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Emotions, Guidance, and the Holy Spirit
By David A. DePra
Your emotions are a dimension of your natural makeup that are REACTING agents. Or, to put it another way, emotions do not originate anything. They just react to everything else. From a natural standpoint, this means that emotions do not originate THOUGHTS, but react to them. Emotions donít originate what happens in your environment, or in your relationships, but REACT to them. Because emotions are reactionary by nature, they happen whether we like it or not. We can control our emotions in the sense of not letting them out, or in the sense of letting them out. But in the end, they are there. And usually, they develop along certain, "programmed," lines Ė due to upbringing, etc.
Now, all of that pertains to the natural man. Once we begin to talk about what a Christian is, and how a Christian is supposed to function, we enter another arena Ė or perhaps better said, we ADD another arena. A person who is born again receives from on high eternal life in Jesus Christ. This is life he was never born with, but comes to him from the outside in. This new life is completely foreign to natural man.
Think not? Paul says:
But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor 2:14)
The thought here is that natural man cannot embrace that which is of God and take it into his system. Sure. Paul elsewhere says:
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Gal 5:17)
There are many other passages I could quote. But here is the question: Are the emotions of the Spirit of God? Well, just ask: Were you born with them through natural birth? The answer is yes. So they cannot be of the NEW birth, can they? Nope. Not unless you want to believe that your emotions are born again. But if you believe that, then you must have perfect emotions Ė that operate fully according to the will and holiness of God. I think we know none of us do. In short, our emotions are not of the new man in Christ Jesus. They are not born again. They remain as part of our natural makeup.
Now, of course, emotions are God-given, and intended for good. In this age, God intends that our emotions be governed by the Holy Spirit. But until your body is born again, and your soul life is born again, they will never be brought fully under the Spirit. They will remain part of our natural makeup and will continue to be a force to reckon with.
So what have we seen to this point? We have seen that emotions are part of our natural makeup Ė a dimension of our natural man, rather than the new man in Jesus Christ. They are of the SOUL Ė which is a Bible term for the natural man. We have also see that they REACT. And we have seen that ultimately, God wants them brought under the control of the Spirit in us.
More on Emotions
At this point, we need to see some more things which our emotions are NOT, and see some things they cannot do. First of all, our emotions cannot BELIEVE. You cannot believe with your emotions. I realize that this might be shocking to some of us, because we actually think we do believe with our emotions. But no. Emotions are not, "believing," elements to our nature. Never were and never will be.
As I said earlier, emotions react. We might say that emotions react TO what we believe. If you really think about that, you will see it is true. If you FEEL afraid, why? Because you BELIEVE there is something to fear. If you FEEL happy, why? Because you believe something is true that pleases you. Can we see in this that we really arenít believing WITH our emotions, as much as we are reacting emotionally TO what we believe? Sure.
It is human nature, and natural thinking, to assume that if I feel good about something, that it must be right. And if I feel bad about something, it must be wrong. We certainly tend to do this towards people. And as far as God is concerned, if we like an idea or prospect that something might be His will, our emotions will react, and draw us toward accepting that as Godís will. And visa versa. Christian people can be so susceptible to this that there are cases where people actually believe God is telling them to divorce their spouse so they can marry someone with whom they are emotionally involved. Deception. But since I feel so good about it, it must be Godís will?
Another example of how emotions lie: How many times have you reacted emotionally to something, believing it was true, or in fear that it might be true, only to later find out it was NOT true Ė and when you did, what happened? You stopped FEELING the emotion. Why? Because you know KNEW the truth, and your emotions reacted accordingly. Of course, it is possible to get so worked up emotionally, and to be so given over to them, that it take a lot of time or healing to get them back to normal. If we have a broken relationship this is so, or the death of a loved one. We REACT because we know something has happened. And these reactions can be quite strong and even, at times, damaging.
Once we see that emotions cannot believe, but react to what we believe, it ought to tell us something: What we believe is the real issue. Do you want to know God's will? To be led of God? What you believe about God, and His will -- well, isn't that the whole point? You want to believe and know His will! You don't want to merely FEEL good about it!
God will show us His will. But it won't necessarily come with a big fanfare. Or be dramatic, with bells and whistles. It will be an inward knowing and believing, as a part of knowing Him. If you know God, you will more easily discern His will. How much better this is than asking God to speak voices into your head!
When you face a choice before God, and don't seem to know what to do, ask the question: What do I really KNOW? What is the highest moral ground? What would honor God the most? How can I best seek the kingdom of God here? What would Jesus do in this situation?
Of course it is still possible to be confused, because even these questions must be rooted in a certain knowing of God. But that really is the whole point, isn't it? If God merely spoke words to me, I could easily misinterpret them if I don't know Him. But if God digs deeper and begins to reveal Himself to me, then I will know HIM. Any words will then more easily be understood. And frankly, you will find that, "words from the Lord," aren't as necessary, because YOU HAVE HIS WORD IN YOU -- you have Christ in you. The Word has become flesh IN YOU.
God should not need to continually speak His mind to us. We should grow to HAVE the mind of Christ. This isn't a matter of brains, or of thinking. The mind of Christ speaks of a relationship of reverence, and a knowledge of God which is based in it. Want to know the will of God? Surrender to God Himself. (Jn. 7:17)
There is another thing that emotions cannot do: They cannot THINK. They donít originate facts, nor can they figure them out. Emotions don't have brains. They cannot originate the truth about anything. Now, this is an extremely important point with regards to our Christian walk. Have we recognized that it is impossible for our emotions to originate, or even indicate, the Truth? Have we realized that we don't know the Truth with our emotions?
This is vital to see because so often Christians who believe Ė and rightly so Ė that God wants to lead us in our lives, cannot tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and their emotions. We think that if we FEEL a certain way about something that this is God. Well, it is NOT. Remember Ė emotions REACT. They donít originate Truth. They arenít Godís voice. They arenít able to THINK. They arenít able to BELIEVE. So even if the way you feel emotionally happens, in your case, to align with Godís will, it is not because they align with Godís will that the thing in question IS Godís will! No. Emotions operate independent of Godís will, and the leadings of the Holy Spirit.
Many people, in their natural way of operating, cannot tell the difference between what they know, and what they think, and what they feel. Some even THINK because they FEEL! In other words, they react emotionally, and immediately this frames for them a perception. This happens when they are offended, bitter, or hurt, and especially when they are afraid. To them, feeling is reality. And that is that.
Christians do this too! We tend to think what we feel, and some Christians even begin to assume that if they FEEL a certain way, that it is the voice of God to them, or the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This is dangerous territory. I frankly donít believe it is the way God hardly ever leads us. If our feelings happen to line up with Godís will, then fine. But as I have been saying, it is still not the emotions and feelings that is Godís voice. The emotions are, at best, a reaction.
There are many of us who are so geared, through wrong teaching and practice, to looking at how we feel about something, and thinking that this is the Holy Spirit. I have heard it a million times. People say, "I feel in my spirit thatÖ..such and such." Other times we say, "I feel grieved over what happenedÖ." And then there are those who say, "I feel such an anointing in this place." Indeed, there are folks who make life decisions based on these feelings. And yet, read the Bible. Where do you find even ONE instance where they is said to be the way to walk with Jesus Christ?
But canít God lead us through our emotions? The point is, He doesnít. Sure, we might say that if that is the only present way He can get through to us, He might, but if you have walked with Christ any length of time, you know this is a real risk to ever assume that. Most Christians can testify to FEELING certain about something, having a peace, and later finding out they were totally off the track. Our emotions are simply not the seat of Truth in us, and are not the dimension of our makeup that God usually touches to show us His will.
The facts are, those who try to walk with God by emotions Ė thinking that it is the Spirit of God Ė are going to eventually pay a price for it. We are going to be led astray, and God will permit it so that we can wake up to what we are doing. Thank God that He chastises us so that we might learn.
So what else are we seeing about emotions? We are seeing that emotions cannot BELIEVE. They cannot THINK. They cannot originate any Truth at all. Indeed, how my emotions are reacting to something may not be indicative of Godís will at all. And if they are in line with Godís will, then fine. But something is not Godís will because I feel good about it. Something is Godís will independent of anything about me.
Everything Iím saying really comes back to the fact that the emotions are part of our natural makeup, not our spiritual new birth. Have we recognized that we are born with NO Truth in us? That we are born with NO life in us? But we were born with emotions, werenít we? Yep. Thus, the Truth and the Life have nothing to do with them. They are received in Christ.
It is here that we must begin to understand something about religious experiences. There are some people who have terrifically emotional religious or spiritual experiences. They cry, and have, what might be called, "a holy fit." Some fall backwards, go into ecstasy, shake all over, tingle, and lose their breath. We need to realize what is going on here.
First of all, letís assume that the experience in question IS of God. In other words, letís assume that God is actually touching this person at this moment in time. Despite the reaction that the person is having, we need to realize that a REACTION TO GOD is precisely what is happening. God is not, "acting upon," this person, or, "talking them over," or, "doing something to them." God NEVER does this. Paul told the Corinthians, "The spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets." And he was writing this to them to STOP the confusion that was arising from meetings where people were getting carried away. The point is, all of the feelings and sensations that happen at times like that are REACTIONS. They are not THE actual thing God is doing Ė but reactions TO the thing.
This is why when you see worship services where people are jumping up and down, crying, and rejoicing, that this is not necessarily a sign that something supernatural is going on. It may not even be a sign that God is there at all! Why? Because again Ė emotions are what we are seeing. And since emotions are REACTING agents, it requires only that people THINK God is doing something and the reaction will be there. Thus, you could have a worship service with little emotion, but one where God is doing much. You could have another where God is doing NOTHING, but there is great fanfare and emotion. And sure, you could have a service where God is doing much and people are overreacting. But again, can we see that the emotions are NOT it? Ever?
The danger of deception is in these things because quite often people think that IF they react emotionally that God MUST have done it to them. IF I felt elated and uplifted, then God touched me? Well, I hate to be a party-pooper, pardon the expression, but do we realize that people in CULTS, and people in the OCCULT, have such reactions? Do we realize that it is possible for person who is totally deceived to have great emotional experiences because they are being told that they are NOT deceived, but have the Truth?
Now, as a balance, we do need to realize that there are plenty of people who show NO emotional reaction to God who are just as deceived as those who do! But there are also people who react less emotionally to God who are walking with Jesus Christ! The point is, and I cannot over emphasize this, that emotions REACT. They do not originate the Truth, and neither do they INDICATE the Truth.
We see this even in preaching. Do we realize that I can shout and scream ERROR and HERESY, with great tears, seeming to beg people to listen and heed my teaching, but in the end, it is still ERROR and HERESY? Does all of the emotion Ė even if I am sincere Ė change the error over to being the Truth? No. Yet there are Christians who become greatly moved if they see someone else moved Ė thinking this must be of God. Well, it would be nice if we were all moved only by that which is of God. But this just isnít the case.
Emotions and Discernment
Emotions react to what I believe. But my emotions cannot tell me if what I believe is the Truth! Thus, if I believe a lie, my emotions will feel the same way, and react in just as real a way, as if I believe the Truth. They will FEEL real, and make what I believe seem MORE real.
This works especially with fear. Fear really isnít an emotion, but a spirit. But I can react emotionally to it. And if you examine it, once you get caught up in a spirit of fear, being afraid makes what you are afraid of seem more real and possible. But the truth hasnít changed about it Ė your emotions have simply gotten bigger, making IT look bigger.
The point is, many Christians try to discern through emotions. Fear, sorrow, anger, hurt, and all those complex emotions Ė these frame a perspective for us and color reality. And yet the emotions have NO ABILITY AT ALL to discern. Not even in the natural. Much less can I perceive the things of the Spirit of God with that which is of the natural Ė as we read earlier.
Perhaps if there is one thing above all else that we need to see is that the emotions cannot discern Truth. Emotions can react to it, or react to a lie. But the entry point of Truth in you and I is NOT OUR EMOTIONS.
So we have this: Emotions are given of God as a means of expression, release, and as that, are good things. But they are unreliable. At times, they are great liars. They can lie to us, and lie to others, and often, simply react to what we believe Ė which in itself might be a lie. Whew! There has got to be some sanity in all of this. There is for a Christian.
Walking According to the Flesh
One of the biggest mistakes spiritual people make is to try to get our natural man to behave and function as the spiritual man. We try to believe with our emotions, and discover Truth with our emotions. Or with our brains. We actually think that if we FEEL like something is the Truth, then it must be the Truth. And when we donít FEEL good about something, we assume it must be false. But look at what we are doing in those cases: We are USING OURSELVES and OUR EMOTIONS as the standard for Truth. Whatever THEY indicate must be right?
As I mentioned before, it is quite possible to FEEL completely good, at ease, and at peace, with something, assuming it is the Truth, and to be completely deceived. Sure. And it is likewise possible to FEEL awful towards something, and reject it completely, and yet for it to be of God Himself.
Emotions are not the standard for Truth. Neither is anything else about me. So I need to realize that what I feel about something is not the reason it is the Truth. The same goes for, "leadings of the Spirit." Feelings cannot be trusted. The trouble is, we think the goal is to get to where they can be trusted. Wrong. The goal is to put them aside completely.
I used to think that when I finally reached spiritual maturity that my emotions, and the other natural dimensions of my makeup, would operate in harmony with the Spirit of God. I never really put it into those words, but because I thought that my natural makeup WAS the spiritual man in Christ, I expected that this natural part of me was going to need to start behaving. Boy was that wrong. Over the course of time, I began to realize that instead of making my natural makeup do spiritual things, God had already brought I ALONG SIDE of my natural makeup the new life in Christ. The goal was to PUT ASIDE the natural, and become governed by the Spirit of God.
There is a verse in Romans that is often pointed to as indicative that God wants to lead His people in our lives. It is Romans 8:12-15:
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Many think this verse is telling us that any one who is a true child of God is going to be LED by the Spirit Ė being LED meaning that God will be telling us what to do every day, or prompting us in a certain direction, or perhaps without actually leading us, seeing to it that we end up where we are supposed to be. Certainly all of these are possibilities in a Christian life. But the fact is, this verse isnít talking about anything close to that. And what people generally think of as, "the leadings of the Spirit," is not the norm according to the NT.
The word for LED in this passage means, "to be governed." And if you read this passage, indeed, if you read the whole chapter, you will find that Paul is talking about whether we are governed by our old, natural self Ė the flesh Ė or whether we are being governed by the Spirit of God. "To be governed," speaks of something far beyond God simply telling us what to do. "To be governed," means that you have come under the dominance of the new life that is in you. But not as simply following order. No. You have a new nature. Your interior constitution is becoming more adjusted to it. You are functioning more in accordance with the Spirit of God, or are in the process of a great struggle intended to bring you there.
Note the difference between hearing the voice of God and obeying it Ė which would equal being LED by God Ė and having your whole being GOVERNED by the Spirit. In the former, I just follow orders. In the latter, I am BECOMING someone who functions, spirit, soul, and body, in concert with the Lord. And if you read Romans 8, you will see that this is what Paul is talking about. He is talking about the whole person either, "walking according to the flesh," or, "walking according to the Spirit."
The brutal truth is, if you and I are governed by our emotions Ė and allow them to frame our perspective, and direct us, or even allow them to masquerade as the voice of God to us Ė then we are walking according to the flesh. Why? Because our emotions are part of the flesh Ė our natural self. There are many other ways to walk according to the flesh Ė just let SELF GOVERN YOU Ė whether it be emotions, mere intellect, lusts, pride, etc. But one way to walk in the flesh is to think that the way YOU feel is the way God feels, or is created in you by God as a means of direction. No. Again Ė the emotions are NOT the Spirit of God. They are of the natural man Ė which cannot receive the things of God. God doesnít use them to speak to us.
The Knowledge of God
Most of us, even as Christians who want to be led of God, are so used to walking according to emotions, indeed, so used to walking according to our natural senses and thinking it is the Spirit, that if we hear that this is not the way God works, we hardly know where to turn. We simply have no frame of reference for anything else. So how does God lead us?
I do not think that the primary way in which God leads is by speaking words into our minds, or by making us FEEL a certain way, "in our spirits." There are a couple of reasons I donít believe this. First of all, in reading the NT, you donít see this practiced or taught to any big extent. There are a few instances in Acts where God speaks, but in reading the epistles, you cannot find any teaching at all about how God leads people, and how we can be able to hear Him and know His voice. Virtually nothing. Not likely if it was the primary way He does lead.
Now donít get me wrong. I do believe God CAN and DOES lead that way. Iíve had Him lead ME that way. But not usually. Just once in a great while Ė and even then there are many other things going on which verify what I hear Him say to me.
The second reason I donít believe God leads people by speaking words to them or by making them FEEL a certain way is that we would never know for sure whether it was of Him. The few times God has led me this way testify to this. He speaks something and later you wonder if it was really Him. Of course, if you have no ability at all to bring to pass what He speaks, then you can only wait anyways. But so many Christians say they get, "words" from God about who to marry, where to move, and what to do. How do you know God really spoke that to you?
There are many principles and clear teachings in the Bible that could help us on these matters. For example, God will never tell you to go rob a bank, or divorce your spouse to marry someone else. But when Christians say they are being LED of God it is often on matters where the Bible is not specific. How do you know whether God said to give money, quit a job, or something like that? Maybe it was just YOU?
My point is this: Are these matter of Godís leadings REALLY AND TRULY supposed to be a guessing game? I mean, letís be honest: Does God speak a word to you, and then expect you to know for sure it was Him, if you cannot know for sure it was Him? Does God, knowing full well our capacity for error, for following our emotions, and our pride, speak His direction to us in the middle of that mess and expect us to be able to sort out what is of Him, and what is not?
Now, of course, there are those who absolutely believe that it is impossible for God to ALLOW us to be mistaken about His voice. That is utter nonsense, proven a thousand times over from the Bible, if not by our own foolishness. There are also those who are so arrogant that they believe God speaks to them in special ways. And there are those who are so married to their emotions, and to the soul realm, and have become so totally convinced that this is the Holy Spirit in them, that there is nothing you can do to convince them that they are not hearing Godís voice, but are hearing the echo of the psychic realm that is in them.
The bottom line is that while God can speak to people anyway He wants to speak to them, that the problem is ALWAYS going to be with our ability to hear. Get that. God is not confused, and unable to be clear. But the condition of our ears is a problem.
This is the third reason why I donít think God speaks sentences to people in their head about vital matters, or leads people in their lives in such ways, as a NORMAL practice. The fact is, we are going to receive and understand and interpret WHATEVER God would say along the line of our pride, bias, and desires. We will tend to do that. We will not hear much other than what suits us. This can work two ways Ė we will either think God is telling us what we want to hear, or we will think God is telling us what we fear to hear. Either will dull our hearing.
The fact is, God must deal with the hearer before He can speak. This is progressive and happens over the course of a life in Christ. Too often we nag God to death to speak to us and tell us what to do. He cannot. If He answered us we would either not get it, or interpret it on the wrong level. He must first deal with US. So rather than walk around asking God for LEADINGS, I think there is a better way Ė and it is the primary way God handles this issue.
What am I talking about? Well, I think God leads us most often by creating a need. We are brought face to face with an issue, a question, a challenge, a trial, or a choice. We come to the place where we realize that we are going to need a revelation of Jesus Christ to get us through this thing. Of course, in the beginning of such a matter, what we think we need is INFORMATION. We donít. We need REVELATION. Rather than need to know what to DO, we really need to know what God wants us to become.
Iím not sure if there is anything more vital that we could understand in these matters. Iíll say it again: We donít need INFORMATION. We need REVELATION. Of course, we arenít going to know that, or think that, at the start, but it is a fact. Do we actually believe that God would put us in a situation where we really need information, and then despite all of our praying for it, NOT give it to us? Never. If we really do need information, be assured that God will give it to us. But Iíll tell you, often we want to KNOW because we donít believe, and are afraid, and we think that the information will take all of that uncertainty away. It wonít. The nature of the thing demands REVELATION of Jesus Christ.
God will absolutely see to it that we encounter things that demand that we KNOW HIM. We may think that we merely need to know a THING called, "His will," but the reality is that we need to know HIM. Thus, rather than constantly seek a leading from God, seek God Himself in the matter. Rather than always want to know the right THING to do, surrender your whole self to God. If you do that, any necessary leading will be included.
I have found that when God begins to unfold Christ to us in such situations, that by the time this happens, what we thought we must know or die is given a new perspective Ė because we now view it in the light of Christ. And anything we truly must know is somehow included. God knows what we donít know, and must know, and need to know. He isnít in heaven slamming us for not being able to figure out what we cannot figure out. This is also a call for faith.
Read the NT. Read the prayers of the apostle Paul. It is never said that Christians need INFORMATION. We need REVELATION Ė and that of Jesus Christ. Now, sure, there are passages that say we need to know the hope of our calling, and the depth of His love, and to know His will, and His Truth. But do we think those things are a matter of information, Bible facts, and doctrines? No Ė despite the need to be able to put them in that form. The true knowledge of God in Jesus Christ is not a bunch of facts about Christ. It is an inner, personal, experiential revelation of Jesus Christ. And that is something you cannot study yourself into, think yourself into, or FEEL yourself into. So how do you get it? Only one way: Through identification with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection.
I am not talking here about getting saved. You are saved in a moment. But then the death and resurrection process Ė which is spiritual growth Ė ensues. The Holy Spirit has the job of talking everything included in the death of Christ, and everything included in the resurrection of Christ, and making it real, and living, and dynamic in me. The Bible knows nothing about any other kind of Christianity.
Paul said it best: I am crucified WITH Christ Ė NOT, Christ was crucified FOR me, He was Ė but I am, right now, crucified WITH Christ. Nevertheless, Paul said, I LIVE, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God.
Get his words Ė he dies WITH Christ, so that He may live WITH Him. This is for NOW, in an active, practical, Christian life. But aside from the dynamics of victory over sin, and all that resurrection life means, herein we find the key to knowing Jesus; to knowing the Truth. That key is this: If you die with Him, you will live with Him Ė in other words, you will have a release of His LIFE. But if you have a release of His life, you get the LIGHT with it. The more Christ is enlarged in you, and is released in you, the more LIGHT is in you, and the more freedom is in you. These are not doctrines. This is about a PERSON who lives in you, and with whom you are ONE.
Thus, if you want to know Christ, die WITH Him. That means die to sin and die to self. The result will be HIS LIFE IN YOU Ė and a knowing of Him.
Note what Paul said:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Phil 3:7-11)
Read this passage over and over again. Paul is talking about how to KNOW CHRIST Ė right now in this age. He said he suffered the loss of everything about himself that might have made him feel righteous. This is not the loss of THINGS Ė of material possessions. It is the loss of SELF Ė of that which makes religious people tick. Lose that. Die to that. Let God crucify THAT with Christ. And you will realize a release of LIFE in you Ė with which will come LIGHT. You will KNOW HIM.
This is a big key to knowing the will of God, and of being led by God. You have to at least be in the process of KNOWING GOD HIMSELF.
What? Do we want our Christian life to consist merely of God telling us what to do, or where to go? Or do we want a revelation of God Himself? Do we want God to merely SPEAK His mind to us? Or do we want to HAVE the mind of Christ? Iíll tell you one thing, if we would truly KNOW GOD, and have an ongoing revelation of Jesus Christ, there would come a discernment of Godís will for our lives because we would see Christ Himself!
Herein we see the entire key to divine guidance: Knowing God. If you know Christ, you will know what is OF HIM. You wonít need to hear voices. You wonít need to FEEL this or that way. And the fact is, this is the primary way in which the NT talks about walking with Christ.
Does this mean God wonít speak to me? Of course not. But my point is, that if we donít know God, how can God speak to us Ė for we are going to be subject to all of the errors inherent in not knowing God. If, for example, God has not dealt with my pride, or my desire to control my own life, how will Him speaking to me and telling me what to do help me in the long run? I may even interpret what He says along the lines of my unbroken will! People do that all the time.
So what all of this means is that God is WAY ahead of us in these matters. When we ask Him for a leading of His will, He does not jump up and say, "I didnít see that one coming!" No. All of it is likely part of God getting us to where He wants to reveal to us more of Christ. We just donít know that yet Ė we think we need a leading. But there is a bigger picture. Understanding this will explain much about what God doesnít just tell us what we think we need to know! WE DONíT NEED TO KNOW IT!
The Spirit in Us
What about the notion that if we are out of God's will, that we will feel bad in our spirit? Or if we are in God's will, we will feel good in our spirit? I think there is certainly some truth to this -- it would be nonsense to suggest otherwise. But it is also possible to feel good or bad in our emotions and think this is the Spirit of God. So we need to be careful.
The solution is often to pray and pray and pray for wisdom. But note what that means: It doesn't mean I pray and pray that God will TELL ME STUFF. Rather, it means to pray that God will deal with ME PERSONALLY -- and rid me of my bias. So we are back to the need for God to deal with ME, so that I can know HIM. A far cry from simply hearing word, or feeling this or that.
The point is this: Yes, we ought to sense or discern something in our spirit. This is often a part of discernment. But don't LIVE in that -- don't live in what you sense or feel. If you try, you are going to end up operating out of emotions. Rather, abide in Christ. No matter how you feel, put yourself before God that He might deal with YOU. Put yourself before the Lord so that He might give you, not signs, wonders, and words, but a revelation of Jesus Christ. You will know what you need to know when you need to know it. This is all part of seeking first, not words from God, but the kingdom of God -- Christ in us.
A Redemptive God
There have been many teachings over the past 50 years about what the Holy Spirit does in our lives, and much of it has been wrong. We have much teaching about leadings, signs and wonders, miracles, and how to get God to move on our behalf. But there is little teaching about what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be doing: Teaching us all things about Himself, guiding us into all Truth, and forming us together with Christ. I submit that if we got back to what Jesus said, and began walking in that Light, that all of the other things that occupy us so much would fall into line.
Back to this matter of emotions. God originally created man with a body, soul, and a spirit Ė the spirit that was to be ONE with Him. Because the spirit of man was to be one with God, the body and the soul Ė which includes the emotions Ė were to be governed by that union. But when Adam sinned, the spirit of man died, because it was no longer united with the Spirit of God. And that left the body and soul to govern the dead spirit. We are therefore controlled by our emotions, body, lusts, and natural makeup Ė controlled to the point where it is all we know. But when we are born again, once again our spirit is united with Godís and the Spirit seeks to govern us once again. The warfare is therefore ON.
So we see that our emotions will continue to try to govern us. But God is trying to break that pattern. Thus, He will allow us to make our mistakes to teach us that He does not reveal Christ to us through our emotions. Our emotions cannot believe, think, or discern. They are not part of our new man in Christ. They are of our old natural makeup.
If we continue to walk in faith Ė dying in Christ as described earlier Ė we will eventually experience a separation of soul and Spirit. The emotions and the rest of our natural makeup will be exposed for what they are Ė because we will see them with Jesus standing next to them. And they will more and more lose their power, for the Truth will set us free. The emotions may continue to try to lie to us, but because we know the Truth, we will not be fooled.
The whole key to this is NOT to develop some psychological technique. It is not a mind game. Neither is the key to turn all of this into a nice teaching that we can parrot. No. The key is to come to KNOW JESUS CHRIST. Do you want wisdom? Ė that would certainly equal knowing Godís will, and His leading? Here is what Paul said:
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Cor 1:30)
Clearly, knowing Christ is wisdom, because it is knowing Truth. It is having Godís mind, and knowing His will.
In conclusion, God can and does lead people in many ways. But if He is not giving you the INFORMATION you think you need, and if you seem to have reached an impasse as to how to know His voice, the chances are, God is bringing you to the place where you need REVELATION Ė to where He wants to reveal to you Jesus Christ. This will not leave you in the dark about Godís will for your life, either generally, or specifically. Jesus Christ IS the light of life.
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