Posts Tagged ‘emotionalism’

“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:36-38)

There’s been many a sermon regarding the notion that ‘fear and faith‘ cannot coexist. We have been taught if one is present, the other must be absent. It is a premise I understand, but do not wholeheartedly agree. There is a smidgen of truth in the expression, but I sense it’s been improperly condensed. Frankly, it is an umbrella with too broad a canvas. I chose the Matthew 26 passage to illustrate the point.

Was Jesus afraid?

I am not willing to stretch Scripture in order to justify a doctrinal position; the record only tells us Jesus was ‘sorrowful and very heavy’ (KJV). Other Bible translations describe His situation as grieved and distressed (NAS), anguish and deep distress (NLT), and sorrowful and troubled (NIV). Strong’s Lexicon defines the word ‘heavy’ (as used in the King James Version) this way: to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed, and adds, “This is the strongest of the three Greek words in the NT for depression.” For this reason, it is not a stretch to say Jesus was very sad and in deep anguish over the events before Him.

But was His anxiety fear based?

We all want to say emphatically, “No,” there’s no way that Jesus was fearful or changeafraid. I submit to you that we want to say no because Bible teachers and expositors have drilled into our heads that ‘fear and faith’ do not jibe. Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying Jesus was afraid, but I am suggesting it is feasible. I am also suggesting that it is possible to be fearful and faithful in the same space of time. I submit that notion because it appears Jesus did just that. Without any doubt Scripture records Jesus had great trepidation and by faith, He brought it all before the Lord and therein lies the Bible lesson.

Having said that, clearly there are Christians who have become so caught-up in fear and worry, that they become faith-less. Their fear has bound them to the point that they have forgotten and/or neglected the basic components of faith. They’ve turned away from reading the Bible, prayer, church, and communion with Jesus. For these folks, faith is not occupying the same space as fear; it cannot because these individuals, for whatever the reason, won’t allow it to. It is here that some make the mistake of using this group for the basis of the broad doctrine that fear and faith cannot coexist.

Here’s the problem. When we do that, we’re dismissing a whole body of believers who, by Christ’s example, know what to do with their stress and anxiety. This group is not derailed by hardships, but see them as the conveyance which brings them to the foot of the cross. They recognize that emotions, high or low, are little more than crossroads on the narrow-path God has constructed for His children to walk. So while some do go to the left, opting for the faith-less, off-road route, there is a significant group that keeps to the right and stays the course they’re on. These have either never strayed from the path or gained some valuable insight for having done so in the past. The reality is that currently, their anxious burdens now propel them forward and they are more blessed for the experience.

So yes, it’s true for some that ‘fear and faith’ are not existing side-by-side, but theirs is not the model. Jesus is the model, as are the many saints, who by example demonstrate for the church what to do with the extreme highs and extreme lows of life. Let us stop pronouncing a doctrine that is at best only half-true; it only serves to undermine the faith of those Christians who know what to do when trials come. Pigeon-holing these believers into a one-size-fits-all tenet only causes confusion and frustration. Folks who are walking properly in their faith should not be simultaneously instructed they are not because the instructor believes it is not possible to do so. It’s errant to teach that you must first stop being fearful in order that faith might reign.

The more appropriate perspective is to see fear as emotional fuel. That is to say, potential energy, that when properly directed moves us forward in faith. If we wallow in the fear, then yes, we are rejecting Jesus and our God-given faith — to wallow is to worry. To that issue Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). But fear (or any other stress-based emotion) if used correctly, is Spiritual food for us.

A Final Thought

Would a Christian ever say that ‘gratitude and faith’ cannot exist in the same place because some of us occasionally reject the opportunity to give thanks to God? That would be nonsense. In that light let us stop declaring that emotional lows and faith cannot either exist, especially when Jesus demonstrated very effectively that they can.

For we have not (a) high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)


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“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:3)

Sympathy, fervor, passion, or grief, if not inspired of the Holy Spirit, serves only to quench the work of the emoteHoly Spirit. Feelings must not captain our course, as that position (if you are a Christ-follower) has been ceded to Jesus. Emotions must remain those things bared in the wake of obedience to Christ, lest they lead us astray and undermine the truth. Emotions are not bad, they are secondary. For this reason Christians must never go to battle with an effusive guide.

In that light we can more effectively address the following portion of scripture:

“For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:6-7)

We need to back up to the beginning of this chapter to fully grasp what the Apostle Paul is referring to. Starting in verse 1, Paul is issuing a warning to Christian men in particular, but not exclusively, to be on the look out for creeps; that is, those who are not of the Christian faith, who desire nothing more than to destroy the followers of Christ Jesus. Paul then moves forward to describe what these folks typically look like.

Let’s examine their traits:

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5)

What does this have to do with being misled by our emotions?

For that answer we need to go back to the terminology Paul utilized in verse 6 where he declared women to be gullible Don’t be offended. Paul is expressing a reality that men must grasp in order to protect women from those who want to creep in and destroy. In other words Paul is saying women are susceptible because they are emotional, or more accurately, apt to be misguided by their emotions. That’s not to say that men are not [emotional], but that across the board, emotionalism is a common enough characteristic of women that makes them vulnerable to deception by the enemy.

With men, the tendency more often is that we succumb not to our emotionalism, but that of our wives. Rather than lovingly correcting them (so as to turn them away from danger), we acquiesce in order to maintain peace or a selfish motive. Paul would have men know that when this occurs, we are the ones in error, not our wives.  The events within the Garden of Eden bear witness to this actuality.

 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)

The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness… (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Sin was imputed to Adam because he knew what he was doing, while Eve was tricked into believing that her sin was no sin at all. That’s significant. Eve was guilty of a sin, but mankind’s fallen nature will forever be attributed to Adam because he knew the truth and purposely ignored it. Faced with a choice, he knowingly and selfishly made the wrong decision; he was not deceived. However, this does not mean men cannot be misled by their emotions.

Case in Point:

Official portrait of United States Senator (R-OH).

It has been widely reported that United States Senator, Rob Portman has become a supporter of equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians because he learned that his son is a homosexual. Portman wrote that he, “Wrestled with how to reconcile (his) Christian faith with (his) desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister.”  Previously, as a congressman, Portman had voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.

We need not look too far to see that emotionalism (or selfish conformation) is likely the cause behind Senator Portman’s decision to change his beliefs in regard to Biblical marriage.  Portman loves his son Will and rightfully so, but he has allowed emotions to get the better of him. Worse than that, he has given emotion supremacy over truth. Misguided by sentiment, Portman has pushed aside God, the inerrancy of His word, his constituents, and yes, even his own son Will, because he now feels it’s the proper thing to do. The Senator has exchanged the truth of God for the lie.

This is the very thing the Apostle Paul is warning us to turn away from. Portman is essentially creeping into our households with an emotional, and now government-backed agenda, while trampling God’s truth with each step he takes. Sad to say, but emotionalists will likely rally around his new-found cause.

Sign of the Times

As we draw closer to the end of a prophetic chapter in history, this bold admonition from the Apostle Paul is most relevant. It should cause every faithful follower to pause and examine their relationship with Jesus Christ, continually asking if they’re being led by the Lord’s Holy Spirit or by heart-felt emotions.

Again, emotions are not evil; they are in fact God-given. However, they are not the vehicle by which Christians are to effectuate doctrine — God has already established a doctrine and it is forever true. Emotions are rather to be the catalyst towards the throne room of our Lord. It is there, with emotions laid out, we seek the Lord’s will in all things. We should not dismiss the love that Senator Portman has for his son. Frankly, his love, commitment, and compassion is admirable and his anguish is palpable, but it’s these very things that Jesus wants us to bring to Him. In this way, as we obediently submit to His authority, His will and truth will preside.

Let’s consider 2 Corinthians 7:10

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Godly sorrow is the kind of emotion that has been saturated in God’s truth. It’s the kind of emotion that says, “I love you son, but it serves no good purpose to lie to you; sin is a sin;” these are the actions whereby a person may be eternally saved. Worldly sorrow is not so. It is void of this truth and as the scripture says, it leads to death. Let us heed Paul’s warning.

The Apostle Concludes:

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (1 Timothy 3:14-17)

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Now He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar…Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there… Exodus 24:1 + 12Worshipping From Afar

Those who know Jesus as Lord can theologically appreciate the reality of our capacity to approach Him boldly whenever and wherever we want. However, it is also true that despite that awareness, very often we still may feel afar off and distant from God. We may glean from the Father’s dialogue with Moses that our proximity to Him does not have an effect upon His nearness to us. Too frequently we have this sense that our emotional condition regarding our spiritual position is somehow relevant to God; in other words, God will be aloof if He perceives in us an emotional distance. Nonsense. The good news is that God’s relationship with us is not based on our emotions–regardless of what we may or may not be feeling, God will be there. To believe otherwise is to give credibility to the lies of satan.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 14:14

Be There

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there…” (Exodus 24:12). At first when this passage is read it sounds as if God is being redundant—“Come…and be there, ” but there is significance in this verse with which almost certainly everyone can identify—being in His presence, but not being there. We might suppose that God is addressing the emotional detachment issue we just visited, but this is not the reason for God’s admonition. Here, God is attending to the other end of the emotional spectrum.

Moses is about to partake of God’s glory and the reminder is that he not be distracted by His magnificence, His splendor, or His grandeur, but to stay focused on Him—“Be there, Moses.” The application for us is found in our propensity to occasionally become caught–up in Christian peripherals; the structures, the worships, or the hyped emotions, and loose sight of Jesus Christ. We are reminded to not just come, but to be there, for He alone is worthy.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:11-12

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