell with Him and bear His fruit in your life (Gal. 5:22-23).
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).