Truth and Feelings
Truth and Feelings
It is true that faith is a conscious decision to believe what God said about Himself. Believe what He did and as a result of that belief, live our life in glad submission to Him. However, all too often, we forget that the word glad is a feeling.
God has called us into a relationship with Him that is established entirely by what is true. However, that relationship has feelings. Glad submission is a feeling, to feel glad about living your life loving and serving Him, is what God expects from us!
Jesus pointed to this very reality in John 4 when He told a woman at a well. God must be worshiped in spirit and truth. One of the applications of this means we must express to God our sincere (truthful) feelings about the truth! The truth of our situation in life and the truth of what God has said about Himself.
If you stop and think about it, that’s how every healthy relationship functions. So much so, that you can’t have a healthy relationship apart from feelings and truth at work with each other!
A relationship that is only truth is a relationship of performance. It’s meant to accomplish tasks, but there is no friendship or connection and thus no feeling. It’s an empty and meaningless relationship beyond whatever task needs to be accomplished. On the other hand …
A relationship that is only feelings is a disaster looking for a place to explode! Our feelings are never the same and are easily manipulated They will lie to us in a heartbeat (more on that in a second). So if you have a relationship based on nothing more than feelings then you are in relationship that is going to exhaust you and everybody around you!
So John brings clarity to how we should view our feelings. That is how feelings and truth function together in an actual relationship with Christ. Will you stand with me as I read God’s Word , 1 John 3:19-24.
19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (3:19-24)
1 John 3:19-24 demonstrates 3 realities of how feelings and the truth intersect in an actual relationship with Jesus (real Christianity).
The 1st reality of how feelings and truth intersect in an actual relationship with Jesus is that...
Our feelings have no bearing on His grace! - (3:19-20).
19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
“Condemnation” refers to finality of judgement. That we are “condemned” and no longer belong to him. It's not just a reference to doing something wrong but rather to judgment because of that wrong! Condemnation has the idea of a permanence in that once you are condemned you cannot undo it!
So when our heart condemns us because we sinned. When we become aware of the weakness of our faith and/or the rebellion in our hearts and actions, we will feel condemned. But are we?
I’ll never forget one of those moments I felt that way. I had just preached to a huge audience of people and a hundreds gave their life to Christ. Hundreds who were in sin and headed for hell were now in righteousness and headed for heaven! I came back to my hotel room fired up for Jesus. I mean I was so excited that I could have run right through a wall. I came in the room put my stuff down and turned on the TV. The first channel that came on was Cinemax, and it was showing a porn movie. There I stood with the remote in my hand and all the momentum in the world to just hit one button to change the channel. Instead I found myself watching the show. There was about 15 minutes left in the show and I watched it all. After those 15 minutes guilt came over me like a tidal wave. I had in an instant gone from high fiving everybody in sight about what God had just done to shooting God the bird and consuming myself with the lust of the flesh. I wondered, God has to be done with me. There is no way God could ever want anything to do with me again. I know I’m condemned, condemned to never be loved by Him. Condemned to never be blessed by Him. Condemned!
But Christ! Christ’s work says we are not. That He paid the full price of our sin. That He knew everything about us. All our sin and depravity and that’s why He died for us. He knew we couldn’t do it. We would always stand condemned, so He paid the penalty. As such I am saved by the gracious application of what He did! God has chosen Christ’s payment to be my payment so that when I surrendered my life to Him I will never be condemned!
So listen! Our hearts can’t be trusted, But His grace can!
Therefore, we have to reassure our hearts with the truth because our hearts will not feel saved or feel forgiven. But, He is greater than our wicked hearts! God's grace, Christ death and resurrection and God's love. They're greater than my sin and they are even greater than the judgment of my heart that says I'm done for forever. That says God could never love me so just quit and walk away! Our feelings will tell us we are condemned, but God's grace tells us we are redeemed! We were condemned but now we are not!
The 2nd reality of how feelings and truth intersect in an actual relationship with Jesus takes us to other side of the coin...
Our feelings are righty impacted by our obedience. (3:21-24a)
21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
So, if we are living in glad submission to the Lord then we will experience confidence before Him. Because to live in glad submission to Him means you are living trusting in His grace. That His grace is enough! And as such you are so blown away by His Love that you make the practice of your life knowing and following Him.
Because the experience of knowing and following Him is based on trusting that His Grace is enough, that He actually loves you! Because of that you find a confident comfort and peace in knowing God! Spurgeon puts it this way …
“The man who has a clear conscience has confidence toward God in this way. He knows that he is the Lord’s, and that God loves him. He knows that God will not do him any hurt, and will not allow the devil or anyone else really to harm him. He knows that God is blessing him and will continue to bless him. He knows that God is his Father and his Friend, and he therefore goes to God in great confidence about his troubles and tells them all to Him. He has much confidence in prayer, and he may talk to God in prayer in a way that other people may think too familiar, but it will not be so. His heart is right with God, and therefore he has confidence toward God. He does not doubt God’s faithfulness, or God’s truth, or God’s power, or God’s veracity. He simply confides in God and lets things go as they will, for he knows that God is ruling over all.”
Now, that confident comfort in the Lord has a real practical application. John writes,
22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.
So, he says if you obey these two commandments:
That we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ.
To believe in the name means you are submitting yourself totally to a person. In this case that person is the eternal Son of God. More on this next week.
For now just know it’s a summary of all the Bible teaches about God and His Gospel All that Jesus said about Himself.
So if you live submitted to God because of that, and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
It means you actually do love and believe in Jesus so much that if you don’t love others as Jesus loves then you actually have no reason to believe that you are a Christian!
Then, “whatever we ask we receive from Him”. So does that mean I can get from God whatever I want, like a genie in a bottle?
Well, get this. Elsewhere in the Bible we read things like...
4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
So! Again is this saying if we obey Jesus then God becomes our genie in a bottle to get whatever we want?
The answer is yes. If you live your life abiding in Jesus, with a heart consumed with knowing God. That the delight and passion of your heart is to know Him. Then He will give you what you want. Him!
There is no promise in scripture to simply give us what we want. There is a promise in scripture that if our hearts are completely consumed with Him then He will give us what we want! It is very much a conditional promise. And that condition is not random or arbitrary. It's transformational. It’s our identity!
Listen, It’s a universal principle that whatever shapes your heart is what consumes your heart. It's what your heart finds delight in and joy in and therefore it’s going to be what you seek and long for and ask for!
For instance, there is nothing wrong with hobbies. But just to illustrate the point, Stereotypically if a person gets in to, let's say golf, then as they have available money they are going to spend that on things that have to do with golf. You are probably not going to see them buying a bunch of stuff that has to do with tennis or long distance running or fishing, because they are all about playing some golf! And as such they're going to be thinking about a club to get, new spikes, new cloths, new glove, better balls and tees, golf lessons, and whatever else helps them play and enjoy golf better!
So, in the same way when our hearts are delighting in God and consumed with Him then we find ourselves asking and longing for things that have to do with that relationship! When our hearts desire is Him we find ourselves praying the Scriptures both for ourselves and others. We find ourselves longing for what He longs for, and He tells us what that is in His word!
We find ourselves longing for God to be glorified. For lives to be saved and changed. For people to be set free from sin and to know Him! We find ourselves praying for relationships to be healed. For our hearts to be faithful. We find ourselves confessing our own sin! And praising God for His grace!
When our hearts delight in the Lord then our hearts desire is all the things that have to do with delighting in the Lord. Which is God's will for us and thus no doubt what He loves to do!
But, what about things we ask of God that HE doesn’t want to do? Well, when our hearts delight is Him, then the desire of our heart is not what we're asking for, but rather knowing and loving and submitting to Him! And if that’s the case, we full trust Him, to do what is best and right gloriously. Which is ultimately what we want when we are delighting in Him. And He is going to demonstrate that clearly!
The 3rd reality of how feelings and truth intersect in an actual relationship with Jesus is that...
Our feelings have no bearing on our adoption! (3:24b)
Have you ever borrowed something and then they wanted some sort of guarantee that you would return it? You know, you had to give them something of value so that they had confidence that you would bring whatever you were borrowing back. And that if you broke it or destroyed it that they could get it fixed.
I’ll never forget the first time I ever rented a snowmobile. You could give them a credit card as a guarantee to fix or replace the snowmobile or you could just pay a $10 fee to have it insured! So, given my credit card was a student one with a $500 limit I opted for the $10 fee and thought "that’s a no brainer". Because what these people don’t realize is that there is little to no chance at all that this snowball comes back the way it left! Ha! (tell story of what happened jumping the huge drift and me and the snowmobile sliding back off the cliff!). So good thing I had a guarantee! Best $10 I ever gave somebody! Ha!
So, what is our guarantee with our relationship with God? Because the fact of the matter is we are going to blow it. We are going to fall short of God’s expectations. So, what do we have? Well John writes,
And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (3:24b)
Elsewhere in the New Testament we read this …
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Baptism by water is our testimony of identifying with HIM … BUT!!! … Baptism by the Spirit is His testimony of identifying with us!!!!!! … and as such we have a possession that guarantees our inheritance … The Father not only sent the Son to pay the price but He sent the Spirit to guarantee to us NOW that we our His forever. Jesus said I got to go and you're going to feel like orphans but don't worry because somebody else is coming while I'm away and that somebody is the Holy Spirit … the third person of the Trinity and he will not just be God with you but God in you!
The Holy Spirit convicts you, comforts you, informs you, leads you but most importantly testifies that GOD is fully committed to what HE said …that He has restored us to HIMSELF … that we belong to HIM now and forever …
So even though Christ hasn’t come back yet we do however already have the HOLY SPIRIT … who is just as much GOD as the FATHER … who is just as much GOD as the SON … who is ONE with the other two … and if the HOLY SPIRIT is one with the Father and the Son then we can know we are ONE with GOD now and forever!
Why do you emotionally feel or intellectually believe that you are a Christian? Don't be scared to ask the question as long as you are committed to allowing the Gospel to answer it!
Nowhere in the Bible are we given assurance of our Salvation because of something WE did in the past but rather by something that exists now.
So many believe they are saved because they said a prayer or got baptized at some point … BUT … the confidence and assurance in the BIBLE is based on life NOW!!
Christianity is not something in our past that we put in our pocket but it is eternal life now!!!
Listen you need to know the actions of my past neither save me nor condemn me … it is one action in the past that saves me and that is the action of Jesus Christ death, burial and resurrection and that action gives me life now i.e. (John 17!!)
SO … I believe many will get to heaven and find out their conversion was different then they thought, so don't be obsessed with if you did it right, but rather, be focused on now …
Do you believe today who Jesus said He is and that He did what He said He did? …
- Are you committed to love and follow Jesus today? …
- Are you striving to love others as Jesus loves you?
- Is the practice of your life saying YES to Jesus now?
If so you have every reason to be confident that you are a follower of Christ. You should have a good conscience before the Lord.
However if you are not then you should NOT have confidence before the Lord and should ask yourself if you ever actually gave your life to Jesus Christ … and if the answer is yes repent and start following Him again … praising Him for his grace!!! If the answer is NOT then repent and start following him and praise him for his grace!!!!!